PHUKET: With only a few days to work with, I had an opportunity to escape Phuket for a quick, albeit necessary, change of scenery.
Drawing a radius around Phuket left a number of viable and tantalizing options, which were eventually distilled down to the final decision – Koh Yao Noi. A decision made really for no particular reason other than I hadn’t been there yet.
I’d heard the idyllic reminiscing of the quaint and quiet island life, and how refreshing the sloth-like pace is compared to Phuket’s insanity. So I drank the Kool Aid and decided to do it.
It was casually mentioned that bringing a motorbike was a good way to go. A brief bout of Googling confirmed that, indeed, boats from both Bang Rong Pier in Pa Khlok and Rassada Pier in Phuket Town allow bikes to be transported.
The first lesson was that the vehicle ferry does not depart from Rassada, and the second was that it does not go to Koh Yao Noi. Instead, one must actually wind their way through questionable back alleys to the vehicle ferry nestled within the shipyard, and said person – me, in this case – will learn that the ferry only services Koh Yao Yai.
“No problem,” the jokers at the pier say. “Just ride to the north of the island and there are many boats to take you and your bike over to Koh Yao Noi.”
Simple enough, one might think. However, my days of blissful naivety are well behind me and now I know better. If I were going to step foot onto Koh Yao Noi that day, I was just going to have to wing it.
Fast-forward a few hours and a lovely vista of tropical waters and glowing green islands show on the horizon with Koh Racha Noi just across the way – seemingly only a stone’s throw.
Koh Yao Noi is there, I am here and my bike is here, but a vehicle ramp and boat suitable to heft my 250cc bike onto seems to be missing. Quick inquiry among a group of drunk guys on the pier (I thought everyone was Muslim here!) results in the realization that they intend to roll my bike down some steep, slimy-looking steps and onto the bow of a small longtail boat.
The end of the steps disappear into the sea and the boat looks as if it, too, is about to meet a watery grave. I contemplate all the things which could go wrong and the extortionate cost while they cracked jokes about me thinking they aren’t strong enough, and the clown of the group puts my helmet on backwards and dances around.
For some reason, my confidence wanes and I go looking for another pier. I quickly find one equipped with steps of a more reassuring pitch. A boat materializes with a driver and both seem more competent of completing the task than the four drunken stooges at the other pier.
The mellow Rastaman captain, his friendly and helpful sidekick with Down syndrome and myself slowly and methodically lower the bike step-by-step, across the gap from stairs to boat, and inch it down into the hold. The sidekick and I hold the bike on the 15-minute jaunt across to Koh Yao Noi with him beaming proudly and giving me the thumbs-up the whole way.
Although there was a ramp on the pier at our destination, the driver – for whatever reason – chose the steep steps instead. They jokingly (I think) said I should ride up the narrow steps… maybe next time.
Having wheels, I had the liberty to explore small trails leading off into the jungled middle of nowhere. The steamy, undulating hills and proud limestone escarpments painted a real-life postcard – all made a bit sweeter by the adventure I subjected myself to in order to get there.
— Jeremie Schatz