Regardless of bugs Shiralea really was a great place, one of my fondest memories being in the cold pool up to my neck while eating a steak and drink a huge Mai Tai at lunchtime. Don't judge me, all the travelling had messed up my time, it was 5pm somewhere. Lounging around in the pool was a great way to spend a day, I floated on over to some of my friends sat on loungers, but as I stopped myself against the edge of the pool something caught my eye behind them in the trees. At first the distance and size of the thing didn't make sense in my head, I climb out and walked between the seats. My eyes finally made sense of what was hung there in the trees, suspended in a web. A spider of epic proportions. Its smooth black legs contrasting against its bright yellow swirled body, it looked so strange as it moved around. Apparently they eat birds...
I know what you're thinking, not something you want to get close to right? Just for size relevance it must of been about six or seven inches leg to leg. The stuff of nightmares. Don't get me wrong I'm no arachnophobe but once they get over an inch long they're not something I want to share a room with. And, that my friends brings me to a lovely little "life event". I came back from the pool one night to shower before bed and as I walked into my bathroom, which I'll clarify as a "wet room" as it seemed all bathrooms in Thailand just had a shower on one wall with a grate for the water to escape through, usually the opposite corner. So, as I stepped in the first thing I noticed was that the grate had moved, dipped in like something heavy had pushed it down and then I noticed it, a rather large spider just relaxing on my wall. It's legs spread out to make it look just that little bit bigger. It literally stopped me in my tracks, frozen in the doorway. I stood staring for a moment waiting for it to scuttle towards me to which I'd freak out and probably run around the hut. But, it didn't move. I did not feel up to dealing with it, so I just shut the door and placed a towel along the bottom of the door, I did not want to share a bed with it. That night was mostly spent grasping various parts of my leg as if every itch was it wrapping itself around my leg like the Facehugger from the Alien films.
My New Room Mate
The next morning came and upon checking the bathroom, that lovely eight legged fellow was still lingering. Closer to the drain this time though so I thought he might be leaving. The main thing I was worried about obviously was getting bitten by a spider in a tropical place, because my knowledge doesn't span as much into poisonous spiders on this side of the world, I mean I know a few to be wary of but I wasn't sure of this one. So do I kill it? I don't really like killing things I more for catching things and letting them go, live and let live and all that. But, I don't want to try and catch it if it's going to bite me and while I'm unconscious lay eggs in my eyeballs. It's a moral dilemma. In the end I asked Joy at the bar if they do have any particularly toxic spiders which could do someone serious hard and it turns out they don't.
"Only hunting spiders here"
Which made me feel a whole lot better meaning they just had huge fangs to kill with. So armed with that knowledge I headed back to my hut. How do I get it out? Having a lack of boxes or cups and magazines I decided to, as stupid as it sounds to splash water from the sink at it. Manly I know. The spider however after a while of scuttling towards the grate thought,
"Well this is just rude, getting splashed every five seconds when I've just settled" and made it's way out through the whole where the grate had lay. I managed to use a pen to also pull the grate back into place! But it did find its way back once or twice.
Seeing this Island definitely made me want to see more, the bugs definitely were not enough to put me off. Koh Phangan was a great place and was becoming westernised which is not necessarily a good or bad thing. But it is changing. Also if you ever seen the film The Beach with Leonardo Dicaprio it is actually based on an island near Koh Phangan on the eastern gulf of Thailand. You're wrong I hear you shout, it was on Koh Phi Phi on the western side of the country! But, trust me, for sure it was filmed there on the gorgeous beach on Koh Phi Phi, but apparently the real island is on the eastern side. Why did I not go there you may ask yourself, well during my time in Chiang Mai before I chose which island to fly to, there was actually another earthquake which had the same epicentre as the 2004 earthquake which decimated the islands lying on the western coast of Thailand. With the 2004 quake being one of the most devastating events to happen, it actually caused the entire earth to shake 1cm, I know that doesn't sound much but, just let that settle in. The ENTIRE PLANET moved due to a one earthquake. The quake this time was caused by the tectonic plates sliding against one another rather than pushing upwards, luckily this didn't cause another wave, but for the peace of mind I chose the eastern side.
I was invited by Mark and Tamara to join them to move to the next island Koh Tao, looking at the sizes of the islands here Koh Tao ranked at very small. Just what I wanted, somewhere not to modern, somewhere to relax. We said our goodbyes and made our way to the port to buy our tickets, only a taxi ride away. The boat was quite nice actually, sandwiches and drinks served and plenty of other people to talk to.
Koh Tao instantly felt different to Koh Phangan, confirmed to us with the taxi being a pick up truck. We climbed in and gave the driver the address, he told us to hold on and set off. Straight away I could see why he told us to hold on, the roads here were non-existent. Simple dirt tracks not even close to flat filled with cracks and holes ranging up to two feet wide and five feet long snaked their way up into the hills and that, was the way we were headed. Driving down these hills made us genuinely worried, the cliffs along these roads seemed perilous, bouncing along these "roads" brought us so close to tipping over. Eventually we descended from the hills into a small jungle like area culminating to a stone courtyard.
We were shown to our rooms but straight away met by the pool, to which I jumped in. We needed to swim, and I've got to say that the bay which our hostel was located was gorgeous. White sand with rocks around the edge, the deep turquoise water with a huge twenty foot rock breaking through into the air two hundred yards out. We got ourselves snorkels, masks and flippers from the diving school next door and quite literally dived right in. We swam for a good two hours, all the way out to the end of the reef, around the towering rock to what looked like "The Drop Off" from Finding Nemo. Brightly coloured fish swam back and forth through the warm water, neon pink and green striped Parrot Fish crunched on rock with their beaks keeping us mesmerised with their bright colours. We made our way back to shore paddling gently in the descending sun, as we reached the shallows something swam around me one way, then another the other side. They were Sharks. Only baby ones around two and a half feet. But still Shark. I didn't mean to swim with them, but turns out I can add that to the things I've done!