Koh Tao

Friday, 2 October 2015

We got up at half 8 which was the most difficult thing ever after waking up no earlier than 12 every day and grabbed some breakfast before packing up and getting a taxi to the ferry port. We went for the cheapest option which was a one and a half hour ferry at 12.30 for 450 baht each (which included a taxi to the port and the ferry itself - £8). There was a guy called Alex from Sydney in our taxi who we got chatting to on the way, so when we arrived the four of us found some shade while waiting to board, got the Thai equivalent of an orange Calippo and quizzed him about Australia and the rest of his travels. It's so nice learning about other people's lives, what they do, where they've been and where they're going. He gave us lots of good beaches to visit in Australia as well as some good tips (swim horizontally if you get caught in the current and tasty £2 pies from 7eleven) for when we go. He was boarding a different boat to go to Vietnam so after an hour and a half in the heat we quickly boarded our ferry and decided to make the sensible decision to sit downstairs with the luxury of air con instead of quite literally frying on the deck. 

All of the transport here is very organised, especially when you have a boat or bus ticket which is something I didn't expect. We have to get four more ferries during our time in Thailand and now it's something that we know how to do because of how easy it is to book and board. Approaching Koh Tao provided the most incredible views. Greenery and palm trees in the distance dotted with tiny wooden shacks. Wooden boats floating peacefully on the harbour and a quiet buzz of bars and restaurants. Luckily our hostel (Taco Shack) was only a few minutes walk away from the pier which is easy until you're loaded with a 14kg backpack on your back and a 5kg rucksack on your front. After a friendly reception, we checked into our first 12 bed dorm we've stayed in which was basic yet nice and clean, apart from the bathroom which was a bit grubby. We each had our own bunk near each other as well as our own locker, air con and chargers. 

Downstairs was a Mexican restaurant (hence where Taco Shack came from) so we had double cheese nachos and chicken fajitas to share which were really good. The hostel is quite small but quirky with colourful guest writing all over the walls in the open reception and a front garden area outside with a swing and wooden tables with cushions. One particular member of staff was so friendly and welcoming and immediately told us beer pong and flippy cup would be going on in the evening. He then came and sat down with us and after telling him what we wanted to do on the island, told us the best but cheapest way to snorkel and go up to the view point all in one day which was handy. 

After changing into our bikinis we got a taxi to The Sunset Resort on Sairee Beach which would have been a 25 minute walk and managed to barter it down to 200 baht from 300. Kate is ruthless when it comes to bartering, walking away when they say no to our suggested price and everything. Kick ass style. We got free use of the facilities at Sunset due to being Taco Shack guests but the pool looked as though it was being cleaned so we sat on the beach front which was scattered with patterned rugs, bean bags and small wooden tables. Sairee beach is beautiful - the sea is filled with old colourful wooden boats floating around and the sea floor is pure soft sand. The beach front is filled with different cafes, bars and restaurants all playing music but there's still such a chilled out vibe about it. We watched the sun set which is one of my favourite parts of the day and laid back on the beanbags to relax. It's a hard life I'm living, I promise. 

After a big Mexican lunch we grabbed some dinner from 7eleven and as soon as we got back to Taco Shack we saw Jack Anna and Anna who we met in Koh Phangan at Nomad House. We'd told them where we were staying a few nights ago so it was such a nice surprise when we found out they were staying there too. After catching up we got ready, went downstairs to the restaurant bit and played card drinking games. One of the Anna's didn't come out as she wasn't feeling too well so the five of us headed to Lotus Bar on the beach. There was fire shows, a limbo and music right on the beach front, and I literally mean five steps away from the sea, so after a bucket we moved on to Sunset Beach where the was also a pool party going on. Unprepared without bikinis we didn't go in but we sat out the front on the rugs and bean bags (like this morning) and had drinks. 

While there we met two guys from England, Chris from Leeds and Jamie from Minehead (who has never eaten a piece of meat, fun fact for you) who both went to Uni in Nottingham. Uni of though, not Trent. We found out that one of them lived about 5 minutes away from me and Abby in third year which is crazy, but he also travelled Australia for two years so we quizzed him all things Oz (common occurrence when we meet people who have been there). I'm seriously slowly falling in love with Koh Tao. It's the most beautiful island and the bars and restaurants on the beach front go from chilled in the day to buzzing at night, although if you head further up the beach there's a more relaxed and romantic vibe. It was a surreal moment standing on the beach, practically on a night out, surrounded by warm air and sea breeze and I seriously love it. 

