Gearing up for new years on Koh Tao

We left Koh Phangan on an early Lomprayah ferry and headed over to Koh Tao for our long awaited new years festival. The last boat trip to Koh Tao in 2010 was rough as hell and I wanted to hurl most of the way. This time was much better, the boat trip was still a little bumpy, but we focused on a BBC documentary by Russel Brand called “On the Road” – brilliant docci, but we watched it without sound!

The boat trip passed in no time and before I knew it we were walking up the pier. We were staying at a place called Save Bungalows. We knew it was not far from the pier and it was great because all we had to do is walk 5 min to check in at reception. Our plans were working out perfectly so far as the room we book was not fancy, but just what we needed for the next few days during the trance festival.

Our friends Elzette, Lea and Ilandi had already arrived on the island a few days before. Our friends Braam and Zuzka who had been on Koh Chang arrived a few hours before us. Our other friend Jason was arriving on another ferry in the afternoon. While waiting for Jason to arrive we hired a scooter and went off to the very commercial beach called Sairee beach to kill some time.

While we were waiting for Jason to arrive I bumped into Christian who is an Austrian friend we met last time we visited Koh Tao for The Experience festival. Christian was waiting for a friend who was arriving on the same ferry, so we all waited at the ferry together.

Jason was the first person off the ferry and he was staying at Save Bungalows so we went to get him booked in. While Jason was settling in I took Barbara to buy some new clothes and grab a bite to eat.

Jason had a friend staying in Chalok Baan where we stayed the year before, so we took the scooter for a ride and had a beer with his mate Mark. We wanted to all hook up for dinner as one big SAFA group, so we picked a place to eat and made plans to meet that evening.

Facebook became our main communication tool to get hold of the girls (Elzette, Lea, Ilandi). We arranged a meeting spot. I had not met Ilandi and Lea yet, but Elzette was an old friend of mine from Paarl. It was super once we all hooked up, I could tell we would make a great party unit for the next week!

Dinner was fantastic, but most of us were tired from traveling so after a few more drinks we headed home for some much needed sleep. The next day would be the start of a 4 day trance festival and our New Years celebrations.

Heading to our next destination Koh Phangan

We woke up around 8am knowing that it was our last morning of Koh Maak. We went to breakfast at a place that had some devine ear rings Barbs wanted, she bought 2 pairs for 240 baht.


Next stop we headed to Nan Massage for a back, neck and head massage.


Feeling relaxed, we headed back to our cottage to pack the last of our stuff. I had one more open water swim. Just before getting a lift to the ferry I snapped one more shot of our little bit of paradise and a shot of Mr Pom and his wife who cooked such amazing food.



We set off from the pier on a speed boat for main land.



Next we caught a taxi to the Trat airport to catch our Bangkok Air flight to Koh Samui.




We landed spot on time at Samui airport, then we caught a taxi to the Big Buddha pier where we would get on a boat to Haad Rin on Koh Phangan.



On the ferry over to Phangan we met some crazy Aussies.


We got to our room at Pink Bungalows after a long days mission for some well deserved rest


Our last day on Koh Maak






Our last day on Koh Maak was a good one. I started my day at 6:30am because I went to bed at 8:30pm the night before. I woke up with a ton of ideas for 2012.

After the brain storm session I went for a 1 hour run. Felt so good while I was running. When I got back we decided we needed to go for a phat breakfast.

After breakfast we went to the Nam Massage place too a couple of days before. I got a back, neck and head massage. Afterwards we were chilled and ready for our kayak mission.

Before heading out on our kayak mission with Helene we all had a decent meal. I had Tom Yam seafood, which was just heavenly. Good food makes the experience.

The 3 of us set off to Koh Rayang with the tri-kayak. Not as long a kayak as we did in Koh Chang, but still a solid paddle.

Once we had kayaked around the full island I jumped off the kayak in the deep water and did a solid 40 minute swim back to Koh Maak. That was my toughest and most scary swim ever. Once I got to shore I chilled hard.

We had some whiskey sundowners, then Helene, Barbs and I had our last dinner. What a tasty meal. Afterwards we all hit the hay. Good day, good times. Wooohooo.

