Basking on the Thai Islands
A very long (but comparatively comfortable... after previous mistakes we'd figured out the bus system) over night bus ride took us south to the coast. We caught a ferry in Chumphon to Ko Tao, and I found out that I'm not good at boat rides.
Our ferry pulled into the dock and I was thrilled to see land. We headed in, rented a scooter and were ready to whisk off into the island mountains and find our hostel! Except that our tire popped after five minutes and our bike had to be pushed back to the scooter store. A new scooter was rented, we shook our heads in frustration, wiped away the dust and sweat, and were off again with the wind in our hair! Until it started raining.
But despite the mood-dampening start, we were on a tropical island, so we weren't complaining too much. The rain stopped quickly, and we found ourselves a perfect spot. We wanted to get away from the crowds, so we headed to the southern tip of the island and booked a hostel on Freedom Beach. We went for the cheapest option, and ended up in a private beach-side bungalow for $8 a night. Have I ever mentioned to you that I love Asia?
In the evenings we wandered Sairee Beach, the main stretch on the east side of the island. There are dozens of bars and restaurants that sit so close to the shore that when the tide comes in you might get your feet wet. We had our pick, and I ordered plenty of White Russians while we watched fire jugglers perform.
One evening we went to a Ladyboy Cabaret with some friends we had made, and spent the night singing and clapping along with Madonna, Britney Spears, Cher, and plenty of other divas.
We heard rumors of some hard-to-get-to jumping cliffs, so we set off to find them one afternoon. It was a great failure. First, we got lost. The we found where we were supposed to be, but the scooter refused to climb the rocky, muddy mountain road (despite my best, very frustrated, efforts). Then we decided to try and hike the road, and after half an hour of uphill climbing and being eaten alive by over-sized mosquitoes, we had to admit defeat. So we bought ice cream shakes and sat on our private beach to watch the golden sunset over the turquoise ocean to drown our sorrows.
Another ferry ride (that I barely survived) took us to Ko Phangan. Once again we rented a scooter and headed away from the crowds. We found a little piece of paradise, and for three days did absolutely nothing but go from our bungalow to the beach and lay in the warm sand reading books and drinking coconut shakes.
We could have happily stayed another week, but our Southeast Asia trip was almost over, and we still had Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to see.