On our second full day on the island of Koh Tao we discovered the backpackers hub – a whole street, which ran along the beach line, of hostels, bungalows, restaurants, dive schools, multicoloured clothing retailers, bars and pubs. And we moved in. We relocated from our original apartment near the port, to a cozy bungalow one street back from the main beach – called Sairee.
And, unfortunately for our continued snorkeling intentions tropical rain hit that afternoon.. just as wet and strong and sudden as always. So instead of jumping back in the sea, we spent, quite literally, ALL day at a restaurant. Sipping fresh coconut milk smoothies from the shell, snacking on garlicy bruschetta and drinking beer. And we watched the rain come down around us from our patio position, while nestling into large bean bags.
And perhaps unsurprisingly… there were a few backpacking couples doing exactly the same thing alongside us.. because sometimes all you can do to stop, and watch… and it was damned beautiful.
So it was on day three that we got back into the water. And we spent a whole day on an island even smaller than Koh Tao, which is located just off it’s coast, called Koh Nang Yuan.
And there the same white coral beaches and supremely clear waters we had found in Koh Tao persisted.
We snorkeled over lots more sea cucumbers, with lots more blue and white striped fish, and I found even more rocks covered in my favourite little, coloured anemones! (which I have just found out are actually small worms that have feather-like extensions for catching food.. So that makes them a little less cute… But they’re called Christmas Tree Worms! So I had my description right).
And there were all kinds of brightly colour Parrot Fish, with beak-like mouths, and a few large orange anemones with fluorescent purple tips that homed little orange (with a white stripe) Anemone fish.
The under water world has so many colours! And so many shapes..
And on our fourth day, we continued with our streak of fabulous snorkeling experiences. This time by buying tickets for a round island tour (like we did on Phi Phi) which took us along the coast of Koh Tao, and dropped us off at 3 deep water spots along the way – the type of spots where you jump out into the ocean and immediately start snorkelling, because we didn’t stop at any bays or beaches or any areas in general where you could actually stand up.
And all of the stops were completely beautiful. In fact they made the days worth of snorkeling we had done in our own look almost mundane..
We swam over huge boulders covered in corals and Christmas tree worms. We swam over brain corals and branching corals, corals that looked like giant ears, and coral gardens that stretched on for metres and metres around us. We swam over clams with brightly coloured lips that were spotted and metallic. We swam over big parrot fish that were green and pink and yellow and striped, and small anemone fish that were an unusually purple hue of orange… We swam in ocean several metres deep, and over tall corals that left us only a few centimetres of water to drift in. And we swam again, with schools of fish whose total mass would have easily rivalled our own.. And every moment of it, was breathtaking..
Our final stop for the day was the small island of Nang Yuan once again. Which, having already snorkeled, we chose to enjoy simply – by bathing on the sand, paddling in shallows and snoozing..
All in all.. it was a perfect day.
And the next morning it was time to move on once again.. And it was a long journey this time.. A taxi, and then a ferry, and then a bus.. 12 hours… and an eventual arrival back at our starting point – in Bangkok.
And it actually felt quite appropriate to have our last dinner back on Kaoshan Road (‘K Road’), amongst the crowded atmosphere that is so generically considered Thailand. It was a little bit of a shock after so much time spent island hopping… But it none the less meant that we got to say our goodbyes to the city that had welcomed us to this beautiful country in the first place..
And the very next morning we left it all behind. We flew out of Bangkok airport.. to Cambodia!