Saturday, 19 July 2014

Koh Tao

Koh Tao is probably my favourite of the places we've been to so far. 

It's a small island about 2 hours north boat ride from Koh Samui, covering an area of 21sq m.  It has a very relaxed vibe and due to the smallness you instantly feel at home as it's easy to get your bearings. 

Longtail boats in Sairee Beach

On our first night we met up with Rob, Caroline and Alex for dinner.  We ended up at a Lady Boy cabaret show.  Ever had one of those moments where you think "this is weird, what am I doing here?" Well that was one of those moments.  To be fair I did enjoy myself and would recommend as something to do at least once.  The show consisted of 13 lady boys taking it in turn to be the lead singer and performing  a pop song.  I spent the entire time looking for evidence of a willy because the majority of them were very feminine and hard to tell if they were male or female.  Their outfits were amazing and much better than their lip synching which at times just made them look like a goldfish.  One of the ladyboys was a dead ringer for Rihanna with another resembling Lauren from TOWIE.  I got some good photos so will add them at a later date.

The next morning we met Caroline and Alex for breakfast.  I had a banana and KitKat milkshake which was not as nice as it sounds.  Alex had hired a scooter so one by one (we were all too scared to hire our own) he gave us a lift to the mini golf course further down the island.  9 holes in and I was only a few points from first place.  A disastrous second half meant Amy caught up and overtook leaving me in 3rd. Sad times!!

I wanted to have a go on the scooter with the idea of me renting one after.   Alex gave a quick demonstration and off I went...squealing like a pig with Alex chasing after me as I couldn't work out how to steer, accelerate and brake-basically everything he'd just showed me.  He had to grab the handle bars and brake for me to get me to stop.  Safe to say I decided scootering wasn't for me, much to my disappointment as it would make exploring much easier.

The following day I wanted an adventure so hiked up to "mango view point", one of several view points on the island.   The map made it look close and the internet advised it was an hour or so walk so in my usual gungho attitude I assumed it would be a quick trek.

20 mins in and I was sweating buckets and had declined a lift from an old man on a scooter.  Never accept lifts from strangers right?  30 mins in and several steep hills later (so steep that it was easier to walk on tippytoes than normally) I saw a sign to the viewpoint and rejoiced, I was here and had done it in only half an hour. Take that internet!!!

Turns out the sign was just for directional purposes and it took me another 45 minutes from that point.  I declined another lift from another man and a few minutes later was sorely regretting it and hoping someone else would come past. They didn't!

Veeeerrrrrryyyyyy steep

My walk was nearly abandoned when 1/2 km from the top I came across 2 dogs who wouldn't let me go any further. They were barking and growling and I was afraid for my ankles so I backed down a little bit. Not wanting to give up, I played with some much nicer kittens I found nearby until someone drove past who could distract the dogs for me.  About ten mins later my luck was in when the owner of the dogs turned up.  He was also the owner of the butterfly gardens that was on the map and had looked interesting.  The man let me look round for free, unfortunately all it seemed to be was some unkept steps into a garden filled with shrubbery.  There were no more butterflies inside than outside but he was very proud if his creation so I gave some words if encouragement after a quick wander round and was on my way.

A 50 baht entrance fees plus a few more bucket loads of sweat and I was greeted with the view below.  I was a little underwhelmed having been spoilt with the Angthong marine park view but it was pretty all the same. 

 I sat and read my book for a while before heading back down, making the decision to accept any lifts that came my way.  They didn't :( I ended up either jogging or walking backwards down some of the hills as it was easier of my knees.  When I got back I mapped the walk and it was a 5.3 mile round trip with an ascent of 375m and elevations of 304m.

In the afternoon I met the others for lunch then we got a longtail across to Koh Nang Yuan, a cluster of 3 islands connected by 2 sand bars.  Rob had the afternoon off so we hired snorkelling gear and he showed us the best bay to snorkel in.  It was amazing! It was like Finding Nemo.  Even Amy joined in which was amazing as she has a fear of fish (eating them and swimming with them) so we were all very proud of her.  When we got out we found out later than apparently a shark had been swimming about in the bay but we hadn't (luckily I think!!) spotted it. The island shuts at 5pm so we left just as the skies greyed over.

A restaurant was showing Wolverine so we went there for dinner then headed back to Alex and Caroline's to play cards.

That unfortunately concluded our trip to Koh Tao.  Even though we were there a short time I felt completely at home, everyone seemed happy and friendly, the bars are small on the beach with fire throwers for entertainment, the restaurants have movie nights and the sun always shines.  It was lovely and I would happily go back.

Leaving Koh Tao for Bangkok

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