Haadtien Beach Resort – Koh Tao

We got the ferry to a close by island called Koh Tao, it is world known for diving and snorkeling.

We arrived at our new home, Haad Tien Beach Resort which is in the south of the island on the shark bay. Some shark sightings would be exciting!

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We were very hard to please having just stayed at The Four Seasons, so everything seemed mediocre although it wasn’t (I know I was being a Princess again). This hotel is where most people who come to Koh Tao would go to if they wanted a spot of luxury and a change of scenery from all the divers’ dives the island is bombarded with. We had a getaway villa overlooking the big pool and the sea, but is was nowhere near as secluded nor private as what we have been used to on this holiday, I am so unimpressed that I don’t even bother taking pictures of the inside, I know very snobby of me and I must admit I am a bit of a snob when it comes to my accommodation. I am quickly reminded that we are here to see some amazing fishes and hopefully turtles as well as reef sharks whilst snorkeling, so I quickly snap out of it.

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We enjoyed the beaming sun for the rest of the day as I was very keen to get as tanned as possible and get all the sun that I could in our last 2 days on the islands.

In the evening, we set off to a little restaurant called The Gallery, found on Tripadvisor.

This restaurant is run by a friendly and full of life diver/photographer/filmmaker called Chris and his wife. They have a gallery attached to the Thai restaurant where Chris’s photography is exhibited. Beautiful photos of the island, as well as various underwater life, are presented in huge frames which are very reasonably priced.

image The restaurant is cozy and buzzing, full of tourists and regulars. We ordered the recommended fried morning glory with yummy peanut sauce as well as deep fried calamari and for mains I ordered a red curry with seafood served in a young coconut and my babes ordered our favourite pineapple fried rice with chicken, prawns, egg and raisins served in a pineapple – food was fresh, full of zest and flavour and very reasonably priced.

imageOver dinner, we couldn’t help but wonder what Chris’s story is as he is an English guy who now owns this Thai restaurant, gallery and a luxury spa with his Thai wife. After dinner, we had the pleasure to meet and have a chat with him in the gallery as we were admiring his works of art which is pure talent. He described himself as a treasure hunter that never grew up. He came to Koh Tao to wreck dive, over the years he and his team have found 100’s of undiscovered shipwrecks and they make documentaries through his production company about them. Chris also has a diving school where he takes celebrities and other curious divers to most secret places in the ocean that tell a thousand stories. His most rewarding find was a submarine which was never found by the navy after the Second World War and after 60 years he found it in his first dive following information from local fisherman, members of the family of the lost sailors were also present. The oldest crewman on board the submarine was only 23 at the time it went missing, I loved listening to his stories.

Photography is his hobby and passion and he likes to keep it that way as opposed to it becoming his profession. Amazing guy with an amazing story and purpose in life, if you are ever in Koh Tao go and visit him and eat the delicious food at his restaurant, buy some of his breath-taking prints and go diving with him as it would be a dive you would probably never forget, no matter how experienced you are.  www.thegallerykohtao.com

The next day we had a private boat booked for a snorkeling trip. We had a photo shoot first thing in the morning then a hearty breakfast and off we went on our traditional longtail fishing boat to an underwater adventure with our very own captain, didn’t ask his name so we will call him Bob.

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The ocean was as warm as hot milk, with its crystal clear waters which were full of life and beauty.

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We visited 4 different snorkeling spots. Meh, I was so over the parrot fish by the second dive we did as, it was as common as chicken shops in South London.

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My biggest find was a titan triggerfish. It was casually swimming along by the coral, so I dived under the water to take some great shots of it, and it was posing for me, what a photogenic fish! Another snorkeller noticed that I found a treasure and she swam up to us but by this time I got my shot. My marine biologist was very impressed with my find and my photo’s but only for both of us to find out at a later stage that these same Titan Triggerfish have been attacking people in the Koh Tao waters! When we googled the fish, we saw all the bad press about various attacks and how you should not approach it and stay clear of it. And there is me chasing it down for some pictures.

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For dinner, we went down to the beach on the West coast of the island to watch the sunset. I had my mind on having a fresh catch of the day and having dinner on the beach. Koh Tao is full of cheap and cheerful places with music blasting where hippies and divers get smashed on cheap beer and cocktails and the setting is very laid back and easy going, not something that I had in mind.

One place caught my eye which displayed all their catch of the day which they BBQ and serve with a BBQ’d corn on cob and salad, but the only problem was they didn’t have proper sitting area and the music was too loud and everybody was getting drunk and that is not my cup of tea. We wondered all the way to the bottom of the beach, where there was a resort with a restaurant going up a mountain but still on the beach. Candle lit with proper chairs that we can actually sit in gracefully in our nice evening outfits and dinner jazz creating a romantic setting, it was my kind of place. So I thought.

On the menu they only had seabass and barracuda, not what I had my heart set on, I wanted snapper. I asked the waitress if they had the snapper and she said seabass and snapper were the same fish. I didn’t bother arguing about as I knew it wasn’t the same fish I just asked if they can show me the fish. I went over to the kitchen and the chef took out a frozen seabass out of them chippy shop freezers, washed it and banged it on the plate and presented it to me as if that’s their catch of the day. Enough said. I came back to the table and said we are leaving, with just about finishing our already ordered drinks we slapped a bill and left. I hate when people try and take me for a mug!

I had to have a moment with the ocean and asked why is it that I think I can’t enjoy the loud places where people are getting drunk and are technically enjoying themselves and I came up with the fact that I can’t stand drunken slob kebabs and don’t want to be around them but never the less I decided that I wanted to give that BBQ place another look.

We took off our shoes and sat on the sand, we did have a small rug and some bin bags to add to the super relaxed setting with just 2 meters from the ocean we had live entertainment, a fire dancer. I ordered my snapper actually fresh one and not frozen and soaked in the blissful simplicity of the setting and the atmosphere. My snapper was ah-ma-zing. 

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Another epic day, and it is our final day by the ocean. Tomorrow we fly back to Bangkok, the overcrowded busy city of people trying to keep their heads above water when all I want to do is keep mine as deep in it as I can.

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Ocean feels like home, is everything I wish to be. Majestic, wild and beautifully deep.

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