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The Journey Through The Koh Tao Island Continues…

12 mins. read

I’m pretty sure, last week we just couldn’t get enough of Koh Tao – an idyllic tropical island paradise and one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets. This week, we bring to you a sequel to Shreya Ashtekar’s story, wherein we have Tanmayi Gokhale who walks us through their Koh Tao diaries and shares with us a few more interesting stories from their much-exciting trip. Shreya, Tanmayi, and their yet another friend Vinas Umbarkar are in fact the three musketeers who as a trio had visited Koh Tao and together weaved in some truly magical memories at the island that would last a lifetime.

What comes to your mind when you think of Thailand? Probably the two places that dominate our perception of this first international travel destination for most Indians are Bangkok and Pattaya. Last week, Shreya just broke this stereotype by introducing us to Koh Tao – the hidden gem of Thailand. It’s definitely not a destination that you would find in the itinerary of a popular Thailand tour package. Let’s read on this blog to know what Tanmayi has got to say as she replies to our questions… Excited, aren’t you?!

1. Apart from scuba diving what really made you zero in on Koh Tao for your holiday?

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In fact, earlier we were planning Turkey. The plan was already in place, so much so that we had even applied for our leaves at work and those were even sanctioned. However, Pauravi, our friend, who was introduced to you by Shreya in her blog, who was staying in Koh Tao was soon to shift her base and we wanted to visit her while she’s still based at the island. So probably that was something that made us change our plans and we ended up zeroing in on Koh Tao.

However, Koh Tao was as alien to us then as it still remains for most travellers. Nevertheless, the excitement had already gripped us. We knew about Koh Samui though, which is a more popular and commercialized travel destination. Learning about Koh Tao was truly intriguing for what we came to know from the little research we did about the island was that it was a popular destination for scuba diving, happening full moon parties, some really beautiful and opulent hotel and resort properties and certainly a calmer and relaxed getaway destination for us.

Moreover, Turkey being a much more popular holiday destination, very well connected by all the major airlines of the world, most of which even have a stop-over at Istanbul on their way to Europe or the USA, we didn’t mind keeping it waiting for the time being. Turkey can be easily done, anytime we wish to, but this time we thought of ticking off Koh Tao, which was certainly a wild-card yet irresistible entry on our bucket list.

2. Can you tell us more about food and shopping in Koh Tao?

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As we all know, Thai cuisine has taken the foodies in India by a storm of late. With so many new Thai restaurants opening up in our cities, popular and special delicacies like Thai curry have become a hot favourite of many of us. However, nothing can match up to digging in that authentic local Thai curry and rice in Thailand itself while you are sitting on one of the beaches! Probably that was the most delectable part of our trip, quite literally! We used to just relish a new curry combined with distinct variants of rice every day on our holiday. To just complete our delightful experience were some stunning views that we took in while we enjoyed our meals.

One dessert that really made its way to my heart was the ice cream. It was the tender coconut ice-cream but mind you, not as simple as most of us would have ever eaten. It was indeed a very unique and interesting serving style, wherein the ice-cream was served in a coconut shell with the flesh still stuck to it. So basically what you scoop up out of the shell is the ice cream along with the real fresh tender coconut itself. You would have never ever eaten such a rich and delicious tender coconut ice cream before. Melting in my mouth, this ice-cream was my love at first lick… I’m drooling already! J

Talking about shopping, I am not that a shopaholic. Moreover, as Shreya had already mentioned, having visited Thailand before, we didn’t mind giving the places to visit in Bangkok a miss. However, when it’s Thailand, it goes without saying, shopping has to be amongst your top to-do things. A shopper’s paradise for sure, Thailand offers a variety of good quality products at truly affordable prices. For e.g. on your way to Koh Tao, in Bangkok you find the very famous Khaosan street where you can find everything from the tiniest safety pins to some of the most expensive diamonds. And then, of course, there are numerous shopping malls where you can yield to your shopping temptations. Therefore, Bangkok makes for a perfect shopping transit destination, even if you have already been to the city and are visiting any other off-beat destination in Thailand. The on-arrival visa and close proximity of shopping complexes from the airport make it even the more feasible and irresistible. Therefore, for all the shopaholics out there, it’s highly recommended that on your way back from Koh Tao, you take a short Bangkok tour package of a day or two and shop to your heart’s content.

