Blog - Koh Tao
Tim and I knew that Koh Tao would be the last coastal stay we would probably have until New Zealand, so we set off to make the most of the tropical waters and warm temperatures. We arrived on the island and took a bumpy ride in the back of a 4x4 to Tanote Bay, which had been recommended to us. I left Tim on the beach and went to check out some accommodation (passing some enormous red millipedes on the way!). When I got back, we decided we would prefer somewhere more tranquil, as although the beach was picturesque, it was rather too busy for our hermit tastes! 1000 baht later, we had bumped our way across the unfinished roads to a large and very attractive, sheltered rocky bay called Hin Wong. We could hardly believe our luck, as we were shown to a spacious, comfortable hut with a balcony commanding a stunning view over the bay. And all for less than £5 per night!!
The bay was so peaceful, with stunning snorkelling directly onto the coral refs. In fact, these reefs rivalled all the others we had explored, with superb visibility and such an abundance of life. View Rock resort where we stayed was made up of a series of huts, perching incredibly on the almost sheer cliff faceo verlooking the bay, with hundreds of steps leading up to the entrance!!On our first night, I was walking down in the dark when something bit my big toe. To this day I do not know what it was, apart from the fact I shook my foot instinctively, and a dark creature flew off the end of my toe!! It left 2 teeth marks, and from then on, I only went up the steps with my torch!!
Tim and I signed up to do our PADI open water diving certification while we were there. This is something I had promised myself I would do when I went travelling, following my near death in a diving incident a few years ago. It felt so good to be diving again, and after the course, I felt my confidence returning. Our instructor, Vimon, was a delight, and we were lucky to be the only 2 people doing the course (although others joined us for some dives), so we had plenty of attention.
The diving was truly incredible. After diving the cold and often mirky waters around Devon and Cornwall, the visibility was fantastic, and the reefs provided a haven for all kinds of life. The open water dives were fascinating, including boulder-strewn bottoms and cliff overhangs, as well as the most impressive coral reefs I have yet seen on this trip. We found ourselves gliding over crevasses, and under impressive overhangs of underwater cliffs, amidst the bizarre clicking and grunting of the fish around us. We saw several trigger fish amongst the marine life, as well as the usual array of beautiful angel fish etc.Tim proved to be an excellent dive buddy and took to it really quickly, and we are now looking forward to some great dives in New Zealand!
The resort staff were really friendly and appeared to genuinely enjoy working there. One of the staff had discovered 2 baby squirrels who had fallen out of their nest, and she was successfully hand-rearing them. They were seriously adorable - little grey, inquisitive bundles of fluff. Tim has said no, we can't have one as a pet.......
The food was also seriously tasty, and I enjoyed fresh squid every day while I was there, with banana pancakes or banana porridge for breakfast, with strong coffee with sweetened condensed milk (something I discovered in Malaysia and is now my preferred means to enjoy coffee- Tim looks at me in horror when I scoop every last smear of sweet milk into my mouth with a spoon ; 'that's just wrong' he tells me!!).
We interspersed our diving lectures and practicals with lying on our balcony reading Joanna Trollopeand writing in my diary, while Tim had fun teaching Vimon how to fish (the poor soul had been fishing for 10 years and never caught anything!). I witnessed his first catch - a long silver garfish, with green bones. Tim caught one for him too, which he gratefully chopped up in a dish with vinegar and seasoning. Tim cannot wait until he can go fishing in New Zealand! We also ploughed our way through most of the first and second series of 30 Rock. Hilarious!
One day, we hired a moped, and Tim did a sterling job of driving us round the island, exploring. We 'treated' ourselves to a Thai massage each, by a highly qualified practitioner, on recommendation by a fellow guest where we were staying. I can only imagine that this guest is partial to a spot of S and M, because as the practitioner hung off ropes and walked along my back, arms and legs, and made me clench my hands together while he stretched my spine, I decided this was not my idea of fun. In fact, it was outright painful, and I reluctantly handed over the 1000 baht it cost us for the privilege. Tim's experience was even more painful than mine, and we decided Thai massage is not our thing, and consoled ourselves with some retail therapy!
The weather on Koh Tao was starting to decline during our stay, and several days were overcast, with clear signs of Autumn. We also witnessed a spectacular rain storm, that resulted in dolphins coming to shelter in the bay, along with numerous fishing boats. One boat was not so lucky, and sank just off the headland.. Thankfully its crew swam to safety, and some divers went down later in the day to salvage what they could. It was another reminder that even in these apparently tranquil areas, the weather can still suddenly turn, with the power of the sea being especially evident.
After just over a week at View Rock, we were ready to say goodbye, clutching our diving qualifications, to head off on the catamaran and 7-hour coach to Bangkok........