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De Ko Lanta à Ko Tao, petite visite des îles Thaïlandaises


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Et un article en français de plus!
Je voulais à l'origine combiner ma visite des îles avec mes photos et aventures odysséennes sous la mer mais je pense que j'ai assez de contenu et surtout trop de photos pour ne faire qu'un seul article...

De Bangkok donc, je pris donc le bus de nuit qui me fit arriver au petit matin, après environ 14h de bus, 3h d'attente et 30 min de ferry, sur Ko Lanta, l'île dont forcément tout le monde a entendu parler en France, du fait du jeu télévisé. Mais Ko Lanta est en fait composé de plusieurs îles, certaines plus grandes que d'autres et l'île principale sur laquelle je me suis trouvé est en fait appelée Ko Lanta Yai et j’eus bon chercher mais je ne vis point de caméras de TF1 nul part dans l'île ou aux alentours...

La raison principale qui me faisait venir sur Ko Lanta était donc comme mentionné plus haut, de pouvoir faire de la plongée dans l'un des meilleurs endroits au monde (pas le moins cher non plus par contre). En effet même si le golfe de Thaïlande (Sud-Est de la Thaïlande, voire la carte) est réputé pour ses certifications de plongées à prix très abordables, le côté Ouest de la Thaïlande, coté mer d'Andaman, possède les plus beaux spots de plongée et il n'est pas rare de croiser raies-manta et autres requins-baleine...

Mais entre deux plongées, je pris donc le temps de visiter ces îles que je ne qualifierai pas de paradisiaques car le développement du tourisme de masse en Thaïlande (avec tous ses bons et mauvais côtés) a fait un peu perdre le charme et caractère unique de ces îles je pense, mais c'est quand même bien sympa: le soleil est au rendez-vous, les plages de sable blanc aussi pour peu que l'on s'éloigne quelque peu des sentiers battus et surtout la mer est chaude, atteignant facilement les 30 degrés.

De plus certaines de ces îles sont aussi connues pour leurs apparitions dans des films tels que La Plage (avec Di Caprio) ou encore un des anciens James Bond (L'Homme au pistolet d'or) et même si les excursions vers ces îles étaient vraiment trop touristiques à mon gout, cela n’empêche pas moins que ces sites sont de toute beauté et ont été choisis pour de bonnes raisons.

Bref, je conclurai en vous disant que sur les îles de Thaïlande, il y en a vraiment pour tous les goûts, que vous soyez à la recherche d'un coin isolé pour pouvoir vous reposer à l'ombre des cocotiers, que vous ayez envie de visiter toutes les îles dont vous avez entendu parler à la télé ou dans les magazines, que vous soyez ici pour faire la fête non-stop avec la Full Moon party par exemple ou encore que vous désiriez cocher de votre liste de plongée la Thaïlande et ses eaux turquoises, le choix est vôtre!

Bateau de plongée près de  Ko Ha

Bateau de plongée près de Ko Ha


Drapeau Thaïlandais avec l'archipel de Ko Ha en fond

Drapeau Thaïlandais avec l'archipel de Ko Ha en fond


Un bébé éléphant sur Ko Lanta, ici en Thaïlande les éléphants sont souvent maltraités pour des fins touristiques donc une certaine éthique recommande de ne pas faire d'excursions à dos d'éléphant

Un bébé éléphant sur Ko Lanta, ici en Thaïlande les éléphants sont souvent maltraités pour des fins touristiques donc une certaine éthique recommande de ne pas faire d'excursions à dos d'éléphant


Le phare de Ko Lanta

Le phare de Ko Lanta


Coucher de soleil sur la jungle, Ko Lanta

Coucher de soleil sur la jungle, Ko Lanta


Toujours Ko Lanta

Toujours Ko Lanta


Ko Lanta

Ko Lanta


Ile au large de Ko Phi Phi

Ile au large de Ko Phi Phi


Ko Phi Phi Leh, qui a servi pour le tournage de "La Plage"

Ko Phi Phi Leh, qui a servi pour le tournage de "La Plage"


Ko Phi Phi Leh

Ko Phi Phi Leh


Maya bay, où "La Plage" fut tourné. On réalise alors que l'équipe de tournage avait bien fait en sorte de ne choisir que certains angles de vue car la baie est beaucoup moins "enfermée" en vrai qu'elle ne le paraît dans le film.

