Our next stop was two islands in the south of Thailand. We flew from Manila to Bangkok and took a night train that evening to the Ranong Province. From there we took a mini van, sonthaew, and boat and finally arrived at the beautiful Koh Phayam on the Andaman Coast.
Keith originally found the island on his relentless search for surfing, and after my cousins endorsed it, we were sold. Since it was monsoon season, we were two of about 30 tourists on the island. Many were staying for long periods, attempting to outlast the monsoon. Unfortunately that meant that many of the shops, restaurants and massage places were closed, but it also meant our beach and resort that were practically private. We stayed at Bamboo Bungalows on Ao Yai in a bungalow that is normally 1,800 baht ($60) in high season but was 500 baht ($17). It was spacious with a private attached outdoor shower and toilet, a nice porch with two comfy chairs and a hammock. It was lovely!
This week was meant as recovery for me after my race, so we took it quite easy. Leisurely breakfasts, followed by some surfing (mostly Keith), maybe a walk on the beach, some exploring on a motor bike, lunch in the village and beers on the beach watching the sunset. Of course we were loving the food after such a bland month in the Philippines and enjoyed trying all sorts of different dishes. There was only electricity from about 6pm onwards which added to the rustic/resting vibe of it all.
I got a little obsessed with shells and spent one afternoon collecting them. I’m currently carrying about 3-5lbs of them around with me. Can’t wait to have them in awesome bowls at our new house in Victoria. And I’m hoping that Victoria has a beach where I can collect more! They are so pretty!!!
It rained a few days forcing even more rest and reading, but leaving us lots of time to research where we would go next. Instead of going straight to Bangkok to get our Vietnamese visas, we decided to take a detour to the Gulf Coast to visit the island of Koh Tao. Koh Tao is a diving centre, but there is also good snorkeling.
It was crazy hot while we were there, and we weren’t staying in a place with aircon. The first day we explored the island on bikes, stopping here and there to take pictures. We were especially intrigued by the giant rocks that were sporadically throughout the island with nowhere to have fallen from.
We signed up for a day long snorkeling tour and were not disappointed. Within 10 seconds of jumping in the water at our first stop we saw a four foot long reef shark. Of course that got our hopes up for more sharks, which we didn’t see, but the underwater wildlife was fascinating. It was my first time doing anything like that and the diversity along with the plethora of colours blew my mind. Unfortunately my sunscreen couldn’t keep up with the ocean and I ended up with a sun burn on the backs of my legs (I had a life jacket on for most of it covering my back), which annoyed me because of how hard I try not to get burned. I’m a big whiny baby with sun burn. Luckily that didn’t set in until we were back at the hotel, so I was able to enjoy the day. I’ve decided that life above water is MUCH more bland than below! (Cue Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid).
The next couple days we just relaxed trying to keep cool. We got thai massages, ate delicious food and ‘used the internet’ aka paid to sit in aircon for a few hours. I went for a run one day that ended up being more of a walk. There are super steep hills on the island and the heat pretty much slowed me to a crawl. I kept having to stop and sit down in the shade. Although eventually I did make it up to the top and it was a great view from the top (unfortunately my pictures from that are on a different memory card so I can’t post them).
On Sunday we caught an afternoon boat off the island to headed back to Bangkok on a night train. Before the train we hit our first night market, gorging on the delicious street food that the people of Champhun had to offer to put us into a food coma in order to get a great sleep on the train!