Couchfish Diversion 6: Ko Sukorn, Thailand

  
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We’ve been lazing on Ko Libong for a few days when the kids ask, “Where’s next?” We’ve already been to see the dugongs, walked up and down the beach a bit and visited a nearby fishing village. They’re idle and looking for new distractions.

Please do watch to the end to see cheeky Will get his just desserts.

When I reply, “Ko Sukorn,” they both look at me blankly.

“What does it have?”

“Nothing.”

“So why are we going there?”

“Because it has nothing.”

“Oh.”

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We’ve spent the last few weeks island-hopping Thailand’s southwest and each island has had “something”. Ko Muk had the Emerald Cave. Ko Kradan, reefs. Ko Rok, more reefs. Ko Libong, dugongs. So the appeal of going somewhere with “nothing” takes some explaining.

How crabs fill in their days on Ko Sukorn. Photo: Stuart McDonald.

“We’ll stop at Ko Lao Liang on the way, for a snorkel, but when we get to Sukorn, we’ll just hang out.”

More blank looks.

“Don’t worry, you’ll understand when we get there.”

We charter a longtail for the run south. This allows us to break the trip at Ko Lao Liang to snorkel and wander down the beach. It is an hour or so to there and another hour to Ko Sukorn. Lao Liang’s reef is pretty banged up, but the setting is sublime and we have the entire joint to ourselves.

Oh so pretty at Ko Lao Liang. Photo: Stuart McDonald.

Ko Sukorn (map link) lacks the appeals of many other southern Thai islands. There are no limestone massifs, no white-sand beaches, and due to its relative proximity to the mainland, the water is not clear. There are just a handful of places to stay, and all close for the off season. Tourism is an after–thought for the vast majority of the predominantly Muslim residents.

But it is this lack of mainstay appeals that lends the island its appeal. If you’re busying yourself on the more, well, busy islands, Ko Sukorn makes for a solid diversion.

Second row still gets you a sea view at Sukorn Andaman Beach Resort. Photo: Stuart McDonald.

All but one of the main places to stay are set on a single long smooth greyish sandy beach. The drop off is as smooth as the sand, and it feels like we can walk straight out for miles. We grab three kayaks from where we are staying at Sukorn Andaman Beach Resort (email: exotravel@yahoo.com), and paddle the length of the beach. We’re travelling with the current on the way down and the kids find it fun and easy. When we turn to return, the going is harder. They alternate between walking and paddling and moaning. They give up about 100 metres shy of where we are staying, and I drag the kayaks back to the resort.

The rest of the day is lounging, eating and throwing ourselves into bathwater sea now and then. The sun sinks, instigating a brilliant light show of oranges, purples and deep rich blues. Ko Lao Liang and, further south, Ko Phetra, are silhouetted. Despite there being “nothing to do”, the kids go to bed early—knackered.

Sunsets deliver. Photo: Stuart McDonald.

The next day we hire a scooter and spend half the day circumnavigating the island. The ride is just shy of 20 kilometres, but it takes us hours. We go to the southernmost point where there is a pier jutting out to sea. If we squint, we can make out Ko Tarutao and, further still, Langkawi

We ride into the main village on the mainland side of the island. It’s noodle soup for lunch, along with sickly sweet lemon iced tea. The lady who runs the hole–in–the–wall shop takes our photo along with her similarly aged kids. She says she’ll get it printed and stick it on her wall. She doesn’t see many farang in these parts.

Where rubber comes from class starts in 30 seconds. Photo: Stuart McDonald.

We continue on our way, winding through breezy rubber plantations. I pull up to show the kids how the rubber tapping works. My son looks at the sap dribbling out at a glacial pace—“it’s white,” he exclaims. Later we pull up at the farmer’s house. Rubber sheets hanging, lengthening with gravity. “It’s still white,” he says again, then declares he’ll “search it up” that evening to find out why car tires aren’t white.

Next we pause at a viewpoint. The inland mountains of Trang and Phattalung provinces are clear as a bell. A longtail crawls by below us. The day is warm now, but a breeze rushes up the escarpment towards us bringing with it not just cool air, but the smell of salt.

We curl around the northern tip of the island. There we find a pretty, almost-white-sand beach with an abandoned resort on it. We explore, treading with care over rotten wooden decks and peering through broken windows. Later, the kids ask about ghosts on the island.

Crescent moon and another light show. Photo: Stuart McDonald.

Then we’re back to where we started.

The light show kicks off again. Maybe a half dozen other people nurse cold drinks on well spaced–out lazy chairs. Silence.

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The sun sinks, the stars come out, accompanied by a slivered crescent moon.

The kids go to bed early again. These islands with “nothing” can sure keep you busy.