Day 16 | Worst ferry ride to the best hotel ever

Mimi woke up even earlier today! By 5am she was up and getting ready to leave the guesthouse. I asked her to be safe for her last two dives and went back to sleep. Mimi took her underwater camera with her on the boat but was not allowed to take it with her during the dives for obvious safety reasons. Since she was on the boat so early, she managed to capture the beautiful sunrise over Ko Tao, a change from all these sunset shots, I know!

Sunrise on Ko Tao

I won’t go into the details of her dives as I wasn’t present (remember, I dropped out) but I selected a couple of relevant pictures she took in the morning. Here is Mimi and another dive buddy Alex from Germany together with Holly, their amazing dive instructor from Australia.

Mimi with her dive buddy and dive instructor

The divers below are part of a different group led by another dive instructor. In the background you can see Ko Nangyuan again.

Scuba divers in Ko Nangyuan

Mimi’s third and fourth dives both lasted about half an hour and went well with no surprise. She managed to reach the target depth of 18 meters, as planned.

On my side, I woke up for the second time around 10am and took care of the check out. We had a few more hours on Ko Tao before taking the high speed catamaran back to Ko Samui. I left our luggage at the hotel and walked down to Sairee Beach once more. I initially thought I would have enough time for another massage and looked for Spa Aurori, a top-reviewed massage place in Ko Tao. But when I arrived there they were not opened yet and I decided against waiting until the opening. Instead, I went to chill at a restaurant affiliated with the Wind Beach Resort. There, I got a fresh watermelon shake together with a chocolate parfait (yolomomo style) while waiting for Mimi to return on dry land. She messaged me around 10:15am. I must admit I was a bit anxious that morning especially since Mimi kept telling me about diving accident stories that she read about the previous night.

She was with Alex and Holly when she came to meet me at the restaurant. They took notes on their diving certification booklet and Holly explained how they will receive their certification card. Then it was time for them to part ways.

We went to Su Chilli again for lunch. Mimi ordered a Thai soup. When the waiter asked if she wanted it spicy or not she answered spicy. The result? It kicked her ass. Mimi is pretty good at handling spicy food in general but I guess she found her limit right there. Even the sweet water from the coconut wasn’t enough to balance with the level of spices.

Too spicy, even for Mimi

After lunch we went for our last walk and pictures on Sairee Beach. We did not swim that time since we had to leave pretty soon and the sun was burning anyway.

Last walk on Sairee Beach

Got back to the guesthouse, got someone from the staff to call a pickup truck for us and we were on our way to the pier for our 3pm ferry. Not able to share any video of the bumpy ride back to the pier at the moment given the speed of our Internet connection in Myanmar. At the pier, we waited more than anticipated. The Lomprayah high speed catamaran arrived delayed but we eventually boarded. Onboard, it was evident that there were way more passengers than allowed. On the boat it was marked maximum 400 passengers (that’s how many life vests they had supposedly), we estimated there were 600 passengers. Tomorrow night is  the full moon and as a result the ferry was full of young people going to Ko Phangan to attend the full moon party. We ended up not having a seat (like many others). Kind of ironic given that the TV next to the food station was repeatedly playing ads bragging about the fact that Lomprayah always has seats for all its passengers!

Inside the high speed catamaran to Ko Samui

The boat ride was miserable, by far the worst boat ride I have ever been on. The waves were big and it certainly did not help that the boat was going so fast and that we were standing by one door next to a trash can. Members of the staff started distributing sickness bags left and right. The first victims were tiny Asian girls, visibly a little too shaken. But soon after, much larger guys started falling as well. That’s when I went and did my own little thing in the bathroom, away from the crowds. Unlike me, Mimi was fine, which impressed me especially knowing what she had eaten for lunch. Long story short, it sucked and lasted way longer than it was supposed to. Reaching Ko Phangan (the first stop on the way to Ko Samui) took forever and when we got there most of the young people got off and we were finally able to find seats. Funny moment, one of the crew member (a lady) came to me and said:

Full Moon Party? Ko Phangan? Get off here!

before seeing my Ko Samui sticker and smiling, seemingly embarrassed. I guess that’s what I get for not shaving for a while and wearing a backwards baseball cap.

The ride from Ko Phangan to Ko Samui was less rocky and much shorter. A good thing since we were already so behind our schedule. Our boat ticket included a shuttle transfer to our hotel. About 45 minutes later we reached our destination: the Koh Samui Renaissance Resort & Spa. The hotel’s lobby was not as grand as that of Le Meridien we stayed at in Phuket but we were welcomed by the staff just as well, with mango sorbets rather than lychee juices. We did not pay a dime for our two nights stay (using the Marriott points we had accumulated for years) but were supposed to stay in a deluxe room. We were asked if we wanted to upgrade to a pool villa instead, for 3,000 THB or about $80 a night. After hearing the villa’s description, it was an easy choice to make, and we quickly realized it was the best hotel upgrade one could dream of.

Each villa is surrounded by terracotta walls for full privacy and features a large terrace surrounded by lush vegetation with plunge pool and two sun beds. The interior area has very high ceiling throughout, large windows, a king size bed and an oversized sunken bath with rain shower. Enough said, just check out the night tour of the villa (see also the day time video posted on the next day’s blog post)

We went for dinner at Tawann, the only hotel’s restaurant that serves Thai food. We realized that this hotel is also a lot smaller than Le Meridien, judging from the total number of tables in the restaurant and the number of other customers that were dining at that time. Our waitress was a ladyboy, the second one we encountered today. For me it was great to discover that ladyboys have the option to work jobs that have nothing to do with the entertainment industry. The other ladyboy we saw worked the ticket counter at Lomprayah ferry in Ko Tao. Before actually visiting Thailand, I thought they were more heavily discriminating against in terms of job opportunities but from our (admittedly limited) experience it does not seem to be the case.

After dinner, we got to relax in our own swimming pool, tired by yet another day of travel but looking forward to our two last lazy beach days before leaving for the craziness of Bangkok.

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