I’m now into my second week in Thailand and it feels like I have been here forever. I have had a complete hoot and am really pleased with what I have accomplished so far. I am now a fully-fledged PADI Advanced Scuba Diver. Which means I can dive up to 30 metres so I’ve finally passed a milestone in my somewhat apprehensive mind-set towards diving.
I didn’t want to be defeated by scuba diving due to my previous experience and I am over the moon to finally say that I came back to the underwater kingdom and tackled my sea monster demons with pride.
I have dived to the deep abyss (well 30 metres anyway), did a night dive (ooh so scary at first) and played David Bailey underwater on a ship wreck. I have clocked up 9 open water (sea) dives and am feeling slightly more confident than I ever have under water.
Koh Tao has been a remarkable journey of great triumphs and when I set sail on the ferry to Koh Samui, it did seem a little strange to be leaving.
I stood at the back of the ferry and vividly watched the island diminish in size as the huge sprays of milk-like waves churned from the boats propellers. I was getting drenched but I didn’t care, I needed to ensure that I could say goodbye to the lush green tree tops that formed the island of my underwater achievements. Koh Tao, you will be missed but will never be forgotten.
Two hours later, I arrived in Koh Samui – not knowing where I was going to lay my head but I wasn’t scared. The trip has been kind thus far and I had an idea of places to check out thanks to my handy travel guide.
As I left the ferry and walked along the pier, I took in the beautiful sea, glowing sand and scorching sun. This new island would be home for the next few days. I jumped in a taxi to Moon Hut on the off chance that they might have a vacancy that wasn’t advertised on the website. Unfortunately, not. As I spoke to the receptionist, a local overheard the conversation and advised that they had a room and for me to check it out.
I walked about three minutes along the golden sand to a lovely little bungalow. It was perfect – clean, cute and right on the beach. What a treat and at £15 a night, I thought I could see out my days in a little bit of luxury. My budget is roughly a tenner a night for accommodation but I’m quickly learning that over here, you probably won’t find something as nice and it will most probably be a dorm room.
A bit of a shock seen as my trustworthy guide told me that Moon Hut amongst others was approximately £10-£12 per night, however the cheapest room they have is actually £26 per night. A bit of a difference – so my little book of wisdom is in need of a major update.
So what have I done in Koh Samui? First of all, I have lounged on the beach, got slightly sun burnt and been for two runs. One along the coast for three miles which was really tough as the sand was so soft my feet sunk with each stride, resulting in a lot of work for my calf muscles. But hey – it’s a better work out after all.
After the tough three miler, I decided to shun the beach on my next run and take to the road. I’m staying in Mae Naam and wanted to check out the livelier Chaweng Beach further along and so I donned my running shoes, my race vest with water and began a light jog down. I kept seeing the signs to Chaweng and then all of a sudden they disappeared. When I got to five miles, I presumed I had run too far and then started to walk back asking for directions. A walk up hill, a walk here and a walk there and still no sign of the beach. At this point I got a bit fed up and decided to buy four bottles of water (in prep for my dehydrated self after the full moon party) and hail a cab. I got a motorbike taxi and kept my eyes peeled on the road ahead. I must say I am not that keen on motor vehicles of the two-wheeled kind.
Ten minutes later, I was back on familiar sands and I visited my favourite beach bar and restaurant for some well-earned grub. The Kite Boarding Club is a stone’s throw from my delightful bungalow and my regular haunt for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The guys that run it are really laid back, nice and helpful and the food is great. They have a chef that used to work in a 5 Star hotel and he definitely has great culinary skills and an acute eye for detail. Everything is always presented beautifully.
I refuelled and went back to my pit for a snooze as I needed to ensure I got enough shut eye for the night ahead – the infamous Full Moon Party.
I was meeting someone at Moon Hut (a lady I had met the evening before at The Kite Boarding Club) and we agreed to go together. Originally I was going to go by myself to see what it was like so when we started talking and she wanted to go – I invited her to come with me. She booked her ticket that night and we were due to meet for our pickup time of 7:20 PM the next evening.
Unfortunately, Donna was a no show but everything happens for a reason. I got talking to a couple who kindly invited me to stick with them but I lost them at the pier as they had VIP passes and I was cattle class.
I then got talking to another couple from Hatfield and we ended up staying together for the whole night. The ferry ride over was a bit choppy considering the calm waters but all I could think about was the positioning of the propellers right behind me and what would happen if I fell out!
We safely made it to the other side and bought our 100 baht wristbands to gain entry (£2) which I didn’t mind paying but thought it would have been included in the £20 ticket I had bought previously. Oh well I didn’t care and we merrily scooted along following the pounding beats of the music bellowing from the beach ahead.
I was soaking in every moment, the illuminous paint (which I also had painted on my face) and bodies dancing happily away. We followed the beach to Mushroom Mountain and sat overlooking the crashing waves below.
Once we had enough of the wave and people gazing, we departed and started to meander around the happy souls sipping on our buckets of Thai Vodka and Red bull. I took everything in from the heat of the fire dancers to the mixture of music bellowing from the different sound systems and the aroma of food from the dozen food traders. We stopped to have a little dance here and there and made our way to the other end of the beach, where we climbed the steep steps to a little terrace overlooking the thousands of people. Wow is all I can say – what a site. I have never seen anything like it. I never realised how many people were there. I was memorised by the illuminous bodies bopping up and down – it looked fantastic and I was part of it!
I must say I can’t last as long as I used to so I said to the guys that I was going to make a move and they kindly offered to walk me to the pier. After walking a while, they opted to come with me as they wanted to get out before it got too messy.
It took us a while to get to the pier as we stopped for loo breaks, drink breaks and even a game of pool and a little boogie.
When we got to the other end – the queues were out of this world. We joined a relatively smaller queue in comparison but we weren’t VIP so was booted out and told to wait with the others. We got approached by a few people asking if we wanted a long tail boat back for 500 baht each. I had hardly any money left as I only took out a set amount and was relying on the booked speedboat and transfer back. The couple (Paul and Jade) I was with kindly paid for the rest of the fare and we set sail leaving Koh Phanghan behind us.
The tail boat was even more scarier than the speedboat but at least we had life jackets. Up and down we bobbed as the boat crashed against the waves and all I wanted to do was get to the other end. However, when finally there – the other end was a different pier and so our transfer wasn’t there and instead we were greeted by taxi’s offering their services. A bit of a scam as we were now stranded. Again Paul and Jade paid for the three of us to be dropped off and thanks to them I arrived home a lot earlier than if I had waited in the queue. I owe them a drink big time.
The Full Moon Party was a great experience and I am glad I can say I have done it. I think it is important to find out things for yourself as sometimes people will turn you off from doing a certain thing. I think you definitely need to try it and make your own mind up. I’m certainly glad I did.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures as I left all valuables at home (it’s a wise idea to do the same if going). However, I definitely have the memories – and what great ones they are.