Sis is always fond of taking a short beach holiday whenever she’s back in Singapore. So this year, I decided to join the whole family, and suggested that we do Koh Lipe. “Koh-what?” they asked. Koh Lipe first came onto my radar about a year ago when a Polish tourist I met here said that it was his favourite beach destination of his whole South East Asian trip. Then Priya mentioned it recently that it was her Italian friend’s favourite beach, and that she was planning to head there with another friend.

I’m a sucker for lesser-known beaches, which often means sacrificing a little bit of convenience for the journey there. Most of these quieter spots around Asia involve bumpy speedboat rides, which are out of the option for my Sis’ infant and toddler. Luckily, Koh Lipe wasn’t ruled out as the most popular route there is by a medium-sized ferry from a port on Langkawi.

Welcome to paradise!
Welcome to Koh Lipe!

But this paradise comes at a price! As we needed to exit Malaysian territory and arrive on Thai soil, the immigration process is not as straightforward. The system was severely inefficient, and involved a lot of us just hanging around and waiting in the heat.

At Koh Lipe customs, they gave out European passports first and Asians last — white people made up about 80% of the tourists, so Asians had to suck it up and wait it out. Even with Ansel screaming his head off, we still had to wait almost an hour, and only got slightly ahead of some white people as Ansel continued to yell like there’s no tomorrow. When I asked them why the order was such, they couldn’t give me an answer. Discrimination? Or an “efficient” system whereby the passports were sorted according to alphabetical order of countries? They even announced “Singaporean and Malaysian passport last, OK?” Someone please enlighten me.

But the welcoming sight of Koh Lipe made all the frustration melt away…

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Pattaya beach has fine white sand, cerulean waters, and no crowds!
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Villas at Mountain Resort

It was late afternoon by the time we got to our stay at Moutain Resort, which had a jaw-droppingly gorgeous private beach. Cheers to Priya’s friend for the fabulous recommendation!

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Mountain Resort is located at the North-Eastern beach, where Sunset beach meets Sunrise beach.

Daylight was fading slowly, and there was not much left to do but dunk ourselves into the pool! Best feeling ever, after the long journey and sweltering heat.

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Mountain Resort is isolated from the main buzz at Walking Street, but they have a shuttle lorry that ferries guests down at half an hour intervals. We arrived on a Monday, and the street was pretty empty. The vibe was great though, as Koh Lipe seem to attract a more mature crowd – none of that trash that washed up on Gili Trawangan. Walking Street is lined with tiki bars, Thai and Western restaurants, as well as many drowsy strays!

DAY 2

We had breakfast al fresco, facing the stunning view. I still couldn’t get over how pretty the beach was, and what a catch this place was for the price! The family villa bungalow for four people cost SGD290/night, including breakfast.

That's Mountain Resort, built into the side of the hill.
That’s Mountain Resort, built into the side of the hill.

The rest of the day passed lazily, with some splashing about on the pristine beach, getting a torturous/shiok Thai massage, exploring more of Walking Street, snacking on chocolate pancake and iced Thai milk tea, chowing down BBQ seafood, doing a basic manicure, and enjoying cider and live music at Elephant bar.

It was everything that I missed at my last beach holiday at Gili T(rash), and I felt so damn good at the end of the day.

DAY 3

One simply cannot get enough of such a view.
One simply cannot get enough of such a view.

After some frolicking at the resort’s quiet beach, it’s time for lunch. Went back to Elephant to try their well-reviewed food. Not bad for a Western in an Asian spot!

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It was hot hot HOT!

Today, we were going on a SGD34/pax island hopping and snorkel tour that included a spot with bio-luminescent plankton. The snorkelling was basic but nice and relaxing, and Lily-Ann was a trooper for having the courage to get into the open sea. Although she clung on to sis tightly and didn’t dare look into the waters because she was afraid of the fish biting her, I’m sure she’ll love the sea after a few more tries!

Litter on pebble beach.
Litter on pebble beach.

The second last stop was at Adang beach, where they served up a lousy dinner of dry grilled chicken. Thankfully, the sunset was wonderful.

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Us at Adang beach. (Photo: Weiming)

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As the sun lowered into the horizon, we headed back in the direction of Koh Lipe’s main beach, and stopped nearby for the bio-luminescent planktons. It got so dark  by then that we had to use our phones’ lights to put on the life jacket, so I was slightly afraid of jumping into the black sea. But when I did, I realised that I could actually see the seabed thanks to the full moon! The waters were about 8m in depth, so there was some form of security in being able to see right down.

The water stays dark when you stay still. But when you start stirring the water, specks of light magically appear like fairy dust! I was utterly amused, and kept on flapping my hands and kicking my legs like an idiot the whole way.For 10 minutes, I was Tinkerbell. I went trigger happy as well, trying to capture the magic. The GoPro, however, really doesn’t function without light. So all I got was total darkness, and the sounds of muffled squeals and water splashing. -_- Any film students need B-Roll footage for an art film?

DAY 4

The post-holiday stress disorder was already creeping up on me as this was the last full day of my time here. I’d already fallen hard for this glorious island, and I hadn’t even gone diving! I took up 3 fun dives for SGD135 with Ko Lipe Diving (such a great SEO-driven centre). They have a massive boat that gave all the divers plenty of space to gear up, and even a comfy sheltered seating area on the upper deck.

I got grouped with a lovely Malaysian lady dive master called Jesie, and I really liked her vibe — just the right amount of enthusiasm and realness. The currents were mild, and the waters were mostly warm except for a few chilly spots. We saw a massive Moray Eel on the first dive, and after that easy breezy dive with 12m visibility, I felt like my beach holiday was really complete. Overall, it was also nice to enjoy me-time without the raucous of the kids! HAHA.

The purple and white slug is called Nidubranch, and are found all around SEA seas.
The purple and white slug is called Nidubranch, and it’s found all over South East Asian seas.
Spot the sleepy cuttlefish.
Snooze o’clock for this cuttlefish.
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First time seeing some hilariously skittish dancing shrimps.

On our last dive, we met up with a trio of Batfish, which Jesie told us were fond of tailing divers. They think we’re turtles, and they love snacking on turtle poop. No kidding! Click here for proof caught on tape. Sorry guys, the most I can offer you is a fart. And I think I really whet their appetites because they kept on following me.

The best bit of that dive came at the end, when we went under our dive boat and swam through a massive school of Yellowtail Fusilier. Such a great way to conclude the dives!

Met up with the family at our resort’s beach after the diving to catch our very last sunset. 🙁 The tide was very low, so we could wade/snorkel quite some distance out onto this patch of sand island in the middle of the sea. From afar, walking on the sand gave the illusion of walking on water! It was an incredible feeling being on that little patch, far removed from the main beach. The sunset was divine that evening, and it was with an extremely heavy heart that I bid the day goodbye.

On the sand island.
On the sand island.
Found a lone puffer fish near our beach!
Found a lone puffer fish near our beach!

Koh Lipe’s food hasn’t been fantastic so far, but that’s also because I’ve set a pretty high standard since food everywhere else I’ve visited in Thailand has been nothing but amazing.  We are at Raklay restaurant on the last night, and it was decent. The king prawns were especially juicy and sweet!

Bye bye, Koh Lipe… I love you.

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