It’s slightly saddening to be writing the last installment of my Thai adventure, almost like I’m signing the dotted line at the end of my amazing holiday. Of course I will probably be posting throwback photos on Instagram until my next visit to South East Asia so at least it wont be over for you yet.
If you’ve already enjoyed part 1 then I wont keep you waiting any longer, if you’ve just stumbled across my little internet home then please catch up with the first 7 days in paradise here.
After a last cuddle with the 8 of our travel family that wouldn’t be joining us for more island hopping, the rest of us packed our bags and boarded a very interesting ferry ride to the next island, Koh Tao, with our new tour leader Harry.
It was rocky to say the least and the crew went round with sick bags for those who couldn’t stomach the hour at sea. Once we got off the ferry and took our first steps onto the tiny island it was clear that the journey was worth it. Hundreds of partied out travelers that had been raving at the full moon chaos on Koh Phangan for days descended to Koh Tao for some R&R. We were whisked off to our fanciest accommodation of the trip yet, it was a new build hotel run by a very lovely Thai family that managed most of the businesses on Koh Tao.
I loved island life so much and it taught me a lot about how to really kick back and relax. Very few of the locals wear shoes and if you do you will only have to take them off at every restaurant and shop you enter. At most bars you will be seated on beanbags or cushions on the floor with low tables to eat and down cocktails from accompanied by phenomenal sea views. After a big meal at Los Pollos Hermanos (Koh Tao’s answer to Nandos) and a stroll down to the beach we got an early night to get over the miles we’d clocked up during the journey.
The first 8 days on tour were a whirlwind of adventures and constant location jumping but we were starting to wind down on Koh Tao and were settled here for 4 days so free time was aplenty and we had the luxury of beach days ahead. Laying on the white sand was certainly my priority and despite the island being a tad cloudy we took to the beach to explore the boutique shops and bars on the walk there.
One of those essential Thai beach swings were perfectly placed and waiting for holiday pictures to be taken on. After a tasty smoothie in a barefoot beach bar we enjoyed the ocean views and had a little swing.
Harry knew a great Italian restaurant on the island and we all dived into carb heaven. Pasta, pizza and pesto galore! Despite being surrounded by gorgeous authentic Thai food we did indulge in home comforts from time to time and even they were cooked to perfection. After much anticipation it was time to see a real Ladyboy cabaret show for ourselves, we nervously took our seats in the front row and waited for the madness to start. I actually thoroughly enjoyed the performances and thought the dancing was on point, some of the ladyboys were VERY pretty and convincing.
I didn’t think beach parties could get much bigger than Koh Phangan (home to the full moon party) and I was right, the party scene on Koh Tao was much more chilled and we relaxed with a few drinks in one of the dim lit beachside bars. Of course there was still a spot of fire skipping.
We waved goodbye to one more traveler who had come to the end of her time in paradise and looked forward to our boat trip over to the neighboring island of Koh Nang Yuan. If you Google search ‘Koh Tao’ the same picture will always appear, taken from the view point at Koh Nang Yuan.
I was all pumped up to get my picture on the rocks at the famous island viewpoint when we were told that it was closed for renovation so instead we took to the sand for a spot of sunbathing and snorkeled in the shallow waters.
It was a luscious chilled afternoon and the tiny island was beautiful all the same, even if we did miss the trek to the viewpoint.
The sun was already blinding at 8am and I knew the island was going to get hot, so knowing I only had limited time left on the gorgeous island I strolled down to the beach and chilled out on the shores whilst everyone else slumbered.
A relaxing morning on the soft sand was a perfect way to watch the sun come up and I enjoyed a tranquil few hours before searching for my travel buddies and enjoying a yummy lunch at Indie Cafe. If you crave healthy food or freshly baked bread than look no further than this little gem. I ordered the most delicious vegan, maple roasted pecan salad!
The entire island starts to wake up at around 11.30am, with market stalls popping up, boutiques opening their doors and backpackers flocking to the beach for some sun. We decided to grab some last minute bargains and search the streets for those essential elephant anklets and trinkets we could remember the trip by, not that we’ll ever forget paradise.
With the realisation that it was going to be my last night with the group before they continued on the tour to Phuket and I flew back to Bangkok for my last leg of the trip we got dolled up and hit the beach parties to celebrate our little adventure together. After tearfully letting go a lantern and chilling on some beanbags we danced the night away with the usual cocktails and buckets in each hand.
