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Published: January 31st 2011
Shuffling Out On A Horizontal Palm Is Cruel On The Coconuts But A Must Do Thing When The Opportunity Arises.
Evidence suggests that there have been settlements on these islands for over 2000 years, mostly inhabited by fishermen, humble coconut farmers and their families. The doors only really being opened up to the Western world in the last three decades or so since regular ferry services have started to bring in the intrepid tourist dollar. Back in the day, even managing to reach these shores would have been considered to be a major task but - when landing from the boat at Thong Sala, the journey would've only just begun. When the big fella first came here in '87 the only road out from the main town came to a sudden halt after four or so miles somewhere near Ban Tai. The choices then being to either stay at one of the few bungalow arrangements around there or to take a boat taxi further round the island. Even Haad Rin was inaccessible without either a boat ride, a snorkel or a long walk along the coastline at low tide. These days its a comparative breeze to turn up & get to your desired destination even though the final leg of the journey may seem to be something of an Indiana Jones
When It Rains Here - It Really Rains.
Luckily Theres A Few Hidey Holes To Hang Out In With Good Company To Enjoy Until The Weather Sorts Itself Out
ride - Its much better than it was. But as we were to discover, getting away again can sometimes be just as tricky.
Our last couple of days at Than Sadet were spent having do deal with the rather inclement weather. The first saw us sneaking out in a 4x4 for another day. We hit the west coast in the pick-up, once again hitting the sunny climate & calm waters of the flatter side whilst driving north towards Haad Yao. Stopping a couple of times for the odd photo opportunity and of course a pint at the Masons Arms, where some old ex-pat bloke called Brian was watching the footie on the big TV. Dad said his other name was Robson & he's pretty famous for watching football. He lives out here these days as his job now means he has to watch the national Thai football team pretty much all the time. Had a slippy slidey ride back over the now sodden bumpy road across the mountains after sunset & ended up having another session with our new found friends at the social hub at Mai Pen Rai. Eventually involving stumbling back along the beach,
through the hole in the boulders & up the steps to our bungalow perched on the clliff overlooking the sea at silly o'clock once again.
Waking up on New Years Eve with cloudy fuzzy heads matching the skies outside was inevitably a bit of a slow starter. It took a bit of time for the momentum of the day to gather speed. A lazy day spent playing chess with Alex, stalking the dragon like lizards that live in and around the river & and chatting to some Travelblog chums who had trekked over here from India to do the NYE Haad Rin party, staying at Mai Pen Rai based on my recommendation over t'internet a couple of months previously. The gang were so impressed that they'd been guided to this little gem of a retreat that they bought me a banana pancake in thanks for which I was humbly grateful. As the sun began to set on the last day of the year the pace started to pick up. The Gang Of Ten (actually now numbering eleven with the addition of Mel The Latecomer) were keen to spend some time at Nextdoor Bay for at least
some of the evening. We went along as Moral Support and to guide the youngsters through the bizarre obstacle course to get from one bay of beauty to the next. Staying only for an hour or so but spending enough time to brim up some Happy Juice as the cocktails on offer were on the strong side. Unfortunately the rain started coming down again around ten o'clock, spoiling our attempts to set off more Chinese lanterns so our lot made their way back home leaving the G.o.T. to their own devices. The Final Countdown to 2011 ending up in the company of a good mix of the Hardcore Mai Pen Rai Massive.
At a previous point in history, when considering the itinerary of this trip, some idiot (He shall remain nameless for the time being) had decided that it would be a good idea to book the next leg on Koh Tao starting with an arrival on January 1st. This - of course meant being up with an early hangover on New Years Day to get ourselves somehow over the rocky road to the port town of Thong Sala at the opposite side of the island,
Why Does The Weather Always Get Better On Your Last Day?
in time to catch a ferry. Needless to say on this particular day of the year, this was never going to happen & indeed - it didn't. We rejoiced at the chance of one more day here, after all its kinda hard to leave once one has got used to this being home so we forgot about the sixty quid that had been paid for our luxury pad on the next island & had yet another chillin' day with our playmates. Alex (the dude with the Tommy Cooper tattoo) Tristran - a regular visitor and Gavin who prefers to remain internetly anonymous, being our company for the day & most of the night after pledging to make it on to the 10am taxi pick up truck the following morning.
This major event did actually happen with time to spare in the morning & with a tear in the eye we bade farewell to our favourite S.E. Asian base camp for the umpteenth time in order to follow an Age Old routine of simply buying a ticket to Koh Tao. As it turned out, half the island seemed to be leaving on this particular day, Thong Sala
This Is What You Could Have Had . .
Decent Money was Offered For A Ride Out With These Guys. They Just Laughed.
was almost a Riot Zone as many of the folk that had gone to the trouble of buying tickets in advance found that they couldn't actually travel. The 11.am boat holds 400. Tickets sold were 600. The last boat out at 2pm was similarly oversold leaving more than a fair few stranded. We were a bit cross at this point as we'd lost one prepaid day already on Koh Tao and it was looking like another £60 was about to be forfieted, Stan Sted memories raising their heads again, see Oompa Loompa Kuala Lumpur!
Never ones to give up, we stood our ground & hooked up with a couple of girls who were willing to fork out 13,000 bhat (£260) for a private charter longtail boat which could carry ten to take us to Koh Tao, picking us up around 3 o'clock. This giving us three hours to fill the remaining five spaces thus getting the cost down to a reasonable £23 per head for the 90 minute crossing. This was achieved fairly quickly but the ferry company were well ahead of us, realising there was a captive market of at least 400 peeps needing to get away, they whistled up a spare
A Lot Better Than One Of These.
Desperate As We Were, 90 Minutes Across Open Sea In A Longtail Would've Been A Bad Idea & Stretched The Travel Insurance To The Limit In The Likeley Event Of A Claim
boat and announced an extra sailing at 4pm for a very reasonable seven quid a pop. We spent the inevitable extra couple of delayed hours looking on enviously at any vessel that managed to make its way out of port. Setting off at Sunset around half past six en route to an even more remote Bounty Advert
like island than we'd just left.
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