5.3 Koh Tao
It took us about seven hours to reach the island of Koh Tao, first by a frantic minibus journey to catch the coach, then a long drive, a ferry, a short walk, and then squashed in the back of a pick up truck, which are the island’s alternatives to taxis. Our hotel is five minutes, straight down the strip, to the beach. It is a little cloudy just at the moment, but when the sky is blue it is paradise. A classic yellow beach lined with bars and restaurants, green palm trees and, just off shore, a line of colourful fishing boats. During the day you can shop or sunbathe or eat sushi, perhaps even get a thai massage, if you’re feeling the need to be violently flexed, or just smugly Instagram pictures of your tanned bod from one of the many cafés which provide high speed WiFi (and where would we be without WiFi?)
We’ve enjoyed some awesome food, sitting in the traditional way: cross legged on the floor of the restaurant, which is actually wildly uncomfortable. I’ve eaten a curry that was so spicy I nearly blacked out, a Coffee shake which made me never want to drink any other drink ever again, and more than a couple of english breakfasts, because a night out in Koh Tao can do that to a person. I normally feel pretty apathetic about food, but I am suddenly finding myself spoilt for choice in restaurants. I don’t think I’ve ever been really excited to eat food in my whole life, and you have no idea how good it feels to get passionate about eating for the first time.
I’ve enjoyed having free time and the run of an island, and, seeing as I am obsessed with getting a tan, I’ve spent a fair amount of time lying on the beach and watching the slow parade of human life shuffle past my beach towel. Mostly young travellers like ourselves, toting around beach towels, freshly inked tattoos, flourescent clothing and hangovers. I’ve actually not seen many Thai natives on the island, it really is just a hotspot for tourists, and although there are a few older couples and young families (best observed before midday, while the crowd of teenagers are still in bed or else holed up in one of the many cafés, eating bacon and promising never to drink again.) I have to say that although I’ve had my fair share of the nightlife, I haven’t exactly gone crazy, and I feel positively middle aged, sometimes heading home before midnight, or uttering the words; “I would love to go on a pub crawl, but I also want to eat sushi and then go to bed.” (The sushi was delicous…)
We had a group snorkelling trip on one day, and got to go over to some of the smaller islands on a boat and watch the tropical fish darting around the coral. I thought the snorkel element was just a bit of a faff and reverted to good old fashioned lung capacity, which was fun. We stopped for a couple of hours on Koh Nhangyan which was an absolute paradise, turquoise sea, yellow sand, bikinis and mojitos. Of course, instead of running full tilt into the salty embrace of the ocean, we decided to climb a few hundred stairs into the jungle to a rocky view point. It was gorgeous and I probably would have really enjoyed it if I hadn’t been blinded by the implausible amount of sweat which was dripping grossly from my face, my arms and pretty much every available surface. I realise that many of you good people signed up to this blog to hear heart warming tales of travels in foreign climes, but I would totally be misrepresenting Thailand if I didn’t mention the sweat at least once. (At least I’m not subjecting you to the story about how most of our group got sun stroke or dehydration or awful sun burn and the peeling and puking and passing out that ensued over the next few days…) Sometimes I feel like I should be making these blogs more fact-based, perhaps include a map or something, but I guess you can just google Koh Tao map (we went to Mango Bay), but you can’t google how truly fulfilling it feels to climb down a mountain feeling hot enough to melt, and slip into the sea to cool off in the most beautiful place on earth.
Thailand is certainly a force to be reckoned with, we’ve had a crazy good time on Koh Tao, but we’ve also suffered from the heat and the insects and the relentless sun exposure. I’m planning to take it easy for a couple of days, but we’re headed to the infamous party island of Koh Phangan tomorrow, so I’ll let you know how that goes! MTG, PV x Photos: Rob Carroll Instagram: rob_c17, http://www.instagram.com/rob_c17