I want to tell you all the story about the time I kayaked Thailand’s west coast two years ago. To start this story we will have to go back 9 years! I was living in Oslo with my buddy Marius and one day I woke up after a dream that I was kayaking along a coast, I didn’t know where this coast was but I knew that I needed to start traveling so I told my friend about the dream and that I would work up some money for a year then start my travels. So I went to my job as a Store manager for Joker in Oslo and sat down in front of my computer and before I knew what I was doing I had already written my resignation, I had no motivation to keep working after my dream so I called my boss and asked him to drop by the store. After some hours Inder (a really nice boss) the owner came bye and I told him I was quitting! He looked at me like I was a mad man and cod not understand why I had a good salary and a new fresh store. I told him about my dream and that I needed to travel something that he accepted and wished my good luck and after working my last month I traveled to India with a friend but with no savings and no experience I think my travels lasted 6-7 weeks hahahah. And I was back working for Inder.
After some years working in Norway forgetting about the dream and working different pleases I ended up moving to Spain to work for Norwegian air as a customer service agent. The time In Spain was good! But as I normally do I got board of the routine and accepted a job in phone sales and took a vacation to Thailand where I was the best man (for the second time!) for my old friend Raymond in his wedding right outside of Bangkok and during the time in Thailand we traveled to Pattaya, Phuket, Phi Phi and my favorite destination Krabi! While here we stayed at Pine Bungalow and one morning I was playing with the wild dogs in the sunrise and as the sun came up I saw that this is the place from the dream I had seven years ago at that time! And right there and then I made a promise to myself that I would return within a year to kayak Thailand. Most of my friends sad I was crazy and that I would die and I guess they were right on the first part and one old friend was crazy enough to join me! And at the end of November that same year I was on my flight with Norwegian air to fulfill my old dream!
I arrive in Bangkok the 22nd of November 2016 and after a wild night in Bangkok I get my ass on the train to Hua Hin where I will meet up with my old fried Morten and bye the kayak. As I arrived I’m meet with a beer and a good hug! And we spend the next day exploring wonderful temples and spendt two nights here, on the next day we manage to find a minivan what say yes to driving us and the 4 meter
kayak all the almost 400km to Ranong by the border of Myanmar.
We arrive Ranong late in the night and check-in to the
right by the sea, the next morning the staff takes us in to town for some shopping and by mid-day the 25th of November we where off on our 600km kayaking adventure!
The first day went slow! With on real experience in kayaking, Thai nature and tides I estimate we made it 10-15k before we sat up camp and made a camp fire, the first night under the star was amazing, the fire was burning, new moon made the stars shine bright and shooting stars where flying by, there was a thunderstorm along the horation and illuminates plankton in the waves washing in on our private beach! It was MAGICAL!
Then next morning I got up at sunrise and woke up Morten when most equipment was ready, we had to get an early start for our first big crossing over to the island Koh Chang. Just the crossing is 6k and to get to the beach where we wanted to stay is 15k. Not the longest distance but we had not trained for this and my blisters from the day before had blisters of their own haha. We made our target and came in to the most amazing beach! No resorts just easy bungalows with electricity 2 hours a day, we fell in love with the place and the people there! And we gave us self two nights here so the blisters cud heel a little, the days where spend swimming, exploring and flirting. I really want to go back here! And on the morning we left the owner of the bungalow had left us a note and two crystals that we were meant to give back to the sea for luck and dolphins.
Our next destination was Koh Phayam and after giving our offerings to the goods and kayaking 15k more we made it to a new amazing beach and we did a little exploring before we found the most awesome
in the world! After the reggae bar it was time for bead again so we cud start up early in the morning. The next morning was a little windy so we just made it over to the other side of the island (20k) where the style switch from backpacker to resort but we found a good place to stay the night.
