Snorkeling in Thailand

While in Thailand, snorkeling is a must!  In Koh Lanta, there’s a couple different trips you can take to go snorkeling.  I signed up for the Four Islands Tour, which includes a trip to the Emerald Cave.  I’d actually never been snorkeling before.  In Thailand, there’s always a choice between speed boat or slow old fashioned Thai boat.  If you really want to cover some ground, take a speed boat.  Going fast on the water is always fun!

Speed Boat

 

In Koh Lanta, the speed boats pull straight up to the different beaches along the island and pick up their passengers from their hotel fronts.  I was the first one on my boat so I got to see all the beaches and hotels along the coast where my fellow passengers were staying.

Slow Boats

We sped past the slow Thai boats.  I had taken a slow boat on my  Mangrove Tour on the other side of the island.

Koh Lanta Coast

I took notes on where some bungalows with a view were located. 🙂

Snorkeling Cove

At our first stop, I eagerly hopped in the water.  I believe this island was called Ko Ngai.  The coral and fishes were not as impressive as the places I went scuba diving, but they had their own laid back charm.  It was extremely relaxing to drift in the cool clear water and admire the coast lines of the various small islands and observe the quiet habitats of the tropical fish.

Snorkeling coral

 

At one point, the guys on my boat threw leftover rice in the water and the fish swarmed me.  It was really cool!  But not a good idea for people who get claustrophobic.

Swarm of Fish

 

I’m very glad I chose to do a snorkel trip.  It was very laid back and a great way to see the different islands.

Back of Boat

Mangrove Tour in Koh Lanta

When I arrived in Southern Thailand, of course I wanted to go to the beach, but I wanted to make sure I saw more than just a beach.  Because you can see white sandy beaches a lot closer to home as well!  So I signed up for a Mangrove tour in Koh Lanta where I was staying.   They picked me up and drove me to the other side of the island, where there were no beaches, just mangrove forests.

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I got out of the car with the driver and we walked along a series of docks and boardwalks through the swampy mangrove forest.  This picture above is a boardwalk that shot off to the side that I was very glad was NOT the direction we were going.

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Along the way he pointed out some very colorful crabs that live in the mud.  These are yellow claw crabs.  Very cute and colorful in such a mucky environment.  They are tiny by the way… I had to zoom in.

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Here I am ready to get started on my mangrove adventure using the longboat behind me.  The squares in the dock I’m standing on are fish farm areas.  They had a couple giant fish and one square was full of cute tiger striped fish.  The big fish were fat and ugly!

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As I was sitting there waiting to get started, I noticed the beautiful contrast of the orchids with the mangrove ecosystem.  I was 20 minutes away from some of the most idyllic beaches, but I found it just as beautiful.

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Here I am alone on the longboat.  It was just me and the driver!  I ended up getting what was meant to be a group tour all to myself.  I was actually quite happy about it.  I love being on a boat no matter what!

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We left the mangrove forest and headed out across the open water!  I was super excited to see all the other surrounding islands on the horizon.

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He took me to this small island pictured above.  I had it all to myself for an hour.  I went swimming and ran around taking pictures.  I asked the driver if he would take a picture of me with my camera and he sort of grunted no.  But that’s OK… I like arm-length pictures of myself.  It’s my signature style of photo.

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Here I am testing out my water-proof camera.  It turns out, it really is waterproof!  What a relief.

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Megan’s private island in Thailand!

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There was a hawk on the other side of my island, looked like a bald eagle.  He was eating stuff out of the puddles on the rocks.  When he noticed me, he looked at me and cocked his head before flying away.  He was beautiful!

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And after the island, on our way back my driver swung by the monkey colony in the mangrove forest.  At first I smiled and exclaimed, “Monkeys!”  But then he got closer and they started jumping on my boat… and I started screaming!  Ah!

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He was feeding them watermelon peels out of a big bag he brought.  He tried to hand the bag to me, but I shook my head with visions of rabies shots in my head.  So he just laughed and walked around the boat feeding them.  The monkeys were cute from afar but this was just too close.  With their long tails they reminded me of New York City rats.

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But they do have an endearing way of sitting next to you and looking innocent.

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But I just kept my hands to myself and shot pictures.  Some of the big male monkeys would steal food right out of the smaller monkeys mouths.  Their social rules and etiquette intrigued me.  They were kind of mean to each other.  But I could kind of tell when a male and female were a couple.  I even saw a mom with a baby that stayed in the trees.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo our boat was taken over by monkeys for a while, but when the bag was empty and the engine started they jumped back to their trees or swam back.

