As the only non-scuba diver in the group, it was up to me to keep myself entertained for the 4 days on Koh Tao. While the gang was busy with their first scuba lesson, I took a taxi from the hotel to Mae Haad (where the ferry came in). From the hotel it cost 200 baht (5 €) to go the 2 km (?) not sure of the distance, but it’s not very far at all. This was my first introduction to the ridiculousness that is taxi travel in Koh Tao! From Mae Haad I took the brick path that starts at Cafe del Sol and goes to Sairee. It takes about 15 minutes and involves one steep hill up and one steep hill down. Easy peasy!
My first stop in Sairee was at Goodtime Adventures. I had been in contact before the trip sounding out potential activities so I was super-excited! The activity I was most excited for was…..the flying trapeze!!! Yes!!!! And it just so happened that they had an opening that very evening so I just went with it so that I couldn’t talk myself out of it! I was able to send a quick e-mail to Carlos to let him know the details in case they finished their lessons in time. The other activity that I was most interested in (hiking, cliff jumping, and snorkelling tour) still didn’t have any trips scheduled. They need a minimum of 2 people to run a trip and alas, I was all by my lonesome!!
Feeling pretty good (and scared) about my upcoming trapeze adventure, I went to the beach and had a lovely swim to pass the time. I can see how some people wouldn’t like Sairee…too busy, too built up, too whatever….but I thought it was nice enough for a late afternoon swim. It is a big beach so I’m sure you can always find a quiet corner (and to be honest, there was no one there that afternoon).
Next thing I knew, it was almost 5:30 pm and time to make my way to the big top tent!! (Disclaimer: there was no tent, but there were funky lights!) Ahhhhhh the nerves!!!!
Kelly and Bjorn were our trapeze experts on hand (Bjorn saving our lives on the platform by attaching the harness while Kelly was saving our lives by controlling the harness from below!) Our group consisted of me and a French mother, father, daughter combo. We first practiced hanging from a low-level trapeze (just needed a little hop to reach it) and doing the movement of bringing our legs up and hanging by our knees. Ouch. Kelly promised it wouldn’t hurt as much with momentum behind us!!
And just like that, I was climbing the 23 steps up the ladder to the platform. By the way – the ladder is by far the worst part of the whole experience!!!! Just don’t look down! I definitely had a few choice words for myself as I stood there with my chalked hands, harness secured, and trapeze in my grasp!! What was I doing????!!!!! 🙂 And then woosh!!! I was off! I was never really good at getting my legs up smoothly and quickly, but I killed the dismount every time! In total we had 3 goes with salto dismount, 1 go with flying release, and then 2 tries at being caught by Bjorn on the other trapeze. The video shows my 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 6th attempts. The 2nd and 5th were omitted since the world really doesn’t need to see those failures (complete with some mild obscenities in the 2nd attempt!! oops!)
The most annoying thing though is that I came SOOOOO close to completing the catch with Bjorn….our hands touched but we just couldn’t latch on. The next one would have been a success for sure!! 🙂 For those of you wondering who was saving our lives on the platform if Bjorn was trapezing, it was Gemma!
What an experience! Many thanks to Carlos for finding his way into town to bear witness to my greatness! ha ha! Adrenaline was definitely running high all the way back to the hotel. The only thing that could knock me down was a rather large lizard waiting for us in the room when we got back! It made a quick escape through the air conditioning unit (that was henceforth never turned off) and just when we thought we were safe, we opened the bathroom door and discovered….cockroaches! Noooo! First trapeze, then lizards, and now cockroaches??? My body was strung so high that I needed my harness back!!! We chickened out and solicited help from the hotel in clearing out the bugs (the girl went at them barehanded while a man silently watched the air conditioning for evidence of this so-called lizard…they really must think we’re crazy!) They left us a spray that we used liberally in the bathroom and never turned the fan off there either. We are usually much more energy conscious….! But we never had any surprise visitors again for the rest of the stay!
Our one meal away from Chalok (beach) was in Chalok (village) at Tukta. One of the many blogs I read before coming away had named it as serving the best Pad Thai on the island. I can’t claim to be an expert on the matter, but our resident expert (Virginia) wasn’t entirely in agreement. I was the only one who ordered it so it was based on just a taste. I had the shrimp pad thai and the noodles were pink!! It was definitely very shrimpy but I guess that is actually a good thing! With the jury out on the pad thai, we did manage to declare the best coconut shake ever!! Amazing.
My solo time on Koh Tao gave me the chance to try yoga for the first time ever. I was quite sore from the trapeze (arms and armpits…! and bruises behind my knees and on my heels of all places???) so this was either going to stretch my weary limbs into blissful oblivion or add to my list of ailments. I’m going with the latter!!! My yoga studio of choice was Ocean Sound Yoga at the Tropicana Resort. The lovely and patient Ashling was our teacher and even though I was the only beginner, I felt right at home and not at all self conscious in this small class of 4 people. I have to admit that I did quite enjoy it (when I wasn’t struggling to keep up!) and I did feel good afterwards. At least until the soreness kicked in, but even then I felt good since it meant that I actually did something other than sit at a computer!
The morning of our last full day dawned a little blustery. For the time being, there was no rain but the sea was rough and I could sense that my long-awaited snorkel trip around the island was in jeopardy. I wasn’t scheduled to be at IHASIA until 11 am so I spent the morning exploring the immediate area. I climbed up to the John-Suwan Viewpoint – with some difficulty! Taking the main road around was pretty easy and there were big arrows when the time came to head into the forest, but there were some rocky obstacles that almost made me turn back. I wasn’t keen on getting hurt with no one around. But I persevered and was VERY careful. Once at the top, the trail all but disappeared so I went one way that brought me out to a ledge overlooking Buddha Rock where I had a little breakfast snack. Going back I noticed a possible trail going in the right direction to get me THAT view of both bays. Sure enough, this was it and I just sat and enjoyed. And took a selfie. What else, eh?
As feared, the snorkel trip was indeed cancelled. As El Brujo said, we could either do it badly or not at all so he gets my respect for that. This left me with about an hour until the divers returned from the big final dive. What could I possibly do in Thailand that takes about an hour….????? MASSAGE!!! Perfect timing! I stopped at the first place I saw which happened to be at Carabao. The massage turned out to be slightly different since she used oil and it was the perfect blend of Thai strength and Swedish movements. And while I felt ripped off at the time with the 300 baht charge, I later did the math and realised that 7 € is also insanely cheap!!
Just as I was savouring my post-massage tea, I glanced out the window toward the sea and saw the mighty divers making their triumphant return to dry land. Perfect timing.
And so ended my solo time on Koh Tao. I was only ever on my own for half a day at a time so it was more than manageable and I thoroughly enjoyed all my activities!