We arrived in Koh Tao a few days ago (I'm really starting to lose track of what day it is) after a long bus ride from Bangkok. The bus dropped us off at Chumphon at 4 in the morning, and we literally had to believe the bus driver that's where we were because there was nothing to suggest we had arrived at a bus station, never mind a bus terminal. We were dropped off in front of a "store" that had some seats out front. As soon as we emerged from the bus (remember this is 4am) a guy starts asking me "where you going? where you going?" At this point I am barely awake because I've slept through the bus ride and am confused as to where I am, never mind where I'm going. After showing them our tickets for the ferry we purchased at the bus terminal in Bangkok, they told us to sit down on the seats and wait. And wait we did until about 6am. While waiting we met a couple of girls that were also waiting for the ferry and they have been travelling for a few months and had just come from Laos, and were on their way over to Koh Phangan for the full moon party. It was good to pass the time with them as it made the time go by faster. While sitting and chatting we saw the BIGGEST UGLIEST FLYING COCKROACH EVER!! It was coming right at me (or so it felt that way) and me and the other 2 girls were not very impressed. Thank god a dog was there to attack it and kill it. Unfortunately it kept coming back alive so I made Andrew kill it with his foot. It was crunchy. I would also like to add that Andrew was not very supportive of this whole incident and kept telling me to get down from the chair and stop screaming. I would not.
A car picked us up at 6am, transferred us to another bus, which then took us to the ferry. After a 2 hour ferry ride we arrived on Koh Tao. We had met a guy on the ferry from a dive resort called "Big Blue Dive Center". They were offering some pretty good deals (7,500 BAHT for the advanced course with free accommodations, about $250 per person) so we decided to go with them. The resort feels more like camp, but I guess that's what you get for that kind of money. We got a room with a fan and no AC and no hot water but really who needs hot water in this weather?
We were starting our advanced course the following day so what did we do? Head to the beach of course! Big Blue is located right on the beach so it's nice. We placed our towels on the sand and took a quick look around. I was not impressed with the water as it was not clear at all but very murky. I attributed this to the amount of boats in the area (there are quite a few as Koh Tao is the #1 place in the world where divers are certified) and there are a lot of boats and dive boats around. After our disappointing walk we went back to our towels and fell asleep for a couple of hours. We were exhausted!
The next day we started our course. That day we completed 2 dives, the Underwater Navigation and Peak Buoyancy dives. The visibility was not great but not too bad, and we were told this was due to the approaching monsoon. The next day we completed 3 dives, a deep wreck, a fun dive with lots of coral and marine life, and a night dive. It was awesome! The night dive was pitch black and the only light we had was coming from our flashlights. We saw a few big barracudas, a spotted stingray along with other marine life. At the end of the dive, as we were ascending, we turned off our flashlights, waved our hands around and "ignited" the phosphorescence! Unfortunately Andrew did not see the phosphorescence as he did not listen to our Dive Master before the dive and therefore he had no clue as to why we were waving our hands. It was great and I can't wait to do another night dive!
Today we took a day "off", rented a motorbike (more like a vespa for you bikers out there), and toured the island. I use the term toured very loosely as some of us had to do a lot more manual touring than others. Mainly because of the poor roads (the roads can be anything from asphalt to sand to gravel and can change at any moment surprising you) as well as the shitty bike. This bike can barely get up the hills with just Andrew on it, never mind with the both of us on it. So that left me with a lot of hiking of some pretty steep "roads". I have to say I am exhausted after all that hiking. Andrew for some reason is not that tired, but it could be due to the fact he had almost no hiking to do! I say almost because we went to a gorgeous beach today but had to park the bike at the top of the mountain and walk down. Going down was fine, it was the getting back up which was the problem! It was hard work.
The weather here is great. The sun has been shining every day and it's well over 30 degree Celsius. I am glad to say the water is crystal clear and very warm! Today after our "tour" we went for a sunset swim and it felt great after the hot day.
Tomorrow we will most likely be moving to a new "resort" which offers cheap diving and free accommodations but the room has AC AND hot water. We're planning to go to Koh Phangan in the next few days but don't have any definitive plans yet. Andrew might post some pics so keep checking in!