School was closed on Friday because of Mother’s Day, so we were gifted a three day weekend! In fact, school closed at lunchtime on the Thursday, so another half day was added on too. What a treat! A group of teachers from around Surat headed straight to the pier to book tickets for the night ferry to Koh Tao. I was itching to go diving again. The beach and culinary delights of the island were also calling. Much as I love the Thai food available throughout Surat, it is a real treat to sample the Western foods and flavours of home that Koh Tao does so well. Better than all the other islands I’ve visited so far, I’d happily argue.
The boat over involved 37 people jammed in next to each other, on tiny mattresses all in a row down each side of the boat. Pillows and blankets are provided, and the air con keeps the temperature pretty ambient. As long as you’re not a wriggler, it’s possible to get a reasonable night’s sleep. Waking up to a beautiful sunrise over the silhouetted form of the island, as the boat docks, makes it all worthwhile anyway.
The weekend was spent exploring the sea floor, with all its swim throughs and underwater critters. A highlight was swimming alongside a gigantic jellyfish, billowing along on its ghostly path. It was incredibly beautiful. No whale sharks this time though. Maybe next time!
We also took the time to visit Koh Nangyuan, purely to see what all the fuss is about really. Honestly, I wish we hadn’t bothered. Whilst, yes, it is incredibly beautiful, it is possibly the least friendly place I have ever visited. There is a fee as soon as you step onto the island, and a sign informing you the use of beach towels is prohibited. After you’ve paid your entrance fee, your water bottles are snatched from your bags and thrown into bins. Apparently water bottles are forbidden. I suspect smiling is too, I can’t be sure though, not many people were trying it! The white sandy beach is not so much white sand, as broken shards of dead coral. Not that comfy to sit on actually, without a beach towel. The long hobble out through the shallows, to swimmable depths is likewise hindered by quantity of dead coral and squelchy sea cucumbers. The main attraction of the island is the viewpoint which looks out across the bar of sand that connects the islands. Whilst the view is pretty impressive, the half hour queue you have to stand in before you get anywhere near the rocky peak dampens your appreciation somewhat. I wouldn’t recommend it!
The food, weather and nights out on Koh Tao didn’t disappoint. The journey back was a little more comfy. The boat offered bunk beds and air conditioning, even if my ticket dictated that I had to share a teeny ‘double’ mattress with a colleague. Fortunately there were a few spare beds, so we were able to find one each once we’d set sail. We arrived back in Surat at 5:30am feeling revitalised after our well-deserved break!