My first day in Koh Tao is a blur. Still slightly hungover, jet-lagged, sleep deprived from the night on the bus, I have no idea what we did the first day. We found a place to stay, Sairee Cottage, and realized that we need to move. Our first night here was spent listening to an orchestra of construction on the other side of our wall, partying up and down the beach, cats screaming, dogs barking, José (the name I gave to our resident, nearly three legged dog) and an obnoxious rooster who thought sunrise was every hour, on the hour, staring at 2am. Our room has amazing acoustics too. They are seriously impressive. Step outside and the noise levels are almost normal.

My first real day in Koh Tao was amazing. We started out the morning with breakfast, where we met a girl about my age backpacking though Thailand on her own. She told us about how out of all the places she's visited in Thailand, Koh Tao is her favorite, and so she just keeps coming back. She also told us that her favorite thing to do here is to visit Hin Wong Bay. She warned us that it is a bit of a hike, but that the snorkeling is fantastic. So we decided that we should pack up our snorkel gear and go check it out.

Perhaps a map might be helpful for future reference. 

We are staying on the west side, on Sairee Beach. Hin Wong Bay is clear across to the opposite side of the island. It's not a very big island though. If it wasn't so mountainous I'm sure it wouldn't have been more than a 30 minute walk. Maybe. But it is very beautiful and green and mountainous here and hiking over to Hin Wong took us a good hour or hour and a half at least because of the 30% grades. Not even going to lie, it was intense, and I'm accustomed to hiking that nonsense at high altitude. Lovely walk though when you got past the idea that one wrong step and you'd go tumbling all the way back down. 

When we reached the highest peak before hiking down towards the beach again we ran into some pigs, or warthogs, or who knows what they were. The thought of being chased down the hill by an agree mass of wild pigs was not a pleasant one. Luckily they didn't seem to care that we were there. 

Exhausted, hungry, and with legs made of jelly, we finally made our way down to Hin Wong Bay, a beautiful little bay that was nearly completely abandoned save for a couple little Thai ladies running an empty restaurant and a couple bungalows up on the hill where some hippies were camping out.  We sat down at a table and were handed menus every bit as impressive as those they give you at the Cheesecake Factory. It took a good long while to read through them and make our decisions, but one of the ladies finally came around, we ordered coconut soup, she held up a finger, ran back to the kitchen, and returned to tell us no coconuts. We tried again: pad thai with squid. But she didn't have any squid either. This game continued until she finally decided to let us in on her little joke that the only items available, were the four dishes listed on the black board. So why the encyclopedia of a menu? I wish I knew. 

What emerged out of the kitchen was the best darned pad thai I have ever eaten, and I've had a lot of pad thai. It's a favorite dish of mine at any generic Asian restaurant back home, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that nearly every meal I've eaten so far here on this trip has been pad thai. I'm all for branching out and trying new things, especially when I travel, but I just can't get past the pad thai here. It's heaven. And this particular plate of pad thai was nirvana. I will dream about those gooey sweet peanuty noodles for the rest of my life. 

Once fed, we walked down to the beach to find the dive shop: this awesome assortment of trash and recycled dive gear. It was described in one of the guide books as a "relaxed" dive shop. That might have been a little too conventional and generous of a term to use. Or maybe it's just one of those cultural barriers I haven't gotten passed yet. Either way, I present to you, the dive shop of Hin Wong Bay: 

The snorkeling was every bit as phenomenal as promised. Fish everywhere, christmas tree worms in every color of the rainbow, neon colored clams, an aggressive triggerfish guarding her nest, and one particularly lovely angel fish. Lots of feeder fish suggested sharks could be lurking, but after three hours of searching, no luck.