It was time to leave and see some more of Koh Tao. I learned there’s a dirt road which comes here so I could get a pickup truck taxi to Ban Mae Haad, the main town. Sat in the back and held on tight as we travelled the winding and very off-road track! Eventually it became concrete as as we got higher there were good views over the forested hills of the island. On arrival I found a wi-fi café, buying an expensive breakfast only to find their wi-fi wasn’t working. Doh. Found another place after a full English (not as good as home but still a nice change from rice and noodles) – and then the rains came, trapping me indoors for hours.
My arm was still swollen and itchy but had gone down a bit from yesterday so hopefully it would be alright in a few days. The internet revealed it can’t be too bad because I don’t have any of the symptoms you get from real nasties. It sounded like a centipede bite or just a bad reaction to a mossie. The internet weather forecast was for storms in the area for the next 3 days. Damn. Decided to hold off on the national park trip for a few days because of this, so I caught another pickup taxi to Ao Leuk beach which I’d read was quiet and had great snorkelling. I figured if the weather was going to be crap I could snorkel or hide in the restaurants. It seemed a better option than Hin Wong Bay which is just rocks and would be pummeled by waves.
At Ao Leuk there was a reasonably sized bay and a sandy beach with three resorts. Dive and snorkel boats sat moored in the bay and people were dotted around them in the water.It was chucking it down and I got my first real soaking. Glad I had dry bags for my electronic kit! The budget option for accommodation was pricey by mainland standards, even with a 2 night discount. But that’s the islands for you, sleeping’s expensive and food and drink is usually double or triple mainland prices. So I couldn’t afford to stay out in the Thai islands for long – the rest of SE Asia’s beaches will be way cheaper!
My basic wooden bungalow was just off the beach and caught the wind, but that’s good – less mosquitos. It also had a proper mosquito net suspended by ropes – so you have an oblong net which gives way better sealing than a crap cone one. But a hut wouldn’t be complete without a wild resident and this time it was one of the big geckos, the size of my forearm. There was no way out for him as I’d blocked the big window hole with a pillow, presumably how he got in. He wasn’t very happy when I used the broom to persuade him out the front door, he squarked loudly at me as he scurried inch by inch, always looking at me like he was going to jump at my head. Eventually I got him out. I didn’t want him damaging my net or living in my stuff.
I hired snorkel gear and strolled to the beach in the rain. Despite the weather the sea was calm, although water visibility was poor. But it didn’t matter, the place was absolutely teeming with life! As soon as I put my head under all I could see was fish all around me, of many shapes and sizes. And at only a meter deep! The following photos I took the next day but I have put here to paint the scene. Just imagine it being darker and greyer!
I swam out along the rockline and there’s lots of nice coral out there, it’s not colourful but there’re many types;brains, jaggies, mountainous spires. Clams and anemones live in some of them. And so many fish! The previous beach seemed a joke in comparison to this, here I could get inches away from them in shallow water and they wouldn’t even flinch.
There were much bigger fish here too and some big shoals of little two-inchers which are great, they move together hypnotically billowing and darting in formation, shimmering silver. I saw little neon blue fish, angel fish and many more. Often I was completely surrounded and some shoals would swim with you for a while. I felt like the pied piper but for fish. Shame the fable didn’t happen in reverse, a load of tasty fish on land would have been good! I swam for a few hours all around the bay, going into deeper water where you can still see the sea bed and corals at 5-10 meters down. There’s even a bamboo raft moored out there for a resting point.I was glad I came as the rain doesn’t trouble the deeps.
The wind picked up to buffeting speed, coconut trees and bushes were swaying violently. Over the past few days I’ve heard coconuts falling a lot, and you see them on the ground everywhere, even though they get collected daily. Someone told me that deaths from falling coconuts are higher than from murders or something. When it’s windy it’s a good idea to avoid walking under the trees! I ate a high wooden restaurant overlooking the bay once it was dark. On the way I saw a big yellow frog hopping through the grass, and at the restaurant the sound of frogs croaking was overpowering. “Woooooowwwwooooaaaaaaw” in a monotone, but with different frogs at different pitches. This combined with Bon Jovi blasting out of the speakers, the breaking waves and cicadas made for a bizarre audio combination! I could see a few dive boats doing night dives in the bay.
The restaurant had wi-fi which was really handy as I could shelter here in the bad weather and plan my next moves. I needed to get my Nepal accommodation and flights sorted soon before it all got booked out for the festivals next month. Horrifyingly it turned out everywhere here closes at 9pm. It does seem quiet, I’d only seen three or four couples around. Just as well, I spent too much on booze at the last place!