After setting an alarm for 10 we got ready (having someone French plait your hair is painful) and went for breakfast at the restaurant in conjunction with the Koh Tao Central Hostel called Reef Sports Bar. The design of the hostel was pretty cool as it was inspired by the London Underground tube station signs. I had a full English and an apple juice which was amazing. Best breakfast I've had since being here and I genuinely felt so content. We decided to go snorkelling and go up to the view point so headed down to the pier and got a taxi boat over to Koh Nang Yuan with a French girl called Emily from our hostel. It was meant to be 400 baht each but we managed to barter it down to 200. The four of us hopped into a little colourful wooden boat and I tell you what, it was the most ungraceful of activities. Hands, legs and flips flops everywhere. Koh Nang Yuan was a 15 minute boat ride away and because it's a private island there's a 100 baht entry fee per person. Plastic bottles are banned from the island, you have to buy glass bottles of water. 

The minute we stepped off the boat I was completely blown away by how beautiful it was. You know you see pictures on Earth Pics on Twitter which look unbelievably perfect, I stepped right into one of those pictures. I fell in love with the island as soon as we got there and knew we had to trek to the top to overlook it. We decided to do that first so we could cool off after by snorkelling, but hiking up to the top at 12pm in the prime sunshine was a bad idea. The rickety and windy wooden bridge was a little unstable and the steps, although sheltered by trees, were a killer. Everyone walking up had to stop and while I imagine it would be tough back in England, in 30 degree heat and flip flops it's something else. It only took about 20 minutes and when we reached the top we had to climb up some rocks to the final rock at the top (infamous photo opportunity). We were standing right at the top overlooking the entire island and it was the most incredible thing I've ever seen and SO worth the gruelling and sweaty hike up. If you go, you NEED to go to the top because it just doesn't compare to anything else I've ever seen.

Even the walk down was pretty tough but when we were back on flat land we decided to dump our stuff on the pristine sand bank and go snorkelling which is something I've always wanted to do. We managed to rent masks and snorkels from our hostel for 100 baht each and looking as sexy as ever with my face suckered into plastic, we glided through the sea amongst all the tropical fish. We saw rainbow fish, a Dory fish as well as lots of other types. One side was filled with bigger more colourful fish while the other side was littered with schools of tiny fish which darted away when you swam close to them. It was one of those surreal dream moments but I loved every minute of it. The rest of the day we sunbathed on the sand bank and although we all slapped on plenty of sun cream the sun must have been strong as we all ended up looking pretty red and sun-kissed shall we say. I'm talking pure white bum kinda sun-kissed. 

The island closes at 5 so we walked back to the pier and got a boat back over to Koh Tao, meeting two brothers from Bolton who are taking a break from teaching and travelling. We ate at an Italian restaurant which is becoming quite the tradition and booked our Ferry tickets to Koh Samui for the next morning. When we got back to our dorm a group of boys had come from Ireland and Lancaster who were all travelling together so we chatted to them for a bit before getting ready to go out. Deciding to have a chilled one due to our upcoming 7am alarm, we headed over to Jack's apartment with the two Anna's, had a few drinks and played some games. At 1am we headed back our dorm, accidentally waking up our new roomies in the process, and climbed into bed. Friday morning was a struggle. Who knew you could feel so tired and hungover from 'casual drinks'. I even struggled to muster up the energy to eat my fry up which I had raved about the previous day. 

After checking out and getting our deposit back, we realised we'd lost our tickets for the ferry. Checking all places possible and still confused about their exact whereabouts (3 free ferry tickets to the person who finds them in Koh Tao) we were forced to spend an additional 1650 baht on new tickets. To say that was our first stumbling block isn't bad going and although we ended up spending £60 on tickets, it's just one of those things. So off we went, new tickets in hand, and got on the two hour ferry over to our next island. I kid you not, carrying a backpack and a rucksack 30 degree heat when it's also ridiculously humid is my least favourite thing to do. EVER. It hurts, rubs, sweats and turns happy Nicole into grumpy Nicole. Anyway, we're only in Koh Samui for one night and while not many people have a lot to say about it, we'll soon find out whether it's worth a visit. I'm so sad to be leaving Koh Tao, it's such a gorgeous island and I just can't imagine anything being able to compare. For now, goodbye to the most beautiful place I've ever seen.

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