Heather's Thairy

Heather's journey to Bangkok, Thailand: a year of adventure!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Turtle Island

July 7-11 was a long weekend in Thailand for Buddhist Lent. Alisa, Stephanie and I went to Ko Tao, a small island off the east coast of southern Thailand. We took an overnight train on Friday night (my first long-distance train EVER!!!) and a ferry to the island at 6 in the morning on Saturday. We stayed on Ko Tao for two nights and then took another ferry- this one a catamaran- to Ko Samui, where we stayed one night and then flew back on Tuesday evening.
I was very pleased that all the travel arrangements worked out well- I was a bit worried that the train would be full or the airline wouldn't have our reservation, but it was all great.

The train station is this massive place with trains coming and going all the time, with hundreds of people hanging around waiting for trains, sleeping on the floor or on chairs. It was impossible to take a picture of the whole place, so I took a picture of this painting of some stately looking guy. For all I know he's the head of engineering for Thailand...or maybe it's the painting that came with the frame.

We had some delicious snacks on the train- Spy Wine Coolers (hard earned, we figured, after the week we'd all had at school, plus the journey to the train station) and Euro Cakes (which, as far as I could tell, were completely free of Europeans).

The beach at Ko Tao is quite nice. It's a little less established than other beaches I've been to- no chair rentals, no people coming up and selling things. There are restaurants lined up along the edge of the beach which are really nice and laid back- many of them you lounge on the floor with pillows- but the beach itself is business-free. It has a bit more garbage on it, though (I think as a result of no one working on it and therefore no one taking responsibility for keeping it clean, plus the fact that Ko Tao does not have garbage removal services) and it is not a very deep beach- the sand is only about ten feet out when the tide is in.

Ko Tao's shores are different than other islands'. They are rocky, but the rocks are smooth. Some of the rock formations are incredible- I don't understand how they could naturally occur in such ways. There are many bungalows on the perimeter of the island- some look impossible to access, but once there, it must be incredible.

We went snorkelling at Ko Tao- which is known for offering great diving and snorkelling tours- and saw many more incredible fish. One of these times I'll have to invest in an underwater camera and take some pictures- it feels like I'm swimming in an aquarium. We swam all the way from the boat to the beach at the last stop- it was funny swimming through the shallow waters because we'd come across divers practicing, their heads barely three inches under the water.

We watched the World Cup final in a beachfront restaurant on Ko Tao- it was really unique, listening to the game and the waves, just us and a few other people lying on the floor of this closed restaurant.

Ko Tao was very pretty and had an interesting vibe about it- it was so quiet and relaxed. Ko Samui was different- bustling and busy, with very developed towns and lots of families visiting. It had a Swensens...

Swensens was a new experience for me when I came to Thailand. Apparently they exist (or used to exist) in Eastern Canada, but I was completely unaware. It is this fantastic ice cream parlour chain that serves all kinds of delicious desserts. These were our treats on Ko Samui- three scoops of ice cream (you choose the flavours), chocolate sauce, cookies, whipped cream, brownie pieces, bananas and an ice cream truffle. Mine had Macadamia Nut, Chocolate Rain Forest and Rock 'n' Heart ice cream, hold the bananas. Why mess up a good thing with something healthy like bananas?!? Sheesh.

Ko Samui also has nice beaches- apparently, Cheweng Beach, the one we stayed on, is the busiest. It definitely had lots more children than any other beach I've been to so far, and tons of European people. None in the cakes- they're all at Samui.

Our long weekend was another spectacular one- next up, Chaing Mai for the August long.
Sorry about the delay for this entry- my computer network was down for a while plus the program just didn't seem to want to post my pictures.
But now it's done! Hurrah!

Until next time,


  • At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Mom said…

    Man, that Swenson's looks like my kind of place. Why don't we have them here?


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