After a week of ordering more food than an army could consume, exploring the surrounding area by boat, rental car and foot, and ultimately blissing out in our AirBnB, MTV-style villa, it was time for my best buddies to depart from Koh Samui.
Back on my own, I knew where I was heading next: a little island that a favorite blogger, Alex in Wanderland, had been writing about for years called Koh Tao. She originally sought out Koh Tao to do her Open Water diving course, the introductory level course that certifies you to dive with a buddy up to 18 meters, with Roctopus Dive. Her experience was so positive, she returned on various occasions, naming it proudly, “her happy place”.
I knew I wanted to do my Open Water course, mostly because it terrified me and I felt like I should do something that scared the shit out of me on this trip. Instead of doing the logical research about which island and dive shop is best, you know, in the world, I just took Alex’s word for it and decided I, too, would do my Open Water course, years after she did, in Koh Tao with Roctopus Dive.
I arrived in Koh Tao feeling like I’d somehow lost my solo traveler swag. I’d booked a few nights in a hostel called Koh Tao Loft Hostel near the pier, Mae Haad, and wasn’t supposed to start my Open Water course for another couple of days. I found my hostel right away, but even though I already (as goes in hostels) had people chatting me up, wasn’t feeling social. I went straight to bed.
The next morning, I immediately called Roctopus Dive, spoke to one of the owners about moving into the accommodation he had pre-booked for me early. And, if possible, I wanted to get going on that diving thing. He told me to walk to the booking office with my belongings and we’d get it all sorted.
I don’t think I tried picturing this guy before we first met. Our correspondence had been friendly, but with a purpose. Had I tried picturing him, he would be exactly what I’d think the owner of the best dive shop in Koh Tao would look like. The kiwi that welcomed me that day into the Roctopus subculture wore long, curly hair, a smile for days and what I’d find out later, rocked some pretty contagious dance moves. He also became a great friend, and the person who convinced me to throw my plans into the wind to do my dive master training in Koh Tao.
In true Thai style, my accommodation was all messed up. I hopped off the Roctopus truck to find Nok, the owner of the bungalows that Roctopus had booked for me, frazzled and a bit perturbed, waiting for our long-haired friend to come back down from the booking office to sort this out.
I threw a smile on and waited patiently as the two of them figured out that while my 400 baht bungalow would not be ready ($12/day), the 200 baht room is open ($7/day). I’d have my own room, but would need to share a bathroom with a couple of other people. Would this be okay with me? Um, yes.
A few weeks later, after I had left and come back, Nok would later jump up and down, squealing with excitement at my return to the island and then, again, stop talking to me for days because I chose to move out of the tourist-filled bungalows into a local apartment.
Any friends, family or readers might remember that my original plan was to visit Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam during my six-month trip with a week (at least) in Japan on the way home.
Breaking news: there will be no posts about Cambodia, Vietnam, or Japan. There might be a post about how to do a visa-run to Laos, but that’s as far as I made it on this Southeast Asian adventure.
“It was amazing how you could get so far from where you’d plan, and yet find it was exactly where you needed to be.” – Sarah Dessen
Latest posts by Emily Moyer (see all)
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- Going Deeper: Advanced Adventurer with Roctopus Dive in Koh Tao - June 1, 2015