The beach party quickly became a pool party and we jumped in the pool of the hotel next door, clothes and all, with a view of the ocean and fellow travelers having the time of their lives.
I met some great people and will always remember my last night with the group.
Kho Tao is famous for being a world class diving spot and has so much amazing sea life and corals right on it’s doorstep. We had to experience it whilst we were there and so I signed up for my first dive with some of the other girls. I’ve always snorkeled on the surface in other countries but I couldn’t wait to explore the world below the waves.
I never realised how heavy the gear would be and struggled to stand up with the full tank of oxygen on my back. We started off with some safety tests and got used to breathing underwater. Then we headed to an area called the Japanese Gardens and did a 45 minute dive through the phenomenal world lying 10 meters below the surface. There were gorgeous colours from bright blue and yellow Christmas Tree Coral Worms to orange Butterflyfish. There was even time to chill out on the boat afterwards.
We left the beautiful waters and caught the boat back to the sandy shores of the beach then headed to Los Pollos Hermanos, where we started our ventures on Koh Tao, for our last dinner together. It was time for me to wave goodbye to the others as they caught their 12 hour boat to Phuket. The temptation to pack in my plans and delay my flight home so I could continue exploring with my favourite people was overwhelming but instead we had an emotional goodbye and I waved them off as they set off to a new paradise.
Penny, my roomie for the trip, stayed behind for a night to complete her diving course and we caught up with some new friends from the night before.
Penny was up early to head to her diving exam and we said our goodbyes, although it wont be for long I’m sure. All of a sudden I was a lone traveler with a boat to catch. I packed my bags before enjoying some breakfast at Samantha, our favorite breakfast spot on the island.
I caught the high speed Lomprayah ferry to Koh Samui, the largest island on the gulf of Thailand and the only one I hadn’t visited. I recommend travelling by boat when you can and the tickets are super cheap. Koh Samui didn’t have the laid back feel of Koh Phangan or the boutique surroundings of Koh Tao, it all felt a bit chaotic and I made my way to the airport to catch my flight back to the capital, Bangkok.
2 cars, 1 boat, 1 flight and 1 train later I arrived back in Bangkok and had a friendly face waiting for me. A friend from back home is teaching for a year in Thailand and kindly put me up for a few days before my flight home. We made our way through the busy streets and chilled out for the evening, stopping off at his local favourite for some traditional morning glory (stir fried greens).
Mark recommended I checked out the old capital of Thailand whilst I stayed with him, a city called Ayutthaya that is scattered with incredible temples. The bus cost me just over £1 and it took an hour and a half to get there, a great bonus of travelling around in Asia is that it’s SO CHEAP! Once I arrived I bartered for a tuk tuk to take me around to the best temples, the driver was so generous and had a bottle of water or a fan waiting for me after each stop.
It took about 5 hours to visit each temple and they were all beautiful in such different ways. From reclining Buddhas to leaning pagodas there was so much to see and it is well worth a visit!
After a sweltering day walking round the city Mark and I ventured to Koh Kret, a man made island in the middle of the bustle of Bangkok. It’s a peaceful escape from the madness of the city. It was time to head back to reality and we enjoyed a mexican dinner with some of Mark’s friends.
Waking up at 5.30am with the thought of leaving such an amazing country is never a good feeling and I gave Mark a big hug before trudging to the train with my head hanging low.
I’ve never felt so wrong leaving somewhere before. I felt like home wasn’t home anymore and I was boarding the wrong flight. After a brief but beautiful stop in Doha and a frantic sprint for my connecting flight, it’s safe to say I was knackered by the time we hit the runway in London.
So that was it, in the space of 15 hours I had dropped 28 degrees and arrived back to normality but the 9-5 doesn’t have to be my normal, it doesn’t have to be a reality I dread coming home to.
SO… in December I will be leaving it all behind in exchange for a whole year of travelling! I’m ecstatic just at the thought of all the life changing adventures ahead, full of beautiful places and faces.
I hope you loved hearing about my incredible trip. Don’t forget to catch part 1 here and watch the adventure here. OR experience it yourself with discount code TRULM7
What’s been you’re most memorable trip?