Having read some of descriptions of entering and leaving a “Hong” in Phang Nga Bay the thought of exploring one for the first time was making me nervous – for fear of becoming trapped or worse, drowning.
The cruising pilot says:
“These shallow water fully-enclosed lagoons, open to the sky, are only accessible through caves at certain stages of the tides …..If you miss the timing you may have to slither out on your belly in the mud or wait for six hours inside the Hong for the next opportunity to escape.”
And specifically about the one we were intending to enter on the east side of Koh Phanak
“The Hong in this location is difficult to access and only at lower than mid tide.”
Yikes! Flitting through my mind were visions of getting stuck in the dark not being able to find my way out or getting caught in the strong currents that the cruising guide also gives warnings about.
In the event, it was really not difficult but still exciting. We went early in the morning so no tour boats were about. We landed the dinghy on a small beach and after a couple of false starts headed into the correct cave. It was black as night, thank goodness for the torch on our smart phones!
We made our way through the circuitous tunnel with the water varying from a small trickle to calf deep. We followed a bend in the tunnel and suddenly there was light!
We walked out into this massive space – larger than several football pitches that was totally encircled by the tallest cliffs imaginable.
It felt for all the world like a secret garden – locked away from the world with just the sound of sweet bird song to break the silence. Maybe it was my imagination but to me it felt eerie and expectant – a little bit ominous even.
Although it was quite beautiful and I was no longer afraid of getting stuck or drowned, I wasn’t sorry to go back through the cave to the little beach where thankfully, our dinghy was waiting for us.
Hongs are all very well but I’d rather hang out in wide open spaces thank you very much!