On Koh Tao, and the place I’m staying has Internet access, so I figured I would drop a quick line. I have only been here six hours, after all my traveling. But it has still been an eventful day.
I am staying at liam thien bungalows in Koh Tao, where Jamey stayed the week before I arrived in Thailand. On the map, it seems like a quick drive to get here, but of course, that was not the case, of course. Basically, I sat on the back of a pickup truck, with padded benches, and no top, while the truck went through basically a single lane dirt road through the jungle. I unfortunately didn’t see the people holding up signs for this place, which would have been a free ride, so instead I overpaid for a taxi. I wonder the road will be like when we hit the beach, will there be shops, other stores, but the road dead ends into a parking space for one car, and a sign “welcome to liam thien bungalows,” basically the road ends at the place I’m staying (I’m sure there were vague turnopffs prior for small dirt roads leading elsewhere).
But it is a rather breathtaking place. Huge rocks jutting out of the ocean everywhere, and a bungalow (300 baht a night) up on stilts in the hill. A huge gekko lizard on my wall and showing no signs of leaving, hopefully it doesn’t squawk all night.
Within minutes, I was in my bathing suit and snorkeling through pretty much untouched beach. Koh Tao is basically an island that attracts divers and snorkelers, but I am, once again, in the middle of nowhere. So, I only see the people staying here.
I didn’t mention this before, but one of the thrills Jamey loved here was swimming with sharks. The staff, which are all young Thai boys, who I assume are related, who pointed where the sharks are. They said the sharks “no like people,” and I trust that is broken English indicating they don’t like eating people, as opposed to not liking people to swim near them. Jamey and other people have all been there, so I figure it’s a once in a lifetime chance. So, I head toward the sharks.
The gulf here is not for swimming, it is pure snorkeling. Sea cucumbers (or some ugly black snakelike things) dot the bottom of the sea. Huge schools of fish of every color swim right past you, around you, and could care less that you are there.
I swim a healthy distance away from the bungalows, and no sharkls are to be found. When I first inquired, a young boy who works here named Jeng, said they are only this big, and put his hands about two and a half feet apart, not very big.
Finally, swimming slowly along the floor of the gulf, I see an unmistakable sight, because your instinct is to never want to see this sight, but it is a small shark swimming right below me. It was hard finding the first one, but once you find one, there seem to be sharks in every direction. One was surfacing, and I kept switching between looking underwater and lifting my head up, wanting to see that drosal fin pushing through the top of the water, but I never saw it.
Of course, I see the dorsal, the entire length of the shark otherwise, so it doesn’t really matter. Mission completed, so I swim back to the bungalows.
Jeng told me when I arrived that there is also cliff diving, and that he was taking other guests to jump soon. He said he would show me the path to the cliffs, but the “path” ends up being huge boulders that you have to climb across, one to the other, to get to the cliff. Like most things in Thailand, everything is natural state, so there are no footholds, handrails, or anything that would be set up in Hawaii, it is just boulders, with as much space between them as nature wanted, so take a leap to the next one, or slide further down so they are closer, but then you have to climb back up on an angle. No good option of the two, really.
So, I join them belatedly. Everyone that wants to jump already has, so I am the only one who hasn’t, although I wasn’t certain I actually would. There is a 5, 7, and 9 meter jump, and the guests are assembled on the five meter one. The water is very deep here, although you can still see the coral underneath. And, although I had no intent to actually jump then, I figured the climb to get there pretty much demanded it, so after much deliberation, I jump into the air and it seems like quite a while in the air before the sea surrounds you and you paddle back to the side to climb back up. Only one jump for me, though. Today, anyway.
I will not be seeing much of Koh Tao outside this place, as it is too far and I have too little time here, so it will just be this environment for three nights and three more days.