“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” – John Milton
After six weeks travelling around South East Asia, our last stop was Koh Tao.
Now, if you have never been backpacking, I’m sure you can imagine how far from glamorous it is. We stayed in hostels everywhere we went. We rarely had any air conditioning, the showers were usually shower heads over the toilet, there wasn’t really any privacy so we became pros at changing in front of people, using towels and blankets or like me and stop caring altogether and become a nudist in shared dorms! So by the time we reached Koh Tao we didn’t care where we stayed. We didn’t have any preferences and we were the opposite of divas, just extremely grateful for the smallest things.
Before Koh Tao, we had been in Koh Phangan, where we stayed in a 25 person mixed dorm room where there were no spaces between the bunk beds, there was just one really long row of bunks. We didn’t care, considering we had been at the Full Moon Party and that stop on our island hopping was dedicated to partying! So we didn’t spend a lot of time in the actually hostel – we were mostly jet skiing and making new friends on the beach.
But we had decided that our last 9-10 days would be spent relaxing in Koh Tao. Having no forethought, we had forgotten to pre-book our boat from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao for the day after the Full Moon and every boat was (obviously) booked out for the following day… Considering there is an exodus the day after the party. What we did was, we chilled in Koh Phangan and smoked some shisha on the beach the day after the party and the following day, I had to leave on the earliest boat at 6 am and my sister, Hannah, followed shortly behind me. My job, therefore, was to find accommodation in Koh Tao while waiting for Hannah’s arrival.
The minute I got off the boat, I hopped on the back of a truck (the normal mode of transport in Tao) and asked him to bring me to the beach. I hopped off at Sairee Beach and trudged along the beach with my 15kilo back pack in the morning heat. I went to one or two receptions where I was either turned away because they were full or told the price and walked away! Then, I stumbled upon an unsuspecting hut. Inside there was a tiny little old Thai woman, I asked her about accommodation and she pointed at the price and walked me to a beach hut and I could not resist, I took it there and then without looking any further.
I could not believe my luck! Our beach hut was about 10 steps from the beach and it had the most magnificent view I have ever seen in my life.
I have read various reviews online for O’Chai Bungalows, and they are extremely mixed. So I want to start by saying they were the lap of luxury for us. Take into account what we had been staying in during the run up to the bungalows. We were just over the moon to have privacy, fans, an en suite, a balcony and the location was to die for. The location and the view were what made me fall in love with the accommodation.
Now bear in mind that that the aforementioned little old woman was the only person running these bungalows and let’s just say hygiene is not high on the list of priorities in Thailand in general, but definitely not high on her list of priorities. So, if you’re a germophobe, stay away! The bathrooms aren’t exactly clean and the water doesn’t exactly run clear – but I think it’s a very small price to pay. You’re not allowed to drink the water anywhere you go in Thailand so it’s no loss. In our bungalow, there were two single beds and a bathroom and that was about it. It was still paradise. It cost us 600 baht a night which is the equivalent of €15 a night split between two and these were our views.
We stayed for 10 nights and I was never so happy. Every morning we were awoken by a rooster and the sea breeze. We got up, walked ten feet, lay our towels on the beach, went down the beach for the freshest breakfast sitting on bean bags on the beach and then lay on the beach all day. If we needed to go to the bathroom, to nap or we forgot something in the hut we could just pop up and get it. I couldn’t get over how wonderful our experience was. If I ever go back to Tao, I’ll be revisiting old Mama Chai and her bungalows, without a shadow of a doubt.