My sister and I left Koh Phangan at 12/1 and arrived on Koh Tao (Mae Haad Pier – the only one) around 3pm. We managed to get a free Tuk Tuk ride to Scuba Shack Dive Centre along the main beach if we agreed to take a look around and, after hearing what they had on offer and being impressed with the way they treated us, we booked ourselves into their one day scuba diving experience for 2,000 baht each for the following day. By the time we had booked this and looked around for accommodation, we didn’t check into Pranee Bungalows until around 6pm; a basic double bungalow with fan and ensuite. We later took the 2 minute walk from our bungalow to the beach and found the restaurant linked with our bungalow was providing a BBQ on the beach – we grabbed a couple of sun loungers, tucked into our huge plate of food (mine a massive pork and vegetable kebab with baked potato, salad and aioli) and watched the sunset. A perfect first evening before heading back to our bungalow to crash, still suffering from Half Moon the night before.
We started the following day with an hour on the beach before heading back to Scuba Shack Dive Centre to be briefed on the day ahead. Chucked into a Tuk Tuk with our diving equipment we were taken to the pier, hopped on our boat for the day and headed out to in between the Nang Yuan islands for our diving – it was such a stunning spot. After getting into our super sexy wetsuits and attaching all our equipment, we jumped into the water and waded towards the shore where we first practiced various techniques in shallow water, from equalising our ears to clearing out our mask underwater if it filled up and how to retrieve your mouth piece if it fell out. We didn’t set out to do any dive until we were both comfortable with each technique.
For the next 40 minutes we then went scuba diving in the ocean, taking in the spectacular fish and incredible coral as we swam to depths of 11m. There was one point where I got water in my mouth – I don’t quite know what happened but all of a sudden I couldn’t seem to figure out how to get rid of it and instead kept taking in more, that I eventually had to signal to our instructor and make my way to the surface. However I managed to carry on afterwards, and eventually got used to the different way of breathing and feeling relaxed enough to really enjoy it. I was actually pretty proud of myself once we got back on board.
We then had the option to pay more for another dive or to go snorkelling instead – pretty exhausted from the dive we decided on the “relaxing” option of a nice snorkel. Being hurried in the water by our instructor as divers were waiting behind us, he barked we only had an hour before the boat would leave so we both went in with our waterproof bags in tow, being the knobs that we are. As soon as I jumped in and reached the surface I could see my “waterproof” bag had filled up with water, submerging my phone, iPod and purse. Desperate to get the contents dry I headed for the shore, but the water was a lot choppier now and we weren’t that close so it took a good 20 minutes to get there – Marie arrived a few minutes after me, realised her bag had also seeped in water, so we spent the next 10 minutes trying to get the contents dry before having to go back in the sea to make it to our boat in time – the water now pretty volatile, we arrived back on the boat completely exhausted with our bags once again filled with water and neither of our phones working. Brilliant.
Deciding that the only sensible solution to broken technology was to drown our sorrows, we went for dinner and cocktails before grabbing a bucket of blueberry and apple frozen daiquiris (being a massive blueberry fan, I went for that one, obvs) at a bar stall that was playing an eclectic mix of music, while we sat drinking them playing Connect 4, cos we’re super cool like that. Marie, I won 4 times out of 5, right?! We then headed back to a bar we had passed earlier, Diza, politely declining the tempting offer to take off our tops for a free drink, instead paying only 60 baht for G&Ts. We quickly joined a lovely group of Irish guys for some of the best – but sweatiest – dancing of my life along to commercial music from the 80s through to present (there was even a delightful Macarena moment with the whole dance floor involved). There are a few songs I heard almost every night during my time in the Thai Islands and this was no exception; apparently the Thai are huge fans of Eminem’s Slim Shady and Shakira’s Waka Waka. That night I also did that thing I do when feeling particularly carefree where I pretend to be able to breakdance, had the pleasure (?) of witnessing a guy pee and then awkwardly having a full-on conversation with him about it later and, as is the crazy thing with travelling, bumped into a guy I had previously met in Dalat (apparently I don’t reference individual names enough – WILL). At around 2am, far too drunk to continue, Marie and I headed back to our bungalow to sleep (or, as the case may be, to vomit – I won’t reveal which one of us chundered over the bungalow patio into the bushes below instead of heading for the classic route of down the toilet. Why follow the crowd, eh?)
We spent most of the following day at the beach after dropping our mobiles into a phone shop to see if they could be fixed before treating ourselves to a massage; Marie a Thai massage and me a neck and shoulder. At one point I was lying on my front when my masseuse sat on my bum and pulled my arms back towards her with such strength that I slipped down the mattress with her still on top of me; we had a good chuckle together. That evening we went for a ‘nice’ dinner at a ‘nice’ restaurant as it was our last “proper” night together (we had one more evening in Samui but Marie would be getting up ridic early the day after so it didn’t really count) before buying some drinks from the local shop (NOT a 7-Eleven; I’m only loyal when it suit me) and heading to the beach. As our luck had it there was a beach party at one of the bars (Lotus) and a flame-throwing performance going on, so we watched in awe, took part in fire limbo and danced on the beach before relaxing under the stars at the bar next door with a drink. A perfect “final” evening.
Before leaving Koh Tao – a small but beautiful island with a surprisingly great nightlife – at 3pm the following day to go back to Koh Samui I received the devastating news that my phone couldn’t be properly fixed and had to quickly purchase a new one (a shitty thing that doesn’t even have a flash for the camera). So the rest of my travels – with the next blog being about my time in Koh Phi Phi as I have already discussed my second visits to Samui and Phangan – are now being documented on something that feels almost as ancient as a Nokia 3210 (yet without Snake to keep me entertained). I guess you’re not supposed to be materialistic whilst travelling the world with only a backpack…