Koh Tao; what a place. A tiny little island with so much life. Business seems to revolve around the snorkelling and scuba diving industry here, which I guess is akin to the vast coral reefs and marine life in the surrounding seas. As much as we would have loved to do a scuba diving course, unfortunately the budget said no, so we’re going to go on a snorkelling tour instead.
We’re staying in Sairee town, just North of the pier, but a lot of the island is walkable anyway so we’re not too far from anything. The town is lovely; so laid back with little cafes, bars and beachy shops. Today we spent the day on the beach, and the evening watching the sun set and wandering the town.
Today has been absolutely wonderful. We went on a snorkeling tour of Koh Tao, dropping into different bays around the perimeter. We visited 3 dive sites which were all absolutely fascinating and all quite different from each other. Weirdly, I was quite panicky when I first went in; we dropped into the water and I looked down to a HUGE shoal of fish and the water was much deeper than I expected. Then I got water in my snorkel and couldn’t breathe properly. We swam a bit shallower and I got used to the mask, so it was fine, but it surprised me that I wasn’t fine straight away.
We saw beautiful corals, and strange, fascinating purple corally creatures which reacted to water movement by closing themselves up. The variety of fish we saw in such small areas was mind-blowing, and they were so interesting to watch. We even saw a baby shark and a turtle! I almost wept into my mask when I saw the turtle, it was so majestic and beautiful. Unfortunately it was bittersweet, as the turtle was in an area where the coral was completely bleached and pretty much destroyed. It’s genuinely devastating what we’re doing to our oceans. The little shark was cool as well, apparently we were pretty lucky to see that as they generally hide from divers.
I now feel like when you come in from a night out and lie down, and the whole world is spinning so you feel sick. Except my world is bobbing up and down from the boat and I’m completely sober, so I’m too aware of my disorientation. Nevertheless, today will go down as one of my favourite experiences thus far whilst travelling, and I’m so glad we decided to go.
Today has been a bit of a drizzly day. We woke up and watched the football first thing (IT’S COMING HOME), then we went for a lovely Brunch. It started raining again so we went back to our bungalow and caught up with Love Island too, and then started properly planning our final 6 weeks out here. It’s starting to feel like it’s the beginning of the end; we still have so much time but the final weeks involve quite a few flights so we’re having to plan and book ahead, and even look at booking our flight home (URGH). I groan, but the thought of going home and getting a flat and starting new jobs is actually pretty exciting. But also terrifying obviously.
It brightened up this afternoon and we went for a lovely beach walk; said hello to all the dogs that seemingly just live on the beach.
This is a bit of a boring entry, but something I’ve only found out about recently and think is important. We had to buy more suncream yesterday; I hate having to do this because we can never find brands we know and trust, so it always feels a bit risky. However, we saw an Australian brand that I recognised, so we spent a bit more to get that. Unfortunately I forgot to check it was a physical sunscreen rather than a chemical one, and we’re both now lying on the beach with irritated skin.
The difference between physical and chemical sunscreens is that physical sits on the surface of the skin and reflects both UVA and UVB rays; it can sometimes leave you with a bit of a white sheen depending on the brand, but it’s completely worth it in my opinion. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, work by sinking into the skin and chemically counteracting the UV rays after they’ve been absorbed into your skin, rather than on the surface. I’m sure, by logic, you can see why we (me with acne prone, sensitive skin, and Elliot with eczema) prefer physical sunscreens.
In case you’re interested, the active ingredients in physical sunscreen will be titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide; really I would recommend physical sunscreens to everyone and especially children. I’ve been using Altruist on my face every day of travelling and it’s amazing; waterproof, completely protects my skin and doesn’t irritate at all. Ingredients used in chemical sunscreens will be any combination of oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and/or octinoxate.
Currently: sitting in Chumphon train station waiting for our night train to Malaysia. We got a very rough boat over to Chumphon from Koh Tao this morning, and have spent the afternoon in a cafe, meticulously planning and booking our last 6 weeks. We’re feeling much more organised, but it was pretty devastating booking our flights home.
I really enjoyed Koh Tao. It’s definitely one of my favourite islands; very laid back, with a beautiful sunset over the beach, good food and nice areas to wander round in the evenings. Now onwards to Malaysia!