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A Mermaid’s Tale

The best part of traveling is meeting new people. As I was solo traveling in Moalboal, Cebu, I met a mermaid, Odessa Bugarin. She left her city life and became a scuba and free diving instructor, a professional mermaid, producer and conservationist.

In 2013, Odessa, a divemaster certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), joined a group of mermaid performer in the beautiful aquarium in MGM, Macau.

Odessa opened her own school, Mermaid Odessa Swimming Academy, in Anilao, Batangas and Moalboal, Cebu in 2015. That same year, she focused on her free diving and also gained her certification from the International Association for Development of Apnea Level 3.

In 2016, Odessa was one of the real-life mermaids who performed in the ADEX: Meet the Mermaids in Singapore and has been continuously invited to the event. ADEX is the longest running and the largest dive expo in Asia.

Her mermaid swimming skills became polished with training, and she has become comfortable using her mermaid tail, which she admits could be arduous and uncomfortable. “A mermaid coach will guide you and provide safety while you’re overcoming the discomfort coming from the fact that the tail binds your legs together. There are ways to make thing easy.” She said.

The Conservationist

“As a real life mermaid, I can use the fantasy of the wonderful mermaid world to reach out to people and spread my causes and advocacies. I started to meet people with the same passion. I realized that I could actually buy or get my own tail and so I did and I was addicted to it. I brought it everywhere with me which led into my rendezvous with underwater photographers. I then discovered that I could also do underwater modelling to promote marine life awareness and conservation.” Odessa said. As a diver, she calls herself an ambassador of the oceans, sharing her own deep and intimate connection with marine life.

Odessa joins clean-up drives and picks up trash from beaches and sea. She also volunteers to care for rescued dolphins.

Photo by Michael Aw, permission granted by Odessa

Her ease in the water has gotten her some plum assignments. Michael Aw, the founder of Ocean Geographic, said he worked with Odessa for a campaign against the use of crocodile skin and meat, and she even posed and swam with the crocodile. She also had a photo where she was dancing with the sharks. She conquered in diving the Avalon Jardines de la Reina – Gardens of the Queen and met notable persons sharing her advocacy to protect the marine environment.

Photo by Michael Aw -Dancing with the Sharks

Odessa’s message to would-be mermaids: “I hope that you do know that being a mermaid is not all about being beautiful or it’s not all about fantasy. It’s not all about cool photos and videos. Please use that beauty and fantasy to reach out to people. Be a mermaid, servants of the world’s oceans. Keep diving, exploring, and discovering. Share everything you know about the magical big blue. LOVE Mermaid Odessa.”

And behind the pretty face, perfectly-shaped body and synchronized dolphin kick swimming of a mermaid is a woman with a genuinely big heart for the ocean.

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One Day Tour at James Bond Island

Ao Phang Nga is located in the southern part of Thailand. It is notable due to the Ao Phang Nga National Park which includes the famous James Bond Island or Kao Phing Kan. Most of the parks are set in the coast of the Andaman Sea from the west and Phang Nga Bay to the south. Ao Phang Nga National Park is a 40 km sq park which includes 40 islands of numerous limestones tower karst islands. There are native mangroves forest in the park.

James Bond Island or Khao Phing Gan

The tour is known as James Bond Island Tour because the island used to be a location in one of the movies of James Bond, Man with the Golden Gun. It takes 1 hour and 30 minutes from Ao Por Pier to Khao Phing Khan.
The famous islet on the island is called Ko Ta Pu. You can only take a picture of Ko Ta Pu because it was prohibited to go to the islet to prevent its erosion. Koh Tapu is also known as Nail Island.
The island Kho Phing Khan has a few caves with two sandy beaches. One of the sandy beaches is used as the port for long tail boats. There are souvenir shops and coffee shop, toilets. The docking port is already cemented for the tourist. If you go to the rocky stairs, you will see the other one of the sandy beach with an open cave having stalactite formation.

Koh Hong or Hong Island

The whole group of tourist boarded the ferry for a sumptuous seven-course Thai lunch.
After lunch, the next activity is the sea cave adventure to Koh Hong or Hong Island. The island is known for canoeing, kayaking and swimming. Koh Hong also is known for the different rock formations and limestone karst. Hong in Thai is room, and it’s called Room Island where there is a hole opening up in the sky. Different caves surrounded the island but due to high tide, there are caves full of water.

Panak Island

Another sea cave adventure is the Panak Island where you can also see a hidden lagoon.

Lawa Island

The last activity is swimming is Lawa Island. Others do kayaking here also.

How to get there

Go to Ao Por Pier in Pa Khlok at the northern side of Phuket. The pier is a startup point going to nearby islands. This is an organized tour, you can find information on the internet and the travel shops in Phuket.

For more information about Thailand, you can check out the following links: Things to do in Koh Lipe, Thailand Koh Phi Phi

Phuket Attractions

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Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi or Phi Phi Island is situated in the Andaman Sea in Krabi, Thailand. It is a part of the Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. The group of six islands is located 46 km from Phuket and almost the same distance from Krabi. The two big islands are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley.

Going to Phi Phi Island

From Phuket International airport go to Sea Angel Port. Board a ferry or speed boat going to Phi Phi island.

