Koh Tao, Thailand

January 5
We woke up early and took a prearranged taxi that we scheduled the night before. We didn’t feel like dealing with bargaining to get to our ferry at 7:00 am. Nothing here has set prices except for things in franchise stores or places like 7 Eleven. There was a 7 Mart in Koh Phangan that straight up stole 7 Eleven’s logo. We didn’t even realize that it wasn’t 7 Eleven for like 3 days. Anyway, we got to the ferry and took the 3 hour journey to Koh Tao. There are three main islands on this side of Thailand. In order of most popular and biggest to least popular and smallest: Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao. Koh Tao is very small. It’s like 5 km long and 2 km wide. We got to the island that is only accessible by boat and we started walking to our hostel. We walked on the main road for a while until some Australian guy was like, “You guys walking to town? There is a walking road that goes all the way like 30 meters that way”. So we them took the road and it was sweet.it was the main road of the island for tourists and it was cool because it was inaccessible by cars, although some motor bikes ride on it. As we walked, there were many resorts and restaurants, mainly geared towards scuba divers because that is what the island is known for. It has some of the best dive sites in the world and they are all so close to the island that people come here for days to see everything. You can also get a PADI scuba diving license here in like two or three days, depending on the company, for only around $280. That’s cheap and quick compared to America. I have a NAUI scuba diving license, which is a little but more rigorous to get, but in the end, they are the same thing so I would recommend PADI. PADI is also recognized more everywhere else in the world besides the USA. Why can’t the USA just do what the rest of the world does with standards like metric system, PADI, and IFRS. It makes no sense to do it all differently if everyone else does it the same. What is the point? Back on topic, we walked the street and passed a bunch of chill places with pizza and pool tables since so many scuba divers created the tourism culture here. It’s so much more laid back here day and night even though one bar tried to bring the fire insanity here from Koh Phangan like the fire jump ropes. There were also a ton of ladies sitting around selling laughing gas, so that was a change. We got to our hostel and checked in. We were in an 8 bed (mixed) dorm. The “mixed” is in parentheses for a reason we will touch on later. We walked around and grabbed some Pad Thai for a couple of bucks. We then took a long boat to Koh Nangyuan, which is a very small island about 1 km northwest of Koh Tao. It is a diving resort so it requires a 3 dollar entry fee. The island is so cool. It’s so small, you can walk from one side to the other in about 15 minutes. It has the coolest beach I have ever scene. Waves come from both directions, leaving a narrow strip of sand in between the two bodies of water, only inches from being fully submerged. Matt and I hiked to the top of one of the sides to get to an epic viewpoint. It wasn’t an east trek though. You need to legit climb boulders at the top. It was sweet to see the shape of the island from the top. We them hiked down and walked around these wooden planks that went around both ends of the island. We walked until the bridge thing looked collapsed and stuff, so we decided to just turn around. We then chilled on the beach for a while and I soaked in some sunburn with sunscreen while Matt soaked in some tan without sunscreen. Thanks for the Irish genes mom. We then walked to the other end of the island where the beach was submerged during high tide. The water was above our knees and it had the weirdest current to walk through because currents were pulling and pushing us from bother directions and wave came in and went back out. We chilled on a rock for an hour until our longboat driver came back to pick us up with some other people at 5:00 pm. We then went back to the hostel to shower and change. There were three English girls in there. One was really friendly and the other two didn’t say a word to us. It as funny though because as each one showered, the other two would talk shit on the one showering and it happened each time someone showered. So basically they all hate each other. Matt and I didn’t want to deal with the drama so we bounced out of there before they asked to tag along with us. We wanted to do a pub crawl tonight but we were too late. We decided to eat at a place that had Bailey’s Shakes! It was Bailey’s, vodka or rum, milk, banana, and ice. I got one but obviously without the banana because I’m no little bitch. It was so good! I found my Asian version of my favorite alcoholic drink, the mudslide!…or the ever-so-famous Mikeslide (if you want it three times as strong with the same great taste that will always be there to hold your hair back as you spend the night in the bathroom passed out comfortably on the toilet seat). After dinner, we walked that cool street where travels all go to chill, drink, eat, play pool, and listen to music. This island is ok by me. We went to a bar on the beach and got two bean bag chairs to watch fire performers. We were waiting until 10:00 pm to get the two for one bucket special. We had the intentions of being social and meeting people but waking up early the past four days finally took a toll on us and we were passing out at the bar so we just called it a night. When we got back to our hostel, we walked into our room and three Chinese girls were in there. One freaked out and pointed at us. We were like, “what?…hey what’s up?” None of them spoke a word of English. I don’t know how they travel if they can’t communicate at all. They all started telling at each other and we were confused as hell, so we just ignored it and got ready for bed. The one girl freaked out again when we started to get into our beds and then we realized why. They booked an all female dorm. The guy who put us in here in the first place tried to tell us this when he gave us our key. He was all mad at himself for some scheduling error and we didn’t know what he was talking about so we just smiled, have a thumbs up and said “yeah!” Goodnight our new Chinese friends who were convinced we were going to murder them and steal all of their stuff.

