We arrived back in Bangkok around 11 on the night of Christmas day. We were pretty tired but knew we had to get up at 4 to catch a bus from the seediest part of Bangkok at 6 am. We had a little trouble getting a taxi at that time of day but made it down to Khaosan Road on time. We were a little leary about being dropped in there at that 5:30 am, especially seeing the drunk college kids still wandering the streets, but we finally made it safely on the bus and headed off. It was to take us 7 hours south to Chumphon, where we would catch a high speed catamaran to Koh Tao. We opted for the 1.5 hour ride instead of the 6 hour ride (go figure). We slept, read, shared ipods and watched movies. We also talked ALOT to some overly friendly New Yorkers, who, to their credit, managed to convince the seemingly unconvinceable attendant to make a brief stop at Starbux. The rest of the ride and the ferry were uneventful. Janice and the kids rode inside on the way across the water but I spent a bunch of time on deck, enjoying the scenery.
We arrived to a very beautiful little island with crystal clear water. We took a short taxi (back of a pick up) ride to Koh Tao Resort and it was awesome. Room was great and feet from the beach. The pool was really nice and was an infinity pool (and was closed for the first 2 days, but we got to go up to the "Paradise Zone" up the hill and use their pool). The best part about the place was the restaurant. The waiters, especially one man, were so awesome, friendly and nice. The food was pretty decent too. We had breakfast included every morning (custom made omelettes) and then usually ate dinner there as well. We considered going to other places for dinner but realized there was probably nothing better.
Our stay on Koh Tao was marked by the following highlights:
1) A longtail trip around the island. We went with 2 other couples and stopped at 4 good snorkel spots. At the first spot we got to swim with a couple 5 foot black tipped reef sharks. Bombing along in the longtail was lots of fun, but we weren't too impressed when we arrived back at the beach 2 hours early. That's the way they do business in Thailand.
2) kayaking to some pretty bays near our beach, past some amazing rock formations including Buddah Rock.
3) A second longtail trip to a couple nearby bays where
we found some amazing fish and corals and were also left bobbing in the water 500 m. from shore while the longtail driver "ran an errand."
4) a game of mini golf on the stupidest golf course ever. Most holes were ridiculously impossible and the place was alive with mosquitoes.
5) sunset romantic dinner for 2 at the Paradise zone restaurant.
It was an amazingly relaxing time. We spent lots of time going between deck chairs, the pool and the ocean. Even though many people said that prices had gone up in Koh Tao, relatively speaking, it was still quite cheap and having the waiter deliver drinks to you at poolside or beach side was the same price as the menu. I think the kids were in shock when we let them order banana milkshakes direct to their deck chairs but for less than $2, who would say no. We felt quite spoiled. Koh Tao was amazingly beautiful. We were really sad to leave. My one regret was that I had pictured kayaking around sea caves and those big volcanic sea stacks you see in Thailand pictures, but those are not on this side of the penninsula.....may have to go there one day :)