The trip from Chumphon to Koh Tao by catamaran took about an hour and a half. Again, I’d read horror stories about choppy seas and swaying boats that caused much seasickness and drenched luggage. But the weather was splendid. Blue skies, golden morning sunlight and the promise of three days of extreme relaxation gave me reason to kick back. It felt like we’d been on the move forever, and the truth is we had, but as we left the mainland and lost sight of the pier behind us, it slowly began to sink in — I was finally away en route to the island holiday that we had obsessively discussed and built our excitement up for so many weeks.
Right from the start, my intention was to do absolutely nothing on this holiday. I loaded up my kindle and packed my swimsuit. But that was as far as I was willing to go in terms of activity. And I’m glad the island and the resort we picked enabled me to fulfil that wish wholeheartedly. As we piled out of the catamaran, an assortment of people of various colours, race and varieties of travellers, I realised we were the only Indians around. Score. We were picked up at the Koh Tao ferry point by an open truck of sorts that belonged to our resort. Along with an Italian family of three, we were off.
The island itself is hilly, as many islands in Thailand tend to be. Walkable, if you’re willing to give your legs a good workout, something I was certainly not planning to do. So as we drove up to the resort, I sank further into a state of sloth, convinced I wasn’t going to leave the resort. S planned to go diving and had signed up for an advanced course with a dive shop nearby. We checked in, lazed around over a late breakfast and finally found our way to our room. This resort was an odd mix of fancy — it had two pools, a private beach, two restaurants and a spa — with some specific things that didn’t go with its fancy image — like a poky bathroom just big enough for a tiny shower area and a loo, the wash basin in the damned bedroom, a lovely picture window strategically placed in front of the pot, rather than the shower area just in case I felt like taking in the view as I took a crap, I suppose. They also didn’t have room service at breakfast time, and sneaked out of giving us more than two tea bags a day to fully use the in-room kettle. Minor, hilarious, but definitely strange hassles.
What followed was four days of utter and complete sloth, punctuated by spurts of reading, cocktails, iced coffees and plenty of nibbles and snacks. We’d begin every day by kicking ourselves out of bed, reaching breakfast just in time to load up. With a delightful spread of fruit, Asian breakfast, eggs to order, an assortment of bread, croissants, pain au chocolat and the like, and so much more, it was the meal that would keep us going till early evening. Plenty of extremely icy drinks were consumed through out the day, as we alternated between our deck chairs, the pool that overlooked the sea, and the sea itself. By tea time we’d be ready for a snack, which we’d split neatly in half. I’m telling you this two person holiday worked out so well for us! No ordering qualms and no wasted food.
We’d then return to our room after sunset, shower, chill for a bit, only to come back to the restaurant to stuff our faces with dinner again. All the while we’d stick our noses in our books, looking up every now and then to chat a bit, giggle at something, but mostly it was just check if we’re ready to get something to eat. Despite sticking to ourselves and being anything but couple-y, everyone at the resort seemed to be convinced we were an item. It was super entertaining by the time we figured what was on their minds. It didn’t help that the resort was very couple friendly, so I suppose the assumption was kind of justified. But, I’m as straight as straight gets though. Despite the abundance of seemingly virile, young men of hitchable age, I’m sad to report that there was zero eye candy worth looking at. Utterly tragic.
Anyway, my intention to do nothing went completely to plan, but in a bizarre turn of events, Efficient Esther S, who had preplanned her diving trip, turned completely lazy and abandoned the idea altogether. What can I say, I’m a bad influence. What it meant was, the sloth and the amount of food and drink consumed doubled.
I’ve been to Thailand before and experienced the clear, crystal clear blue waters and white sands before, but Koh Tao was something else. I know, this is probably what everyone says after a beach holiday. But really, I went expecting the turquoise, sea-blue waters, and instead got this incredible shade of jade that got deeper as we swam further (which I didn’t – ask S, she’ll tell you how much she laughed), and clearer, until it’s almost crystal clear and transparent by the shore. White little fish danced between out feet from time to time, and it was surreal seeing straight through and through to the bed where we’d put our feet down.
In a weak moment, I decided that since S had abandoned diving plans, we must at least go out and snorkel. Our part of the sea was called Shark Bay after all, and it was an opportunity we shouldn’t miss. Who goes all the way to Thailand and doesn’t do anything anyway? Me. That’s who. So yeah, we didn’t snorkel either. In fact we didn’t even head out of the resort. One evening we forced ourselves to sign up for the shuttle that would drive us to the bustling market side of the island, under the pretext of at least seeing what else happens on Koh Tao, and to get a better glimpse of the setting sun. But guess what? It didn’t happen. Mai-tais and pizzas happened instead.
Eventually all the cold drinks and sitting in the sun all day long got to me, and I caught a cold. By day three I had a stuffy nose and an itchy throat, which I was trying to battle with my willpower. My skin however, told a different story. It gave up all efforts to battle the scorching heat and turned a brilliant shade similar to that of the current president elect of the United States Of America. It was horrific, and on day one as I stood in the shower taking my swim suit off, I looked at myself shocked and amazed at the neatly formed lines that bifurcated the whites from the
brown bright orange bits. In some light, at some angles I looked like a beet. But mostly my body was a map of various degrees of burnt. It might have been funnier still, if it didn’t hurt as much as it did. Eventually, by the last day, thanks to the skin and the cold, I had to cut back on sun time and just take it easy.
Easily done when this was my view: a long, long pool flanked by towering coconut trees, the jade sea beyond, and service by the pool.
Koh Tao is known for splendid sunsets, but maybe because of where we were located, and the weather that was mostly sunny with clear skies, and one surprise night of a heavy downpour followed by a morning of drizzles, we didn’t see those quintessential dramatic technicolour sunsets that we expected. Finally, on the last evening though, the clouds relented, and we had a hint of some drama. It was enough for me. I was so satisfied. Four days was just perfect. I don’t think I could have taken another day of not moving. I might have caved and done something drastic like diving or something, so I’m glad we timed it this way. By day four my heart was full (as was my belly) and I was ready to head back to Bangkok where another adventure awaited us.