What a way to finish the trip. Tul and me now both have our open water certifications and officially have the diving bug.
The rest of our time on the island was spent pottering around on our scooter, getting massages, eating (a lot of) good Thai food and drinking cocktails. An amazing ending to a trip of a lifetime which we’re lucky to have had and will never ever forget.
It’s taken me a while to get these videos online but here they are (there will be 1 more to follow soon).
We used Big Blue Diving. It’s certainly not the only diving school on the island, but we found it safe, fun and cheap. Would definitely recommend it. If you use their free accommodation while you’re there then just ask to have a look around because some of it is awful and some of it is not bad. Make sure you check in Big Blue 1 & 2 (there are 2 centres on Sairee beach).
We used RPM in Mae Haad which were not bad. However they did catch us out with a scratch which we’re unsure was there to start off with which cost us £10. Just make sure you take photos of the entire bike and you should be fine. The island is notorious for motorbike scams so make sure you’re careful when renting on Koh Tao. It’s normal for them to keep your passport as deposit.
Charm Churee, where we spent our last few days of the trip. Not the cheapest place we’ve stayed but just what we needed. We also made use of our shiny new open water certifications and did a beach dive right from where we were staying.
Our cottage also had one of the biggest geckos I’ve seen in my life which Tul hated almost as much I loved.
Chillies for sale on a roadside stall where we stopped off during our motorbike trip around Mae Hong Son province near the border of Myunmar in Northern Thailand.
We did a fair bit of research on elephant sanctuaries to visit in Thailand and we’re very please we discovered the Elephant Nature Park. If you care about elephants and want to spend time with them then this is the place. The lady who started it (Lek) is incredible and not only let’s you spend time with them, but teaches you about the torture they go through to be ‘trained’ for riding. That’s why here, you can not ride them, but you feed them, bathe them and enjoy being around them. I personally would not recommend any elephant park where they allow tourists to ride the elephants. Lek also teaches mahoots in Thailand new ways to train elephants without any physical abuse, but by using positive reinforcement.
While we were there, there were also almost 1000 dogs which had just been adopted by the park after losing their homes last year due to floods in Bangkok.
There are volunteer opportunities at the park if you’re interested, but if not then the money from your day trip is going towards funding for a great cause.
Here we are with our favourites. Two of a family of three elephants which were the friendliest family in the park. Elephant families are not necessarily related (and in this case none of them are), they just decide who they want to stay with.
After a short but fairly terrifying flight from Chiang Mai in a giant chicken, we ended up having some of the most fun we’ve had in Asia in Mae Hong Son.
Gims Resort must have given us some kind of deal because for the price, this place was amazing to stay in. The town of Mae Hong Son itself is fairly small, with some nice temples and street markets to visit, as well as good food (like pretty much everywhere in Thailand).
We also rented a motorbike from PJ’s motorcycle rental (ask someone in town where it is). PJ was a sound bloke, the bike was in very good condition and cost only £2 p/day (half of what you would pay in other places in town). Then we did a portion of the Mae Hong Son ‘loop’ which I would suggest doing for anyone in the area. The province is renowned for it’s scenery and it takes you well off the beaten path to some breathtaking places and beautiful, authentic small villages. We just did a day trip, but it’s possible to stay in one of the many guest houses in one of the little villages near the border of Myunmar where there is strong Burmese and Chinese influences.