When we started this journey we knew that this is rainy season in Asia. However this also means that it’s low season so we don’t have as much crowding, additionally getting us more bang for our buck. All-in-all we have been extremely lucky with the “rainy season.” We have not had to cancel anything because it’s raining. There have been some storms, but mostly they have been at night, so did not effect us.
In Aonang the rain catches up with us.
*Aside* Tom was actually warned off coming to Aonang for diving because the weather is so unpredictable. You literally look at the weather report in the morning to decide if you can risk going out to the far islands, knowing that by noon the weather may change (for the worse) making you beat it back to the dock. However Aonang has the BEST diving in Thailand, so we decide to risk the weather and go.
The first day we started out to dinner and it started to pour. Next day (while Tom was diving) I started out for a walk, got far enough to make us reservations for dinner, then the weather changed forcing me back to our room to watch it pour from our balcony. Several time we started out to eat only to find it pouring. During one lunch at A-One Restaurant, it rained so much that it forced us further back into the restaurant to avoid soaking. It’s the most rain we’ve seen during the entire trip.
*Aside* On one walk I saw a sign for Phu Pi Mann Resort. This is really funny when you realize that the “h” is silent in Thai. I had a good laugh which probably made other people on the street wonder what was wrong with me.
Tom dives two days then we tour two days.
Tom’s two days of diving are great and he brought home pictures of his favorites: some new Nudibranchs.
On day one, dive day, the boat went all the way out to the far islands for the dive. When the group came up they could see the weather rolling in so they sped back to Aonang. However they were still able to get the second dive in just off Aonang.
The second dive day, the highlight dive was at Koh Yawabon. Swimming through an underwater tunnel they emerged into an enclosed cathedral room. As the surge rolled in, the room filled with mist; as the surge rolled out, the mist dissipated: an unusual and amazing phenomenon. Tom said he was warned during the dive briefing that the surge can affect your ear pressure. He was grateful for the warning as he certainly did feel it in his ears and otherwise would have thought something was very wrong.
We ate at some great restaurants in Aonang: The Jungle Kitchen, A-One Restaurant, and Kara Thara. It was exciting to eat Thai food in Thailand: Tom Ka Soup and Pad Thai from the source, so to speak. We had some excellent whole fish and I had the most amazing Fried Fish Fruit Salad.
*Aside* I was really skeptical when I read the description for the Fried Fish Fruit Salad, but I’m so happy I ordered it because it was delicious!!
We had a lot of great food in Aonang.
Tour day: we booked a taxi to go to the Namtok Ron (Hot Spring Waterfall) and the Emerald Pool.
*Aside* This was a little odd. We booked the day (for a set price) with a taxi driver to take us to the Hot Spring and the Emerald Pool. On the way he turns off the main road and says he’s going to take his wife with him. Okay, but she looks a good deal younger than him and doesn’t have a wedding band. In my experience men may not wear a wedding band but most women do, especially in traditional countries. He wanted to leave us at the Emerald Pool for four hours while he “returned to his home.” We declined that offer requesting that he pick us up in two hours, which he did. Personally I don’t think that was his wife.
At the Hot Springs we walked down a long paved road.
*Aside*I mean a long two-way street paved with pavers. I’m glad I didn’t have to lay those bricks or pay for the job! But labor is cheap in Asia!
At the hot spring we worked our way around the people sitting on the edge of the pools to find a spot to ease into the steamy water. It was very soothing and relaxing. With a little moving around it was possible to actually lie down in the flow of hot water. It was a pretty awesome 20 minute soak.
Next stop the Emerald Pool. We walked into the park with no idea of where we were going so every body of water we came to left us wondering if that was the Emerald Pool.
*Aside* There were some really green pools of water but it was from algae and we figured that wasn’t the “Emerald” they were talking about. There were also a number of very swampy areas that made me think of the Okefenokee Swamp and/or the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
After following the meandering path about 1400 meters, or a little over three-quarters of a mile, we arrived at the Emerald Pool.
*Aside* I found the pool to be sort of sea green. If someone bought me an emerald that color, I would consider it of inferior quality. But no one asked me when they named it.
We thought about swimming, but the sides looked a little slimy and there were lots of people sitting around the edges that would make getting into the water difficult (not to mention getting out). We gazed at the Emerald Pool a few minutes then hoofed it back to the entry.
Our last day we packed our bags then roamed around Aonang town and ate great food. That night on our way back to our hotel we passed an area with an overgrowth of trees and vines and brush. The frogs and crickets and cicadas were so loud that you would have thought you were in the rainforest. It’s amazing how these creatures can survive in spite of the crowding and encroachment of mankind!
Neither Tom nor I found Aonang to be overwhelmingly attractive, as in not a place we would like to live. Perhaps it was the rain. Perhaps it was the commercial nature of Aonang. It was low season and the two things we went to see were fairly crowded. I think I’d actually hate it in high season.