Coming to shopping at Koh Tao, although, islands don’t make for the best places to shop since things are a little expensive owing to their transportation costs involved, still at Koh Tao you can definitely look out for island souvenirs like coconut necklaces and other beach essentials and accessories like shorts, tops and T-shirts, swimwear, flip-flops, beach towels, sarongs, sunglasses, hats, bags, and even beach games.

Being a water sports destination, the Mae Haad beach area on the island houses four big stores offering all equipment and accessories for diving and snorkelling. Apart from these, there are also Fresh Markets, where you can look out for local foods, tropical fruits, fresh organic vegetables to indulge in if you plan to stay on the island for a little longer. Fruits cut into pieces or blended up making a fresh fruit shake at small roadside shops is also a must-try in Koh Tao.

3. Is scuba diving exciting and also scary at the same time? What was your experience?

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It was a déjà vu moment for me since I had already tried my hands at scuba diving earlier in Andaman. However, for the first-timers, it can certainly be a strange combination of excitement and fear, just as one would experience when indulging in any other adventure sport. What helped us keep our cool was the fact that we were in the comfortable company of our friends and most importantly had our dear friend Pauravi - a master scuba diver herself, by our side. Moreover, before the actual diving at the Shark Bay, we even had an hour of training session near our hotel, wherein we could practice and get acclimatized to the underwater conditions.

In the beginning, one experiences the pressure of water and it manifests itself in various forms. For e.g. I could experience a little pain in my ears. But it is not something to be worried about. It’s just a momentary condition. What you see down there is absolute magic. For a moment I felt I was princess Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. We feasted our eyes on the underwater plants, fishes, turtles, beautiful stones, and the numerous incredible shades of water. It instantly reminded me of that iconic scene from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and once out of the water, my eyes were filled with tears – with tears of joy and contentment, similar to what Hrithik Roshan had experienced in the movie. It was that moment when reel had become real for me…. I was that overwhelmed.

4. Did you have any interaction with the locals in Koh Tao? How did you find it?

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Probably hospitality is in the DNA of Thais. No wonder, Thailand is one of the most tourist-friendly destinations in the world. I could sense that Thais have a matriarchal culture and women have immense respect and dignity in the society. Also, with literally no crime taking place, Koh Tao is one of the safest and peaceful travel destinations. The locals are quite content and happy with their lives and this contentment and peace of mind manifest in their behaviour and conduct, which is so warm and friendly. Thais always wear a broad smile on their face. Moreover, what’s really commendable is people are aware that tourism is a major contributor to Thailand’s economy and therefore they value the tourists in their country and treat them with immense love and respect.

Yet another interesting fact is about the deep connection between the Indian and Thai cultures. In Thailand, many people believe that Ramayana indeed unfolded in their land.  You would be amazed to know, festivals similar to ours like Holi, Diwali, etc. are also celebrated in Thailand. Of course, due to cultural and geographical influences, their names and way of celebration may differ, but the basic concepts behind the festivals and their celebration still remain the same.

5. It’s said, ‘Travelling in itself is a spiritually elevating experience’… What’s your take on this?

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For me, travel and meditation are synonyms for both these states, help us delve a bit deeper in the quest of our true self. Every travel experience of mine has changed me for the better.
Travel indeed makes us realise there are different strokes for different folks and resultantly make us aware of the rich diversity of people that makes up our big beautiful world. Getting up close and personal with so many rich and varied cultures, art forms, history, cuisines, language, traditions, and more is indeed such a humbling experience. It simply crushes our ego like anything and makes us realise, we are such a tiny part of this huge infinite world. It has truly helped me remain grounded. Travelling has taught me to be grateful for everything in life. Is spirituality anything different?! Therefore, as you rightly said, travelling is definitely a spiritually elevating experience in many ways. I can never imagine my life without it.

So this was Tanmayi Gokhale, sharing her Koh Tao island tour diary with us today. Stay tuned for many more such exciting and captivating stories in the days ahead.

This blog is a sequel to the preceding story ‘My Journey Through The Koh Tao Island’. To read part one of the story, click here: https://bit.ly/2F7g3KR

August 05, 2020

Author

Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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