Ko Tao/Ko Pha Ngan

Days go by so fast on the islands.

Ko Tao was nice. I met up with Raffy & a couple of her new friends, one guy from Holland and another guy from Chile. The first day we hung around the beach, the water was probably about 95 degrees near the beach, a little cooler when I swam out a bit. This island is really set up for diving, but it’s not a terrible place to spend a few days!

The next day we hired a guy to take us around the island for snorkeling. Fun time! We got a good deal by not going with one of the big tours, and we got to stop for as long as we wanted. There were tons of fish, some stops were better than others, and the highlights were Mango Bay and the feeding fish frenzy when we brought out the crackers!

Mango Bay on Ko Tao
Lunch with the group at Mango Bay
Aurelio, Elmar, Me, and Raffy on our awesome boat

Even though I applied 30 spf sunscreen twice to my back, I still got burned! The sun is pretty brutal here, especially when there are no clouds like the past few days.

The first night there we went to a fire dancing show, and then…a ladyboy show (need pics for this still)! I have to say, the ladyboy show was really fun to see! They sing and dance and it’s all pretty impressive, and free with just 1 drink purchase. Some of them looked dead-on like women. Others had some odd combinations- like, big boobs, big shoulders, and no hips! You’re supposed to be able to tell by looking at the adam’s apple- but none of them had one! There must be surgery for that?

Usually it’s the hips that are the giveaway for me.

The next night we just went to the fire dancing show. Music is good and the crowd is all tourists….and ladyboys! One of them grabbed my hand at one point. I wanted to try to have a conversation with him/her without seeming interested, but the language barrier got in the way. I don’t know if I should be happy or offended that the one that was hitting on me was the least attractive of the bunch!

The next day Raffy & I rented scooters and were going about 10 minutes before it started raining. So, we spent a good part of the morning in a cafe waiting for the rain to end…then finally made it to one of the southern beaches…then I had to get going to get my boat to Ko Phan Ngan.

In order to get my boat I had to get a taxi/shuttle to the pier from my hotel. The travel agent guy said the hotel will call and it’s included with the trip. After confirming in the morning that I needed to leave at 2:00 for my 3:00 boat, I checked back in with my hotel at 1:15. Well, one problem is they didn’t know ANY English. I explained it like 4 times and they answered me in Thai. I just kept saying “Taxi 2:00?” and I got a lot of Thai back, but the guy was shaking his head “yes”, and then pointed to the corner and said “You just wait there 2:00” (so he knew a tiny bit of English).

2:00 came and went and a couple of shuttles came by and picked up large groups. Neither were mine. Then it was 2:18, and I’m getting nervous. I went back to my hotel and asked again. The girl had no idea what I was saying. She called the guy on the phone and put me on the phone with him. This helped about…0! I didn’t understand anything he was saying. I just repeated that I needed the taxi to the pier about 17 times, hung up the phone, then went back to the corner and one of the local guys sitting there offered taxi to the pier. 300 baht! Like 10 bucks. Ridiculous that I had to pay but, I couldn’t afford to keep waiting or talking English to people who only spoke Thai.

So, I got to the pier and the boat was about 45 minutes late anyway.

Side note: Thailand is really strange with how they do some businesses. In Bali, everything was negotiable. Not in Thailand. There are a lot of taxi drivers here too. But they will NOT negotiate! Like, if I want a ride that’s 10 minutes away, sometimes when I ask how much it’s “400 baht”. If I say “How about 300?”, they don’t even respond! Then, 5 hours later, those same guys are sitting on that same corner…probably hadn’t had a fare all day!

They could have earned 300 baht from me, but I guess they value sitting on their asses more than making a little money…maybe I’m missing something but none of this makes any sense to me. The same with the boat taxis- they would rather wait all day for someone to pay them 400 baht to go to the next beach 10 minutes away, then to make a trip and come back for 200 or 300.

So, taxis so far in Thailand: Not negociable!

Other things are like this too. I was headed home the other night and wanted a banana. This woman at one of the juice counters had a whole bundle of bananas, and no customers. I asked her how much a banana would be. “No for sale”. She would rather let her bananas go bad then to sell it to me for 10 baht or something!

So I’ve been in Ko Phan Ngan for 2 days now. This is the place that’s notorious for Full Moon Parties. They also do Half Moon Parties (and “Black Moon Parties). But, I’m here when there’s no full, half or black moon. So it’s completely quiet here! I checked into a big hotel and the first night I think there was only 1 other person in the entire place! The beaches are nearly empty, and so are most of the restaurants.

It’s been REALLY nice and peaceful. Yesterday, I took a boat to the next beach north, and went to a yoga class (after a little hike through the jungle getting there). It was “gentle yoga” which I usually avoid because I think it’s meant for old ladies…but, this was the perfect class for me yesterday! Lots of breathing work, and basically the same poses I’m used to, only holding them longer instead of going quickly through several rounds. Felt great after.

Hat Yuan just north of Hat Rin

Getting a boat back took a little while, but eventually there were enough people to lower the cost a bit and make it worthwhile for the taxi guy (captain?).

This place also has many restaurants that show movies. The past 2 days I’ve watched:

The Hangover Part II: Terrible movie, but it takes place in Thailand so it was worth watching, plus it’s so stupid that it’s ALMOST funny. I think the worst line was near the beginning when the main character goes “I can’t believe this is happening again!!!!”

The Beach (DiCaprio): This is about a secret island paradise which was filmed at Ko Phi Phi Ley, and they had to go to Ko Phan Ngan at one point, so it was fun to watch that here! The idea of the movie was good but it fell apart, and they didn’t really develop any of the characters so I had a tough time empathizing with anyone.

Not your best movie, Leo

I Love You, Man!: Pretty good movie! I laughed a few times. It’s about a guy who’s engaged and doesn’t have any male friends, and goes on a search to find some.

Today I was going to do some work at this really cool cafe that I’ve been hanging out at, but it’s closed today! I’m now trying to find wifi (hard to believe), and planning to get a massage, then swim later (when the sun is lower in the sky).

Massage Myth: I’ve heard from SO many people how they were getting massages for $3-$4. I haven’t seen them that cheap yet, and realistically to get a decent massage you have to pay at least $10. And no, happy endings are not included with that. 🙂

Tomorrow is the travel day from hell. Since I came down to Ko Pha Ngan and needing to get to Bangkok tomorrow, I will need to take the bus. The train leaves too late and wouldn’t get in until 5:00 am the next morning, and I think the boat that leaves from Tao leaves too early for me to catch. I should have started with Pha Ngan and left for Bangkok from Tao to save time. The way it is now, tomorrow will be car to boat to bus and take a total of about 13 hours.

The thing I am most bummed about is I can’t say I was on the “Train to Bangkok”, although I may be later when I make my way back from Chiang Mai. 🙂

At least I will be be on the Passage To Bangkok

Tonight I will be uploading new podcasts and charging the ipod!

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Kevin Koskella

Kevin is a podcaster and writer on living free, despite the crazy world we live in. Kevin travels full time and explores the world and how to achieve and maximize freedom in life.

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