We left for Ko Pa Nang by bus and had to stop on the way in a large town called Surat Thani for about an hour before catching another bus to the port . (journeys in Thailand are never simple!) While waiting Steve found a barbers and had a hair cut, shave and even a shoulder massage all for a couple of quid..bargain!
We had wanted to go to Koh Tao to have a go at diving but to get there from the south it was easier to go via another island, Koh Pa Nang. We were going to stay just one night before continuing on our way. We hadn't booked accommodation and only decided which beach to stay on while on the ferry, it was valentines day though and we said maybe we would treat ourselves to something romantic. Ko Pa Nang is home to the famous full moon party but we decided to avoid this scene and stay on the quieter west coast at Hat Yeo beach.
Getting off the ferry we were met by a sea of taxi drivers "Where you going?", one of them showed us a leaflet of nice looking accommodation on our chosen beach..we said we would have a look....well again we seemed to land on our feet! The place was fab, an infinity pool overlooking a beautiful beach and little wooden huts in gardens with balcony, hammock etc etc. RESULT and for under 20 pounds! We stayed for 4 days!!
So we were off to Koh Tao (only an hours boat ride away) a few days later than planned. We were staying at Hat Sai Ri and intended to take our open water dive course. The island is renowned for dive courses, which are compacted into just a few days for tourists. We stayed at Coral Grand Resort, again lovely with a pool and right on the beach. The course was 3 and a half days and included classroom time, self study, one contained dive and four open water dives, at the end of the course we would take an exam..gulp!
The course was harder than we had imagined, there was so much reading to do, two chapters of our PADI book every night! Our instructor, Lorenzo helped us through though, he was really patient, calm and we all felt really safe with him. The first dive was a bit scary, Lucy got a bit panicked when she felt like she couldn't breath. When it came to the open water dives things were starting to feel more familiar, but unfortunatley the water visibility was bad, only a meter or two (something to do with the full moon!). It wasn't a great way to learn how to dive when you struggled to see your instructor through the murky waters! This proved too much for Steve who decided that diving wasn't for him during the second open water dive. Lucy perservered though and went on to gain her certificate.. hurray. It had been another adventure for both of us.
The last day on Ko Tao was spent relaxing on the beach, we had booked our transport for the next day... a 2+ hour boat trip to the mainland, a 6 hour bus trip to Bangkok and then a 2 hour bus ride to Kanchanaburi where we were going to see the bridge over the River Kwai.