Kel: Getting to Koh Tao was a really funny experience. We took a train to Chumphon and stayed overnight at this backpacker place (for 3 GBP!!!) Chumphon is a stopover place for tourists really so we just enjoyed a quiet evening eating at a local cafe and wandering round the night market (amazing chicken - like KFC but better)
We got up at 5am the next morning for our ferry crossing to Koh Tao. A truck picked us up along with a few others from other hotels. As you can imagine, M and I were pretty quiet wishing we were still sleeping in a way.
Then this German couple come on the bus and asked us about 2000 questions. He had to be one of the most enthusiastic people I've ever met at 5am and at the point he put his camera in our faces and instructed the scottish people to say hello and wave I was about to deck him.
We got to the boat and then they sat near us. He kept getting up to ask more questions and joke about whisky and haggis. The boat got going and it was really rough. There were loads of green faces pretty quickly and M and I kept saying to each other - you ok - yep, you - yep - just trying to block out everyone else. German dude lights up this massive cigar and smokes about half of it in 20 mins. By this point I'm about to internally combust. But then all of a sudden he stops and runs to the end of the boat and down the stairs.
We spend the next hour or so trying not to be sick and finally the boat gets to Koh Tao. We go back downstairs to find our bags and here's the German dude sprawled all of them (his head on my bag). M wakes him up and commented afterwards that even his moustache looked green. So we got off the boat giggling a little. See morning people seem to always be so perfect.... but sometimes they're not.
Next stop Sairee Cottages. Cable TV, fan, hot shower and near a strip of restaurants. To be honest we really took a couple of days to adjust. People weren't that friendly, all the food seemed to be western, we couldn't find a bit of beach to sit at at first, bars seemed to be empty at night. So we slowly got into the new swing of it all and enjoyed a nice few days, but have since decided to venture to the south of the island instead. It's quieter and beautiful (but cold showers - eek) so we'll see how it goes.
One thing to say is that the water here is absolutely beautiful. It's like walking into a bath, turquiose green and very calm. Pure bliss.
So we'll hopefully get some good pics to show you of the south island soon, try a bit of snorkelling in shark bay (double eek) and let you know how it goes. We leave on 24th for Koh Samui.
If we don't write before, hope you have a very very merry Christmas everyone and a stonking new year. We'll be thinking of you from this sunny land. Loads of love from us both xxxx
MATT: Koh Tao was a bit of a shock to the system...too many falang!
Anyway...as Kel has said - we spent a few days on the commercial west beach of the island, then after 5 days moved to the more chilled South...and the Orchid Cliff Bungalows. We halved our budget here and moved to a much more basic bungalow - no hot water, no flushing toilet, no tv etc...but upgraded dramatically in location. Our bungalow was perched on a cliff overhanging the ocean about 20m below and looking directly out to the sunset...very tranquil. It is also at the top of a steep forest track - so is quite remote and very quiet - only the noise of the sea hitting the rock below to get you off to sleep.
The southern part of the island has a much more relaxed, island feel to it. Much less crowded and with better beaches. If you ever go...look out for Freedom beach and Shark Bay, they are both a bit of a sweaty trek from the village, but worth it for the quality of the water and to quietness of the beach. Freedom Beach was a highlight and the best swimming we have encountered so far...unfortunately it rained after about an hour of us laying in the sun and drove us indoors. Shark Bay had one particular highlight - a very friendly and mellow white dog who's hobby is to investigate the beach. She appeared next to us one afternoon and stopped, looking intently into a small hole in the sand, then smelling what she was after began to dig. A few minutes later, and a considerable hole, out runs a fair sized crab...which White Dog proceeded to chase down the beach. We applauded her for her efforts, gave her a stroke and were rewarded with a friend for the afternoon. She even followed us back over the rocky track when we left the beach to make sure we made it over the treacherous path safely, as soon as we made is back to the main road, she gave us a wag of her tail and went off to chase frogs in the forest.
The last night in Koh Tao was spent in a cheap hotel so that we could get to the ferry to Samui easily in the morning - but I regret it as I was completely devoured by bed bugs...which has left me looking like I have chicken pox....little w***s...
Anyway...Koh Tao was pretty nice...especially the south which had good bars and decent food, but I think we were both full up after 8 days and ready to get down to Samui.