The Gulf of Thailand. Home to over 1,000 tropical islands, both inhabited and uninhabited, and where we intend to remain for the next month or so, as we island hop our way around paradise. If that means getting seasick (which it does), then so be it. For us, our beach bumming began in Koh Tao, which means “turtle island”. No turtle sightings for us, but a good place to hang for a week and slow down the pace. We stayed at a budget resort in Chalok Beach. While the words “budget” and “resort” may not necessarily appear together on a Taboo card, we have found that they work out quite nicely for us. While the accommodations range from basic bungalows to air conditioned villas with every amenity, we are more than happy to fork out the $10-15 per night for a fan room with cold water, while still reaping the benefits of resort life. Peace and quiet. Sea and garden views. Even an infinity swimming pool overlooking the beach!
First Koh Tao activity-snorkeling in Shark Bay, an easy walk from our room. So we grabbed our snorkel gear and headed off. The road leading to the bay had been closed, so we were told that the only way to access it was to swim from another bay farther up the coast. As luck would have it, I had brought along my new dry bag, purchased the previous night after a bit of bargaining.
Into the bag went everything we had, clothes, towel, camera, money. We clipped our flip flops on to the outside. Jeff slung the bag over his shoulder and we dove in for the swim. The snorkeling in Shark Bay was disappointing, but the bag did its job. It was my turn to carry the bag on the return trip. For most of the swim, I was having a grand time pretending to re-enact the scene from “The Beach”, as a shorter, Asian version of Francoise, swimming her butt off to reach the legendary island. We found out much later, that had we stayed on the rocks and NOT swum to Shark Bay, we could have snorkeled with about 50 sharks. Bummer. Go figure.
Food in Koh Tao is expensive (in our experience more so than most anywhere else in Thailand). Our friends from home were on vacation, with Koh Tao as one of their stops, and aside from one amazing dinner which they generously treated us to, our pockets definitely took a hit. We resorted to dry packaged ramen again for a couple of meals (which is slightly more classy when enjoyed from the balcony of one’s room). Even the local non-western catering restaurants seemed to be in on it. Oh, would we like rice with our rice dish? Then that will be an extra 20 baht. Puh-lease. Time to head off.
Moving onto Koh Phagnan, the second largest island in the Southern Gulf archipelago, where the full moon parties are the stuff of travel legend. We plan on staying here for at least a week, which will put us right here for the full moon.
The problem is, we’re not ravers, nor heavy partiers. I don’t like techno music. I really don’t like large crowds of drunk people (unless I am one of them). Okay, so that’s more than one problem. But, how could we be on Koh Phagnan during the full moon party in high season and NOT attend the festivities? This should be good. Stay tuned.