Xmas day treats & adventures on Koh Maak

Xmas day, didn’t feel like it, very strange. Our aim for the day was to cycle right round the Koh Maak island. The island is only 16 sq km in size, so that should be easy enough. We decided to have a solid breakfast before our little cycle adventure.

We found a Swedish owned restaurant serving breakfast and coffee. I ordered a full breakfast that comprised of omelet, fruit, toast, bacon, juice and I opted for tea because I was skeptical of whether there would be real coffee. Barbs ordered a similar breakfast and it was real coffee, but my tea was so good I had a second one.

Helene was riding her bicycle past the restaurant so we got her attention and she joined us for morning munchies. After breakfast we headed off to a spa place for some pampering. I had a really shit massage on Koh Chang, therefore was hoping this wold not be the same. I opted for a foot reflexology session, Barbs went for the back and neck massage. Helene had a full on foot manicure and more session.

Our two sessions finished and we were both amazing, finally a decent massage. Lovely people, friendly and we will return to them before leaving Koh Maak. Helene was still busy so we went to sort out bikes for the day, seeing Helene had a bike we would just meet her back at the spa place.

We set off on our bikes and so the adventure began! Our first stop was the Buddhist temple I had run past yesterday. It was a small temple with a few monks sitting around. We snapped some pics of the Buddha statues and various shrines. There was a friendly pig at the temple, the monks suggested we strike the pig, sooooo cute I wanted to cuddle her. Not the prettiest of creatures, but friendly and lovable none the less.

On our way down the road to another spot on the island, few wrong turns, dead ends, some happy snaps and then we hit a water patch. The girls were not keen, I tried to show them it was fine to ride through, but got half way and the bike was half submerged. There was nothing that would convince them to do this, so I rode to the end to see what was there. It was high tide, so there was only a small beach, but the submerged rode was fun to ride.

I rejoined the girls and we headed off to a resort we spotted a bit further back. My tummy was grumbling and I needed food, the others were still full from breakfast. It was a beautiful little resort with some tasty food, probably the best pad thai of the trip. Two Chang beers and a fair amount of food later we headed out of the resort.

The last stretch riding home I managed to choose a bunch of dead ends and unconventional paths, the girls were not so happy with me. We eventually found ourselves at the pier where we dock yesterday. Now I knew roughly where to go. A few uphills and then a phat downhill before we were back at Holiday Beach resort where we stayed. What a rad way to spend the day.

We did some lounging next to the sea, I took an open water swim and a shower. Next we got ready for our Xmas dinner at a Swiss place I found that did schnitzel and beef fillet. For Xmas dinner we felt like something different to Thai food.

We had a phat German meal, drinks at the cottage after and chill hard for another fun filled adventurous day on boxing day.

Xmas Eve on Koh Maak

Xmas eve on Koh Maak was pretty chilled. Helene checked into her room near by and then joined us for some lunch. The food at Holiday beach was amazing, I ordered Tom Yam for lunch and it’s the best I have eaten to date. I have eaten enochi mushrooms before, but never in Thailand, my Tom Yam had plenty enochi in it, tasty!

After a large meal and a Chang beer I was ready for an afternoon nap. Our cottage was really cute but not ideal for afternoon naps as the sun was cooking it. I still managed to have a phat nap. When I got up I thought it would be good to go for an open water swim. Once I got away from the shore I headed to a nearby island, but soon realized that the water around the island was waste deep with coral and sea urchins everywhere. I spotted loads of little colourful fishes, but nothing particularly big.

When I got back from my swim I decided to chill on the grass in the sun chairs. I have developed a bit of an Angry Birds addiction, so I played a few more levels while the sun cooled down a bit. At about 5pm the temperature was perfect for a run. I got ready for my run and said cheers to Barbs and Helene.

Koh Maak is pretty flat, so I set out at a blistering pace and felt strong enough to maintain the speed all the way to the other side of the island. I arrived at the pier on the other side of the island, there was a Buddhist temple near by, all very intriguing for my fresh newby eyes. this island truly is a paradise!

