Friday, February 28, 2014

A trip to Koh Tao, Thailand

Before we came we planned to do two boat trips… to Angthong and one to Koh Tao. We went to Angthong and the return journey on the speed boat was very rough!
Our choices in terms of going to Koh Tao were…..
1)go by speedboat, double the distance,  with no land between us and Vietnam, leading to very rough seas. Not too enticing after the last speedboat ride! And discouraged from doing so by the people who took us to Angthong!
2) do a return day trip on a large Catamaran for a smoother journey but join several hundred others snorkeling at designated areas. Not too attractive a prospect either.
3) go by Catamaran and stay overnight.
Choice #3 seemed the way to go! Several hotels didn't seem to want to help in terms of arranging a boat, one said the times for snorkeling were not flexible, just 10-3pm. Not possible in view of the Catamaran sailing times.  Another had a reviewer say they had found a snake in their room as it had an open shower! That was nixed immediately!!
However one hotel I contacted,the Simple Life hotel, essentially a dive hotel, were more than helpful and so we booked in there.
So off we went…. we had to be at the Lomprayah boat pier between 7 and 7.30am….
The trip over was fairly smooth……but all 461 places seemed to be filled! However  most of them got off at Koh Nang Yuan…. the first snorkel destination…….. we decided we wouldn't go there until next morning ….. before the Catamaran arrived…..

…..we were amused to see this notice put up after the passengers had gone past, obviously someone had forgotten to do it in time…looked as though a photo was taken to prove it was there!
And we passed the boat they would all go out on later to snorkel…….. I had asked several tour operators what a Talay-Nai boat was, they were all using it! never got a response! Now I know!!

Finally we arrived at the main ferry pier in Koh Tao…

where we were  picked us up and  taken  to the hotel….this was our first time on one of these open taxis but we had seen a lot in Koh Samui, usually overfilled!

Within 5-10 mins we were checked in (room not ready…it was only 10am…... but not a problem) had changed in their guest bathroom, been given beach towels and were escorted to our private long tail boat to do a trip around the island, stopping in the better snorkeling bays…..
 …….on our way…...

The first stop was Mango Bay, which had been promoted by the speed boat company as very quiet…
It probably was……however there were 7 speedboats, different companies, there at the same time. Fortunately they left soon after we arrived…..

This was a very nice stop…. after the speedboats left!

Then it was on to  Hin Wong Bay……..a little rough en route after we rounded the corner to the east side of the island. Apparently this was the first time for four days that they were able to go around the island and indeed one still could not stop at a lot of the good snorkeling bays.

Then finally lunch……… at Thian Og Bay, which means, in English, Shark Bay…and yes they do have sharks!  But they are white ones and don't attack!

Then on to Freedom Bay, also well known for snorkeling….

Then the last one before our return…..

Back to the hotel….

where we finally got to check out our room which was absolutely fine…… not luxe, but we weren't going to be in it for long…….

The people at this hotel were incredibly pleasant and extremely well organized…. we can definitely recommend staying there.
Next morning they arranged for their boat to take us over early( and pick us up!) to Koh Nang Yuan….before the Catamaran arrived with its masses of people! It was extremely pleasant….until the boat arrived….

I should at this point say that our R/T Catamaran, hotel room, private boat around the island and a trip to Koh Nang Yuan the following morning cost just slightly less than the speedboat trip!  We were quite happy with our choice!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Koh Samui, Thailand

I am feeling a little perplexed as to how to describe this island…..
One half of it is fantastic... beautiful beaches, beautiful resorts on the beaches, a fabulous coastline, a jungle interior and great climate. Not to mention the great Thai massages for under 10 euros ($11) an hour and great food on the beach.

The other half is absolutely tacky!

We saw all the main sights in the tour books very quickly!  The ring road is only 50kms around the island!
But with unbelievable traffic in the more touristy parts of the ring road….

and sometimes being slowed down by a salesman…

We skipped the mummified monk who has his RayBan sunglasses changed daily!

We also skipped the monkey shows and the elephant shows…..

We did visit their very visited tourist site Hinta and Hinyai. As it is heavily promoted and there is little to do off beach……everyone else was also there. With tatty souvenir stalls….

We had no problem identifying Hinta but weren't sure about Hinyai

But it would have been so  beautiful without the crowds……

We felt we had to check out Chaweng, the main drag for night life…..
Our first thought…didn't look as bad as expected!

After we started walking down the main drag……we changed our minds very rapidly!

And in the middle of all that tat we were able to go and enjoy a fantastic drink on the beach….
I had thought of booking into this particular hotel…… The Library

…….we absolutely enjoyed 'Happy Hour' on the beach….

 They even have a DJ on the beach….great music!