31st March – 1st April 2012
Spending a good few days sightseeing Bangkok, the most recent being a river cruise with Anna, I decided it would be worth it to recharge my batteries and just hang out in the hostel. After all, my bank balance will thank me!
I suppose I felt a little down seeing Anna go the previous evening as she went to Ko Tao overnight so to stop all that, I hung out with many of the hostel residents that I got to know over my 5 days there – Daria, Caroline, Christian, Alex, David and many more, all coming from different nations from Germany, Czech republic, Austria etc.
It was especially good and I could rightly be pleased with myself as I could with a little effort understand with ease their accents when they were speaking English. Very good English I have to say, better than some English people I know.
Before I knew it, on the next day, (31st March) I felt the travel itch again after resolving some teething issues, and where did I want to go? I was meant to be going to Phuket on 29th March but events out of my control put paid to that. I began to wonder if a thought out plan was really worth it so I did a quick glance in my guidebook and before I knew it, I was booking a journey to Ko Tao in the Gulf of Thailand, actually following Anna. Reading up on Ko Tao (turtle island) tells me that I will delightfully visit white sandy beaches, fantastic opportunities to dive and snorkel, see an abundance of marine life and actually some good clean fresh air with a lot of sun! I need a foreign beach, man!
For too long I have been on travels that involved city breaks, countryside and beaches weren’t getting a look in. So my skin made the decision for me by screaming ‘I require vitamin D bitch!‘
Booking with Matt to leave later that day, I said my farewells to many people at NapPark Hostel and exchanged contact details (thank you Facebook!), we got a bite to eat and guess what…Bangkok decided to invite stormy weather in the district. The thunder was so deafening (no pun intended) and the rain lashed down with droplets the size of tennis balls. We are going to travel in this?
Taking refuge on Khao San Road, seemingly the place where all buses leave, and under a table umbrella, we stared over at the sea of people also apprehensively looking at the rain.
Suddenly, a small girl rocked up to us and politely asked us if we could share the space under the umbrella as there was no where else to stand under. Introducing myself, she told me her name was Nicola – half English and half German and she was also going to Ko Tao to undertake an advanced PADI Course (scuba diving)
I was slightly envious of her. I would have loved loved loved to do scuba diving but unfortunately, I can only go to a certain depth as the water pressure would really affect my embedded cochlear implant. Snorkelling would only be good for me. But I told her to tell me all about it!
Amidst the stinging rain, the large group started heading off to the main roads to meet the buses there. It was complete pandemonium and there was no organisation whatsoever. Each bus had a colour system so we had to look for the white bus which were Matt and myself but Nicola had to go for the green bus. Bidding our farewells to each other, we boarded and made ourselves comfy as much as we can in front of a tv screen with a badly dubbed film of Captain America. Having no subtitles, I still enjoyed it on the way to the halfway point to Hua Hin to pick up more people. Barely a few got on and there was a scramble for the spare seats and I managed to get 2 seats to myself, result! I could blow up my inflatable dol….I mean pillow and lie down across with the blanket supplied by the company, Lomprayah. (National Express of UK – take note).
I woke up at various times throughout the 7 hour bus journey and was stunned to see the rain still pelting down. Is Ko Tao within bad weather?! I feverishly hoped not and kept peeking out from under my blanket to stare out of the window. Still rain.
Thwack! I woke up with a start. Matt has just hit my legs and pointed outside. We were at the port of Chumphon, where we would get a high speed Catamaran from to Ko Tao. But hallelujah, the rain had stopped! 5am in the morning it was and beraggled, we made our way through the mysterious mist to the edge of the water itself that didn’t betray a sound. Deathly silence. Everyone was either slumped in sun loungers or on stop of stone seats bleary eyed out at the horizon which flickered the coming of the sunrise.
I thought I would take it as a good opportunity as any to cheerfully comment to Matt,
‘at least it’s not raining anymore!’
10 mins later, fate played a cruel hand and send a thundering cloud and before any of us knew it, the Bangkok rains gleefully terrorised us. Luckily, Matt and I sat at the right place so we had the good laugh of seeing people running around to get out of the rain!
Since getting off the bus, I felt some itching on my feet and as we finally sat down and I managed to get a light out, I was shocked to see lots of bites on my feet! It seemed that throughout the bus journey, insects have taken a liking to my feet that were peeking out of the blanket! ‘Die insects…die!’ as I muttered as I rubbed in antiseptic cream.
As the sun rose, we could see in the distance a pier jutting out into the water to 2 catamarans. It was a pretty majestic sight at sunrise.
Daria arrived from her overnight train from Bangkok to also catch the same catamaran as us but to go onwards to Ko Pha Ngan for a yoga retreat. We had a good catch up on her train journey which sounded hellish by accounts!
Finally we could board the Catamaran and I was completely drinking in the beauty of the natural port of Chumphon. Check it out.
Leaving Chumphon, the place where South Thailand starts, we rode the choppy waters of the Gulf of Thailand that seemed to become choppier every minute and thunder rolled with the waves. What the heck have we let ourselves in for?!
The boat listed side to side, backwards and forwards and to add insult to my British constitution, the staff started giving out sick bags, of which people very noisily deposited. I declined a sick bag. We British ruled the waves you know!
I must have drifted off to sleep at some point and drooling on Daria’s shoulder, a tannoy announcement jerked me awake. We have arrived at Ko Tao! And the weather? Tune in later to find out…
P.S I asked Matt what I should write in this blog post. He thought hard and said,
‘I went on a bus and I got bit.’
Pretty much sums it up!