As we drove back to our dock, I had a huge smile on my face.  I got to see monkeys up close and personal and swim on my own island.  This mangrove tour was a lot better than I anticipated.  I recommend it to others.  There’s an option that includes kayaking as well, but I was feeling lazy that day.

C&O Canal: Riley’s Lock

Riley’s Lock is one of the many places along the C&O Canal that you can park to access the towpath.  The C&O Canal is a National Park with 134 miles of trail which starts in Washington DC and follows the Potomac River west.
Aqueduct at Riley’s Lock

Riley’s Lock has a small boat ramp so recreational boaters and fishers can access the Potomac River.  The ramp is on Seneca Creek, giving boats a gentle start before they enter the fast currents of the Potomac.  These pictures were taken when the creek and river were both very swollen from a week of non-stop rain.

Side wall of the Aqueduct
Riley’s Lock House
View of Seneca Creek from the Aqueduct
View of swollen rapids on the Potomac River from C&O Canal towpath
Swollen Potomac waterfall near Violette’s Lock
Brave kayaker
Violette’s Lock, just south of Riley’s Lock
Paddle Boarders enjoying the peaceful C&O canal
Potomac River, overflowing it’s bank all the way to the retaining wall.
Potomac River, You can see how high the water is.  Poor bushes..
Lovely C&O Canal
Reflective waters of the C&O Canal
Towpath along the C&O Canal
Seashells so far from the sea!
For more information on visiting the C&O Canal, visit: http://www.nps.gov/choh

Robbed By Crabs

After sleeping through Hurricane Irene, I decided it was perfect timing to hit the beach before the next hurricane. I was lucky where I live in Maryland, we were barely affected. Didn’t even lose power! But my heart goes out to Vermont with all the flooding caused by Irene.
After the storm cleared, my dad and I packed up the car and headed to Ocean City, MD. I had been wanting to visit my parent’s beach condo for a while, but it had been booked solid for the busy season. So I was excited, but also nervous to assess any damage caused by Irene. Upon arrival we saw that water had seeped through the sliding glass doors on both balconies and gotten the carpet wet. Nothing major, time to party!
My dad invited his friend to come down with his boat. His friend had a daughter working at a bar in Ocean City for the summer also, so plans were set for us all to go out on the boat. I love boats, especially private boats so you can go where ever you want and do whatever.
So next day we dropped the 20 foot motor boat into the water and headed out into the Assawoman Bay to go fishing. The goal was Flounder. I asked the guy in charge of the boat ramp where the best spot to get big Flounder was. He told me to go to Super Fresh, the grocery store up the street. Not too encouraging… but I laughed it off and we shoved off on our 3 hour tour.
We came prepared with 3 cases of beer, inflatable floats, chicken wings, and bait. We cut the engine in the middle of the bay, with not another boat in site most of the time. I think a lot of people had their boats safely tucked away for the hurricane, so traffic was minimal.
We dropped the chicken on crab lines into the water and took our positions all around the boat with our poles. It was a beautful day with perfect blue skies and the temperature was mild for summer. For the most part, little Maryland blue crabs feasted on our fishing pole bait, as well as our crab line bait. Unfortunately, the crabs were all under the legal size. That didn’t stop us from taunting them a little before letting them go.
All of a sudden my dad announces he’s got something. I look over and his pole is bending at a sharp angle and his line is moving fast through the water. This is no ordinary fish. At first, we couldn’t see what it was at all. We yelled for him to reel it in closer. I think he was having trouble simply holding onto his pole, but finally the creature came near the surface.
At first glimpse, it looked like a little shark! But we soon recognized that it was a sting ray. It was quite a big sting ray for the bay, probably two feet across. So we took a couple pictures, but eventually realized there was no way we were going to be able to reel in the ray and get the hook out of his mouth. So we cut the line eventually and watched the poor creature swim off into the abyss. 

After that, my dad proceeded to catch 2 blue fish, both under the legal size, so we quickly released them. I convinced my dad to let me try his pole, since it seemed to be so lucky. I sat around with the pole, sipping on my beer, and felt some nibbles on my line. I assumed they were crabs stealing my bait, since there was never a strong tug, but when I finally pulled up my line, I saw that I had caught a flounder! My flounder was only a third the legal size, but I was very proud to be the one to catch the first and only flounder on our flounder fishing trip.
After the flounder, I retired from fishing, blew up my float, attached my float to the boat with a rope and jumped in. The water was perfect, so I drank a couple beers in my tube and had a blast.
We topped off the perfect Ocean City day with dinner on the bay-side deck at Fager’s Island. A couple beers and some good food tided us over while the sun set across the bay. Hard to believe a hurricane had threatened all this only a few days prior.