Stephen told me off for writing such long posts so for my experience of Koh Tao (which marks my decent south to the islands of Thailand), I’ve decided to dispatch with the day-by-day account and provide a summary of events instead. For continuity purposes I’ll mention day 14 which was not that memorable apart from experiencing my first painful yet somewhat pleasurable Thai massage at Wat Pho. My time on Koh Tao – a small, chilled and very pretty island – on the otherhand was a fairly event free affair, except for 3 things. I’ll always remember days 15-18 because of the following:
1. The boat ride over – was the worst 2 hours of my life. That is not an exaggeration. The water was so choppy that the bow of the catamaran bobbed in out of the sea like a yo-yo. I lasted a mere 20 minutes before the inevitable happened. Many people lasted less. Few people lasted the whole trip. After an hour of sheer agony, I assumed the only position that would be bring me any comfort: the foetal position. And there I lied on the floor, without shame, until the agony was over.
2. I convinced myself I had rabies – when I went to the travel clinic to get all my jabs, the nurse made recommendations about other diseases I should be vaccinated against. That night I decided to do a bit of research – on Wikipedia of course. That’s when I got the low-down on the horror that is rabies. It’s a horrific disease which, unless you catch it within 24 hours, pretty much guarantees death (there are 7 known survivors and 6 suffered severe brain damage as a consequence – according to Wikipedia of course). That night while lying in bed in England I was convinced I was going to catch rabies. Fast forward to Thailand and I’ve been staying well clear of the mountain of stray dogs that roam the streets here. Except on my first day on Koh Tao.
While grabbing some lunch after the boat ride earlier, I was approached by a dog with a ball. Eager to keep the dog away I swatted the saliva-ridden ball away. This was not something I’d normally do but hungover, ill and shattered from departing the sleeper train at 4 in the morning, my judgement was blurred. As a matter of caution I washed hands vigorously.
24 hours later and my memory reflects on the day before. I recalled scratching a mosquito bite after lunch with the hand that tipped the ball away. Telling myself that a mosquito bite constituted a gaping wound and that a drop of rabies-ridden saliva had remained on my hand I convinced myself I had caught rabies. For 2 days I thought, no I knew, I was going to die a horrible, painful death. Of course once I’d caught up on my sleep and read that Koh Tao was close to rabies free, a simple bit of reasoning told me that this was not the case.
3. I got my open water scuba diving qualification – which was actually the reason I went to Koh Tao. If you want to learn to scuba dive, you won’t find it anywhere cheaper than Koh Tao. 8,500 Baht covered the cost of the course, the equipment and 4 nights acommodation. I went with Phoenix who I would highly recommend and Neil, my instructor, did a great job – patient, helpful and a good laugh. And I got to see a couple of sting rays on my dives which I was chuffed about although sadly no sharks. Sairee beach, where the resort I stayed in is located, is the biggest on island and has a great, relaxed vibe.
Rabies scare aside, I really enjoyed my time on Koh Tao and the open water qualification gave me something tangible to show for it. And Stephen, sorry if the summary approach didn’t work. This wasn’t so short after all.