The day we hiked to the viewpoint, John, Janet, Blake, and I woke up around 6:15 a.m., unzipped our way out of our slightly damp plastic tents, and then ambitiously proceeded to climb up a very steep hill, just so we could be the first ones to see the Ang Thong archipelago from the top.
The starting point of the hike is an unassuming trailhead tells you that the viewpoint is only 500 meters ahead, but it fails to mention the sharp gray rocks covered in slippery leaves, gnarly tree branches, and roots. Luckily, there is a rope, and it is necessary for approximately 98% of the steps you take. Our initial plan was go to before sunrise, but looking back, I think it would have been near impossible.
Each mini-viewpoint gives you a progressively more beautiful view of the islands, and each section of the climb gets progressively harder. And remarkably hotter. As we left the jungle tree-cover that we had been hiking under and neared the peak of the cliff, the temperature seemed to jump another 10 degrees. The sunlight reflected off the water below us and off the jagged limestone in front of us; there were no clouds in the sky and the breeze disappeared almost completely. Although I’m smiling in the picture above, I’m also secretly praying that you won’t be able to see the sweat that’s accumulated in more places than I care to reveal.
When we made it to the last and highest viewpoint, we triumphantly surveyed the islands below us and agreed that this view was amazing, breathtaking. So of course, the boys proceeded to climb higher, past the “No entry” sign, to go to the even higher, possibly even more perfect point. But Janet and I stayed on the wooden platform and gulped water; we laid down in the little bit of shade we could find and watched sparrows fly overhead as we waited for the breeze. Everything was peaceful and quiet and serene. It felt good, just the four of us and a little slice of paradise.