quiet Koh Tao (and I saw a whale shark!)

Finding your train at Hualamphong Train Station is easy.

Finding your train at Hualamphong Train Station is easy.

From Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train Station I caught the #85 train (departs 7:30 p.m.) to Chumphon, securing myself an upper berth and a joint on-going bus (from the train station to the pier) and ferry transfer with the Lomprayah company to Koh Tao for 1,200 Baht. There are buses to Chumphon, but after reading many mixed reviews I opted for  the much slower, but safer, train.

The train left nearly an hour late but arrived only an hour late, which means we were well ahead of schedule. Thai trains are always late, but an hour is nothing.

Disembarking at 5:50 a.m. I quickly checked into the Lomprayah counter and got on a shuttle bus to the pier.

Monsoon season is on the way.

Monsoon season is on the way.

At the pier we check in again to get in the boat and then get to the back of another line to get on the boat. The boat, however, is very quiet. Not noise-wise, people-quiet. There’s a full moon the next day, which means a full-moon party on Koh Phangan (one island over,) which means the ferries are usually crowded, if not over-capacity. But this lack of people interests me.

About a month ago there was a double murder on Koh Tao. Two young British tourists were found brutally bludgeoned on the beach. There hadn’t been a murder on the island in 15 years, but it seems the event has taken its toll on tourism. This becomes even more apparent when we arrive on the island. It’s a ghost town.

Popular shopping areas were devoid of people.

Popular shopping areas were devoid of people.

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Maybe ghost town is a bit harsh, but it’s quiet. Quiet even for low season. I’m guessing everyone is on Koh Phangnon. It hasn’t really had an effect on prices, but it seems things are cheaper from the last time I was here, during peak season.

I was going to try a new dive shop, but I figured if it ain’t broke, why fix it? I went back to Sairee Cottages and wouldn’t ya know, they built a brand new pool! It’s gorgeous and I foresee me spending mucho time bathing on the lovely wooden loungers.

Scuba divers train in the pool whilst resort guests frolic. There's a bar in the pool too!

Scuba divers train in the pool whilst resort guests frolic. There’s a bar in the pool too!

I signed up for my refresher (1,500B) and bought a 10-dive package (7,500B.) As a solo traveler I tend to stay in dorms as it’s often the only way I meet people and it’s cheaper, but I found the 350B/night price a little expensive. I did get hot water and AC, (and the pool is really really sweet,) but I know I could’ve gotten a better deal elsewhere.

The plus side with the diving is I got to go to a bunch of sites I had never dove, mostly due to having my deep specialty this time. And being low season, they were un-crowded. Annnnnnd I got to see a mother-fucken WHALE SHARK!!! I know. I should’ve just led with that. What was I thinking?  It was a baby. About 3.5m. But a whale shark nonetheless. I can die happy now. I don’t have photos though. My next specialty will be photography.

After the full moon party the island came a bit more to life, but still, everything was comparatively quiet. I wanted to go shopping here too, but I find the prices on the island a bit excessive. I did buy some flipflops for 180B, but bikinis are about 600B which is $20. You can get better bikinis for just a few dollars more in NZ. Even some of the dresses and tops were way over-priced, wanting 750B or $25 for a synthetic sundress I can get for $14 at WalMart.

The downside of coming to Koh Tao in October is the weather. It’s hot, but it’s also humid and rainy. The winds are beginning to pick up making for choppy water and the storms begin to increase as it’s on the cusp of monsoon season (November.) November sees twice as much rain as October. Somehow, though, I have still managed to get a burn. The plus side about the weather is it makes for stunning sunsets.

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Ok Ok. I'll stop.

Ok Ok. I’ll stop.

I spent eight nights in total on Koh Tao and headed back up to Bangkok on the joint Lomprayah ferry and bus ticket (1,100B.) The trip took 8.5 hours from Chumphon and then another 45 mins to haggle a meter-only taxi to the BTS and a quick jaunt home to my friend’s apartment near Asok.

From here I plan to head to Pattaya and then to Koh Mak, a small island south of Koh Chang where it’s said it’s still like Thailand was some 20 years ago. We shall see

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