Tuesday, June 03, 2008

sunshine and sharks


I've just finished uploading my pix from Ko Tao and I only wish the memories of tropical heat could warm my cold feet. The weather in Tokyo's been rainy and colder than normal since I returned on the weekend.

So, as you'll see from the photos, Ko Tao was the perfect choice for those of us who don't relish a touristy party island atmosphere. Ko Tao is refreshingly not overrun, with some very secluded spots where in low season you truly feel like you got away from it all. From everything but geckos and butterflies that is.

As for the aquatic life, I snorkeled my brains out, despite being pretty sick with a hacking cough from the second nasty flu I got in the past few months. I was at my sickest on our travel day, which was flying 6 hours from here to Bangkok, a two-hour bus ride from airport to train station, an overnight train to Chumphon, a couple of hours wait for the ferry, and finally a 90 minute ferry ride to the island.

Healthy it wouldn't have been so bad, really. A condensed voyage is sometimes best: leave your house one morning at 7 a.m. and arrive on a paradisiacal Thai island the next at 9 a.m.!

Anyhow, I saw reef sharks (small and not dangerous, but sharky-looking nonetheless), many, many sorts of fish and a decent variety of coral too.

The sleeper train back to Bangkok afterwards was kind of fun, though I didn't sleep despite us having a private room this time. (On the way there they had cancelled our reservation because we arrived too late so we had to "sleep" in the open 2nd class sleeper area, separated from the aisle by only a curtain. Since I was coughing so much, I felt terrible about keeping others awake so I spent most of that voyage in the bathroom car area.)

The most interesting part was probably waiting for the train at the very busy Chumphon station. Many trains pass through this open air station and it was so fascinating to watch the local food commerce people chatting between trains, then prepping and jumping on each train to sell soups, snacks, fresh veggies.

But I think I'll end with that slice of the trip, more to come probably (maybe about two-legged sharks in Bangkok). It's past bedtime and unfortunately I'm working full time this week since my boss is off in Hokkaido in preparation for next month's G-8. A summit which Aran is incidentally dreading since he's got to go for two weeks of very intense work.


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