Apologies for the lack of blog posts the last few weeks. There is no excuse really, as we have been the laziest we have been for a long time!
Our time has been spent between the three east coast islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui; soaking up the sun on peaceful beaches, enjoying fresh fruit shakes and of course eating delicious food.
Koh Tao is the smallest of the three islands at just 12km long, and also the quietest and most untouched. Our journey here was one of the more interesting… Including a few hours sleep on a bench…. and then upon check in we realised we’d had money stolen from our room in Bangkok. Some cheeky Thai had had a whale of a time cashing in £5k on our credit cards! A few phone calls quickly sorted everything out and it couldn’t affect our mood – we were on a beautiful tropical island.
Firstly we spent two nights in Sairee Beach, the islands main concentration of tourists. There was a lot happening here and by day we spoke to dive schools and by night we did the usual beach bars, fire shows, and even ended up in a hilarious cabaret show playing “spot the ladyboy” – a drinking game we devised with our friend Matt on Bangkok’s infamous Ko San Road, which saw us polish off two bottles of rum that evening.
However we were craving the peaceful life so after a quick reccy of the island by moped, we moved south to Chalok Baan. This tiny village centred around a gravel road that turned to a flowing river with every rain fall. The vibe was much calmer here, with few restaurants and bars overlooking a beautiful bay. We booked in to complete our PADI course with a small dive school – one for a separate blog post.
In the end we spent 10 nights on Koh Tao, the longest we have spent anywhere on this trip. Waking up each morning to beautiful weather, walking along the beach for breakfast and exploring isolated coves and rocky viewpoints was incredibly relaxing and it was hard to leave.
The second we jumped off the ferry at Koh Phangan we could tell the islands was more developed. It had a car park!
Our accommodation was lovely – a deal on Agoda had rewarded us with a deluxe bungalow complete with the comfiest bed we have had in Asia. We hired a moped for a few days to explore the island, which still had plenty of small fishing towns and secluded beaches.
Koh Phangan is famous for it’s monthly Full Moon Parties that take place in Haad Rin, seeing thousands of people partying on the beach and downing various concoctions from buckets. We would be missing this but were in time for the Half Moon Party, basically the same thing in the jungle and part of the Thai backpacking experience. We had a good night people-watching the hundreds of teenagers clad in neon body paint dancing to terrible trance music, but despite copious beers and rum-based buckets, it wasn’t really our thing. Cab fares had stayed the same despite it being 4am, but they made their profits by squashing 14 people into the taxi!
Our plans to go to the west coast or the Perenthian Islands in Malaysia were scuppered by the onset of the monsoon season. We hopped instead to Koh Samui, the biggest, most resort-y island of the three. With its own airport and a huge community of ex-pats it’s a well know honeymoon destination.
To me it felt like a Bangkok by the sea. The traffic was relentless, branches of Pizza Hut, Starbucks, MacDonalds and Tesco Lotus were in most towns and the whole place stank! We were staying in one of the smaller towns, Bo Phut, in a nice place that had a unique outside bathroom. The novelty soon wore off as it was impossible to keep the Mosquitos at bay. We hired a moped again to try and find any quieter areas of the island but so much of the coastline is occupied by luxury resorts that it was generally very difficult, and the stretches we did find just felt…. Dirty. The island is portrayed as a idyllic haven but outside of the resorts it is rundown, bustling and choked with traffic.
Maybe I’m just bitter: Samui was full of older package tourists staying in resorts and therefore the restaurant prices – though still cheap compared to the UK – were three times higher than what we have been used to. Instead of feasting on £1 curries we were sharing £8 pizzas.
To end on a positive: Samui airport is the best we have been to!
Next stop —> Kuala Lumpur (again) very briefly, then NEPAL!