We’d been to the north of Thailand last month and came back to visit some of the islands. From Siem Reap, we flew to Phuket as it was a lot cheaper than heading straight to Koh Samui but unfortunately this meant we were set for another 6-7 hour bus journey upon arrival. This was probably the first time our lack of planning didn’t do us any favours… Phuket airport is about a 45 minute journey north of Phuket town, already on the way to Surat Thani (the connecting town to the islands). We assumed we’d be able to catch a bus straight from the airport instead of wasting a journey into town only to head back on ourselves an hour or two later. After bitterly trudging around the area near the airport in the mid-day sun and enquiring in several places, it was quickly apparent that we would have to catch the bus from town. Palava. So yes, we wasted more time taking a taxi to the bus stop in town.
We got a local bus rather than a tourist bus (inadvertently) which was a fair bit cheaper. The bus journey was ok but the driver frequently stopped to pick up locals in the middle of the road and inevitably we were an hour or so late. We finally arrived late in the evening but thankfully the hotel staff were very helpful in arranging our boat the following morning.
We caught an early bus to Donsak Pier and boarded a ferry to our first Thai island, Koh Samui. Again, we sort of accidentally booked a ticket on a cargo boat rather than the fancy high speed catamaran tourist boats that most people get because it was cheaper and we didn’t really question what boat we’d be on. We had found a good deal online to stay at a fancy resort on Mae Nam beach. The complex was massive and I think the fact they give you a ride to your room in a golf buggy speaks for itself. There was a massive cockroach in the room though that I valiantly removed using the ashtray (nothing else was big enough to trap it) as Dave isn’t a fan of cockroaches. Unfortunately it looked like we had brought the English weather with us. It would be sunny in the mornings but then take a turn for the worse with torrential downpours. We got caught in one and the roads filled up ankle deep really quickly. Lots of locals stopped to wave/laugh at us as we ran down the street bare foot and soaked to the core! Koh Samui’s waters are too cloudy to see any marine life so we just chilled by the beach. I’ve realised that I don’t actually like doing that because I get bored sunbathing after about 2 minutes and can’t read unless I’m in the shade. I just hassle Dave every 5 seconds asking if he’s finished his chapter yet and to come and play in the sea. Comparatively, if you give me a snorkel set, I’ll be happily amused for hours without coming up once.
A few days later, we moved round the coast slightly to Bohput Fisherman’s Village. We had both envisaged a small traditional village but if anything it was more touristy than Mae Nam. It was nice however to walk along the beach (usually ice cream in hand) and wonder through the various night stalls. We were always a little concerned about our belongings because we were staying in a bamboo hut that you couldn’t actually lock properly (all was fine though).
After a few days, we decided we weren’t fans of Koh Samui and decided to move on. Koh Samui wasn’t what I thought it would be, it’s feels very much like a city rather than an island; I can see the draw of Koh Samui if you’re very social and like drinking (I’m still going strong on the alcohol ban) and sunbathing (I’m rubbish). But for us, we decided to head for Koh Tao about 40km north with the promise of marine life. The ferry only took a couple of hours (we entertained ourselves with a wasabi pea eating contest) and it was a welcome surprise when there was a 4×4 pick up truck waiting for us from our hotel to transfer us to the other side of the island to a remote bay called Tanote. We had originally planned to only stay a few nights but instantly loved it so much, we ended up staying 5 nights. Our favourite thing to do, obviously, was snorkelling. The coral and marine life literally started about a metre or two from the beach. We’ve been fortunate enough to snorkel in some very cool places but I think Koh Tao was the most impressive we’ve ever seen. We saw so many different species of fish and then we’d try googling them later on to learn more about them. We saw loads of beautiful Parrot fish; they’re about half a metre and the brightest colours you’ve ever seen! Upon my extensive googling endeavours, I learned that Parrot fish can change gender in their lives! If the dominant male dies, a female becomes male to take over. On the first day we saw a huge, quite ugly fish with sticky out horse-like teeth. We followed him for a while filming on the GoPro. When we researched it later, turns out it was a Titan Triggerfish which can actually be really aggressive and territorial; you should always stay clear of them, they’ve been known to bite through people’s fins! Google said to swim horizontally away if you encounter them. The next day we saw them again but they were swimming fast, so we decided to swim quickly the other way, when we watched back the GoPro footage later, we saw the fish had doubled back and come right next to me ready to attack! Stay tuned for all the different fishies on our next video!
You’d think we’d have gotten bored of 5 days of snorkelling but we were sad to leave. We embarked on the long reverse journey back to Phuket where we had a one night stopover in the old town which is a world heritage site with quirky little meandering streets.
Thanks for reading and join us next time for our time in Singapore!
Sophie & Dave