Late to the party in Koh Tao, Thailand
On the remote island of Koh Tao, I sat perched over the warm blue bay listening to Didgeridoos echoing from our neighbors’ bamboo hut. Warm water lapped at the boulders we were perched on. Small fishing boats dotted the bay as the sun slunk low. In the moist heat it felt like I was floating in an expansive womb, cuddled by sound and sensation.
I’d traveled to Thailand with my fiancee for a three week trek. We were thrown into the congestion and crowds of Bangkok after an series of flights from Portland, Oregon, a few days earlier. As he was struggling with a lung infection that the smog of the city encouraged, we decided to get out of the city quickly.
On the train south along the peninsula he slept as I drank in the beauty and strangeness of this gentle country. At each stop a small covey of vendors would wind up the aisle with all manner of tempting ‘eats’. We snacked on fresh coconut juice and roasted nuts until we arrived at our destination.
The infection was getting worse. Worried, we asked at the Chumphon station if there were any health clinics open that afternoon. Within an hour we’d found help and had a prescription for antibiotics that salvaged the rest of the trip. After a night’s rest at a local hotel we ventured onto a large speed boat with a gaggle of international hippies and bounced for hours until the small island of Koh Tao welcomed us.
At Sairee Beach there were no roads, only boat traffic to take you in and out of the various guest houses. All that has changed now but the island is still sparsely populated compared to the larger, nearby Koh Samui on this eastern side of the peninsula.
The small harbor had a couple of restaurants and a scattering of backpackers lounging in the heat. We selected our lodging and were off to the bamboo hut hotel that became home for the next four days. It was there I first heard live Didgeridoos and lingered at sunset.
Soon we discovered that we were the only Americans in the area. It was surprising to meet others from Australia, Canada and all over Europe. I felt like I was late to the party.
That feeling remains with me today as I’ve stepped into to a larger community of travelers longing to wander the world or get ‘off continent’. If I can’t be traveling, I love hearing about it and sharing the experiences. It’s fueling my desire to host travel Meetups in San Diego and connect with those who have been to some of the places I dream about visiting. With that desire, I recently signed on as the new host of the San Diego chapter of Meet, Plan, Go, the organization that helps adventurers of all ages take career breaks and long term travel. It’s been a lot of work but as with all things you have a passion for, it’s fun and nourishes my spirit. Both my monthly lunches with the Travel Well Meetup and the Career Breaks / Long Term Travel Meetups are open perhaps I’ll see you there soon.
I hope to return to Koh Tao one day, especially now that I’m an adequate scuba diver. Once I get over there I’m sure it’ll be difficult to return again. Perhaps I’ll take the Meet, Plan, Go challenge and be writing as a nomad once again.
Copyright Elaine Masters, travel writer, award-winning author of Drivetime Yoga and Flytime Yoga. Get where you’re going feeling great!