We disembarked from our overnight ferry and stepped onto the shores of Koh Tao (Turtle Island) off the east coast of Thailand. Despite the lush hills and palm tree lined shores I was seeing, I was slightly disappointed. There was more rocky cove and less sandy beach than I had been hoping for. We decided to walk north to see what we found. Three kilometers later we winded our way down the path to Bow Thong Resort and found what I was looking for: a little slice of paradise.
After quickly settling into our little bungalow, we threw on our swim suits and hopped into a lounge chair. Given the beach bumming in Phuket in the days previous, our trip was feeling more like a vacation than a travel adventure. It’s good to take a break sometimes.
We spent the day alternating between dipping into the cool, clear waters and hiding from the scorching sun under our umbrella. Since there was wifi on the beach we took the opportunity to call our families and gloat, I mean, let them know we were safe.
The sunset was brilliant and beautiful. The colors merged between sky and sea in a fiery glow. As the day closed it also marked a transition for me. The next morning I woke up and was officially one year older.
I’m not going to lie. Spending you birthday in paradise is a wonderful thing. I started the day out right with brunch at the oddly named 995 Duck. The pork and duck noodles were the best meal we had on the island.
Next we boarded a bright orange, blue and green taxi boat for the 10 minute ride to a little strip of sand called Koh Nang Yuan. The coral-strewn sand bar separates two crystal bays punctuated by small, lush hills.
From our staked out square of sand we watched diving classes, which is the reason most people come to Koh Tao. But today we were part of the snorkeling crowd. This group was entertaining to watch, especially the Chinese mom almost drowning her son with so much floating gear he could hardly move.
When we made it into the water with our masks I was awestruck. The fish were yellow backed with little neon strips of warpaint under their eyes. Black with orange stripes. Bright blue. Neon yellow, green and pink. But the real show stopper was the plant and reef life. The variety of coral from leaf like shapes to stalagmite growths to flat geometric patterns covering rocks. We even saw brilliant purple anemones as big as basketballs. I really wish I had Nalat’s underwater camera to capture it all!
After a short hike, we boarded the taxi back to Koh Tao. I will not soon forget this picture perfect birthday.
But what is a birthday without cake? Fortunately a British expat opened a shop to ensure that anyone requiring baked sweets was not left behind. I enjoyed a very satisfying carrot cake, making me a very happy birthday girl.
How does it get any better? Another glorious sunset, mango cocktails on a candlelit beach…let’s just say Koh Tao was everything I’d hoped for and more. It was the perfect place to celebrate my birthday as well as the big 3-0 (that’s the number of countries we have visited in our lives – not the number of years quite yet!) Already, country number 31 is in our sights as the temples of Angkor beckon.