Koh Libong: Getting Caught at High Tide

The Thailand Island-Hopping adventure continues on Koh Libong.

The sun was setting, the tide was out, the longtail boats were wedged in the sand among the scattered rocks and shells. Every direction seemed a great photo and so off we went. The little jungle-covered island just offshore from Koh Libong’s easterly point was now connected to the mainland, a collection of tide pool creatures holding out for dear life for the sea to recover them. Locals walked the wet land bridge searching for clams and were coming back with bags of them. We passed them, trying to get to the island like a mountaineer rushing to the summit to plant a flag: We claim this in the name of us.

The last man coming across had two kids in tow, playing with shells and rocks along the way, but keeping up with dad who appeared to have some place to be.

We said hello in Thai and he responded in kind, paused, and then asked us what we were doing. Going to look over there, Peung said, pointing at the other end of the rocky path. He looked back at it as if there were perhaps something other than what he knew that we might be pointing at. He nodded, and continued on back toward shore.

I saw a half coconut shell among the rocks and as I approached there was a clattering noise as if someone had dropped a fistful of tiny poker chips into a plastic cup. I leaned forward to look inside and the bottom was a tangle of tiny crabs – perhaps hermit crabs – all having loosed their grip at the same time to roll into the bottom of the shell and withdraw into their own from the approaching giant. They must have all been almost to the lip of the coconut shell, nearly escaped. I’m guessing one of the kids had imprisoned them there before heading back.

Peung stopped to check out some interested coral pieces and I made the last few steps to the other side where a path was cleared of shells and stones to a small clearing on the shore where someone could still stand with dry feet when the tide is high. Fishermen likely took breaks there during the day.

That’s when Peung shouted to me, “Hey, we should get back before the tide comes in.”

Ach. “Oh, OK, honey,” I said in my Homer Simpson voice, “we better run or the tide will catch us.” But I took a furtive look at the water’s edge trying to ascertain if it was really coming in fast, like those places where the grade is really low and the inching water can travel a mile in a moment. “Like a galloping horse,” I’ve heard said of a place in France, or was it Belgium?

Sure enough when we got halfway back to the mainland we could see the sky reflected in an unbroken band before us, connecting the divided sea.

“I told you!”

It was pretty fast indeed. Ankles in some parts, almost to the knee in others, but we waded across before it became a swim.

MORE PHOTOS:


At low tide many of the boats rest on the rocky shore until the water returns.


When the tide comes back in, it does so quickly here, eventually covering the entire gap from the beach all the way to the small island offshore.


I found this little octopus — its body about the size of my fist — hiding in a small water-filled hole at the edge of the beach. I only noticed because it was pushing water through its funnel causing the surface to surge up rhythmically.


Sunset from Koh Libong