Day 6: 30th May, Coral Island, Pattaya
After the parasailing and snorkelling experience we proceeded to the actual island experience. Our itinerary included a ride in the glass bottomed boat. We decided to split in 2 groups as the motor boat would be faster option than the glass bottomed boat. The sea was rough and the organisers asked if we wanted to continue with the experience even if we wouldn’t be able to see anything underwater. We chose to go with it anyway.
We met up at the island a few minutes later. All I wanted was to just sit down for a while and relax a little before lunch as I was completely exhausted. We sat down on a recliner under one of the umbrellas and observed the rest of the world take banana rides and jet-skis. The beach was one of the most picture-perfect ones I have ever seen – bright blue water and pristine white sand.
We had to wait a little longer for lunch than expected as there had been a raid in the morning and it would take some time to set things back to normal. Our lunch was arranged well in advance by the local travel planners – DS Travels at the nearby Seven Star Restaurant. There wasn’t anything Seven Star about it, except perhaps the name. Although the food was more or less similar to the dinner we had the previous night, I was impressed because they managed so much even though water was not naturally available and had to be brought from outside the island.
We proceeded back to our hotel room after lunch. The motor-boat ride was surprisingly fast and we reached the shore in about 20 minutes. I was thrilled to be back in the room but my joy didn’t last that long. After a quick bath and a change of clothes we left for the next place in our itinerary – Nong Nooch Village. Our guide for the day was Simmi.
I don’t remember much of the journey to the village as the adventure activities earlier in the day drained me of all my energy. I woke up as we neared the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden. It was a really cool place, even in the afternoon. The garden was really lovely – a lot of artwork made of earthen pots. I was surprised to find a variety of animals and birds there. They had a pair of tigers (enjoying their afternoon nap), a cockatoo and a bunch of macaws which stood so still that I doubted if they were statues. Our stay there was very brief – we barely spent 15 minutes.
We had a refreshing walk and proceeded to the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden. I really loved the landscaping on the way to the garden – it was really well maintained. There were 2 attractions we wanted to cover – the Thai Cultural and Dance Show, and the Elephant Show. We were just in time for the first show (and hence couldn’t manage to find the best seats in the house). However we were lucky enough to get decent seats.
With the help of the show we broadened a little more about Thai culture. The dance show was slow and soothing. I really enjoyed the Muay Thai fight on the stage. The drum show was really interesting. It didn’t appear much at first, but the effect of various kinds of drums was visible in the end as the whole place seemed to come to life.
The grandest part about the show was the enactment of war. It couldn’t get more realistic as sparks flew when the swords clashed. For the grand finale, the elephants were brought to the show. It was a interesting and spectacular display of Thai culture.
The next item on the agenda was the Elephant Show. This experience left me completely dazzled, amazed, and finally shocked. Most of us were fortunate enough to get the first row seats. The only thing that irritated us was the hot sun. A group of children sold bananas to the audience to feed the elephants. The opening act was really impressive – the elephants entered age-wise, starting from the youngest. Trunk-to-tail, they walked in. The acts that followed kept on getting more and more interesting. Most of them were never-seen-before acts, such as the elephants playing darts, hoops and basketball. I was all the more astonished when I saw the elephants paint! I couldn’t help but smile when the elephants swayed and (almost) danced to the tunes while playing with hoops. It was unbelievable. After the show ended, the elephants played with the audience, lifting them with their trunks and waiting for bananas.
Although Nong Nooch Village was the last part of our itinerary, we decided to take a detour to the Gems Gallery. We reached barely a few moments before closing time. I was amazed by the sheer size of the store and the variety of jewellery they had to offer. They had something interesting in every price range. After some shopping there we retired to our rooms completely exhausted.
In retrospect, the only thing I wish we had done differently would have been visiting the Nong Nooch Village first. We could have enjoyed the evening and the sunset at the Coral Island.
Here are a few tips for the people who plan to visit Coral Island in the near future:
- For elderly and people who have trouble walking, skipping the island trip altogether is a good option as it is really draining. Boarding and alighting a motorboat is a nightmare.
- Wear clothes that dry quickly. It is advisable to carry a spare set of clothes and waterproof shoes. Avoid sneakers altogether.
- Do not get your hopes up about seeing the coral reef from the glass bottomed boat as the sea could be rough. I haven’t met anybody who has achieved this.
- Visit Coral Island early in the morning or in the evening. I felt that visiting the place in the afternoon wasn’t an excellent idea as our activities became very limited.
- I found Coral Island not-so-interesting as there wasn’t much to do apart from Jet-skiing and banana boat riding. Carry something like a volley-ball or a flying disc to make things interesting.
Here are a few tips for those who intend to visit Nong Nooch Village in the near future:
- Check about the show timings in advance
- Visit Nong Nooch Village before you visit the Alcazar Show. Alcazar is purely entertainment, whereas Nong Nooch show focuses more on the Thai Culture.
- The weather in Nong Nooch is hot and humid. Dress accordingly.