Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Koh Tao Time!

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After far too much fun at the Full Moon party and in Koh Phangnon, we were ready to move on to the island of Koh Tao for some serious down time.

We had barely missed the fast boat so we had to wait at this cove to take the slow boat which we didn't really care about until just before boarding they came around handing out barf bags. We thought this was a joke for all the hung over full moon party goers. And in part it was, but mostly it was because the waters were really tumultuous from the monsoon season. For the 2 hour ride we were going over 12 foot swells that were literally rocking the boat 180 degrees. People were sick everywhere. They even had to turn off the engine at times to make it over the swells! It was by far the worst boat trip I have ever taken. DO NOT TAKE THE SONGSERM! Only use Lomprayah catamaran's! A lesson I do not need to learn twice and I hope I can prevent some of you out on the internet from having to learn! But it was all worth it when we arrived to the beauty that is Koh Tao!
We knew ahead of time we wanted to get certified to scuba dive while in Koh Tao. Koh Tao is the cheapest and most popular place in the world to get certified so when in Rome right?! I had done a little bit of research before our trip to narrow down the shop we wanted to use so we went and checked out my top choice first, Big Blue. We deemed them acceptable and signed up for housing and to finish our scuba course. We were to start the next day so we spent the rest of the day on the beach and watched the sunset.
Then we got a fresh fish dinner at the coziest place right on the beach! You can pick the fresh caught fish from a selection at the entrance to the restaurant and they grill it up for you and you get corn and potatoes too! Can't beat that!
After dinner we saw a group of newly certified scuba divers release lanterns and we admired them as they drifted into the sky.
Then we called it a night to get ready for our big scuba diving lesson!
Love Always,
Matilda

A Full Moon at Koh Phangnon

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Our flight from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui was delayed several hours so by the time we actually arrived in the islands it was almost sunset. The gulf of Thailand had been experiencing monsoons and the rain was causing closures and delays. Fellow travelers warned us their beach time was not at all sunny or they didn't even make it to the beach. We were a bit scared our time on the islands would be ruined be we stuck to the course! We had originally been debating if we would head straight to Koh Tao from Koh Samui or if we would take a two day stop over in Koh Phangnon to check out that island and experience the world famous Full Moon Party.


We did Make it to Koh Samui though! And at the Koh Samui airport you are shuttle from the airplace via these cute island life bus thingys! Since our flight was so late arriving we had missed the last boat to Koh Tao for the day, but we could still make our way to Koh Phangnon and so we decided the universe wanted us to experience Koh Phangnon and the full moon party. Sounds simple enough when you are reading it here but at the Koh Samui airport you are bombarded with salesman trying to take you here or there for a commission. It's hard to even learn about all the boat transport available because everyone just wants their commission, not what's the best trip for you. We made this mistake only twice before we learned to ask around multiple places for the correct news. But we had genuinely missed the boat to Koh Tao and didn't want to spend the night in Koh Samui so we boarded onto a sunset boat ride over to Koh Phangnon.


We were over the moon to be on the islands and the weather was great! Finally, the relaxing part of the trip! After so much activity and bouncing around we were ready to fall into island life. (Cheap) rooms were pretty booked up with the full moon party the next night but we only had to walk around for maybe 20 minutes before we found a bungalow with a price we were willing to pay ($20 US a night) with a room we were willing to sleep in. (Things can get pretty run down since it's party central).
Sunset from our bungalow:

We put our bags down and headed out to check out the town. We grabbed some food stand snacks and enjoyed the beach but it quickly became apparent that every night is a full moon on Koh Phangnon. We made some new friends - one KGB! - before calling it a night to make sure we had enough energy to enjoy the actual full moon party the next night. After a good nights rest we meandered the whole two blocks down to the beach and spent the day reading, swimming, and relaxing on the sunny sandy beach.

Enjoying fresh fruit smoothies on the beach! Notice how big the beach is for later in this post!

It was a great way to 'recharge our batteries' and we were immediately in love with island life. As the day wore on everyone was buzzing about the full moon party. Stages began to be set up in the water and dance floors, DJ's and vendor stands were all assembled. People were being shuttled to the island from neighboring islands and everyone began donning their new and obnoxious neon outfits. Then out came the day glow paint 'tattoos', fire jump ropes, and of course buckets. We even bought some of the obligatory neon gear and got all set for the Full Moon party. Here we are ready to rock and roll.

First stop was to get a bucket.


The traditional bucket is made of a fifth of your alcohol of choice with a mixer and even a splash of the red bull M-150 which is too strong to be exported and sell for five US dollars. There are rows an rows of vendors selling buckets. all have the same product at the same price. To differentiate their product they cater to name or countries. I guess some people are more likely to buy from a vendor displaying their name or flag or from a place where you get a free hug with purchase. Matilda isn't a common enough name for me to get into that hype! Buckets are intended to be shared but in the land of Westerners at play, everyone drinks their own. I managed to find a place selling mojito buckets which weren't great but pleased me better than red bull buckets would have!

At the mojito bucket stand we made friends with a group of Aussies. They were a lot of fun and enjoyed getting other tourists to stop and let them day glow paint them. Here's a random tourist getting a pizza day glow paint tattoo on his belly courtesy of our Aussie friends.


Then we parted ways and we watched the fire jump ropers and fire hoola-hoop jumping for a while.



The beach was quickly packed (look at all those people!! Not sure where they all came from, the island was not that busy!) and the night was over in a blink of an eye.


After more buckets than were necessary, hours of dancing, and late night street food it was off to bed.
Love Always,
Matilda