Maya bay, où "La Plage" fut tourné. On réalise alors que l'équipe de tournage avait bien fait en sorte de ne choisir que certains angles de vue car la baie est beaucoup moins "enfermée" en vrai qu'elle ne le paraît dans le film.


Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi Leh

Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi Leh


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Ko Phi Phi

Ko Phi Phi


Coucher de soleil sur Ko Phi Phi

Coucher de soleil sur Ko Phi Phi


Les îles de Phan Nga Bay

Les îles de Phan Nga Bay


Phan Nga Bay

Phan Nga Bay


La fameuse îles de James Bond à Phan Nga Bay

La fameuse îles de James Bond à Phan Nga Bay


Coucher de soleil sur Phuket

Coucher de soleil sur Phuket


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Le Bouddha géant sur Phuket

Le Bouddha géant sur Phuket


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Coucher de soleil sur Ko Tao, golfe de Thaïlande

Coucher de soleil sur Ko Tao, golfe de Thaïlande

Posted by manolo84 03:59 Archived in Thailand Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches boats islands diving jungle french Comments (0)

Sailing to Colombia

via the San Blas islands....


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As I mentioned previously in my last post, I did not want to fly over to Colombia so the only other option (other than taking a machete, making my way through the Darién Gap and taking the risk of being kidnapped by the FARCs) was to take a boat and sail to Cartagena. The prices are quite steep (between 500 and 550 US$) but so are the flights between Panama and Colombia and besides you get to visit some of the most gorgeous islands in the world, the San Blas islands.

[It is possible to find a similar journey for a cheaper price (350 US$) but this is by speedboat where you go through the islands and by doing this way, you are being dropped straight at the Colombian's border and not in Cartagena.]

So in Portobelo (Panama), we got introduced to Ariel and her crew Hannah and Max who were going to be responsible for us for the whole trip (6 days). Ariel owns the boat but for this trip she had also hired a captain who has sailed on all the seas of the globe, Chris, a South African national.

So in the morning of the 5th of September, the 4 crew members and us the 8 passengers raised the anchor and started to sail aboard a nice sailing boat called One World. More information about the boat and crew can be found here.

During the first day we were supposed to refill in gas in one bay nearby but unfortunately due to technical issues of the gas station, we had to stop for the night there instead of sailing overnight to the islands. Anyway not a problem as the next morning we were leaving the bay at 6am and a few hours later, we would reach the first islands and had a first gasp on this piece of heaven.

The first days were therefore dedicated to do some snorkelling in the reef around the islands,fishing, making a campfires, sailing to different places and swimming around the boat when we could. In the last two days, we started our journey from the islands to Cartagena and arrived in the morning of the 10th September, in the Cartagena canal, with a view on all the skyscrapers of the new part of Cartagena.

The whole journey was just fantastic, the crew was very friendly and professional, and our whole group was a good mix of European culture with the British, Irish, Italian, Swiss and French countries being represented, all getting well along with each other! :)

And if I had to choose a highlight of this journey, this would probably be when we stopped in the middle of nowhere to swim around the boat. At that time we were right in the middle between Panama and Cartagena with no coast in sight. We were swimming in the most blue water I have ever seen, with 2000 meters under our feet.... A truly amazing experience.

And here are a few pictures taken from this trip:

Our sailing boat by night

Our sailing boat by night


First catch (and last) the first day!

First catch (and last) the first day!


Jumping off the boat

Jumping off the boat


Sunset

Sunset


Our campfire

Our campfire


One of the San Blas islands

One of the San Blas islands


More islands

More islands


Captain Chris

Captain Chris


A compass, apparently I have been told it can be useful on a boat...

