Our first proper beach holiday!
Trip Start Aug 01, 2010
161Trip End Ongoing
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At first the atmosphere here seems very trendy, a lot of fit and trendy people drinking fruit shakes and being cool. So, our expectations of a small island that is very quiet and apparently less touristy than the rest of our Thailand's stay falls short. And what spoils it all even more is our hostel that we though will be cheap, turns out to be a total rip off. What ever you do don’t stay at Backpacker’s Hostel in Ko Tao
This makes us really upset (as we have pre-booked the beds, we can’t cancel that), so we decide to do something fun to forget about it. Diving! We walk in a few shops but soon realise that the prices are pretty much the same. So we decide to go for one and later in the afternoon after filling out some forms we have our training session in the pool. Our instructor, Gordon from England, is one of the funniest men we have seen in a while. He decided to move to Ko Tao after the recession hit his construction job in the UK (hm, Rudi knows how it feels). He is laid back but at the same time he does his job excellent.
Thanks to Gordon’s good training and also the fact that we already have dived before we pick up the skills (e.g. getting out water out of the mask underwater) and breathing techniques very quickly. The day after our training we do two dives at two different sites and it is totally great. And as Gordon says 'Beautiful people it is all about fun and relaxing!’ and ‘Happy days’! Fun is pronounced in a lovely northern English accent which we like a lot. We see a turtle, and a few blue dotted sting rays, and of course thousands of brightly coloured fish and corals
We notice that 95% of the diving instructors are foreigners. Gordon explains that Thai people don’t like to swim. That makes us remember what our trekking and tour guides have told us before that Asian people don’t like trekking. Gordon says that many fishermen don’t even know how to swim
The same as in Prachuap Khiri Khan, most of our life takes place next to the sea, but this time on the beach. Most of the evenings, the beach is on low tide, so we are able to have our meals in a restaurant just on top of the soft white sand. Overall, it is very quiet at nights, we guess it is because people who come here are sport orientated and it is not advisable to drink alcohol before diving. Saying that, there is a cabaret on the island which we planned to see on our last night but we fail to see it as it is King’s birthday and the sexy ladyboys are having a day off.
When ever it gets dark and if the skies are clear we like to watch stars as they are completely different from the ones we see in Europe. We already start to remember different patterns and are happy to see and recognise them again
On our third day we decide to continue being active and go trekking around the island. The weather is hot, so sweat a lot. But once we get on the top of the mountain the views are rewarding. Our path is often a dried up river, thus trekking in the rainy season is impossible here. The path is quite rough and very steep. Our trekking leads us to the east of the island where we are happy to see less diving shops and hotels but more of the Thai local life.
To get to the beach we walk through a few posh resorts until we finally manage to reach the quiet and beautiful beach. It is half private and really well hidden; only nosy people like us can find it. But the walk back is pretty long, so we don’t stay long and soon find a restaurant to recharge our batteries for the rest of the journey. In the evening we decide to have dinner in an outdoor cinema/restaurant located next to a beach.
On our last full day on the island we are still up for some more FUN. We rent a kayak and swim all the way to Ko Nang Yuan islands which is 2 km from Ko Tao. The beginning is great! Just when Agi is getting on the kayak, the boat starts to sway and takes Rudi and our staff into the water upside down
After the jumpy ride we arrive in paradise. Three islands joined together by a small beach in the middle. So when you stand on the sand you have sea coming from both sides. The islands turn out to be private and we have to 100 baht fee per person just for stepping your foot on the sand. To admire the view even better we head up the hill on the one of the islands. Up there, we don’t want to go down. This really is the most astonishing ‘holiday’ landscape we’ve seen so far.
Once back down, we get our snorkelling equipment out and head for some more FUN. It is really cool. We only have to make 5 steps in the water and the fish is already there waiting for you. And they are indeed very curious to see you. If you don’t move much then they come very close to your face and watch you. They even like to taste us with their little teeth. We also swim a bit further away from the beach, that’s where we see more variety of fish and also some alive but more of dead corals. The scene is a bit spooky. It reminds us of a deserted fish village where all the corals have been damaged by the tourists
We though that we said goodbye to China. But hey, once we get back to our kayak we can’t find Rudi’s snorkelling mask and the breathing pipe. We look around and after a few minutes we see a Chinese man walking towards us with our stuff. He gives back the thing and goes away without saying anything. Hm?
Kayaking back is even tougher than the way to the islands. The waves are about 1 meter if not higher. But this time wind is on our side, it blows straight on our backs, so the scary ride is a bit shorter. We both agree that we did not expect this adventure to be as frightening.
Later in the evening after all that physical pressure Agi decides to go for a Thai massage. And again, new experience! The woman is crazy! She barely touches the ground during the massage. Most of the time she is stretching Agi’s muscles while being on the table where Agi is lying down. At some point all that Agi can feel are two knees going round and round on her bum. Or at another instance Agi is totally up in the air while lying on the ladies knees and arms
We can not ignore the thing about shoes. Everywhere we go we have to take off our shoes. That is ok, until you are sitting in a restaurant and you want to go to a toilet. The toilets are often full of sand and wet as very often Thai people don’t use toilet paper but the water hob to clean themselves. In addition, sometimes you have to go through the kitchen to go to the toilet. So we always end up with dirty feet. No wonder why Thai people consider feet to be the dirtiest part in human’s body.
Also, we notice that people in the south are different than up north. In Ko Tao, people don’t acknowledge us at all or just say hello without the ‘wai’ – hands in prayer position. Sometimes it feels like we are even insulting them when speaking in Thai. It is probably due to the touristy place. There are probably not many tourists that speak Thai, so the locals have become like them. We don’t know but it seems very far from all the respect that we were taught up north!?!
Our last night is washed down by heavy rain showers and looking at the weather forecast it won’t be much sun on the Gulf of Thailand for the next few days. We realise how much weather dictates our travel plans and especially our pictures. But it is always so sunny and blue skies on the postcards!