Koh Phangan & Koh Tao

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Koh Phangan is known for its full-moon party debauchery. Luckily for my tastes, when I went it was low-season and this otherwise party-hard island was calm and quiet. As the boat pulled up to the dock, I was instantly mesmerized by the blue water of a clarity that I so rarely get to see. I rented a motorbike, found a guesthouse and set about exploring the different beaches around the island.

And that defined my time there. I spent a lot of that time reflecting and processing some of the events of my trip and thinking about the people I’d met.  My mind kept going to the lesson of impermanence that this trip keeps teaching me time and again. My favorite beaches were Chalokam and Bottle beach, I had to commandeer a boat to get to the latter. I even enjoyed Haad Rin beach, wehere the full-moon party takes place. I took a couple walks along that beach at night, looking out at the stars and listening to the gentle waves. Everyday was the same: Food, beach, food, beach, food, sleep…

My time on Koh Tao was much more eventful. Koh Tao is know for it’s scuba diving schools, and as soon as I arrived I had picked a small school to start me on my way to open-water diving certification. I stayed at Spicy Tao hostel, a nice out-of-the way place with a really friendly staff. I met some really cool people there, and in between my diving days I went out with a few of them to eat or grab a drink.

Scuba diving was an amazing and very alien experience for me. Growing up in the desert, I wasn’t around water much except in the summers when I’d hit the pool on the hottest days when the sun was really beating me down. Being underwater and having to breathe normally took a little getting used to. Once I felt a little more relaxed under the water, I was in awe. It’s another world down there, swimming close to the coral, the fish of different neon colors, the giant clams. Sometimes I would look up, unable to see the shimmer of the surface. I must say I didn’t enjoy some of the training like taking my mask completely off at the bottom and putting it back on, and clearing the water with my nose. Other than that, I enjoyed and completed my training and am now certified to dive in open-water up to 18 m.

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