Week 2, December 13th – 20th
I’m ditching the day to day format. It’s too time consuming! So much happens and I end up writing extended highlights that take far too long. So, I’m moving to a weekly update to see how that goes.
If week 1 was head first in to the brightlights and bustle of Bangkok, then week 2 was more like head whenever in to the power cuts and paradise of Koh Tao. The last day of Bangkok and the first day of Koh Tao kind of merged into one, mainly due to the overnight bus journey and lack of sleep. I even made a mistake in the journal with the dates and it was only a couple of days later I realised I was out of sync!
As I mentioned in the last blog, it was great to meet Seije from Finland at the train station. We were both really tired but managed to have some sort of conversation and ended up sitting together on the catamaran for the 1 hour 30 min trip to the island. Not that it made much difference as, once we headed away from the dock we both fell asleep! We arrived in Koh Tao bang on time which is something very unusual in Thailand, they have a special saying ‘Thai time’. I like it. It suits my world!
As we arrived at Mae Haad, I looked across to the right to spot Master Divers. I had received a message from them via Twitter after I had tweeted saying I was heading to Koh Tao. They had kindly offered to help me out with anything I needed whilst on the island. You learn pretty quickly when travelling that ANY kind of local advice is a sure fire way to making your visit much more enjoyable, and definitely less ‘touristy’.
It was still pretty early and neither me or Seije had enjoyed much sleep over the last 24 hours so we decided to join forces and find a place to share. Another great move when travelling. If you can find someone you feel you can get along with, sharing costs is, well, priceless! Plus, the company is always welcome too! We found a room pretty quickly after first of all being offered a double! A half decent room on Mae Haad with shower and air con for 250thb each, happy days. We checked in and promptly fell asleep. A long sleep. Until 3pm, lovely! Fairly unusual for me, but as I came to learn, not for Seije – she can sleep for Finland!
After a quick bite to eat, we headed off to explore the ‘main drag’ of Koh Tao; Sairee Beach. Amongst the first things you cannot fail to notice on Koh Tao are the motorbikes. Other than boat, the only way to get around the island is by bike or 4×4. The ‘roads’ are little more than dirt tracks and, if there was an emergency pothole number here like we have in England well, they’d need an army of a thousand people to take the calls (that’s if the Thai’s could be bothered to make the call, they’d probably just fill it themselves with sand and newspaper and get on with it!). The other thing is the wildlife, it’s a cocophony of noise from the cicadas, to the frogs and the geckos. It’s the soundtrack to paradise, not to everyones taste but I loved it! Especially the geckos – I WANT ONE! GECK-OOO, GECK-OOO! Mind you, the first time I stepped into a room with a gecko hanging out on the ceiling, I can’t say it was love at first sight!
Then finally there is the power, or lack of. The government provided power is at best, intermittent. If you are not fortunate enough to be one of those on the island with a private back up generator then, it’s lights out I’m afraid! That is, until such time that the boys find a few baht to chuck back in the meter. We experienced quite a few during the week. At one place, electricity was only provided from 7pm -12am. Imagine that on the Costa Del Sol, haha!
On the first full day I headed off to explore, and catch some rays on the beautiful beaches. Seije was dead to the world so I just left a note in case she wanted to meet up for something to eat later on. Another thing I love about meeting other travellers. If you wanna spend some time alone, you just do it. There’s no hang ups, no dramas just – whatever!
I had to take a shower in the dark as, yep, the power was out. It was also scorchio in the room as, of course, the air con was not running. I took my laundry to get done but was told ‘come back tomorrow, no power’. Hmmm, there is definitely something romantic in this electricity lottery but like any romance, it has it’s ups and downs!
I paid a visit to the Master Divers and met Aeysha (I think that’s how you spell it!). She provided me with a map of the island and marked out some good spots, including a few secluded bays. This time the help given was honest, unlike my ‘friendly monk’ back in Bangkok and his mate in the tuktuk! The main thing that caught my eye was a bay called Aow Leuk. Aeysha said she could get me a 4×4 taxi to pick me up at her place and take me over, although he would have to drop me at the top of the bay as the roads were too bad! Perfect, only accesible by foot or boat – I’m in.
The rest of the day was spent blogging and sunning. After the sunset (which was awesome) I headed up to the Fishbowl where I was going to have tea, which I’d told Seije on the note incase she wanted to join me. Seije arrived just after 7pm. We swapped stories from the day, both having found out info on different places so we decided to check them out over the next few days. After tea we headed down to the Lotus bar which I’d read about, and also been told about by Aeysha. It’s one of the main party spots on the island, and party it was! A free fire poi show was held on the beach and those guys were amazing. Even coming into the crowd and spinning flaming balls of fire over the heads of the customers, pure class! From there we hit the dance floor, one too many Changs meant the lawnmower was broken down so could not be deployed on to Koh Tao. We did manage to rock out some other interesting moves though, in the sea! Another first on my world adventure!
