Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

Koh Tao

 

It is hard to overstate the beauty of the island of Koh Tao, probably the most scenic and relaxed tropical destination I have seen.  Only one hour north of Koh Phangan by ferry in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Tao is wholly geologically unique even from its neighbor islands.  This is the most well known diving site in Thailand and one of the most affordable in the world.

It is clear at this point that the flooding in Bangkok and beyond has scuttled the travel plans of many and what should be high season is less-than-crowded and quite affordable.  I settled into a bungalow overlooking a quiet bay for 400 baht (~US$13) a night and found myself struggling to leave a week later.

I spent the first few days swimming, snorkeling, and testing out the new hammock. (What the fuck took me so long to acquire a travel hammock??)

But what this project really needs is a boat.

Turns out that my friend Ong knows a guy who knows a guy – it’s always crucial to have “a guy” – and the next day a longtail boat appeared right in front of our resort to pick us up for a circumnavigation of the island.  After a full day of tripping around Koh Tao (and two Chang beer reloading stops at 7-Eleven…oh thank heaven…), we toasted the sunset on one side of the island with the full moon rising on the other.

“This is the second best day of my life!…Nothing will ever top heli-skiing, of course.” – Dano from British Columbia

For myself, I’m having trouble placing anything on any sort of hierarchy at this point, but it was certainly top stuff.  Speaking of which, I’m starting to wonder how the hell I’m going to get off this crazy roller coaster I’ve been riding.   “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…”

My last night on the island was the culmination of the Loy Krathong festival, a week-long celebration of the first Buddha.  After some rather “interesting” dance exhibitions, the main traditions on this evening are to launch a palm and flower float into the sea to forget all of the wrongs you have committed over the past year and to light a sky lantern and set it flying to remember those you have lost.  Our friends Dano and Tessa from British Columbia lost 3 friends this year and they asked us to help them honor their memory;  I cried as we watched those lanterns float away into the night sky, and I never even met these people.

Just another poignant reminder that, even though I have seen some of the most amazing spaces in the world over the past 18 months, this trip is really about the people I meet along the way and the real emotions we are able to share.

This is the end of a long solo journey; I am on my way back to the mainland to meet up with friends and family to celebrate my 40th birthday and will be moving on with my friends to try and open a business somewhere here in Southeast Asia.  Although I am extremely anxious for the company, I will also miss the freedom and solitude that comes with traveling alone.  Not only have I changed immeasurably because of this experience, but I feel that I have finally started to find a peace through that dense cloud of loneliness.  I know tomorrow will be even better than today, but I would be remiss in not reflecting on how amazing and healing the past 18 months has been for me.

One Response to “Koh Tao”

  1. Ottke says:

    Koh Tao may just have saved my life, avoided the 2004 tsunami because I got a random urge to go there. Thanks for the pics, took me back…

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