The first leg of our trip consisted of sightseeing in the big city of Bangkok, the second, slowing down in the northern city of Chiang Mai, finally it was time to head south to the islands for a little R and R!
We chose the gulf coast islands since the Phuket side was more likely to have adverse weather (monsoon season) at the time of our visit. Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao are a chain of three popular islands on the gulf side. Koh Samui is the largest, and where the airport is, so that is where we flew into from Chiang Mai. There are cheaper ways to get there, but flying is the fastest and we wanted to maximize our time. Our plan was to first spend a few days on Koh Tao, then head back to Koh Samui for a few more days and Robert would leave from there. Haley and I then planned to spend our last island evening on Koh Pha-ngan and attend one of the infamous Full Moon Parties before heading back to Bangkok to fly home.
* I want to take a moment here to acknowledge how WONDERFUL our experience with Thai airlines was. We flew Bangkok Airways in-country and have nothing but positives to report. It was relatively inexpensive (AirAsia was cheaper but has a dodgier track record), the amenities were amazing (flight lounges with free food and wifi), they fed you on every flight, even a 30 minute one, and the employees were so friendly and professional, a stark contrast to the very rude Delta flight attendant we encountered on our way there.
The Koh Samui airport resembles a large hut and doesn’t have walls which I found most charming and tropical. Once we had our bags we took a cab to the ferry station and caught one bound for Koh Tao. The ferry ride took about two hours and I won’t lie to you, it was unpleasant. The seas were extremely rough and the captain wasn’t slowing down for anything. The waves were so high they were splashing up over the top of the ferry and water was dripping down from the ceiling! Several people got sick, including the man behind me who vomited at least 5 times throughout the ride. Not. Fun.
The poor pregnant woman on board practically kissed the ground when we finally docked and we weren’t far behind her! After agonizing over trip advisor reviews we had booked a villa at The Monkey Flower resort and had instructions to call the caretaker/driver Mo for free pickup. Mo arrived shortly in his white Tacoma and we were off!
As we drove Mo explained to us that Koh Tao was a fairly small island, best known for it’s great diving and laid back party scene. Most of the hotels, restaurants and dive shops were located along the main road, but the Monkey Flower was HIGH up in the mountains. He gave us a cell phone with his number pre-programmed into it and told us to call him anytime and he would take us anywhere we wanted to go and would additionally set up any activities we wanted to do for us. The twisty turning drive up the mountain was a little stomach churning but when Mo delivered us to the doorstep of our villa, The Bouganvillia, it was totally worth it.
It looked like a cute little mushroom house and I was instantly in love. Robert was less impressed by the fact that only the two bedrooms had AC, the other rooms only fans, but he did admit that the place looked “pretty cool”.