The day started with an hour or two on the Catamaran to the island of Koh Tao, sat inside in rows like an plane. There wasn’t much to see outside except spray. They showed a Canadian version of Beadles About, and then their version of You’ve Been Framed, and the universal entertainment of tomfoolery and people hitting things hard with their face gave everyone on board something to chuckle at. Unfortunately it was on loop so the second time round the jokes got old real fast and we all went crazy and set fire to the TVs and jumped around like monkeys throwing shit at each other. Well that’s what should have happened anyway.
Arriving at the pier masses of people filed on and off the ferry, most with big backpacks. A throng of touts offered taxis and accommodation. I already knew one of the nicest places on the island from my guidebook so I ignored the yells and shambled down to the rather grotty beach to get a water taxi. Water taxis are your classic Thai longboats with the coloured ribbons on the front. Getting on-board was troublesome with one arm (you have to wade and haul yourself in) but half-soaked I got there in the end. My bags didn’t even get dropped in the sea which is always a bonus. Of course I found out later that week I could have got the taxi for half the price so I need to remember to haggle.
Our trip was about ten minutes around the coast, past an awesome palm tree, jungle and boulder landscape dotted with beach hut resorts and little sandy coves. We pulled into Sai Nuaan – a nice little white sand beach and I wandered around the the three beach bungalow resorts there looking for the best deal.
Sai Nuaan has two nice little beaches and beach bungalows (huts) by them, with some further back in the jungle and among the coconut trees. Beach view huts cost double. I found myself a cheapish hillside hut, they’re all a bit gappy but have mosquito nets. Then I chillaxed on the beach at about 11am in the scorching sun. There weren’t many other people around, maybe a dozen tourists spread between two beaches, mostly couples.
In my typical restless fashion I soon did some snorkelling around the bay and was happy to find quite a lot of fish, including multi-coloured ones. There was a lot of seaweed growing on the floor and dead coral, though there were a few live corals. After a while I had to walk to town to buy more suncream – a 30 minute walk along a winding concrete path which goes along the coast and passes through loads of posh resorts. They looked great but I think the ones I was at had more character and were more natural.
Ban Mae Haad; the main town where the pier is, is your typical concrete touristy mess with no character. It reminded me a lot of the Greek island tourist resort towns. It’s full of dive centres, shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. Motorbikes whizz around it, many driven by tourists. You can even hire ATVs. The big beach there is littered and has lots of debris, and it’s noisy being near the roads and pier. Glad I was staying away from there, though it’s a good place to party. On the way back I saw a grey squirrel in the jungle. Probably hid in my luggage from Scotland.
Did some more snorkeling. My little waterproof camera worked fine but it has trouble focussing underwater, and the quality depends a lot on the water visibility. Because the lens is always exposed it’s really easy to smear too. As you’re taking photos from above it’s hard to get interesting images but being able to take photos underwater at all was a pretty good novelty for me! My shoulder coped ok with snorkelling (1 armed swimming for the win) but it did get sore especially when taking photos underwater. Photography, stop damaging me!
As the sun went down I relaxed with a big Chang (Thai beer) at the wicked little rasta bar “Banana Rock” which sits above the beach on pillars, made of planks and driftwood, filled with tribal trinkets and pumps out Bob Marley. As the tide comes in the sea swirls around the pillars. Very chilled, but no rest for the wicked, I tried my tripod for some sunset photos but it was very windy so there was too much vibration. I joined a young German couple I met at the bar for dinner. These islands are very popular with the Germans, in fact they’d practically taken over the resort. To be honest most of the German I know comes from World War 2 films and video games. I could run around screaming “Schnell! Schnell!” and “Schizer!!!” but I probably wouldn’t win many friends here.
Back at the hut, I discovered this beast chilling out on my floor.
Spiders don’t bother me much but this just looks a bit urgh and moved in that horrible “flobbery” way, really fast. I chased him away. I knew he’d come back later, I just didn’t fancy standing on him accidently or have him jump onto my face or crawl into my stuff. And then looked over to the bed, which is covered completely by a mosquito net – but wait, what’s this on my white sheets? Ah yes, just your standard bedfellow, a scorpion!
A bit perturbed by the “security” of my mosquito net I rescued the wee chap (he was only about the size of my thumb) on a bit of paper, and put him out of the window. He wasn’t too happy about being moved, his tail arching and pincers snapping away. So that’s big lizards, spiders, mosquitos, ants, frogs and scorpions to have graced my bedrooms so far. They should make an I-Spy book for exotic bedrooms. “Alligator is pillow – 100 points”. And then, having a shower I realised that despite the suncream I’d been painfully sunburnt on my back and worst of all, my shoulders. So now my only good shoulder was a red sore. Can’t believe the difference in weather in this part of Thailand. Can I cripple myself any further? Tune in next time to find out! (the answer is probably yes).