This island update will be nice and (KIND OF) short because really, what do you do on islands other than relax, eat mangoes and drink coke, or is that just me?
The first Island we went to was called Koh Tao, Koh means island in Thai, which explains a lot when you look at a map of Thailand! Koh Tao was the most beautiful quiet little island, the locals say Koh Tao is what Koh Samui was like 10 years ago. We arrived to our villa up on the hill and it was easily the most beautiful place I have ever seen, I mean it's almost indescribable. My father in law, his girlfriend and my mother in law were all with us and my father in law, John, really outdid himself with the location, you could see the whole island and what felt like the whole world from our little porch and pool. I'm emotional just thinking about that gorgeous place!
One of the funnest parts of the whole trip has been renting scooters on the islands, our first scooter rental was here in Tao and it was scary at first, but soon became second nature. Blake and I went around the island up some abandoned roads and hills and found the most amazing views, it is incredible how gorgeous this island can look from every angle. Jackie, my mother in law relaxed that day and my other in laws were getting scuba certified for our big scuba days coming up.
I NEVER thought I'd be one to scuba dive, and DEFINITELY didn't like I'd love it, but I totally did! Blake and I got certified in Utah before we left (while I had stomach flu, BAD COMBO) and I didn't necessarily enjoy the class, but I didn't hate it, so I trudged onward. The first day we were supposed to go dive there was a storm, and we thought for sure we wouldn't be going out, but you know, island life, so the boat went out anyway. It shocked me that once you're in the water you wouldn't know if there was a snow storm up above, it is so serene and calm underwater! I'm claustrophobic, so I thought I'd be in full panic mode but it was the complete opposite, I felt so free and confident underwater! It went so well that I thought the worst was over, but little did I know that storm was picking up as we were coming up from the water. We were on our way back and I began to get so sea sick, the sweet instructors assistant, Dani, held up a towel for me to puke behind, and let's just say I fed the fishes real nice that day! The second day was better weather, no puking and just as fun! My other mom in law, Karen had a bit of a hard time, but she was a champ and it was such a blast. If anyone is planning on going to Koh Tao I HIGHLY recommend diving with Master Divers, they are so knowledgeable and are very cautious about making sure everyone is feeling safe and comfortable before throwing anyone out into the ocean. They even have a super affordable "Discover Diving" course where you don't need to be certified but they take you out with a guide all day and show you some incredible diving without the commitment to be certified! 10/10 recommend.
The next couple of days we ate some amazing Thai food, found some secluded beaches and relaxed like it was our full time job.
John and Karen left before we did, back to Portland on the 15th in the morning and we left to another island that afternoon. Jackie, Blake and I Arrived in Koh Samui after a few hours on a speedboat, and much like any other transportation port, this one happened to be a boat port, there are hundreds of taxis, tuk-tuks and shuttle vans trying to take you to your hotel, our plan was to get to some Wi-Fi look up where the house was where we were staying and then find a reasonable taxi because typically around the ports the taxis are not affordable, they know to take advantage of lost desperate travelers. Pro tip: if it's physically possible, hold out as long and as far away from the ports as you can to get transportation! (The only place we didn't get ripped off was Cambodia!) anyway as soon as we got off of our boat we were followed by a taxi company and haggled to be given a ride, their price was crazy expensive and they could not figure out how to get to our place, and we couldn't shake them, they kept following us! Finally one of their drivers figured out our address and took us, but then once we reached the hill where our house was she said the hill was too steep for her car (it definitely wasn't because we cleared it multiple times on a tiny scooter) so we had to walk up a decently steep hill, luggage and all. I'm counting that hill climb as my stair master/leg day for the rest of the year.
Samui was very low key and relaxing, most days were spent looking around the island, eating Thai food and finding the best Nutella pancake stands (another pro tip: if you go to Thailand eat as many of those as you can, they are DELICIOUS). Blake, my mother in law Jackie and I got this super fun boat tour to Anthong national park where we got to snorkel, kayak, eat a delicious lunch at a local village and relax. That's something I would definitely suggest if you're visiting Thailand. It's a fun distraction from just laying on the beach and the price wasn't too hefty either, I believe we ended up paying about 50$ a person for an all day activity, including transportation and food. Some of my favorite things about Ko Samui were being around the locals and exploring with the family. We happened upon this great local fair where there were local food carts (sounds sketchy but SO delicious), we ate at the same cart every day where we got what we THINK was called Lab or Larb, either way this little Thai grandma made it and it was heavenly! Our other favorite place was the mall on the east side of the island I believe it was called Festival, it was so nice and big, with all the shopping you could want, but truly the best part was the Swensons ice cream shop. Take my word for it, they have this chocolate ice cream called Sticky Chewy Chocolate, and I know it sounds like a mess, but paired with a crepe it is the most wonderful thing your taste buds will ever be a part of. The best news is that I'm pretty sure there are Swensons in the US so you might not need to go to Thailand to try that!
We got to meet some wonderful people while we were there, both tourists and locals alike. Some of our friends came around with us (even though we haven't forgiven ourselves for making them crash their scooter, Danika if you read this I AM SO SORRY!) and that was one of the best parts, feeling social and bonding with others is definitely where Blake and I thrive!
Thailand was so wonderful, the 2 weeks we were there felt like 2 days! I would go back in a heartbeat. Definitely expect to spend more money that you think, as the locals are not too keen on bartering with tourists, prepare your bartering skills, save room in your suit case for goodies, practice your scootering and bring/buy a fanny pack (believe me WAY easier than a bag) and I promise your time in Thailand will be a blast! Sadly our SD card from the trip was lost when we arrived back in the USA so these are the few pictures I have from the trip! ENJOY!