A 3 hour flight got us from Delhi to Bangkok. We were headed to the islands as soon as possible. The climate in India was cool (it could be compared to our Canadian fall), and we were ready for the beach!
We exited the airport in Bangkok and hopped in a taxi. We must have been a bit flustered because we accepted a price from the driver before leaving, going against the advice we heard to always ask the taxi to run the meter. We realized about 5 minutes in that he had the meter covered by a towel. Not the end of the world but our 500 baht ride should probably have cost us closer to 300 baht.
Thats right, no more Rupees! Thailand deals in Baht. We quizzed each other on the plane to practice the currency. We figured the easiest way to remember was that Rupees were kind of double (100 rupees equals 2 dollars), and for Baht we used that method but then doubled it again (100 Baht equals 4 dollars). You following? Well, it worked for us.
The taxi brought us to Khao san Road, the backpacker/tourist hub. The streets are lined with bars and seedy hostels. Its an entertaining place to say the least, but anybody that lives in Bangkok or has travelled the area more then a couple times will probably tell you to avoid it. “It’s not the real Bangkok”, they’ll say. That’s okay with us, and we enjoyed the short time we spent there. We only had about 8 hours to kill before our bus left the Khoasan area. We drank a few pints, bought a SIM card for the phone and sampled the street food. It was an overnight bus to Chumphon, then transferring to a high speed ferry that would take us to Koh Tao. The bus/boat combo took a total of about 14 hours and cost $40 each. We booked through Lomprayah Tours and everything went smoothly.
We arrived at the Koh Tao pier around 10am. We planned to stay in the Sairee Beach area and had to take a 10 minute taxi to get there. We checked into our private room at Khun Ying House, which was nice and clean. We shared a bathroom with the other rooms on the floor and we had access to a kitchen one floor below. When planning our trip we expected to spend some nights in dorm style accommodations, figuring it would be the cheapest, but we haven’t had to do it yet. While the average dorm bed can run you $5-$10 a night per person, it’s not hard to find private rooms for $20-$30. The extra couple bucks we spend is well worth the comfort.
Our first day on a romantic island ended up being Valentines Day. We spent the afternoon swimming in the ocean and lounging on the beach. Jeff got stung by a sea urchin and we ended up having to pull little pieces of the stinger out with tweezers. It wasn’t a bad sting or very painful but it does make you paranoid of swimming in the ocean when this happens 20 minutes into the first dip. We were feeling pretty tired by the time evening rolled around but still made plans to enjoy a Valentines dinner at a beach side restaurant.
The next morning Britt woke up and went to check out a yoga class around the corner. Jeff stayed in the room, and by noon he knew something wasn’t right. He was sick to his stomach, dizzy and had a fever. This would be the start of almost 3 days spent laying in bed. On top of Jeff being under the weather, Britt was breaking out with huge welts all over that seemed to be from bug bites. We weren’t sure if it was mosquitoes or fleas or bed bugs. Who knows?
At this point we realized travelling isn’t always glamorous. When you expose yourself to changing climates, odd sleep patterns, new bugs, different foods etc… eventually its gonna catch up with you. We agreed that after 2 full days of no improvement that it was time to get to a clinic. Jeff had some blood work done and turns out he had an infection in his stomach. Maybe from the anchovies he had to have with his pizza? Maybe from that jerk of a sea urchin? It was hard to say, but we hoped the antibiotics would work there magic. The doc didn’t have much to say about Britt’s bites so we picked up some hydrocortisone cream, bug spray and citronella candles. Luckily by the end of day 3 Jeff was starting to feel like himself again.
It was a lonely, boring and painful way to spend the first part of our island adventure. It is this type of discomfort that brings on the home sickness as well. It sucks, but it’s an almost guaranteed part of long term travel. Hopefully we got that experience behind us.
Koh Tao is a divers paradise. You can become a certified diver in a few days for as little as a couple hundred bucks. It also has some of the best snorkelling. Of course we did neither of these things, haha. For the last couple days we were in good health we decided to rent scooters and explore the whole island. We drove to almost every little beach cove there was, taking in the views and trying out different places to eat and drink.
We moved accommodations to a private bungalow on the beach for the last 2 nights and temporarily adopted a cat Britt named Mr. Chang. We had talked about staying in a beach bungalow since we started planning our trip and our little shack at Bewitched Bungalows was as cool as we imagined.
Our last day on the island we rented stand up paddle boards for a couple hours around sunset. It was an amazing time paddling around on the water once we got the hang of it. It was also the closest we got to exploring things under the water, the turquoise waters were nearly crystal clear and from our boards we could see the fish and coral below.
We met a couple Canadians who opened a little restaurant called “The Moose Knuckle”, we were happy to discover we wouldn’t have to wait to get home to feast on some poutine.
Our time on Ko Tao quickly came to an end. Jeff was feeling alive again and Britt’s welts were slowly fading. We boarded the boat, destined for Koh Phangan feeling good but also knowing we missed out on a lot of what Koh Tao had to offer.