After a farewell from the concierge and porters at the hotel that would rival that of a rock star, Mr. Raymond delivered us safely to Hua Lumpong, Bangkok’s central railway station where we took the overnight sleeping train, a bus, then a high speed catamaran to Koh Tao. Otherwise known as Turtle Island in western circles. The island is world-renowned for it’s sea life , snorkelling and scuba diving and as we leave behind the manic, crazy-paced city, this leg of our journey is all about discovery.
Now, for those who are interested, my aquatic experience isn’t jaw dropping but I do love it, and it goes something like this. Qualified pool lifeguard, Openwater scuba license with Australian south coast dive time, snorkelling in waters off Indonesia and the Great Barrier Reef, far North Queensland, dolphin swimming off the coast of New Zealand. And now, thanks to Troy, Chris, Ben and the staff at Simple Life Koh Tao I can add Thailand to the list of incredible water adventures.
Twenty plus years ago whilst at University I obtained my NAUI Openwater scuba license, but now it was Hubbys time to shine. After completing the required PADI study and numerous written exams, plus the practical training and testing in the various pools, it was time to head out into the open water. Troy, our trusty scuba master and Yoda Of The Deep, guided us through the last of our accreditation tasks above and under the water, and we were finally able to enjoy the incredible world that lies right beneath the surface. Small fish, large fish, giant, dull and bright fish, coral and clams, crabs and other crustaceans, everything goes about its business completely oblivious to the world up above. It’s just like a replica of Bankgkok. Only twelve metres below the surface.
The only thing that could have made this experience more perfect would have been the sighting of an elusive turtle, but you just can’t predict nature. And on this day turtles were nowhere to be seen. The possibility for man to actually breathe under water for an extended period of time still has me shaking my head in wonder, and it doesn’t really matter whether I saw a turtle, a starfish or Nemo’s second cousin, the fact that I was there to see it is simply enough for me.
The snorkelling just off the beach below our room was almost as good as scuba, and the range of beings that were in the shallows and rocky pools were breathtaking. As the sun emerges the water lights up and the colours of nature shine through. There are huge purple-lipped clams, spikey ground dwellers and schools of bright yellow and blue fish passing right by. All you need to do is watch.
Interesting observation from a first time visitor. Bangkok is raw. What you see is what you get, and there is no pretence or facade. It is fast paced and ever moving, and for the most part western pleasantries have no place in this city. Koh Tao on the other hand is Thailands version of Byron Bay. If there was something called backward half-paced warp speed, this is how it rolls, and as I mentioned before visitors here primarily come to dive. A good proportion of Aussie, English and American ex-pats have tapped into the dive scene and work in or run businesses from Koh Tao making the most of what’s on offer. I also have a feeling that, like Byron Bay, some arrived from lands afar many years ago, liked what they saw, and simply never returned. And quite frankly, I cannot blame them.
Stay tuned for the final chapter of our Thai adventure where we will travel south to Phuket, the country’s epicentre for tourism and favourite destination for Australians who choose to holiday here. After two weeks of action and adventure I am just hopeful the last leg is a little more restful. We’ll just have to wait and see what transpires.