As you may have surmised from the post a couple of days ago called 'Thailand', I went to Thailand! And it was amazing. Having lived in Japan I can't help but be reminded of that when visiting Thailand. There's lots of Japanese stores and restaurants there, and it's clear that Thai people see Japan-ness as a symbol of quality. Bangkok is quite amazing, a proper big capital. Lots of convenience stores everywhere, decent public transport, yet everything's more affordable than in London or Tokyo. Pretty damn good, I only wish it wasn't so hot..
After Bangkok our journey took us by bus and ferry to the island of Koh Tao. We had read lots of bad reviews about Lomprayah, the transport company that took us there, but it turned out to be quite alright, in so far as any night bus journey can be described as 'quite alright'. It was certainly a hell of a lot better than the night bus we took in Cuba, which repeatedly had engine malfunctions in the middle of the night.
Koh Tao is beautiful. Compared to Koh Samui it's quite small and has much more of an island-y vibe. I can't honestly say that I saw much of the island, as most of our time was spent in a beach/diving resort, which was far away from town. Like Bangkok it was insanely hot during the day, but in the evening the fresh sea breeze made it very pleasant to be outside and have a drink.
I even did scuba diving! (after some serious prodding from my girlfriend..). The first dive was a bit worrying, as I had no experience in using the breathing gear and did not feel confident at all going into the depths right from the get-go. Yet somehow I did not die and went for another dive. It took until the third and fourth dive for me to really see the fun in it, and I can see myself doing scuba again. The initial feeling of constriction/containment of the dive suit disappeared and was replaced by a great sense of freedom, being able to move freely in all 3 dimensions. A whole new world open for exploration. Pretty awesome.
Then, all too soon, it was over and we had to return to daily life. It took a ferry, a bus ride, a flight, an overnight airport stay in Bangkok, two more flights and three train rides to get home, and at the end of it all we were exhausted. The question "how much money would you pay to avoid this kind of exhaustion" always fascinates me, but I'll save that for another time.
Thailand is amazing. Everyone should visit.