How to avoid a very bumpy ride to Ko Tao

Koh Tao's namesake: Turtle Island.

Koh Tao’s namesake: Turtle Island.

A message of caution: If you go to Koh Tao, pick your transport carefully. Now, I am usually not one for seasickness. With an immunity built by one too many childhood holidays to France via some very choppy ferries from Dover, I would normally count myself as a pretty steely shipmate. But then Thailand isn’t England and the boat we boarded doesn’t quite match up to a hulking P&O ferry. For the first time in my life I couldn’t wait to reach dry land and have absolutely no intention of repeating the experience ever again – so before I tell you all about Koh Tao in my next post: here’s how not to get caught out!

To be fair to the boat, the journey wasn’t helped by the fact we’d been on a (albeit very modern) bus for about 12 hours overnight, with an extremely annoying family infront who all insisted on reclining their seats alllll the way back and arguing with everyone in the vicinity (including one very angry frenchman who literally screamed at them), only to land in Chumphon and be told we’d have to wait a couple more hours for the ferry. The last bit was fine – it gave us an opportunity to chat and make some lovely new friends who we later met up with in Koh Phi Phi – and the bus journey wasn’t really that bad overall but it did mean Simon, aka worst traveller ever, had absolutely no sleep and was about as happy as an Aussie who discovers he has no beers left. I would later discover that my attempt to cheer him up with a packet of Oreos would backfire.

When you go to Koh Tao you have 3 options of ferry, one distinctly better than all the others. The Lomprayah Catamaran, which we used to leave Koh Tao (might fool me once, you ain’t gonna fool me twice), is, as you might have guessed, an express version of the other two and takes somewhere between two to three hours depending on where you are going (We went to Krabi, but Koh Phangan and Koh Samui are much closer). Modern, clean and even with a little cafe on board you can get to and from Koh Tao relatively quickly plus the boat doesn’t seem too phased by a bit of choppy weather. Only marginally more expensive than the other two, its well worth the £3 or so more not to end up with jelly legs upon arrival. The worst option you could possibly take by all accounts has to be the Night Ferry, which although the cheapest, takes the longest (hence the overnight part) and most of the ex-pats on Koh Tao seems to have a horror story connected to it that they are only too happy to tell. I’m sure some people do have excellent journeys on it, but if it goes wrong, you’ve got a long time to wait until you touch down on dry land again. The middle option is the option we took (or that the bus company selected), The Songserm Express and we may have just been unlucky, but the boat bobbed and bobbed and bobbed some more. All the Yoga breathing exercises I had practiced for so long in India became the only thing between me, a blinding headache and the ‘sumting sumting’ I had eaten at the food stop. Unfortunately Simon wasn’t so lucky. Even after clambering above deck to try and focus on the horizon I felt like I could pass out.  I tried to sleep and the best I could do was to cup my head in my hands. Two words: Never Again. I cannot recommend anything but taking the Lomprayah, a lesson we learnt very quickly.

Mae Haad Beach, Koh Tao

Mae Haad Beach, Koh Tao

Despite the trials of our transport however, Koh Tao is stunning. Upon arrival, I felt like a (if only slightly queasy) Robinson Crusoe landing on my own little island paradise. Ignoring all the other passengers hunting for their luggage and Simon who made a dash for dry land as soon as we docked (he was apparently too sick to carry any bags, leaving me like an awkward packhorse trying not to fall off the wooden dock), I took in the surroundings and was pleased with what I saw: Palm trees, craggy rocks, sandy beaches and water so clear that you could clearly see all of the fish swimming underneath. If you’re going to any of the Thai islands there’s no need to book a flight, but make sure you pick the right boat!

Over and out, Liv xxx

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