January 6
We decided to do a snorkeling trip today because the island has very clear water and amazing coral reefs with a ton fish. We got picked up by a truck and sat in the back with three other people. We ended up getting to know them well all day. Two were from Germany, a really cool guy who was 26 and spoke incredible English and a really sweet girl who was 24 and fun to talk to. They were friends who met while planing a trip to Thailand. The other lady was a 50-60 year old English woman who was the most positive person ever. Our boat circled the entire island of Koh Tao by the end of the day. We started in the south at Shark Bay. We jumped off the roof of our riverboat each stop to enter the water to add a little action to snorkeling. Also, a guy was there filming for a promo video that he was going to make for the company so we were all acting like it was the best time anyone ever had. I didn’t spot any sharks at this stop but a lot if people spotted ones that were like 3 feet long. Our next stop was northeast Koh Tao and it had a great coral reef. I was very happy with it and all of the sudden I lost my breath as I saw about 500,000 of the same fish swimming under me in a huge pack. It was crazy. I couldn’t help but think that if these harmless fish had a change of heart, and they all decided to take a little bite out of me, I would be completely gone. Luckily, none were smart enough to know how good I taste. After this stop, we went to north Koh Tao to see the best spot on the trip. There were really shallow coral reefs with a ton of different kinds if fish. It was great to see so many fish in all directions. If I were one of those sharks in the south, I would just migrate north 5 km and eat all the fish, then people. Our last stop was Koh Nangyuan. Matt and I went yesterday, so we decided to hang out on the beach while our new friends hiked the mountain to see the sick view. There are worse places in the world to go to twice. After our trip, we made a meeting time for dinner with our new friends and them parted ways for a couple of hours. Matt and I showered, tried to communicate with the Chinese people again who were all sleeping midday for some reason. They were never not in the room when we were for the three days. I don’t know when the saw the sights. They probably couldn’t communicate so just gave up and slept their whole trip. Matt and I went to a bar and I got another Bailey’s Shake. Sooo good! Thanks Asia! My dreams were now my reality! We then met up with the two Germans and the English lady. We went to dinner at a beachfront place and got shish-kabobs. They were so good, but our bowels paid the price the next morning that our wallets didn’t tonight since everything is so cheap here. We all talked for a couple hours and then got a drink at their beachfront bungalow bar right near our hostel. They all loved my Asian introduction to the mudslide. I convinced them to get it without a banana and yup, they got seconds. I’m gonna change this drinking culture of the world, one person at a time. We talked for a while there. It was nice and these people were a lot like us as far as traveling interests. It was refreshing. I started passing out in my chair again, but it was late this time, so it was respectable. We called it a night and parted ways.

