thailand: the islands

After a few days in Bangkok, I was ready to get back to the beach. My first stop was Koh Tao, the island known for scuba diving. From Bangkok to Koh Tao I took an “overnight train” (by overnight train I of course mean, I was on a train from 5pm until 2am, waited at the train station until about 5am, rode a bus from the train station to the ferry dock, and then finally, at around 11am, arrived on Koh Tao). The long and pretty much sleepless overnight journey could not stifle my excitement for diving, though. I stayed at Sairee Beach, which offers lots of nightlife and really the only backpacker scene, but unfortunately not much else. After breakfast at the beach, I spotted Roctopus dive shop (which I had already read good things about online). A few days later I had 5 dives under my belt and my open water certification! After the initially very weird sensation of breathing cold, dry air under the warm, tropical water, I was hooked.

Aside from diving, I participated in the infamous Koh Tao Pub Crawl, watched new friends dominate the fire limbo at Lotus Bar (noooo thank you for me!), and snorkeled at both Ao Leuk (highly recommend)*, and Shark Point (where I saw hardly anything, except mean black fish who chase you away from their dead coral and occasionally bite you 😦 ). Koh Tao also has amazing street food – everything from pad thai, omelet sandwiches, crepes, and fruit shakes, all for well under 100 baht, or about $3 US.

After several days on Koh Tao, I went west to Koh Phi Phi, which many argue is the most beautiful/picturesque of the islands. This might be true, but for me it was mostly rainy (monsoon season), and definitely overcrowded. I did 3 more dives (basically going underwater to escape the hordes of people above), including one night dive. I’ve done night snorkeling, and at the age of 13 decided that bioluminescent plankton is one of the coolest species on earth. In addition to the plankton (which seriously if you haven’t experienced, you must)**, I also was deep enough to see fish in various sleep-like states, including little nemos (clown fish), hovering lazily in their anemones 🙂 The unexpected highlight? A squid eating a small silver fish! Weirdly really beautiful…ah the circle of life.

Also on Phi Phi, I enjoyed intense and impressive fire shows at the beach (nightly!). Unfortunately due to bad weather, we weren’t able to see Maya Bay (“the beach” from the Leo movie), but a boat cruise around the islands was still a fun, if pricey day adventure.

After almost 2 weeks on the islands, it was time to go. This picture probably sums up how the islands (and actually all of Thailand), felt to me better than any…(just hoardes and hoardes of tourists!)


*sadly my GoPro was dead for Ao Leuk, because the coral was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and there were more species of beautiful, colorful fish than I could keep track of

**swimming with bioluminescent plankton at night is what I imagine being a fairy is like – with each movement twinkly pixie dust explodes gently around you ❤

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