Travelling around Thailand seemed to be much easier than anywhere else in Asia. Everything was extremely well organised, from piking us up from the front door of the travel agency where we booked the tickets, to taking us straight to our accommodation point in South Thailand.
Our first destination was Koh Lanta, a beautiful mix of a party-like northern part of the island to the very remote south beaches. The ride was long, but very comfortable and well organised. We travelled in a modern double-decker, which was full of white tourists going to different South Thai islands. Although we were kind of missing the chaotic way of travelling in India or Nepal where you need half a day to find the right bus and then squeeze on the seats with the locals for the next ten hours, being a tourist for a few days was very relieving. Not only that there was no doubt which bus to take, they even put different kinds of stickers on each traveller to make sure we didn’t get lost. Just like in the primary school when they put yellow neckerchiefs around children’s necks. It took us two long busses, two ferries and about 24h to get to Koh Lanta, but during our journey we didn’t have to worry about anything. They took us straight to Pitt bungalows where we spent the next 10 days.
We booked our accommodation in advanced, the cheapest one we found online, and when we arrived there we understood why: the basic bungalows didn’t even have a mattress to sleep on, so we slept on the floor; they were exposed to the sun from morning to evening and there was barely some space to drop our backpacks. But we liked it. Mostly because of the kind owner who was always smiling and ready to help, then because they were probably offering the best food in whole Thailand, and finally because we met some really wonderful people.
We met our neighbours the very first night, Janin from Switzerland and her Mexican boyfriend Jorge. After we took a ride with our scooter to discover the island, we met them for dinner and immediately connected very well. The next day another beautiful and very young couple arrived, Marvin and Valerie from Germany and joined the team. From that moment on, we spent all the evenings together, having drinks, dinners and sharing interesting conversations. We all made a very special connection and meeting them made our staying in Koh Lanta truly a memorable experience.
Just as our evenings, the mornings were also very relaxed. We discovered a beautiful remote beach, and due to low season we had it basically for ourselves. Waking up early in the morning, taking our scooter, having one kilo of mangoes for breakfast on the beach, sunbathing, reading and snorkelling were our main activities for the next ten days. Koh Lanta is a beautiful, relaxed island with an amazing nature, offering a green jungle interior and amazing beaches all around the island. We enjoyed outstanding sunsets every single evening and going there was a proper tourist-like vacation. But unfortunately we and our new friends all had to move on, each of us to a different part of Thailand, but we were happy that eventually we would meet them again.
After ten days of doing nothing, we unintentionally had to move to Phuket – an island with bad reputation and nothing exceptional to offer. After applying for our working holiday visa for New Zealand, we had to do a chest x-ray to prove that we don’t have tuberculosis (for having spent over three months in third-world countries), and only a few selected doctors in Thailand are officially approved to do it. The closest one we found was situated in Phuket, and that is how we spent two boring days in an ugly city, but happy that we did all our obligations related to the New Zealand visa. After a few days we got confirmed that our visas were approved, which meant we could extend our trip for almost unlimited time.
Having to go to Phuket and having “lost” around 500€ (we will not discuss this object in the post :)), we had to rearrange our plans which at first included visiting some remote islands southern down, so we headed to the east and spent the last five days on a small, but very touristy island of Koh Tao.
The first thing we noticed when arriving in Koh Tao was that there is no low budget accommodation. The island is full of beautiful resorts, and, oh my, we had to spend our last days in one of them: a beautiful room with the balcony, surrounded by the palms and just a few meters from the beach. After settling ourselves down, we went for a swim and then headed towards the center to meet our German friends Marvin and Valerie. We spent the evening together over some delicious Pad Thai, but unfortunately they weren’t having such a great time. They had an accident with the scooter and were stuck in their room for a couple of days. They were leaving the next day, so after the dinner we said goodbye, this time for longer time, hopefully not for good.
Having a scooter accident in Koh Tao is actually a very common thing, so we were very limited when moving around the island. We prefered walking the dangerous parts of the road when visiting different beaches, but it was absolutely worth it. Koh Tao might be touristy, maybe even a bit too much for our taste, but when it comes to snorkelling it wins hands down. It was the first time that we saw such diverse, colourful and beautiful underwater world and we couldn’t get enough of it. We could spend hours and hours just swimming and looking at different kinds of fish, corals and other sea creatures that we didn’t even know existed. It was absolutely wonderful, but the grand finale came when we went on a snorkelling trip to Nangyuan Island, which is part of a national park.
When we started the trip it was raining very heavily, it was cold and windy and it didn’t seem it would stop any time soon. But it did, fortunately, and after about half an hour the sky cleared up a little bit, still covered with the clouds, but creating just the perfect conditions to be able to swim and enjoy snorkelling without getting sunburned. We visited five different snorkelling places around Koh Tao, but our last stop was the small island of Nangyuan with beautiful white sand and crystal clear turquoise water. It was truly amazing how good the visibility was all around Koh Tao where you could clearly see 10m in depth or even more.
Otherwise then snorkelling, hanging around with our friends (we also visited Barbara, Nejc’s friend from Slovenia who has been living in Koh Tao for four months, and, believe it or not, she also had a bad scooter accident), relaxing and, of course, eating, we didn’t do much. All in all it was a nice experience, but we regret not having been able to discover more remote Thai islands. We’ll save those for the next time, so Thailand; we’re not done with you yet!
Our time in this exotic country was coming to an end, and it was time to return to Bangkok to spent our last night with our Couch surfing friends Paul and Kaew and catch the plane for Bali.
Paul and Kaew greeted us with open arms. We had a wonderful time on our last night, and I was so deeply surprised and touched when Paul gave me a typical Thai shirt as a gift. It is just so wonderful, to travel around and meet beautiful souls that wander around the world; you never know when you’re going to meet a true friend.