We were up before the sun the next morning to estimate the weather and we decided to go for it! On the way over the waves got really big but it was deep enough so the waves dined brake so at one moment we cud see land and in the other only the wave! Up and down we went until we made it to Bang Ben and the waves just throw us in to land and this was when we learned to secure everything with rope! As we dragged us and the kayak into land the chef of the resort was there to welcome us and make us some good food! We got a room and checked the weather for cast, it didn’t look too get any better the next week and after failing to get out through the waves we accepted the offer from the locals to take us to Khura Buri by car. The distance to Khura Buri (50k) was thug a national park with little possibility’s for help so to be on the safe side we accepted the ride.
After a little while we arrived in Khura Buri and was ready to keep on kayaking and we got a lot of attention as we were kayaking down the mangrove river and head out to the islands but as we got close to koh Ra the storm we had passed had suddenly changed direction and boats was warring us to go back to land something we barely managed to do! The waves, current gave us a good fight but we made it! Now we were stranded on an island that after a Google search we found out was a good place for bird watching. We started walking along the beach to find some kind of shelter and after a while we found a little camp site where one Thai man was living and he offered us roof over our head and some fresh fish for dinner, he also took us for a wake to a waterfall! Really nice man though we almost got lost in the jungle! The next day when we checked the forecast it was rain, rain and rain for the next week and recommendations for all ships to stay in port!
While we were chilling a longtaile showed up with some locals training on guiding tourists and asked if we wanted a ride back to town so we cud stay there until the storm had passed? We accepted the kind offer but they can’t take us there straight because they needed to finish up the trip so we joined them to a Chinese temple that was almost finished, some beaches and for some fishing.
One kayak, two Norwegian and one Thai on one motorbike.
Thats how they took us to their motel in Khura Buri and we ended up staying for some days due to the weather, not too much to do in Khura Buri but I had some nice wakes, good food and we got a painter to officially give the kayak the name Lagertha. Four days later and it was still a lot of rain in the forecast but after talking to the locals we decided to go in the rain due to we were protected by the islands if we took the route inside of the islands and up the river to Baan Nam Kem
After 30k in perfect kayaking conditions! A little rain, no sun and no wind we made to a small fishing village where we manage to get a room and some food before nightfall! And when we went for a wake in the evening a fisher family called us owner for some company falang falang come here they sad! And as we always do we accepted the invitation and had a really nice night with good food and beer!
By this time we have started to understand the tides and how to use them and that is a rally good thing! Today’s distance of 25k goes through a mangrove river and we have to make it there before the tide shifts and we will have the tides against us in the river. We started up with 7k of wavy water until we were in the river stream and the sun came out! The mangrove was so nice and so many eagles and other birds to watch! Totally amazing feeling of freedom in the nature. We were singing to keep moral up but we were a little too slow, just as we can see the goal the tide shifts and it gets really hard to kayak but we push on the last hour and make it to Baan Nam Kem just at the tsunami memorial center.
We take a wake trough the tsunami memorial center of Baan Nam Kem, it’s a strong feeling as you go thug the wave and see photos and names at least 3500 lost their life in this town when the wave hit and destroyed the town, this is the highest number in a town in Thailand on this day. One of the boats that was dragged on land is still there as a memory of that day.
We get a please to stay here and Morten gets some antibiotics for his cut that got infected and we are off on the next part, the goal is Khao Lak witch is almost 30k away something that is not a big problem for us anymore and we make it to our first touristic area since we started this journey. I have to admit that we cod need a day off kayaking but we agreed on that this was not the place! So the next days we will continue thug the longest beach in my life and a huge national park.
It’s now 60k left until we are at the crossing to Phuket Thailand’s biggest island and where Morten will end his journey with me. We have a good day of kayaking where we end up setting camp by an old ranger station (30km) and the day after we have to cut the kayaking short due to a storm that came out of nowhere and as we made it back to shore the wave throw us long and fast I landed on land and Morten got off in the water but was thrown on land with the next wave!
As we secured the kayak on land we found that we had arrived just by a magical temple! We left our equipment by a little shed and went to the temple area, amazing temples and so quiet no tourists. We find some monks but the first ones just point us in a direction until we find a monk that spoke English, after a long nice talk we are allowed to stay in the shed by the beach, they will take us shopping and we are invited for breakfast and morning prayer.
