Reaching Koh Tao 15th January to 16th January 2017: The winter really started a week back and the temperature dropped almost to 0 in Delhi. What better time to escape the cold and head to tropics. Air Asia started Delhi to Kuala Lumpur almost a year now and the flights are running almost full. We reached Kuala Lumpur and then carried on to Surat Thani in the Gulf Coast of Thailand. The last leg of the flight we saw the flooding in the lower south Thailand. The roads are all below the water and the rivers are all over the place. First time we saw a flood from air and it did not paint a rosy picture.
After reaching Thani, we walked from the flight straight to the immigration counter and got the passport stamped in minuted and were in Thailand officially. The tickets to Koh Tao on a Lomprayah Catamaran costs 900 Bhat and this includes a bus ride to Donesk Pier and onwards on a speed boat. Luckily the road to Donesk was not flooded and we reached the pier in almost 1 hr 45 mins.
The journey on the boat started at 4 PM sharp with a big bang collision with the boat of Songresem. After 10 minutes of manoeuvring the boats moved away from each other and then the journey was smooth. We moved from Donesk to Samui to Phangan and then finally reached Tao at 7:15 PM. It was really dark by then. On the way the sunset from the boat was spectacular.
The destructions of the last week flooding was obvious when we reached our hotel. Everything is closed by then. Without much delay, we checked into our room and then took the taxi(we took from pier to hotel) to the Smile Tie Restaurant in the Sairee Beach Road. After a nice pizza and fries, we called off the long day. The taxi from the pier to the hotel cost us 300 Bhat.
Rainy Day 17th January 2017: What started as a dull cloudy morning soon turned into a rainy affair by afternoon. After breakfast on the Sairee Beach Restaurant of Bow Thong Beach Resort, we spent some time in the beach. The mood was gloomy all round due to the damp weather, and i walked into the next door Coral Bay Dive Resort and inquired about a dive trip. They asked me to do a refresher and I decided to do it as it was a long 1 ½ years since the last dive in Perhentian Island.
After spending an hour in the shop, we decided to take a long tail boat to Koh Nangyuan, which is known for iconic sand bar connecting 2 small islands. The islands are really close from Sairee Beach and after lunch in the resort in the middle island, we headed to the view point in the top. The views on the way around the island are brilliant but the view from top is simply amazing. It started pouring as we stood on the top and it never stopped till evening.
After getting drenched, we decided to take rest in the garden view room we had in the Bow Thong Resort and spend the evening there before heading out again to the main road for some nice dinner and shopping around.
Dive Day 18th January 2017: Woke up in the wee hours at 5:15 AM and headed straight to the Dive Shop which is just a minute walk form room. It is dark outside and drizzling. Already quite a few divers are packed up and ready to board the boat. Quickly got ready and jumped on the small boat which takes us to the big boat for dive. The big boat is just off the beach and soon we are on top deck of the dive boat. It started pouring even before we started.
We reached ‘The Twins’ dive site just of Koh Nangyuan for our first dive. There are quite a few sting ray, puffer fish, barracuda and many limo and corals here. After about 45 mins here we moved on towards the main island of Koh Tao to ‘White Rock’ just next to Sairee Beach. This is a great dive site with lots of live corals here. We ended the trip at 11 and decided to head to the view points for a break.
We booked a taxi and moved towards the John Suwan Viewpoint in the south end of the island. The ride is smooth, but the hike is slippery as it is raining for last few weeks here. The view from top is amazing. We liked the view from Koh Nangyuan view point better. We returned to the hotel for lunch and head back to the afternoon dive trip. The taxi trip cost us 600 Bhat total and for entry to the view point we paid 100 Bhat.
It is all bright and sunny and what better can we ask. We jumped on the small boat and out of nowhere it started pouring again. This time we are heading to the deep sea for the dive site ‘Champion Pinnacle’. This is the best dive site of Koh Tao. The wind is strong and the waves are really big. The boat swaying so much that people started falling down while some got sea sick. The site is around 30 minutes from the island and a real world of diving is here. The currents are strong and its important to swim to the buoy and stay together. By the time we are down to a depth of 10 m to avoid the strong rip currents, the pressure in the gauge has dropped to 150 bar from 200 bar. No doubt the area is great with school of barracuda and yellow fins. The barracuda are as big as 2-3 m in length. The site being a deep site is great but alas with OW certification we cannot go beyond 18m. Coming up and then reaching is also a tough challenge and really first time tasted the deep sea dive with currents.
The ride back started with a real bumpy ride and most of the people gave up before we reached the calm waters. The next dive site is again ‘White Rock’ and was plain simple and easy but with nice corals all around. The total scuba cost was 4100 Bhat.
The evening sunset on the Sairee Beach is so amazing, that pictures are better to explain. With a bumpy ride today afternoon, we expect that the trip tomorrow is hopefully good with less wind and low waves.
Reaching Samui 19th January 2017: Woke up and after check out, we reached the shop where we booked our ferry tickets. Got a free ride till the dock and then boarded the Lomprayah Catamaran. The sea is rough and pretty soon most people got sea sick. After a long 2 hours we reached Samui, though we stopped in Phangnan for a brief time. The trip costs 700 Bhat per person to Koh Samui.
The ride in the bus from the dock to the hotel in Chewang Beach is smooth and costs a flat rate of 150 Bhat per person. After freshening up, we headed straight to the beach front of hotel and spent the sunny afternoon there. The waves are big today but the beach is simply beautiful to stop us enjoying the waves. The evening walk on the Chewang market is equally beautiful followed by amazing Thai dinner. A day spent at leisure and soaking the sun.
During the evening we explored the garden of the hotel and encountered some birds for photography. The place is really lively with birds and nice flowers all around.
Samui Day Trip 20th January 2017: Woke up to the drizzle and this made us sad. But after breakfast the rain stopped and we booked a 4×4 for a island trip. We started at 11:30 and visited Silver beach, Chewang View Point, Mummy Temple, Waterfalls, Magic Garden, Temple in south of island and ended the day in the Big Buddha in north end. Really a long day of moving around the island and so we had a quick dinner in the Chewang market and called it a day. The day trip cost us 2700 Bhat for the car and we paid entrance fees at few locations which was small amount.
After moving round the island for the complete day we can say the below.
- Chewang Beach is most beautiful beach and sand is fine white-pink in color.
- Magic Garden is not impressive at all after a relatively long drive.
- Waterfall amidst the green jungle setting is beautiful.
- Big Buddha is huge.
- Silver Beach is stunning.
Samui Leisure 21st January 2017: We did nothing but chill in the beach under the sun.
Returning Home 22nd January 2017: Flying back via Kuala Lumpur is pretty non-descript. The ride on the speed boat of Lomprayah Catameran and the onwards bus to Surat Thani made us feel bad to leave the awesome weather and head to the cold waves of North India. Surely a week is not enough.
The cost of the boat and bus both side cost us 850 Bhat per person.
One average in both the islands, the cost of food was around 100-200 Bhat for a dish ( Pad Thai, Noodles, Rice, Stir Fry etc) and drinks costs around 100 Bhat for any kind of juice.