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June 15 – Arrival on Koh Tao

DSC_0566 We arrived in Chumphon just before 4am, supposedly to connect with a 7 a.m. highspeed, first class ferry to Koh Tao. However, the ferry was overbooked, so the fine folks from Lompraya kindly rebooked us on the second class slow ferry that gets in two hours later, with no mention whatsoever about refunding the price difference for the tickets. Matt blogs about this transaction using the words “despite our best efforts and worst manners,” otherwise known as “losing face. But the ferry ride, slow though it was, turned out to be an interesting trip through a long stretch of fishing villages just as the fleet was coming in for the morning.

And eventually, we made it. A fellow passenger on the ferry was able to contact the villa staff and arrange for them to return to the ferry dock to pick us up. DSC_0702This was our first taste of 5-star accommodations 2nd world style–they loaded our luggage into the back of a pickup truck and told us to hop on. We traveled this way across the island then down a dirt road over a mountain–a road steeper and more rutted than anything you would ever imagine was passable by any kind of vehicle.

DSC_0580And it was worth the ride; the villa was magnificent. It was designed in a Balinese style, with two separate buildings–one housing the living room and one housing the bedroom and bathroom–situated on either side of a private infinity pool perched on the edge of a cliff above the sea. Both buildings’ seaward-facing walls were completely open, and each opened on to separate teak decks hanging over the cliff edge where the waves pounded on the rocks belo lounges facing the sea. The transition between indoor and outdoor living was completely blurred.

The building on the left housed the bedroom. It had glass doors that could open over the seaward facing side, but we kept it open all the time, relying heavily on the mosquito netting around the bed at night.

DSC_0659Behind it was an outdoor bathroom set in a garden with a jungle shower–an outside shower with a rainshower head and 10 glorious minutes of hot water…a major luxury on an island where many places have no running water at all, and very few have hot water.

The building on the right housed the living room. It was entirely open on two sides. The side that backed into the hillside opened onto a garden and a small pond that helped (but didn’t entirely prevent) critters from coming through, and the seward facing side was entirely open, with no doors at all. The roof over the deck kept it dry enough in there to have a regular couch, as well as a television and a mini-fridge.

At night, the whole villa, including the gardens and pool, were lightscaped to be backlit and otherwise lit from within–another major luxury on an island without a power plant, where most places either have power from a generator only at night, or not at all. Using a complicated set of dimmer switches, you could configure the lighting so that the villa seemed to glow at night.