We woke up early to join breakfast and prayer and it was really nice! The locals came in with their cars and brought lots of food and the monks I remember my favorite was spareribs with pickled ginger! After the food and the prayer we said thank you for the hospitality and they sent us on our way with good luck wishes and a lot of food. The weather is good and it will be the last day of kayaking together and after 5 hours of kayaking we make it to the crossing over to Phuket but due to high waves we decide to lock up the kayak and get a ride to the bus station. It’s been an amazing journey so far and I am so happy I had Morten with me for the first half!
Mortens FB post after finishing
2 men. 1 kayak. 12 destinations in 15 days. From Ranong to Phuket, we did it! Well, except for the last few hundred meters where the currents were too strong, haha! 😄
We learned quite a few valuable lessons during our trip:
- Most landscapes look even more beautiful from the sea. - On the ocean, nothing is anywhere near as close as it appears. - Always secure everything in your boat. Always. - Remember to bring enough snacks, water and sunscreen. You never know when you might have to spend the night on a deserted beach. - When you stay away from the touristy areas, all of a sudden everyone starts offering you free food. - Thai people who don't speak any English will keep talking to you in Thai, even though you make it very clear that you don't understand a single word. - The weather in subtropical climates change in an instant when you least expect it.
The sights we have seen and moments we have shared are beyond words. It's been exhausting and even frightening at times, but most of all it has been an extraordinary adventure that I'm immensely grateful to have been able to share with you,
. Best of luck on the rest of your journey, man! 😃
I deseeded to join Morten to Koh Lanta for a week of relaxation before I continue kayaking and after some hours on the bus we arrive at Pitt Bungalow, this is a really good place to stay and I always return back here! For 300-500 baht you get a nice little bungalow and a motorbike included and its not far from the beach. And after a week of geocaching and exploring koh Lanta it time for me to say my goodbyes to all the wonderful people I meat here and get my ass back to Phuket.
But on the way Matt and I took a short trip by Krabi to Show him The Dragon Crest mountain and Tigre temple
When I return to Phuket a friend has offered me a place to stay the first night and that he will drive me back to the kayak in the morning, the morning comes and we drive from Rawai and as we get close to the bridge of Phuket I hear a BOOOOOOOOM and the bike starts shaking. I know we are in trouble going around 70km on the highway and some seconds later we hit the road hard and I pass out!
I wake up with my head on the side for oncoming traffic, cars are passing right next to my head and I know I need to get out of the road. I try to stand up but the pain is too much so I just collapse and black out again. Second time I wake up I start dragging myself out of the road, I see my friend made it to the side, a car has stopped and I pull myself out and pass out again. By the time I wake up police is there and I get my ass up to standing, my friend is talking to the police saying we are fine, don’t worry we will be on our way soon…. The police say ok and drive off and after a little while so do we try to. But the tier is blown out and then I see my friend’s collarbone, its broken and I tell him sorry but we are going to the hospital now! He gets nervous and tell me that he doesn’t have a license and I tell him it doesn’t matter we have to go. We stop a car that takes u to the next hospital and the doctor just look at us and say you need to go to a real hospital! What hospital do you want? I say we have incurrence so just send us to the best one! Bangkok hospital he say then and call for ambulance transport. After a drive to hospital and excellent service by all the beautiful nurses that cleaned my wounds and the doctors clearing me and my friend we were on our way back to his house.
The doctors had recommended me to stay out of water for four weeks so after three days with chrismas in pain, geocaching, making a new friend and a check at the hospital. My new Israeli friend and I was on our way out to explore.
We started out with hiking in amazing Krabi!
Hidden beaches, Tiger temple, Dragon crest mountain and so much more!
Then we made it to koh Samoi for New Year but by the time we realize that this was not our kind of island it was too late so we spend the night in our box hostel before we took the first boat of the island and we arrived in koh Pha Ngan.
The people at koh Pha Ngan looked terrible! Hahahah everyone had body paint on and it looked like they had partied for a week! After a good Indian breakfast we made it to our hostel for the night. This is the kind of hostel that you never want to leave! The people of
l hostel took us out for a bike ride to some nice places and for sun down Amsterdam bar was the place to chill, placed on top of a hill it gives an amazing view of the sunset.
