Like so much chattle & freedom isn’t free (but it’s cheap and has good snorkelling)

We made it to Ko Tao on the night ‘ferry’. Sort of like a Chinatown bus the cargo boats to the gulf islands load cargo and people onto the triple decks. Thankfully it was only French, German and Danish farang backpackers like us that we slept next to and not chickens or goats on the very narrow cots.

Ko Tao is the diving certification HQ of Thailand and in fact certifies more divers than all but one other spot in the world (it apparently has a lot of easy dive sites for learning, plus is very cheap). As a result (and perhaps also as a result of having a harbour deep enough to dock bigger ships) it’s far more developed than Hat Ton Sai. Our resort at Freedom Beach looked mostly new, and there’s lots of construction visible from the main road.

Our big adventure was a circumnavigation of the island of which Captain Cook would have been proud. Our first day on the island we scoped out the sail by trekking through nearly every resort on something of a jungle trail. In the afternoon we stumbled upon first the sailing shop and then the climbing shop. Our feeling was that we’d done enough climbing and a little 14ft Hobie Cat and some snorkeling would be a healthy diversion.

The winds were good, approximately 10-15 knots and we headed south around the island. By the time we made it to the windward side four foot waves with some chop were readily apparent. Zoe seemed fine with it. Mark stated, “So this is what it feels like to be in a teacup in the ocean.” It was something a bit like Mr Toad’s wild ride and Mark got pretty seasick. Nevertheless, we made it around the island to a beautiful snorkeling site back on the leeward side. The water was so clear, you could see over 20 feet down to the coral reefs below and thousands of tropical fish. All in all, a special day.

The next day we took a high speed ferry and bus combo package up to Bangkok…

Cricket and other creepy crawlies

We left Tonsai today for Krabi Town and air con. Yesterday was so hot that even the Thai ladies with the food stands at the south end of Tonsai beach were complaining. We brought something with us though, a large scary spider who hitched a ride in Mark’s backpack. We thought we had chased him away before we left the bungalow but he hung in there through the longboat ride and on top of the song-thaew and only resurfaced when we reached our hotel.

After 9 nights in the bungalow it’s nice to have a real hotel with hot water, AC, and a tv, even if the only English channels are news and sports (soccer, badminton and the utterly unfathomable cricket) and one movie channel from Pakistan. There was also a lizard on the wall above our bed when we got back from dinner at the night market by the pier (bad pad thai – the first time we’ve been burned by street food). He was small and cute and looked harmless enough and scurried off when we came in.

Tomorrow we leave for Ko Tao on the east Gulf Coast; it promises to be another epic travel day/night as we plan to take the overnight ferry from Surat Thani. Ko Tao has both snorkeling and more climbing and we hope it will be slightly cleaner & lower key than the Raileys and Tonsai. From there we’ll keep heading north.