4pm and it was finally, devestatingly, time to leave Koh Tao. Having spent a full two weeks on this tiny island we had grown to love its charm, the beaches, the food and even the people. By this I mean our experience with Thai people as a whole has not left us with that warm fuzzy feeling inside as most people who have been to Thailand can probably relate to, but that is a discussion for another time and place.
As it was the first time we had stopped in one place for more than a few days we began recognizing more and more people and developed quite a group of like minded travellers, aka people to go out and have A few beers with. This made leaving that little bit harder. I would go as far to say that we were comfortable.
But, the time had come and as a parting gift the island clouded over and soften the blow for us. We hopped on a boat and headed back for the mainland, ready to board the 9:15pm overnight sleeper train to the Malaysian border. Once back on the mainland we were shuttled to a little costal town called chumpon. A small but busy town, we were welcomed back with an instant ushering into a previously selected restaurant, not by us I hasten to add. This was all to familiar and we really knew then we were back in Thailand, well the mainland at least. However, as judgemental as we were, they offered us a safe place to store our bags, didnt try to sell us anything and even offered us a free taxi to the train station. We ended up getting a 'backy' from the barmaid and chef on their personal mopeds as the taxi had got stuck somewhere and our Train was in 5 minutes! They flew through the streets and got us there on time only to realize the train was delayed by 40minutes. Some things don't change the world over.
When it finally arrived we nestled into our little top deck beds, baker sleeping almost instantly. I managed to read an entire book before falling asleep, 'welcome to hell' a book about a Thai prison. Needless to say at the end I was glad I was going south and not back to Bangkok. Baker then woke, and read the book during the remainder of the journey. A good book, but not one for the faint hearted.
Anyway, 15 odd hours later we arrived at the Malaysian border, 6 Danes in tow and waved goodbye to Thailand. The 6 Danes were a group we met on the train who were travelling to the perhentian islands and had already arranged a mini bus to take them to the port. So when I say we had them in tow, really we were following them as they mentioned they had two spare seats; we were not about to let the opportuntiy pass. A lovely group of family and friends, they had been to the islands numerous times Before so practically held our hands until we were on long beach, small island, perhentian islands, Malaysia. A mouth full I think you will agree. But stepping off our little speed boat they use to get to the islands, onto immaculate white sand warmed from a blistering days sunshine, turning back to see turquoiuse clear water and in the distance the other island the journey just dissappeared into distant memory an the now, the tranquility of the bath warm water lapping against a long curved beach lit by the late evening sunshine was where we were. Basically what I am saying is that it was distinctly average and if you happen to be reading this at work, school or other, don't worry, you're not missing anything....
We found a 'shack' on the other side of the island, a full 5 minutes walk from where we landed and stopped to take it all in. Our shack and it most certainly could not be considered more than that was perched 10feet up on some rocks 10 feet from the water front and yes, with a perfect view of the sunset. All very romantic, if it wasn't two sweaty, tired, horribly unshaven men perched on plastic chairs both eager for some food.
The next day was spent doing what we have become accustomed to, sunbathing and generally not moving very far. You may have noticed how i ommitted the evenings activities. We spent the evening with a couple we met on koh tao but essentially there is nothing to do at night but sit, eat and relax.
After the second night in our shack we jumped onto the other island and found paradise, I mean, just above Average-ville..... We booked ourselves into the cheapest place on the island, which just so happend to be on the beach overlooking the smaller island. Again, all very average and not stunnigly beautiful in any way... We had already done a bit of snorkelling on the other island and seen reef sharks and jelyfish, a few turtles and the odd octopus but we decided we wanted to see more! So a tour of the island by boat was the best option. I think we both agreed afterwards that this may just be a once in the lifetime experience. We swam with giant leather back turtles, not one but loads. Hanging on to their shells as they swam and following them as they scowered the ocean which suddenly seemed much smaller with these vast creatures gliding, care free through the water. One that matt got down to, was at least 6feet long and as wide as someone in the starfish position. Huge.
Although we were only on the islands for a few days, this made the trip worthwhile and probably why we would go back. Overall the small island although naturaly beautiful was neglected by the people living there and showed it. The big island was much more carefully managed and salvaged the impression the islands left on us. Baker in fact loved the big island. I'd put that down to the "family feel" of the place which naturally includes increased amounts of children. Enough said. Apart from that last snippet I know this sounds like a summary from 'holiday' on the BBC but worth pointing out.
At 8am Saturday morning we boarded a little speed boat and heading for kuala lumpur, waved goodbye to beach life, if only for a week or so. X