For our last days together we head down to Krabi area and koh Lanta before we take the bus to Bangkok and say goodbye.
Photos are from
, a good place to drop by and support there work!
She takes a flight back to Jerusalem and I’m in Bangkok trying to find out where to go next and while in the hostel a man tells me about this magical train that takes me from Bangkok to Cambodia at 4am for 48 baht. Its 2.30 am and I’m waking over an hour thug smelly Bangkok to get to the train station, I get my ticket and get my as on the train to sleep at my not the best seating on a 3rd class ticket. When I wake up the train is moving more people have gotten there seat, I make a new Spanish friend that live in siem reap and he invite me to stay at his place and share taxi cost from the border. I will recommend this amazing train ride to all backpackers! An amazing sunrise, new local food at every stop, really nice locals and some other brave travelers!
At the end of the line we get a bus to the border and with no big problems we get inn to Cambodia! When you arrive here the will try to sell you a bus ticket, don’t get this one! They will take you to a bus stop far away where everything is expensive and make you wait for a long time (I was told) so my friend and I kept on walking thug a lot of aggressive taxi drivers until we got someone that gave us the price we wanted and some hours, 8 usd and one Police bribe later we were in Siam Rip
I got my own room and a bike to use so I used the days to explore the city witch is really nice only thing that was a little weird was one time when I when to the restrooms a man started to massage me while urinating, it turned out that this was his job! But the reason to go to Siam reap is the amazing Angkor Wat temples! Found by a French naturalist in 1860 while searching for exotic insects in the jungle of Cambodia. Building started early 800 and grew to one of the largest cities (Angkor Tom) in the world unto the early 1600 it was estimated that 100.000-150.000 people lived here.
After this amazing dive into history I say my goodbyes once more and got a night bus to Saigon also known as Ho chi Minh. The first thing you will notes when you get to this city is all the motorbikes! I have never seen so many motorbikes in my life! And to cross the street you just start walking and keep the same pace! Then you just trust that the drivers don’t hit you! And after almost beaning run over sometimes I finally see a familiar face it’s my friend
! He is on his own journey and the reason I decided to take four days in Saigon! Most of the time here was spent in bars just having fun! Saigon is an amazing place and as soon as you are by yourself there are someone approaching you for small talk. There are game bars where they have hundreds of board games, language nights at bars, and just the normal bars. I ended up missing my flight due to having an amazing time but after 10 days my time was over and Jonathan had found the girl of his dreams! If you want a noisy city with a lot of love and good street food Saigon is the place!
When I arrive back in Phuket a month has passed and I can finally use my right hand again and my cuts are healed so I get my kayak and start of from Phuket and this time I’m all by myself. A little scary but on the other hand very freeing! From now I just have to think of myself.
The crossing over to koh Yao Yai was different! Testing out handling the kayak by myself, hoping the arm works and I had the wind against me the whole time, but I made it over and found myself a nice little lagoon where I sat up camp, there were some nice men building a resort there and some nice dogs that was very happy to get a visitor.
when I wake up the next mooring reedy to go but the weather didn’t look to good. But I decided to go for it anyway. The rout of the day was to make it over to koh Yao Noi for lunch and from there kayak over to Krabi. Getting to koh Yao Noi was a struggle and I had to give up when I came between the islands, the sea was to rough so I turned back and set up camp at a nearby beach until the tide was at its highest and made a new go for it. It had come down a little so I manage to get to the part of koh Yao Noi that faces Krabi and after a lunch I made my attempt to cross but the waves just got bigger and bigger and I had to turn back again and find a bungalow for the night.
After a good night sleep I was back in my kayak for sunrise, the sea was calmer but the waves still was big. After many hours of kayaking I made it over, I wish I had taken the time to visit all the islands on my way over but the weather was unstable and it was hard enough getting over. As I made it over I had some lunch and kept on kayaking a little south to the sun started to set.
