After two chilled out and lazy days in Chumphon, having watched the complete first season of Stranger Things on Netflix (you need to watch! So good!) we continued our adventure with the next stop being Koh Tao. The ferry was scheduled for 1pm with the pier being a 45 minute bus journey from the central Chumphon train station. There is a free shuttle bus from the hotel to the train station, where we were supposed to collect our tickets before the bus journey to the pier. Seeing that the free shuttle to the train station wouldn’t take that long, I was confident we would have enough time to collect our tickets. Stupid me. Did I really think the shuttle would arrive on time?! Did I learn nothing the last few days?! Of course the bus was late (or right on time, lots of room for interpretation) and I started to worry. Tom didn’t really have anything to say about it (Tom: “Nothing to worry about. They won’t go without us”), so it was only me staring at the clock nervously watching the minutes pass by. “Tom they’re already 7!!! minutes late!”
End of story: everything was fine, we didn’t get to collect our tickets in time, but as Tom would say… “It’ll be fiiiine”. (Tom: “See!”)
The ferry that took us to Koh Tao was, compared to the two before, pretty luxurious! It had proper seats, wasn’t made out of wood, had a bar to buy drinks and didn’t break your ear drums from the engine noise. A free hotel shuttle bus was already waiting for us at the pier which took us to our accommodation for the following five nights; Simple Life Resort which is located in the heart of Sairee Beach, the busiest part of the island, where all the fun stuff happens.
After dumping our bags, we decided to have a look around (at least I was exploring, Tom was pointing out places where he had dinner or lunch on his previous trip!). We headed to the beach and as we arrived we got to see an absolutely beautiful sunset of reds, oranges and purples. (Tom recognised the bar we were standing next to “Hey! We had drinks here on our last night! This is where we met that scottish bloke again! You need to take a picture of me for Porky!”.)
After dinner, we decided to head back to the Lotus beach bar and had a drink sitting on cushions in the sand. Shortly after three local guys started one of Koh Tao’s famous fire shows, twirling pois (paraffin dipped cages of wool on the end of chains) very impressively and rather dangerously close to people. They also included the audience and got Tom up to stand in formation with three others (don’t think he’ll start a career as a fire dancer anytime soon). They also got me to take part of an absolutely spectacular stunt (not the kiddy stuff Tom did!) where I had to bite one end of two tangled pois while the guy was holding on to the other end!
The island itself is rather touristy and quite built-up (although it’s still low season so not too busy) but is a pleasant change from the sleepy Koh Phayam.
Day two and we made a plan to rent a moped and properly explore the island. First we drove to Tao Thong on the south-western coast (these streets are something to get used to, some just turn to muddy ruts at one point, which makes them impassable on a moped) and as Tom got stuck two very nice Germans (we’re everywhere!) helped to lift the moped out. We then headed to June Juea Bay where we stopped at the View Point Resort for a refreshing glass of ice tea whilst enjoying the beautiful view across Chalok Baan Kao Bay. We next moved on to Freedom Beach which is said to be the most beautiful beach on the island. There is also a view point (John-Suwan Mountain Viewpoint) which overlooks the whole of Chalok Baan Kao, Thin Og bays and the hilly north, which we were determined to go to. We paid an entrance fee of 50 Baht each and started our way up. Arriving at the top a little out of breath (some more than others!), the absolutely awesome view made up for the very steep climb.
The refreshing water of Freedom Beach was very welcome after we made our way down again (of course I didn’t make it down without an accident). Whilst we enjoyed laying amongst the palm trees listening to the waves, we both agreed that there are actually nicer beaches on the island than Freedom Beach.
A little more sunbathing at Chalok Beach and we headed to the viewpoint of our choice for the sunset: Mango Viewpoint. Our guidebook says this about the way to get there: “Take a short visit to this stunning and easy to reach viewpoint” Now, stunning I agree with, but easy to reach, well… depends on the way you want to reach it, I’d say. On our, let’s say adventurous, way up there I had to get off a few times, as our poor little moped ran out of power on the very steep hills (or maybe it was just Tom’s driving skills that made the poor moped suffer!). We crossed deep muddy ruts, various road surfaces and steep inclines, only to realise, after all our (especially my!) hard work, that there won’t be much of a sunset, as it was cloudy. Despite the weather, the view from the top is amazing, looking down on Sairee Beach and the south of the island. After taking some pictures, we worked our way down again before it got dark and to our surprise it was MUCH easier to get down than to get up, which was quite a relief.
With the weather improving, we realised that we’d both got our first sun burn of the trip! Yay!