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Ko Phagnan and Ko Tao

by Amelia Curran

Life has truly been a beach for well over a week now…

Life's a beach...

Life’s a beach…

Bottle Beach in the north of Ko Phangan was the ultimate chill out.’ You could laze your days away in a hammock listening to the gentle sounds of the waves, whilst reading.’ In the evenings we would watch a film in one of the restaurants and then retire to bed after a couple of Changs.’ We did get a burst of energy on a couple of occasions, hiring out snorkels one afternoon and even kayaking on another.’ We were able to explore around the bay and got off on some rocks to try and catch crabs – which we failed to!’ The snorkelling was fun and there were some pretty fish swimming amongst the rocks – though as we have found the visibility on Phagnan is nothing when compared to Koh Tao.

After 4 days of this, we decided to move our selves and came to Koh Tao.’ For a small island, there is a great deal going on here.’ The place is packed with dive operators and the bay is lined with boats ready to take out keen divers to various famous sites around the island.’ We are diving with Big Blue, which is one of the bigger and more reputable operations on the main beach.’ The prices are pretty much the same wherever you go as there is an island agreement amongst the operators.’ Ben is doing his open water qualification (with SSI and not PADI, which is apparently the way of the future).’ Having done my PADI 10 years ago, I did a refresher course yesterday for 1800 baht.’ It was great to be reminded of some of the basics before going for a dive and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it really did come back naturally and I had a great afternoon swimming in the ‘Japanese Gardens’ site only a short way from the main beach. We were not diving a great depth, but there was plentiful marine life around.’ We saw several schools of barracudas, which were very beautiful as they shone in’ the light, squid, bannerfish, lots of parrot fish, fusiliers and puffer fish amongst others.’ We had to back off from a Triggerfish who are very territorial at the moment and’so a bit trigger happy – fortunately, no hitting for any of us!’ I was also caught off guard by being nibbled at by cleaner wrasse. I was warned that they would be around and that they might want to nibble at the cuts on my legs, but even though I tried to ‘cool it out’ every time I felt one nibble, I squealed through my mask and flailed around in the water -much to the amusement of my dive master!

This is Whale Shark season and each day at the dive centre different groups have come back reporting that they have seen one or even two.’ It seems that there are a lot around at the moment.’ I am going diving again tomorrow at the same time as Ben does his final 2 dives for his course and we are going to the sites where they have been seen.’ We are trying not to get too excited and expectant as we don’t want to be disappointed if it doesn’t happen, but equally, everyone else seems to have seen them…..’ We have both thoroughly enjoyed the diving and the water is really so clear and warm.’ Big Blue has been great and we would recommend them definitely.

The other thing that there is a lot of in Ko Tao (apart from not so convincing ladyboys on the streets at about 10 pm) is good food.’ We have had some excellent cheap Thai food on the second road parallel to Sairee beach.’ We had an excellent Pad Thai at Krua Thai and a creamy, but lovely Penang curry at ‘the place with blue chairs’.’ The BBQs on the beach look extremely tasting with all the fresh catch of the day.’ We have also discovered a place which does excellent sandwiches with homemade bread, ciabatta etc and this is fairly unusual for Thailand! It is called Zanzibar and is also on the 2nd road parallel to Sairee beach with the cheap Thai food – highly recommended!

The weather has been quite exciting over the past week.’ We have had some amazing storms, which seem to brew up for ages and then arrives the most almighty thunder, followed by a down poor with the biggest drops of rain you can imagine.’We were woken up one morning at about 6 with the thunder rocking our beach hut and I sat bolt upright, before grunting and rolling back over! ‘It then clears and is sunny and hot before you know it!’ Today is a bit more constantly cloudy, so its back to the book and a few cups of tea – a hard life!

In Koh Tao, we have been staying in Charm Churee. A fantastic place with a range of options from budget to out and out honeymoon style luxury.

Right, I’m off and will be keeping my fingers crossed that those Whale Sharks will come and play with us tomorrow…

‘Till the next time

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