I got to park my kayak in a Rasta bar so it would be safe and found a room not far away, I had a good night in the bar telling my story and a good breakfast and coffee before I started kayaking against Krabi town.
And after some hours of kayaking I passed the place from my dream! In this area I have seen some of the best views in my life, the dragon crest mountain and the sunsets here are amazing! Spend a couple of nights at Pine bungalows and explore the area and you will not be disappointed!
I unforgnetly didn’t have time to stop here this time so I just let the memory’s come back to me and continued kayaking to Ao Nang. On the way I passed by Railay Beach and had a brake at Phra Nang beach where they have a cave with a lots of wooden dicks you can pray to. And as I kayak away from Railay a Local storm hits me hard and I’m being dragged back to Railay so I give up fighting and get myself a good meal.
The local storms comes hard and fast but they are over in 1-2 hours, I made it to Ao Nang and checked inn to the cheapest hostel on Agoda, my first party hostel! It was an interesting experience but I don’t need rules for when I can drink so I left the party and found myself a good reggae bar with good live music before I found my bead.
The next day was perfect for kayaking, a little cloudy and some rain. But as I get close to Krabi town I turn around as I hear a Long Tail boat behind me, AND ITS JUST SOME SECONDS FROM RUNNING ME OWER! So I kayak all I can to the side and hi just barely hits the back of my kayak, he hadn’t seen me and was happy not to hit me. I get my pulse down and continue inn to town for a good night sleep.
In the next days I kayak to koh Sirboya where I spend a night and continue the next day all the way to koh Lanta, when I arrive at koh Lanta I’m exhausted, I haven’t had a brake since Phuket, and my food from Sirboya to Lanta had gone moldy so I did the hole distance without food and my skin was dark brown and started to peel off, but I was determined to continue one more day to the middle of koh Lanta and back to
where I was going to have two resting days just chilling and eating! And after some well-deserved rest I had a short day of kayaking to the south of the island so I would be ready for the crossing to koh Nagi.
When I kayaked in to a beach I meat a enthusiastic Swedish photographer that wanted to take some photos.
The trip over to Koh Nagi went really good and the water there are crystal clear! But it’s a expensive island to stay at so after a night here I was out at sunrise kayaking on came waters to koh Muk I had herd tails about an amazing cave on koh Muk that I wanted to see but when I got there the tides was on its way up and the opening was getting smaller, I decided to go in any way! As I was swimming inn everyone else was swimming out and they all asked if I had a flashlight and when I was there all by myself and all the flashlights had swim out I understand why they asked, it was pitch black but I felt my way true the cave and after a while I saw the light! And I swim to it, when I got out you are in the middle of a sink hole in the middle of a mountain. It’s a small beach there and just mountain that goes straight up at all sides. I take in the magical sight for some minutes before I remember that the tide is going up and that I need to get out. On my way out I feel my way but at firs attempt I hit a dead end and I feel my way back before finding the right way out, I swim out to the kayak and continue to the beach. I find myself a room for the night and explore a little before I find myself a reggae bar to relax and I decide to stay one more day to explore some more. It’s a good vibe on the island and the reggae bar owner painted a portrait of me and took a photo he said he would hang up between Bob Marley and Bob Dylan.
I’m getting used to saying goodbye now and the longer I stay somewhere the more I want to stay there but I got my goal and I’m going to make it! So I keep on kayaking this time to koh Libong! I just stayed here for one night but the amazing people there made me wane go back one day!
On the next day I kayak to koh Sukon and it starts out with on wind, the water is like a mirror and no boats out! Perfect day for kayaking as I say to my gopro, I’m kayaking faster than on any other distance…… but it’s always came before the storm! I’m maybe 15-30 min off the beach where I want to spend the night when I see a wall of clouds, rain and lighting coming against me in an incredible speed! And I don’t make it inn in time, the waves grows bigger and bigger and they are coming from all sides, I can’t see land anymore and lighting is hitting around me! By this time I have stopped fighting the awesome power of the sea and just trying not to get flipped over and out of the kayak! Suddenly I get a need to scream! ODIN ALLFATHER IS THIS ALL YOU GOT FOR ME???? And then it got a little worse before the storm passed and I had drifted far out to the sea, I was tired after fighting the storm and thanks to muscle memory and will I made it in just as the sun was setting and I needed help dragging my kayak up the beach. By this time I know my body well so I booked two nights in a good bead and slept like a baby for most of the time I was here.
