Lipe is a very small island, easily navigable on foot in less than a day. We have travelled over all of the island that is accessible by footpath through the jungle. Lipe only has one paved path, for motorcycles.
Walking through the jungle is very pleasant; we have seen several eagles, a very large dead millipede, and lots of mating frogs. We hear many different types of birds and, occasionally, the cries of monkeys. On the highest point of the island, quite close to our cabin, is a Buddhist temple.
As a structure it is quite minimalist, basically a wooden shed with open sides and steps up to the main Buddha shrine. Around the temple grounds there are several smaller shrines and sculptures. We spoke to the Buddhist monk on duty; he explained to us that there are three monks resident on Lipe and that he walks around the island visiting his flock every day from 6:30 to 8 in the morning.
Thursday, after coffee in Kafair and an encounter with a Polish tourist who insisted that Ty was the spitting image of a Polish avant-garde musician from the 60s and 70s named Czeslaw Niemen, and insisted on taking several photos of him, we travelled through the bush in search of the Flour Power Bakery, but it was nowhere to be found.
Instead, we found the unfortunately-named Porn Resort and Sunset Beach. In Thai “porn” means “blessing”; however, there was little in the nature of a blessing visible at the Porn Resort – what a hole. Staffed by very slow-moving and sullen workers, the resort seemed like it was sinking into non-existence. The beach was very pleasant, though. We swam and snorkeled a bit but the water was too cloudy from all the wind kicking up waves to see much.
Friday we finally found Cozy Cove. We had seen signs pointing the way to the Cozy Cove bar but had never been successful in locating it. Coming out of the Mountain Resort we turned right, towards the water, and clambered down a rope ladder stair to find ourselves on a beach consisting of three interlaced coves. There we saw the remains of the advertised bar, fallen into decrepitude, and a new one being erected from its ashes. Other than one woman and one beach dog, we were the only visitors to Cozy Cove.
Across the way we could see men working on what looked to be a new resort on the water. The beach dog followed Ty around as he searched for a painting palette; sensing a soft touch he hung around on the beach with us. I remembered that I’d brought some bread from breakfast in my bag and tossed it to him, a gesture he seemed to appreciate.
The Cozy Cove bar manager was working hard on getting the bar ready for opening; I gave him my watercolour painting of the landscape for good luck. Later, after clambering up another rope ladder, we joined the crowd at Jack’s Jungle Bar for a Chang beer, Ty’s new favorite, and a tinny Ipod blaring out Abba’s greatest hits.
In the evening we walked to Pattaya Beach for a grilled fish dinner in one of the restaurants on the beach. We had a front row seat on the sand and proceeded to scarf down a small whole tuna (250 baht per kilo) and 2 gigantic Tiger prawns (1000 b per kg). Joining us in our feast were two beach dogs. The food was not great, although we really enjoyed the prawns, and was the most expensive meal we’ve had to date.
After dinner we walked along the beach to the Reggae Bar and collapsed on one of the chill-out carpets stretched out on the sand by three enormous round fire pits. Reggae hits churned out over the beach as two different men entertained us by juggling flaming coconut shells, twisting and twirling in time to the music. Farther down the beach, young boys trying to learn copied their moves.
Behind each resort are the workers’ shacks and gigantic pits full of glass bottles and plastic. Beside these pits are enormous bags of plastic bottles, possibly waiting to be recycled or, more likely, burned. We have to wonder about the PCBs released into the air from the burning of this junk. Chickens, ducks, and roosters roam freely here; they can be found in most restaurants, wandering under the tables, as can dogs and cats. Avian flu does not seem to feature in the minds of the locals here. Plastic bags litter the jungle paths almost everywhere.
See more pictures here.