March 09 2010

We woke up pretty tired after a night of sleeping only now-and-then. Checkout time was at 9 am, and since we hadn’t found any other place to stay, we decided to stay at the same complex, but switch rooms. Jasmine and Madeleine had no serious complaints about their bungalow, and had no problems with staying another night there, but we needed a room with a different kind of mattress and a quieter fan. In the end, we got an apartment right across the road, 100 THB cheaper, but much more comfortable – including that the place wasn’t as warm, for some reason.

With that arranged, we went to Mae Haad for breakfast: There were three food carts near the main pier and the 7-eleven, where we got pancakes at 25 THB per person.

Breakfast eaten, we decided to explore the back roads to find some kind of accommodation where we’d be more comfortable. We began from the south, going up the road towards Tanote Bay. We turned around when the pavement stopped, since we didn’t want to have to spend too much time riding to town every day, and checked the resorts on the way back towards the main road. In the end we found, and decided to stay at a great place called Baan Leevadee, run by a Thai woman and her Swiss husband. Since we weren’t going to check in the same day, we were asked to leave a deposit for them to hold the bungalows for us. After paying that, we each had an ice tea, and were offered bananas from their own tree.

Street view of Koh Tao
The road between Chalok Baan Kao and Mae Haad

We now had a perfect base of operations for this island, and the most critical task for the day was done before lunchtime, so we headed back to the main road to Mae Haad to find something to eat. We stopped at a place obviously mostly frequented by locals: Everything we asked for, she pointed at a different restaurant, saying “open at five”, but after a while she realized we actually wanted to eat the food she offered at her place, and we paid 40 THB per person for green curry chicken with steamed rice. It was a bit to spicy for Madeleine, and Jasmine, being a vegetarian, didn’t really work well with the chicken part (she had some sesame snacks instead), so we headed in to Mae Haad for them to find a restaurant while Tanja and I went searching for a hat or something to stop my forehead from burning up in the sun. Note to self: Apply sun protection to the entire area that needs protection. Note to self II: Thai hats are made for Thai heads. It’s basically impossible to find a “regular” size hat on these islands.

While we were searching in vain, the girls found an excellent restaurant called Pranee’s Kitchen. It’s a great place near the sea, with fast service and really good – and cheap – Thai food, where 60-70 THB buys you a complete meal with rice or noodles and drinking water. Of course, they also serve all kinds of more western food, but then at higher prices. In the evening, they show a couple of movies for their customers – sometimes original ones, and sometimes the pirated ones with subtitles that are translated from English to an Asian language (probably one of the Chinese languages), and then translated by computer back to English, with hilarious and completely nonsensical results.

Tanja with a fire artist
Tanja's got a gloria of fire

In the evening, we went back to Sai Ree to have a look at the night life and to have a beer. Ban’s quickly became our favorite place to hang around. They’re not the cheapest place around (a small Singha is 70 THB, a large Chang is 80 THB, and drinks sell for 120 THB +), but they make up for it with a very relaxed atmosphere, live music and a laid-back fire show.

Lotus Bar seems to be “the other” place to go, especially if you want to see people; it’s crowded and a bit louder, with higher paced music (sound system, no live musicians), a more intense fire show, and more of dancing. The girls loved it here, and I sat back and watched the people, having some laughs with Tanja and a girl whose brother had had four buckets up until then.

Back in our apartment, it was definitely cooler than what we had in the bungalow, and we slept very well.

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