A compass, apparently I have been told it can be useful on a boat...


Our companion for a part of the crossing, quite tired

Our companion for a part of the crossing, quite tired


People chilling out

People chilling out


Another sunset...

Another sunset...


The first fort of Cartagena, when entering the bay

The first fort of Cartagena, when entering the bay


The skyscrapers of Cartagena

The skyscrapers of Cartagena


A cargo ship exiting the bay

A cargo ship exiting the bay


A statue in the middle of the bay, not sure what is represents...

A statue in the middle of the bay, not sure what is represents...


Our fantastic group (From left to right, top to bottom: Max, Rory, Aidan, Archie, Pablo, Fabian, second row: Chris, Ben, Hannah, Ariel, Stephanie and myself)

Our fantastic group (From left to right, top to bottom: Max, Rory, Aidan, Archie, Pablo, Fabian, second row: Chris, Ben, Hannah, Ariel, Stephanie and myself)

Posted by manolo84 21:47 Archived in Panama Tagged boats snorkelling english Comments (4)

Panama City and Portobelo


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Not a long post there, as Panama city was for me more a springboard to reach Colombia. Indeed even though you cannot cross the border between Colombia and Panama by land (because of the Darien Gap), there are other options available. One is to fly over to Bogotá or Cartagena but this is a bit expensive, or the other option is to take a boat from the Caribbean coast of Panama and sail directly to Cartagena (or just to the Colombian border).

So while waiting to find a boat which would take me to Colombia (I have decided to avoid flying when I can), I took the opportunity to visit a bit Panama City and its famous canal:

The finance area of Panama City

The finance area of Panama City


Little streets in the old Panama

Little streets in the old Panama


Ships waiting to cross the canal

Ships waiting to cross the canal


The new Panama City by night

The new Panama City by night


The old Panama City by night

The old Panama City by night


A huge cruise ship crossing the canal

A huge cruise ship crossing the canal


Miraflores lock

Miraflores lock


The gates in action

The gates in action


A Chinese cargo ship entering the canal

A Chinese cargo ship entering the canal

I would spend 3 days in total in this city, which was plenty enough for me as I quickly got fed up with the taxis trying to rip you off of every dollars they could. I mean it's a common scenario in all countries, especially in Latin America, but the way it is done in Panama is more irritating, especially when you know how much you should be paying and they still insist that you need to pay twice more, just because you are a tourist. Besides that, the town itself (food and accommodation) is not cheap so I didn't have any regrets in leaving early.

After Panama City then, me and my Irish buddy Aidan who I met on the way to Panama decided to head off to Portobelo, a little village on the Caribbean coast, where we had found a boat which was leaving for Colombia a few days later (see next post). Not much to do there except exploring the bay in kayak and taking pictures of the different forts which were protecting the town from the pirates, hundred years ago, with or without success.

As a bit of history, the privateer William Parker attacked and captured the city in 1601 and Captain Henry Morgan repeated the feat in 1668. He led a fleet of privateers and 450 men against Portobelo, which, in spite of its good fortifications, he captured. His forces plundered it for 14 days, stripping nearly all its wealth while raping, torturing and killing the inhabitants.

Besides this, it is even said that since 1956, the coffin of Francis Drake, a pirate famous for raiding all the towns in that area of the Caribbean sea, lies down somewhere in the sea, not far from the coast, but so far hasn't been discovered.

The cannons protecting Portobelo

The cannons protecting Portobelo


The first fort overlooking the bay

The first fort overlooking the bay


Somehow we really wanted to fire that cannon! <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Somehow we really wanted to fire that cannon! :)


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Kayak session in the bay

Kayak session in the bay


Sailing ships anchored in the bay

Sailing ships anchored in the bay


Portobelo

Portobelo

Posted by manolo84 11:00 Archived in Panama Tagged boats canals cities kayaking english Comments (0)

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