There are other ferry ride going to Phi Phi Island from the different parts of Thailand. The ferry boats are available in Ao Nang, Ao Nang Railay, Koh Bulon, Koh Kradan, Koh Libong, Koh Lipe, Koh Lanta, Koh Nga, Krabi and Trang.

Touring Koh Phi Phi Don

Monkey Island

Monkey Island which is known by its name is inhabited by monkeys. A small boat will allow you to swim in the area and to see a closer look of the monkeys. The stunning rock formation, towering limestone cliffs and breath-taking beaches are seen before your reach the Tonsai Pier.

Tonsai Bay

This is where boats docked and where the pier is located. Ferries and long tail boats lined up in the beach. Information booths are seen around the pier. There’s a small park with a fish statue. Most of the hotels, restaurants, night bars, shops and massage centers are in Tonsai Village.

Loh Dalum Bay

The long sand bar and the view of the Loh Dalum Bay is parallel to Tonsai Bay. During low tide, a sand bar on the far right side appears and locals are playing football in the sand bar. Beach front hotels and restaurants are also in the area.

Long Beach or Hat Yao

The Long Beach or Hat Yao is a long stretch of the sand bar and much longer compared to Loh Dalum. The resorts and hotels along the sandbars of Long Beach are expensive from the ones near the pier. Hat Yao is also a village for the locals.

ViewPoint

The highest point in the island and the only inland attraction. You will see an isthmus that is sandwich between Tonsai Bay and Loh Dalum Bay.

Other areas

These are the more reclusive area in Phi Phi Don: Way Long Bay, Yong Kasem Bay, Nui Bay, Loh Lana Bay, Loh Ba Kao Bay, Phak Nam Bay, Rantee Bay and Loh Moh Dee Bay. Another village on the tip of the island is called Laem Tong where you can also see the Sea Gypsy Village

Phi Phi Ley

Consists of the different popular destination: Maya Bay, Loh Sama (Sama Bay), Palong Bay, Pi Ley Bay and Viking Caves.

Where to Stay

Phi Phi Banyan Villa

For more information about Thailand, you can check out the following links: Things to do in Koh Lipe, Thailand  One Day Tour at James Bond Island Phuket Attractions

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Things to do in Koh Lipe, Thailand

What’s the best thing to do during your stay in Koh Lipe aside from exploring the three different beaches – Pattaya, Sunrise and Sunset and also walking along Walking Street? Here are some useful guides in discovering the stunning island of Koh Lipe, Thailand.

How to Get There/Getting Around:

From Langkawi, Malaysia:

Ferry tickets are available at Kuah Jetty Pier or in Telaga Harbor Park. Ferry’s going to Koh Lipe are scheduled at 9AM, 11AM and 2PM. To avoid any inconvenience, be at the ticket office 1 hour ahead for Visa processing.

From Krabi, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi:

Different Ferry boats are from Krabi, Phuket and Koh Phi Phi going to Koh Lipe.

Transportation

The speed boats will stop near the beach area of Koh Lipe, and long tail boats will transfer passengers to get to the beach front. There are motorbikes taxi with sidecar in Walking Street. Another means of getting around the island is by long tail boats in the Taxi Boat station. The island is small, another way is also by on foot.

Island Activities

Snorkel Trips

1. Snorkel in Sunrise Beach – Koh Kra, Koh Talak, Koh Usen
2. Snorkel Discovery in Jabang, Koh Hin Nam, Koh Rawi, Koh Adang and Koh Yang
3. Far Island Explorer in Koh Hin Sorn, Koh Lugon, Koh Pulong, Koh Bulu, Jabang

Diving

Here are the different diving spots in Koh Lipe: Pattaya Corner, Koh Kra, Koh Taru, Koh Pung, Koh Talang, Koh Adang Stone Henge, 8 Mile Rock, Far Islands, Sail Rock, Seven Rocks and Lipe Shipwreck.

Other Activities

1. Boat trip around the Koh Lipe
2. Hiking in the mountains of Koh Adang
3. Kayaking

Where to stay

Pattaya Beach

Bella Vista
Z-Touch
Bundhaya
Family Song Resort
Sea Side Resort

Sunrise Beach – Hat Chao Ley

Gipsy Resort
Mountain Resort
Kathalee Beach Resort and Spa
Lipe Beach Resort

Sunset Beach – Hat Pramong

Raya
Sawan
The Hut

 

While walking along Walking Street, I saw a sign that says Gypsy Resort. It was a resort along Sunrise Beach. I found out that there are sea gypsie’s in Koh Lipe or what they called Chao Ley in Thai. I pass by the local school and Hat Chao Ley Village, the community where the Chao Ley resides.
Chao Ley or Urak Lawoi are aboriginal Malay people in the east Andaman coast. In preserving the heritage and helping the Chao Ley faces extinction, Project Urak Lawoi was launched. The project aims to raise awareness about Chao Ley heritage, culture and their conservation of their traditional way of life.
Project Urak Lawoi; Koh Lipe’s Heritage http://www.projecturaklawoi.org

For more information, you can also check my experience about Koh Lipe https://travelista.club/guides/koh-lipe-a-stunning-paradise-island/

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