As I turned around to head back to Holiday Beach resort from the pier I spotted Helene on a bike. She had water, what a blessing, I was hanging for some water. She was heading back to where she was staying, so I ran along side her. Its a lot easier riding a bike than running along side a bike. So I had to run at an even higher pace on the way back, but surprisedly I maintained.

I got back to Barbara chilling at our hut and was knackered! It’s always a good feeling being tired from sport. Shower time and then a game of back gamon with barbs. Afterwards we headed out for dinner at the restaurant at Holiday Beach resort. Helene joined us for a Xmas eve dinner that was so not an Xmas eve dinner. We all didn’t feel like Xmas the western way, Thailand doesn’t celebrate Xmas, so a good evening.

I was pretty tired from my sports that day, so I headed to bed around 8:30pm. Barbs walked Helene home and then joined me for a great nights sleep. We needed the sleep after our crap nights rest at Tiger hut.

Xmas morning we woke up to some shitty windy weather, not very pleasing. I chilled with Barbs in bed, while she read her book I captured some business ideas for 2012. For some reason I woke up feeling inspired with ideas of how to improve my company LightSpeed and my startup FeedMyMedia in the new year. Feels good to be inspired, the year had drained me, not in a bad way, just needed to recharge my batteries.

Our plan for Xmas day was to join Helene and cycle around the island exploring.

Tiger Hut and onward to Koh Maak

When I returned from my failed visa run, I arrived at Tiger Hut to find Barbs chilling hard in our hut. She moved all our bags from Baan Rim Nam with Ian’s help to our hut for one night. The hut was pretty basic and budget, but it was 20m from the beach and had a spot to hang our hammock.

First order of the day was to get in the sea, was not feeling super energetic, so I just managed 1 km swim. The sun was setting as I swam out, so by the time I got back to the beach The was a gorgeous sunset happening right in front of our hut.

Barbs and I poured ourselves some stiff G&Ts, she decided to do a mini sunset photo shoot. Amazing, beautiful, speechless! We continued to chill in front of the hut watch the color disappear. When it was dark we missioned into town for some dinner.

I tried to get Lief the Danish guy from the Visa run to join us but he was not feeling so great, so we were having dinner just the two of us. We walked along Khlong Prao and saw Kati’s where we did our cooking course. We knew the food would be awesome so we stopped in there.

Such a lovely restaurant, friendly staff, decor was pretty, very inviting. We order starters, spring rolls and prawn tempura with a Chang beer to wash it down. It was funny, a cockroach was crawling around and the Europeans are so squeamish they were freaking, then one of the staff accidentally squashed the cockroach, kak funny!

Our mains were Garlic and Pepper prawns with rice & Sweet and sour prawns with rice. We ordered another Chang to wash it down. The good life! We paid for the food and rolled out of the restaurant back home.

We decided to get to bed when we got home because we had an early start in the morning. The bed however sucked balls, springs stuck into our backs and it was generally pretty uncomfortable. Thats budget accommodation for you. We feel asleep pretty quickly, but woke up at some ungodly hour feel the death bed’s wrath. Barbs made a plan to soften her side and I went to sleep in the hammock, which was pretty comfortable.

We got up at about 7:30am and packed our bags for the taxi down to the Bang Bao ferry pier. The taxi driver fetched us around 8:30am and we headed off. We eventually got down to the pier at around 9:30 and the boat headed off just before 10am.

The boat made 1 stop before we arrived at our final destination, we stopped at Koh Wai a teensy little island. We dropped some people off and picked up Helena the French woman from our cooking class. It was cool reconnecting, catching up with what she did and what we did since our last meeting. Gotto love being on holiday in a tropical foreign destination.

We arrived at our final destination Koh Maak and thought we knew where we were, but we didn’t. We headed off to what we thought was the right place, but we were on the wrong side of the island. Luckily we met a friendly local Thai guy who called the owner of Holiday Koh Mak Resort. We got fetch and taken to our new home, which looked like paradise!

Helena could not stay where we were as there was no space, but the owner of the resort made a plan to sort her out with a place to stay. She headed off to check out her prospective room while we sat down to lunch. Good times.