January 7
Yup, those shish-kabobs had only one way to go and it was out. Let’s avoid hardly cooked meet for now on even if it does taste delicious. It’s ok, it was my Asian cleanse. I then went to scuba dive because I couldn’t come to a world famous scuba diving island and not give it a go. Matt doesn’t have his license so he chilled all day and finally got a day where he could chill on the beach for as long as he wanted without me bugging him about how I need shade. I had to do a refresher course first because I haven’t dove in like 5 years. I forgot most things but after the refresher, I was good to go. It mostly just came back to me once we started anyway. We had two stops. One was off the shore of Koh Nangyuan and the second was called the Junk Yard and was off the coast of Koh Tao. The first stop was my refresher. After an hour if reviewing theory on land, my dive master made me perform 29 exercises to show that I was good enough to dive normally. He did stuff like knock my goggles and mouthpiece regulator out and I had to grab them and get air without freaking out. I also had to assemble and disassemble my gear underwater and on the surface. There were some really shallow huge areas of coral so it was cool to be there but hard to avoid hitting any. I got coral in my leg once after falling off a surfboard a couple of years ago and getting cut by it is not fun. I passed my test and was ready to go for the second dive. We took the boat to the second stop and it was cool. I went on an adventure for like an hour with four other people. The Junk Yard is an area where they dump a ton of cool objects that are neat to scuba dive to, like a car, a small windmill, tables, chairs, toilets, wire tunnels. And a couple other structures. One guy knew where most were so we followed him. We searched for some others. We also saw some pretty cool fish. One was really wide so it was like a circle. It was a Lyon Fish or something like that. We also saw a cool fish with a ton of 6 inch appendages dangling off of it. I played around in the wire tunnels by swimming through them. I also swam through some structures. It was fun. We them got back on the boat and headed in to end the trip. It was nice to scuba dive again. It feels like flying because you can go up and down on the ocean floor to avoid objects pretty effortlessly. Once I got back to the land, I had my dive master sign my dive book to log my dive. This way, I don’t have to do a refresher again if I dive again while on this trip. I met up with Matt at the hostel. After I showered, we went to the main walking road and found a place I eat. We ate at a place that was 400 baht for a pizza, pasta, chicken wings, and 2 drinks. That’s only 12 dollars total for both of us so we did that. It was actually pretty good. We them walked the road and chilled for an hour or so. I bought a SIM card with 1 GB of data for like 15 bucks. It’s such as easy way to use your phone here. We had to then go back to our hostel to catch a taxi to our night ferry. Our dumbass hostel guy who booked our trip forgot to call to confirm after we booked with him, so he had to write “Extra” on our tickets. If it says “Extra” in Southeast Asia, it means you are over capacity and will sit wherever there is room. Even when their is room, it’s traveling very rough, so “Extra” is pretty bad. We left the hostel once our hostel owner started vomiting his brains out for some reason. It was very weird so we left and waited by where the taxi was going to pick us up. We hopped in the taxi, which was more like a shuttle and we made our way for ten minutes to the boat pier. The boat was pretty shitty, but fine. There were a bunch if beds with small mattresses lined up side by side with no walking room. That was luxury. We were “Extra” so we were in the storage room under the boat. It was something that people definitely do when they are smuggling people to different countries. There were no stairs down, only two ladders. We slept next to the engine, everyone’s luggage and a stray cat. Our beds were straw carpets that were placed on the uneven metal boat bottom. It said there was a bathroom but the dorm was locked because it was on the engine room. It was a scene in this place. It really wasn’t that bad but it was definitely as bad as it gets. They couldn’t really make it any worse if they tried. We didn’t have any problems, so it was whatever. We met a cool kid from New Zealand who was going to Krabi so we would be with him for a while now. We are going to Krabi and taking a ferry to Koh Phi Phi. He is traveling anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years. He isn’t really sure. I love when people just travel for as long as they want with no plans. Once we started moving, I went up to chill on the side of the boat. The boat is like a jungle gym. I had to climb these bars, pipes and wooden beams to get out of this hole in the roof/floor of the boat. I climbed outside and say on the side of the boat for a couple of hours. It was nice because there was no railing so it felt free. We weren’t really rocking so it would be impossible to fall off. I watched as we got further and further from Koh Tao. Lights got smaller and dimmer until I couldn’t see it anymore. We passed a couple of fisherman boats. The boats that anchor off of the shore have very bright lights on their boats so other moving ships and boats can avoid them. The main reason for the lights though is to attract barracuda to catch in their fishing nets. I could see a lot of stars whenever the lights at our boat flickered off for a little bit. It was relaxing. I then climbed back down over some guys in Hammocks and found my way to my straw sheet on the ground. I eventually fell asleep after getting used to the roaring engine sound. We arrived at Suratthani at 4:30 am, which is the port stop from the islands. We then waited a half hour until some tuk tuks picked us up and brought us to a travel agency, where we had to wait until 6:30 for our bus to show up. It ended up being a van that we had to jam 18 people and our bags into. Luggage was in the isles almost up to the roof. We took the 2-hour can to Krabi where we had to then take a 3-hour ferry to Koh Phi Phi!

mikepsilve'sKoh Tao album on Photobucket