Nemo Found

Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
Trip End Jun 11, 2011

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday, we had an early wake-up because we were being picked up at 8:30am for our snorkel tour. Although Ko Tao is known for scuba diving, neither of us have certification and we're not really interested in the expense of it for the little we would actually dive.  We’d heard you can see spectacular coral and fish just by snorkeling so this was a great option for us.  After enjoying another lovely hotel breakfast (most hotels with included breakfasts have been limiting with tiny juice glasses, no extra frills, etc, but this place was fantastic – refills on juice and everything including toast!) we boarded the taxi songtheaw to the Pier where we’d arrived.  Once there, a lady looked at our ticket and tied a green string around our wrists.  She pointed to a boat so we made our way over to a boat that had two levels and benches with a few people already on board.  We took a seat on the bench and listened to them talk about their party adventures the night before (they were British so we understood them) and waited (for what we didn’t know, no one really told us anything). 

About half an hour into this something happened and a truckload of like 30+ people start to climb on board.  I don’t know where they will all sit as there isn’t nearly enough room and someone makes a comment that you can sit upstairs.  At first we were comfortable on our bench and I had even squeezed over to Dave so that there was another seat to my right open for someone.  Well this gaggle of French girls about 16 years old climb on board and they all have to sit together (all 12 of them) and so they’re lining the boat near Dave and one comes over and just stands in front of Dave without asking anything or pointing – she obviously wants us to shove over so she can sit on that side and now poor Dave has to sit in the middle bench.  They have a silent stand-off for a few minutes before Dave gives in and shoves me over so he’s in the middle.  We decide we can’t take a whole day of this and head upstairs.  I’m not very happy as there aren’t seats on the top deck but we sit on our towels and lean against the back of the boat and have a nice breeze (and no Frenchies), so it’s okay.

Finally, it’s now well past 9:30am (so glad we had an 8:30am pick up) and the boat finally fires up and starts to leave the pier.  We enjoy a lovely boat ride around the South side of the island to Sharks Bay which is just around the corner from our hotel.  We’re handed snorkel gear (and told not to lose it) and then they practically shove us out into the water.  A few of the guides tell us that there are black sharks in the water here, you have to look straight down to find them skimming the ground and it’s fairly deep.  I start to paddle away from the boat when I realize I just can’t catch my breath.  I look over at Dave (in his bright yellow bathers he’s easy to spot today) and he’s struggling staying afloat as well.  I think this will be a very long day if we are working this hard to stay above water so we head back to the boat for life jackets which help us immensely.    Now we’re set to look for sharks.  I was torn – part of me was really excited to see one and the other part of me was super scared that I would.  I paddled away from the rest of the group (sharks don’t like lots of noise or distractions) but not too far and started searching the ground.  I used my game-finding skills Van taught us in South Africa for looking through the bush for animals and before you know it I spot a ginormous black shark slowly making his (or her) way across the ocean floor.  I get so excited I jump out of the water and yell and scream for Dave to come look and by the time we get back underwater he’s gone.  But I’ll never forget seeing it live.  Meanwhile, we’re already starting to see fantastic coral and other fish I’d never seen before.  I’m starting to feel like I’m in one of those Discovery channel shows about life under the sea!

A few minutes later I spot a smaller black shark and I point it out to Dave and a guide who was nearby and they both got a good look.  I’ve now seen 2 black sharks with my own eyes!  I’m pretty excited and feel as though I’ve had enough and seen it all at Sharks Bay so I head back to the boat.  Just as I start to do so they blow a whistle so that everyone returns.  We head up top to our corner on the top deck and enjoy the ride across the island to the next snorkel stop.  In all, we stop about 3 more times in various bays, working our way around Ko Tao Island.    We see the most beautiful live coral that we have to be careful not to touch or accidentally stand on.  We also see heaps of fish of all different shapes, sizes and colors that are so bright and vivid and come right up to you.  Dave and I have been snorkeling in Hawaii and the Bahamas and this is by far the most amazing snorkel time we’ve ever had.  We’re really enjoying this tour.  After the 2nd snorkel stop it is lunchtime so we stay anchored and they hand out little Rubbermaid containers with rice, egg and a spicy chicken stir-fry for lunch.  I’m quite tired of white, starchy rice by now but the lunch is delicious and we eat up all of it.  After 2 more snorkel stops we head out to Pha Nguyen island, an island just next to Ko Tao with just 3 resorts all connected by sandbars.  We have a snorkel stop here and we’re snorkeling while the scuba divers are also diving so it was cool to watch them do their thing also. 

After finishing up the snorkeling, we were taken to the beach part of Pha Nguyen island and had a few hours to enjoy the beach and the beach bar.  From far away the beach looked like a fantastic white sand beach and the water was clear but up close the sand was pretty shelly so you had to wear shoes and the water was fairly murky with lots of crabs and sea cucumbers and other unidentifiable sea creatures.  It was a really hot day so even sitting in the shade from the umbrella was too hot so after a bit we headed to the beach restaurant for an afternoon snack overlooking the pier.  While ordering, I noticed that the TV was on and all the Thai workers were sitting around watching it – it was a Thai reporter with a huge hat on her head reporting live from the Royal Wedding in London.  Even all the way across the world on a tiny island in Thailand the Royal Wedding is a big deal!  I personally had planned to watch it live later in the day after the tour when we were home.  Anyway, after paying for our overpriced shake and water we headed back to the boat for the return trip back to the pier and then taxi transfer to our hotel.   All in all, an excellent tour where we saw loads of fish and live coral for a very reasonable price.

We arrived back at the hotel just in time for the Royal Wedding festivities to start so I toggled between BBC and CNN International (I really liked Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper’s commentary) to watch the entire celebration from the first glimpse of Kate’s dress through their return to the Palace for formal portraits.  Poor Dave was outnumbered and resigned himself to relax in the air-con room all evening.  We had thought about ordering pizza delivery for dinner but it seemed to not be as easy as it was advertised when we tried talking to the front desk, so we just enjoyed another lovely dinner in the hotel restaurant.  I was happy because we returned to the room just in time for the Royal Family’s appearance on the balcony.  What a lovely way to cap off a great day!
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mom on

had a huge spider crawling on my monitor and thought of you.

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