After my rest, Pak Bar is my next stop but once again I cud see a storm coming against me and this time I made it into Rawai beach before it reached me, here I was meet by some locals that took me to the only place I cud rent a room and I’m really glad that I had my mosquito net with me! I don’t think anyone had stayed here in years, spiders all over but I needed some protection from the weather so I accepted the room for 150 baht. My new local friend took me for a ride around the village and invited me to his uncle please for some sweets and coffee. Rely simple standards and everyone was cheering what they got, good people! When the night was coming I was taken back to my room and I packed myself in the mosquito net and at five am I woke up with a huge spider over my face so I packed up my stuff and kayaked out in the sunrise again this time with a fleet of fisherman boats coming out of the village. An amazing view!
And this time the weather was with me, Next stop Pak Bara! I make it with no problems at all and find myself a good room at
where I came to take to the son of the owner and he asked me if I found the special place on the island of koh Khao Yai, and I say no but after he tells me more I booked one more night and with directions I get up in the morning reedy to explore and as you can see from the video and photos it was worth it! Amazing rock formations! And a small private beach and the entrees is so small so you need to know about it. I’m so happy I took the time to find this MAGICAL place! Thank you!
I’m getting close to Malaysia now, next stop will be koh Ya Ra, the weather is good the first half but the rest is a race to get to the island and away from some bad weather that just missed me as the wind turned and I made it to my goal. As I arrive just by the only resort on the island I’m welcomed by the workers there and taken on motorbike to get dinner before I go to sleep. In the morning I can use the motorbike to explore a little before I get in the kayak.
Next goal is Tammalang pier where I have to stamp out my passport before entering Malaysia.
The weather is really good but its mangrove area and the waters don’t go deep here and the bottom is muddy a lot of the time I had to exit the kayak and drag it after me to make it to deeper water but I made it this time too and as I come in to the pier a grope of Thais ask where I come from and when I say Ranong I get a big round of applause, help getting the kayak out and dinner on the pier! They also give me a lift to Satun town where I will spend my last two night in Thailand. I got good help finding out if I can kayak over the border and where to check in when in Malaysia.
The next morning I get a ride to the pier, get help stamping my passport and help getting my kayak in the water. And 15-20 people waving my good luck! It’s a good feeling crossing the border! I made it!
And as I made it in to Kuala Perlis some fishermen offered to take care of my kayak for a week while I was relaxing in Langkawi and guided me to the immigration office. And you shod have seen their faces when I came inn to the office in Harlem pants green Bob Marley shirt as a long bearded Scandinavian. And when I told them I just finished kayaking Thailand and I wanted to see Malaysia next they were fast at approving and stamping my passport, give me recommendations and guide me to the ferry to Langkawi!
My FB post after crossing
I just finished kayaking Thailand's west coast from north to south! This has only been done by 4 people that i heard of during my travels. That’s probably a little more than 312 Nautical mile = 577.82 Kilometers in straight lines on the map kayaking (have not included drifting) in 10 weeks 4 of them we due to motorbike accident. Most of my time here in Asia have been in some sort of pain and i have never felt more alive! I have made some really good friends on my travels and reconnected with an old one how joined me on the first half. This would not be possible without the love and support of my family and friends! I love you all! Now I’m going to take some time to rest and decide if I will try to make it to Singapore! The full story you can find on
And if I hope you will share this story so others can be inspired to live out there dream!
Because this all started with a dream 7 years ago where I was kayaking but at that time I did not know where it was, that was until I was invited to my friend’s wedding in Thailand and I was sitting alone watching the sunrise and remembered this please from the dream 7 years ago!
7 February 2017 is when crossed over to Malaysia.
Thank you for reading!
Lots of Love
Joachim Larssen The ShibbyTravele