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Published: January 29th 2006
From the moment I stepped off the boat to Koh Tao and started to wander the beach, I fell in love with Koh Tao. Before coming many people told me that I had to go to Koh Tao because it was the best island in all of Thailand. I had this picture perfect place envisioned that was only real in my dreams....I was wrong. I enjoyed Koh Tao more than I ever expected. Before coming to Thailand I had this idealized idea of a country full of little bungalows, longtail boats lining the beaches, chill backpackers lounging at beach bars watching the sunset, fresh fish, cheap beer, and an absolute paradise. I guess I had been reading too many tourist books from the 80s and early 90s! Indeed the beauty of Thailand had surpassed anything I ever imagined, but the amount of tourism and westernization did surprise me. Yet Koh Tao....Koh Tao was what I imagined all of Thailand to be.
We got off the boat and were taken to our bungalow, the Seashell Resort. As I mentioned in my previous entry, it seems the further one travels into remote islands the types of bungalows change too. When one hears
Welcome to summer camp!
the word "resort," the westin or some huge hotel is envisioned. The best way to describe this resort on Koh Tao is that it felt like summer camp. We lived in the garden cottages that had "normal" temperature water (not hot nor cold!), fans, poor lighting, and for about an hour at night the generators turned off to conserve energy. I was perusing some of the other bungalows along the beach and well, they were the same standards as ours. All of Koh Tao felt like summer camp. I LOVE summer camp! It felt like home! I could have been back in Skylake ;-). The accomodations were fine, I just wanted to point out how loosely the word "resort" can be used in Thailand :-).
Koh Tao had the chill beaches (when the tide went down), the longtail boats, the chill backpackers, the chill divers from all over the world, the fresh fish, cheap beer, the swimming, the snorkeling, and the atmosphere that was absolutely amazing. Koh Tao was the place where days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months. Once you are there you just want to stay, relax, and enjoy the company of the great people
The beaches I dreamed up do exist
around you. We did not see another American until our last day there. Our first afternoon we sat on the beach relaxing. That night for dinner I had fresh fish that I got to pick out myself! The next morning we got up early and went scuba diving. If I had more time I would have gotten my PADI certification. I LOVE scuba diving and it is something I want to continue doing for the rest of my life. We saw incredible fish and coral...and we were only 100 meters from the beach! That afternoon called for some more beach time. On our third day Leah, Liz, and Jason all left to go back to Bangkok and fly out the next day. Jeff and I went on an all day snorkeling trip around the entire island. It was a bit of an overkill, yet definitely worth it. We saw all kinds of fish, including a shark! We were allowed to feed the fish some of the fruit from our lunch and were swarmed by some of the most beautiful fish. The water was so clear. You could see some of the fish from the boat. Definitely some of the best
Me learning to climb trees!
snorkeling I have done. That night I enjoyed more fresh fish, wandered the beach, and took in all of Koh Tao that I could so I could not forget my favorite place in Thailand. The next day we headed back to Koh Samui, then flew into Bangkok. Koh Tao...awesome and I would definitely reccommend it to anyone to visit. Bangkok
Our last day of Thailand was spent going back to Bangkok and touring the capitol of Thailand, Bangkok. Jeff and I spent the morning in this HUGE market buying random souvenirs for friends and family and trying to figure out omiyage for all of our Japanese schools. They literally had everything you could possibly want in this market. Then we went to Wat Pra Keo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace. Both were absolutely beautiful...full of gold chedis, vibrant colors, and intricate Thai architecture. The emerald buddha was probably the size of a cabbage patch doll that sat atop a very ornate display. I am very fascinated by the Thai architecture because it is like none I have seen in other places I have traveled (mind you, this is my first venture into southeast asia!).
Now this is a typical Thai toilet. The bucket with water is to flush the toilet yourself. The trash can is to put your paper in, as the septic system can't handle the paper. But, not too many squatters like in Japan!
After we visited Wat Po, one of the more famous of the cazillion wats (wat=temple) in Bangkok because of the HUGE reclinine golden buddha.
Two wats and a Grand Palace later Jeff and I had enough of them and went on a boat cruise down the river and saw some wats as the sun started to set. We got off to go check out the hotel called The Orient...voted one of the best hotels in the world. Jeff and I walk up to it and get stopped by the guard in the front who told us we could not go into the hotel. He points to the sign -
1). No sandals - both jeff and I are wearing sandals.
2). No sleeveless shirts - I am wearing a tank top
3). No backpacks - I have a backpack on
4). No backpackers - awe we were fucked! We screamed backpackers!
Talk about discrimination! :-) So that ended our orient experience a little shorter than we thought. We headed to a restaurant called Condoms and Cabbages. Some of the money from your dinner is given to a charity to promote safe sex in all of Thailand. It was
Leah and I at sunset
very tasty, and for desert they give you a condom instead of a mint!
Bangkok itself is a very large dirty city. It has some beautiful and interesting parts, but there are definitely better parts in Thailand. One of my favorite parts of Bangkok was walking the streets and seeing all the monks. They seem to be so important that I forget they have to do everyday things too. They were at the foodstalls, buying stuff from random street vendors, and taking tuk tuks around town (although I am sure the tuk tuks take them to their desired locations the first time!). They day in Bangkok was wonderful, but one was enough. We ended the day with Thai massages, relaxed and ready to get on the plan back to cold Hiroshima.
So this ends my trip to Thailand. What an amazing amazing country! The week I got back I wanted to start planning my next trip to Thailand. My travel partners and adventures spent with them were amazing. My favorite spots were Chiang Mai and Koh Tao and I would highly reccomend adding those to your itineraries to Thailand. Things I LOVED in Thailand: the beach, elephants, snorkeling,
warm weather, lush forests, banana shakes, fresh fish and lobster, curry, non-japanese boys to look at, bungalows, fisherman pants, Chang Beer, Mango Shakes, British boys on New Years, everything being cheap, fire throwers, swimming, longtail boats, coconut juice served in coconuts, wats, night markets, sand, sunsets....to name a few. Things I did not like about Thailand: crazy tuk tuk drivers, fire shits, eurotrash tourists, and layovers in Bangkok airport. AMAZING TRIP!!!
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