Beaches; palm trees; activities like snorkeling or diving in excellent areas; endless accommodations, bars, restaurants etc.; good food; quite easily accessible; … .
Prices at least twice as high as usual;
the narrow roads loud and busy with numerous mopeds steered by light-skinned people; indifferent Thai’s only appearing as workforce and interested in money (and probably annoyed by some disrespectful backpackers only interested in party and fun); … .
These are some pros and cons of a typical backpacker destination like the one we’ve been for three days of rest: the island Koh Tao. The island is located about 70 km from the east coast near Koh Samui and with its north-south expansion of about 7 km quite small. Yet, it has to bear a great number of tourists, most of them being there to take advantage of the great diving and snorkeling opportunities.
Despite the downsides of the overwhelming tourism we still found the three days on Koh Tao were definitely well-spent. Apart from just regenerating our legs, we did some diving (Jela) and snorkeling on board on a boat of some of the many diving schools. And we met another cyclist couple doing there dive master on the island (she is from Canada, bought a bicycle in Vietnam and cycled here on her own; he is from Spain and, you may have guessed it, cycled all the way here within the last 20 month).
After three days on that small island, however, I could finally confirm that I am really not a ‘beach-type’.
The snorkeling didn’t work out very well for me (my mask wasn’t really waterproof), annoying sand everywhere, heat, and, when the blood is not circulating as usual while pedaling, the heart rate drops, a general tiredness and laziness somehow paralyzes every move. I feel way more vivid on the bike, in movement 😉
Thus, we left the island soon, relaxed and eager to continue. This time we took the slow night-ferry (about 6 hours) that we originally intended to take on our way here, too. However, on our way here, we just weren’t able to find the right pier, well hidden and obviously only signposted in Thai language. Consequently we had to resort to a more expensive and faster ferry (about 3 hours) that left the next morning and spent the night camping along the beach close to the jetty. That obviously to the amusement of the Thai police: at 2 pm two officers checked the beach, found us, and took a picture with us peering out of the tent.
Before and after the visit to Koh Thao we were accumulating another couple of hundreds kilometers, yet unreported for not so much to tell. All the same, we pretty much enjoyed almost every single kilometer mainly along the relatively quiet and easy roads. Meanwhile a certain routine got established and the growing experience in Asia make us feel very ‘comfortable’ on the road. Then we are as usual only busy with making some progress (normally 100 km a day), get food (mainly at food stalls or basic restaurants along the road), accommodation (currently we very often fall back on simple hotels and cheap rooms in one of the many resorts), photographing temples … . And, apart from some rare situations, we get along with each other pretty well. One of the situations where we don’t, for instance, when Jela follows her obsession to photograph every single spirit house (see previous post) requiring us to stop every ten meters 😉