Just when I thought that my life couldn’t get any better, I have just spent three incredible weeks in the Thai Islands. I needed to reward myself a bit after slogging through the heat in Laos and Cambodia, and the beach was calling.
I headed first to Koh Tao, the budget scuba diving capital of the world. I had wanted to get my certifications for a long time. My brother and sister-in-law are avid scuba divers and I wanted to be able to join them on trips. I stayed at a resort right on Sairee Beach, and I had so much fun! I ended up loving scuba diving so much that I signed up for the advanced course right afterward so that I could dive to thirty metres. The fish were incredible! I saw barracudas, eels, stingrays, a sea turtle, and thousands of other amazing creatures. My favourite dive by far was the night dive. There is something unbelievably magical about heading out on a boat to the middle of the ocean at sunset and diving in the pitch darkness with only a small beam of light to guide you. I loved the atmosphere at the resort as well. We’d spend the day diving, watch the sunset, then explore the town by night. Does life honestly get better then that?
Koh Samui was my next stop. I needed to do a visa run to get a few extra weeks in Thailand, since I crossed in from Cambodia by land. The travel agencies organize visa run “tours”, and there was a reasonably priced trip that left from Koh Samui. It was officially the weirdest tour that I have ever been on. When we arrived at the border, we stamped out of Thailand, walked about fifty metres, stamped into Malaysia, walked to the next window, stamped out of Malaysia, then walked fifty metres back to stamp into Thailand again. The whole process took about fifteen minutes, and there was about a hundred people doing this absurd circuit. I didn’t see a single person actually cross into Malaysia! Since neither Thailand nor Malaysia charges for the visa, no one is even making any money off of it, except the tour companies! It’s just one of many odd things about Southeast Asia…
I spend the rest of my time on Koh Samui relaxing from my visa run ordeal on the beach. I loved playing in the waves on Chaweng Beach and spending hours in the warm seawater. A warm ocean is such a novelty for me!
My final stop in the Thai Islands was Koh Phangan. It is best known for its full moon party, but between full moons, it’s actually quite a cheap and mellow place to spend a few days or weeks. There is a party at a different location every night, but during the day, there is ample time to chill out. It’s a perfect balance! I booked two nights at the Hard Road Cafe, but after only one night, I booked four more. It was by far my best hostel experience, and since I have stayed at about sixty hostels and guesthouses on this trip alone, that’s saying something! I don’t think that I have ever felt so instantly attached to a place. My days were filled with reading in the air-conditioned lounge, relaxing by the pool, watching movies on a huge screen, lying in hammocks, racing around the island on the back of scooters, and exploring the beaches. I went to a beach party one night, but on most other nights I just hung out and played games (Jungle Speed of course :P) with amazing new friends.
I did attend the Jungle Experience party the night before the full moon, but I left after about an hour. While some might like that type of music (psychedelic trance), I find it absolutely horrible. It was definitely interesting to see and experience the party for a short time, but I couldn’t possibly have stayed longer without going insane.
The next night was the Full Moon Party. Again, I went for the experience, but it was not the highlight of my time on Koh Phangan. Basically, it’s a giant party on Haad Rin beach. All the bars have their own DJs, and there is a nice variety of music. I drank a bucket and a half of vodka redbull at the hostel to keep me going, but that’s it (and it was plenty for me, seeing as I seldom drink!). I had a good time at first, dancing and people watching. People were drunk, high on shrooms, passed out on the beach, you name it! At about four thirty in the morning, I was walking down the beach, and out of nowhere, a guy slammed into me or bodychecked me out of the way as he raced toward the water for some reason. I don’t know if he was drunk, or high, or running from something. I didn’t even see him coming! All I know is that one minute, I was walking along, and the next minute, I was lying in the sand staring up at the stars, winded and unable to breathe. It took me a full minute to get my breath back. Luckily, I was okay. I left the party almost right after that incident. I had tried my best to stay safe. I was with a group at all times, I wasn’t too intoxicated, and I was aware of my surroundings. But you can do everything, and random stuff will still happen to you. It’s scary.
All in all, my weeks in the Thai Islands will definitely be a highlight of my travels. I am now relaxed and rejuvenated, and ready for the rest of my world tour!