From the moment the ferry got close to Koh Tao, I was already filled with regret. After spending the last week and a half on Koh Samui for my friend’s wedding, I thought I’d had enough island time, but that wasn’t the case. While parts of Koh Samui were certainly beautiful, particularly the area where the wedding took place, my room at Iyara Beach Hotel & Plaza Samui and Fisherman’s Village, I found Chaweng to be loud and dirty. The tourists walking around without shirts on and trucks shouting from speakers about an ice bar or muay thai fight became too much for me.
Koh Tao, however was much smaller, quieter and cleaner. Once we had time to walk around the island, I immediately wished we’d had more time to spend there, but it was too late. We’d already set aside the next month for Vietnam and still had to get back to Bangkok, apply for our visas and book flights. This was all during the military curfew, of course. So we both had to make the most of our short time on the island.
For the three days on Koh Tao, I’d booked myself an advanced SCUBA certification course with Big Blue Diving Resort, where I’d be staying in their free dorms. Sammi spent the days running on the beach and snorkeling, staying at a hotel down the street. I only saw one small stretch of beach, while Sammi got to see the beautiful scenery in the pictures above. I was immediately impressed by the cute cafes that lined the main street and how clean the beaches were in comparison with those on Koh Samui.
I’m not the most confident of divers, but I was lucky to have a great group in my class of Brits and Canadians. The conditions were perfect for those two days of classes and I got to see a wreck and so much sea life. I missed the whale shark that had been spotted in the area, which I would have loved to see. During that time, I got some terrible blisters from my fins that only got worse when I kept taking them on and off. The constant wetness and sand didn’t help either, so they quickly got infected. They didn’t heal for another month.
After completing the course mid-day, I had the opportunity to sign up for a night dive, but I passed as I didn’t want to spend more money with another month left in the trip. Instead, I went to dinner with Sammi, but on our way there, I immediately felt sick. I rushed to find a bathroom at a nearby hotel and realized that my months of eating whatever I wanted had finally caught up with me: food poisoning had struck.
I wasn’t sure what it was that made me ill, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was the chicken curry from the dive restaurant. I was on the verge of tears thinking about going back to my dorm room and shared bathroom back at Big Blue in my condition, so I packed up and went to Sammi’s hotel room. I spent the next twelve hours in pain, sweating, heaving and crying on the bathroom floor. The charcoal pills I was prescribed were even worse coming back up. Thankfully, I felt much better the next morning in time for our ferry.
If I could do it all again, I would have spent a week on Koh Tao diving and sightseeing before going to my friend’s wedding for three days. I would have been more wary about what I ate and would have splurged on a hotel instead of slumming it in the dive dorms. I would have been more confident about my abilities in SCUBA diving, as I have the knowledge.