‘I like your skirt, sexy sexy….’ – Thai Masseuse, Koh Tao, Thailand.

Bus and boat trips to the popular Thai islands are never easy – and they are almost always overnight. This is seen as a great point to budget conscious travellers as they save money on a night’s accommodation. However, I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed the experience. The journey would probably be quite short if it wasn’t for all the waiting around you have to do at various intervals, but this seems to be a common feature for trips in Thailand.

We started from a travel agent on Koh San Road at around 7pm. After around 1/2 an hour of waiting, we were picked up by a lady who got us to all follow her through the busy markets of Koh San, while we were dragging all of our luggage with us. At one point she had us walking down the centre of a busy road at night in a long line, with traffic passing either side of us.

We reached the bus pickup point and waited another 20 minutes or so for our bus to arrive. The bus was reasonably comfortable with reclining seat, curtains and various multi coloured blankets on the chairs. There was also entertainment in the form of action movies played on a tv at the front. We decided to stay up to watch some movies – however they must have been purchased from Koh San Road (knock offs) as we had a few instances of DVD’s stopping working just as they reach the climax of the films.

Just as we started to settle down and drop off for the long journey ahead, the bus stopped at a roadside cafe for a “15 minute” break – 45 minutes later everyone got back on board and we set off again. It can take a little while to fall asleep on public transport, and we gave it our best shot. After about an hour I started to fall asleep again, although as he couldn’t sleep, Ram decided to watch the new film that was playing instead.

We knew the boat we were catching was at 6:30, so assumed we had all night on the bus – however at 3am we were told to get off with our bags and wait at another road side cafe in the middle of nowhere for “15 minutes” as a mini van was to pick us up. An hour later, after lots of worrying thoughts of “what do we do of nobody turns up?”, sure enough a mini van did show up. We were taken about 20 minutes down the road and dropped off at a ferry pier, 2 hours before the ferry we needed. It’s not too easy staying chipper after a night of interrupted sleep, or in Ram’s case, no sleep. Sitting outside in the dark, surrounded by many travellers with miserable faces, we could tell we were not the only ones feeling that way. Then the rain started….

The ferry journey was rough, not only was the sea very choppy, but the seats were hard and plastic, and a French lady seemed unaware half her bum was on my leg. Arriving at Koh Tao we found we had to climb onto a floating pier. Floating piers are adventurous things on a choppy sea, and would have been fun if we hadn’t been trying to take all our worldly possessions with us. We both have very large rucksacks, with a small rucksack and a wheelie case. The easiest way to hold everything is to strap the small bag to our front, the big bag to our back, tie all the supporting straps around the waist for security and then wheel or carry the wheelie bag. It was only once I did all that and tried to walk across a plank of wood from the floating boat to the floating pier that I realised should I fall into the sea, I’d never be able to get all my bags off in order to save myself.

We’d previously researched a bay on Koh Tao that was good for snorkelling and spotting reef sharks and turtles. When looking up places to stay, Black Tip Resort seemed to tick all the boxes and reviews online were all good except for a few strange negative comments about the road to the resort. Despite deciding we wanted stay there we hadn’t managed to book anything in advance, so we were arriving with our fingers crossed. Oddly, as we reached the end of the pier there was a guy standing there looking at me saying “Black Tip?” – so we followed him and hoped for the best. He threw our bags into the back of a pickup track, and then gestured for us to jump in too. We were with another British couple and it soon became obvious we were going to get to know them very quickly as the ride was so unsafe we had to grab onto everything and everyone to make it to the other side alive.

The pickup truck took us up and over the steep mountainous island, through the winding forest and on a track that looks more like a dry river bed. I was hugging our luggage to weigh myself down so that I didn’t bounce right out.

Arriving at Black Tip Resort we found it to be exactly what we were looking for. Quiet and secluded with enough activities and a few eating places to keep us entertained. The room we were offered was a basic double bungalow for around £8.30 between us per night. The bungalow was made of wood and placed on stilts at the edge of the forest with a balcony overlooking the beach. It was as clean as you could make a wooden hut, there was electric and a fan on the ceiling – which is pretty much all we needed. The only thing missing was hot water – a luxury we could have paid extra for, but we decided to give it a go without.

I assumed at this point that Ram and I would have a kip to catch up on the night’s missed sleep – however Ram’s eyes were wide open with excitement – he wanted to go searching the forest for exotic creepy crawlies, and find the sharks in the bay that we had read so much about.

Our first plan was to go to an ATM, which we soon found out was back at the pier on the other side of the island. The only way to travel this way was by pickup truck – 100bht per person each way – 100bht is about £2.10, so it added up to be quite a pricey journey to take. We decided to make the most of the trip over and stocked up on supplies while we were there – sweets for me, snorkels and underwater camera bag for Raman.

Back at Black Tip Resort we kitted ourselves out for snorkelling and set off down to the water. Despite looking like a white sandy beach, the “sand” on the beach is actually broken coral which is quite unpleasant on the feet. The water is a turquoise colour and beautifully warm.

It was Ram’s first try of snorkelling and he took to it very well. Although the bay was full of coral and sea life, it wasn’t as brightly coloured as that you would find in somewhere like the Caribbean. However, that’s not to say it’s not worth doing. There was such a great variety of fish

We spent the rest of the week in the bay, eating, reading, snorkelling and generally winding down from London life. We popped into the main town at one point for a change of scenery and a massage. Upon arriving at the massage place, I noticed they also offered leg waxing. Due to the cold shower in our hut, I’d neglected my full beauty regime, so decided to go for the leg wax instead of the massage. Ram went for a head, shoulders and back massage.

My legs were being waxed by a small Thai lady who didn’t speak much English. She started waxing and I just watched the clock, waiting for it to be over. A little while into it, she called in another Thai lady to help. They were both waxing my legs and talking in great concerned tones to each other in Thai. I noticed they were going over the same patches again and again, each time as painful as the last. Then one of the ladies said to me “too difficult” – but she kept going, so I just nodded and carried on watching the clock. It was 40 minutes before they moved to a new area of my leg – now quite excited that they seemed to have found a method of making it work.

After an hour I could hear Ram talking in the next room, his massage had finished – the ladies (there were three by now) still hadn’t done half my legs. At this point they called in the woman who had been doing Ram’s massage and she turned up with a pair of tweezers and started trying to pluck the hairs out individually. By now I was in great pain, normally in the UK this takes 30 minutes. After an hour and a half of having the wax stripped off my legs continuously, I had to tell them to stop. I walked out the room to find Ram in a dressing gown, drinking Jasmine tea and listening to tranquil music. I paid up and left, just happy to ordeal was over. Back in the pickup truck I finally looked down at my legs – they looked exactly the same as when I went in, only pinker. I must have grumbled about this for about a week after.

I will always go for the massage option from now on……

S+R xxx