Next morning, the guys at Master Divers kindly organised us a 4×4 taxi and we headed to Aow Leuk. The road down to the bay was certainly an interesting one, especially with the backpacks in 30c+ heat!
The bay was stunning, and aside from the few bungalows scattered around, only had one restaurant. It closed at 9pm. This place is clearly one for the honeymooners, or couples! We had a good joke about ‘what should we do now’? Haha!
It was here that I experienced my first proper Thai food, and it was here that I felt a fool that I had not tried it sooner. It is dee-lish-us! I had Thai red curry, and also tried out a coconut. I loved it. I was bounty. (Sorry, this ‘Dad’ style joke only works in a Scottish accent and then only if you’ve heard the original, which I won’t bore you with now!).
Some other things I indulged in on the island were Pad Thai curry (with Tuna) YUMMY, and also something called No Name. Genuinely. This was another tip from Aeysha, and a very good one at that! Although, I have to say, I couldn’t finish the portion I was served and would probably only ever eat it perhaps once a month! I can only describe it as a deep fried vegetable and chicken party.
I didn’t have a great night sleep in Aow Leuk as this was my first night sans air-con, with fan only. Cheaper price, but very hot! Over the next few days I got used to it, but that first night was bad!
Next morning, due to the total lack of evening entertainment we headed back down to Mae Haad. This time we hiked across the island. With the backpacks. And the searing sun. A great adventure, but probably something you would only do once!
As I had choosen Aow Leuk, it was Seije’s turn to choose the next destination. On the first day she had discovered a jungle path that led off to some nice looking bays. As we’d spent the morning hiking in the heat, we decided to make use of the taxi-boats. We met a guy at Mae Haad whose price started at 400thb, but eventually we paid 200thb. Nice. He took us round to a bay called Siam Nuan. We found a bungalow, complete with live in gecko (huge), left our stuff and headed off to explore the bay. It was pretty overcast when we came across a VERY cool bar called Banana Rock, totally made from wood and overlooking the sea. We found some seats and spent the rest of the afternoon there, avoiding the rain.
Later in the evening we were joined by a lovely Finnish couple, Patrick and Jemina, and an Austrian guy called Uma. The guy who runs the bar, ‘Joey’, is very cool. VERY cool! I can only describe him as some kind of ‘Thai hippy’. He came and joined us for the night along with his guitar and some interesting smokes. It was a top night, really laid back. Great company, great tunes and some wise words of wisdom from Joey. My favourite being one relating to karma -:
“If you be good, Jonny be good. If you be bad, Jonny be bad”.
He had a great attitude to life. His home was destroyed in the Tsunami and he said with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen ‘I don’t have a bungalow anymore, I only have sand’. I won’t forget this guy.
The next few days were spent checking out the island, including a very interesting walk we took into Mae Haad from Siam Nuan through the jungle path! It was pretty hairy in the day, but when we walked back through it at night after a couple of sherberts it was even more interesting! Particularly on the last night when we’d been drinking in a bar called Karma, downing the evil Changs with little regard for the trips we were both taking the next day. Seije spent most of the time peeling the labels from her bottle. Me and some other guys in the bar had great fun telling her what that was a sign of! At that point, she made a phone call to her boyfriend – haha! Poor guy!
The next day I was due to head back up to Bangkok (around a 10 hour journey) and Seije was heading on to Koh Pangan for the Full Moon party. A taxi boat was picking us up at 8.30am! There seems to be a malfunction in my matrix that convinces me it’s a good idea to go out drinking the night before something big. It could be a flight home, or even a wedding (!!) but it’s a classic trick of mine that never fails to get me in trouble.
On that particular walk back we decided to head into a resort we’d passed on the jungle path as they had a rather lush looking pool. It was all Seije’s idea, I was completely led astray honest, but we got inside pretty easily and went for a swim at about 3am! And no, if you’re wondering. We did not skinny dip.
Next morning was not good. The ‘Changover’ kicked in big style. Apparently, it’s sold as 6.4% but is unregulated meaning your beer could be as much as 10% sometimes! It’s like a chang lottery. I said goodbye to Seije and headed off to the pier. The sea was rough. Very rough. The catamaran was all over the place, and so was I! I took up a perfect position, just in front of the toilet door and prayed for dry land. It’s a lonely feeling miles from home, with no one around to give me sympathy (who am I kidding? Like I would get any!! Haha!)
I arrived in Bangkok, having had one more ‘drama’ on the coach journey (luckily, the WC was vacant!). It was late at night, but this time I was prepared! I dodged all the taxi guys, and tuktuk terrorists and made my own way on foot to the Khao San Road area which is littered with hostels. I didn’t want to stay directly on KS Road, bit too lairy, so I found a place around 2 blocks away. It was very cheap, around £3 a night but was like a prison cell! One single bed, shower/wc room and no window. I only stayed there for one night before moving on. It’s the way of my world now, and I kinda like it.