The lazy day combined with two naps and a great sleep two nights running meant I was up early, shuffling things into sensible piles for packing later on. We had plenty of time but I felt the need anyway just to pull thing together and take time over brushing my teeth and the small things that we should make sure we make time for whilst on holiday where they become occasional pleasures at home. Breakfast followed the same format as the day before, but I couldn't quite face it, something about the sweetness of the bread meant I had a fried egg and some small pieces of sausage before calling it off.
The bus would collect us at 11:30. We were down and sat on the steps to the hotel just after 11. There's nothing new in my bag and by now everything should fit in its place but no - it came to the last few very neatly organised items and my wash bag would not fit. There's a special kind of anger reserved for inanimate objects of this kind. I push a few of the deeper layers down in the bag. They shift a little and everything fits, snugly.
Starting to wonder whether the bus will come at all, a mini van pulls in and toots its horn. We are ushered into the vehicle at speed and realise very quickly from the other hotels that the driver stops at for mere moments, that he is taking no prisoners.
We are deposited alongside a coach and herded from one to the other, our tickets from F@me the day before are inspected and we are driven to the port. It's a lot further out of Chumphon (now affectionately known as Chumpton) than I thought it would be or than it looked on a map. I realise that distance in Thailand is as flexible as time.
Whilst we linger on the pier to the catamaran, the coaches we have just gotten off are reloaded with waiting people on the road behind us. On checking in we are handed stickers to go on our shirts and our bags and there is the slightly surreal feeling of being on a school trip. Once on the catamaran it quickly picks up speed as we cross the gulf. We pass the first small islands on the way out from the coast and then we are in the indeterminate space where both sea and sky meet, both are blue and the boundary is unclear. Every now and then there is a jolt as the catamaran hits the crest of a wave and we are thrown in to the next trough. I try to read but very quickly find the mix of trying to concentrate on the words with the he motion leaves me feeling warm and a bit sick. I choose to doze instead waking as our relatively quiet boat is boarded by a huge group of Chinese tourists. I was glad to get off the boat shortly after having extracted myself out of my seat, over and around a small child who didn't seem to comprehend we couldn't get around him and simply continued to kick his legs.
Heading for the back of the boat, we are gifted with a stroke of luck - we are disembarking from the back end. I watch the deck men pull the boat into the pier and tie off the ropes to hold us in place. We step into the sun and onto the pier. After clearing the hoards of taxi drivers we make a beeline for the nearest bar. No large Singha here, only its poor cousin Chang in big bottles. Needs must. The heat is astounding. Swapping seats to allow Sarah to top up her tan, we order Pad Thai and listen to the tales of an Essex girl talking to her mother about her mishaps on holiday. Cracked ribs, knocked out teeth, a bike accident. She had heard other people had let slip and so she wanted to tell mum the gossip quickly before it was heard from someone else... It went on for twenty minutes and was repeated with even greater embellishment to another friend or relative. Koh Tao attracts two things. Divers and backpackers who are stopping as part of an island hop tour and a full moon party.
Finishing lunch and paying our tab, the heat of mid afternoon has passed a little and we walk down the road towards our guest house. It's longer than the guide says, still right on the beach as we are on the biggest beach on the island, but not quite the 300 meters advertised. About 2km really to the door.. We have booked a room with a 'fan' but on being shown upstairs we find that is has an air-con unit fitted but no remote. A small hack with a pair of sun glasses and about five fiddly minutes gets it working.
The bottle of Tanqueray we have carried since duty free at Heathrow has slowly but steadily depleted throughout our trip. This morning we decanted what was left from the bottle into a small hip flask. We lay in our cooling room and toasted having gone from a trekking holiday across Thailand to a beach holiday.
It grew dark and cooler outside. Swapping sun cream for deet and head off into the night. We quickly find the beach as the last of the light is fading over the sea. Small boats sit close to the shore, the horizon is briefly golden and then the last deep shades of purple, fading to black. We walk along the waters edge getting sea water and sand in between our toes and head towards a restaurant under a tree, strung with lights. Two cold drinks are brought to the table and we look out over the bay, sinking slightly into the sand. This is what life is about.