The next morning, we were picked up from our hotel and bundled in the back of a song taou with several others who had also booked spaces for the four island snorkelling tour.
We headed south along the winding road, every so often catching a glimpse of the sea. The inclines on Koh Chang are up there with the Lake District’s steepest back home. It can be somewhat terrifying, especially if you happen to get caught in a shower. This happened to me the first day on the island. The song taou made several attempts at a particularly steep (and wet) slope, wheels desperately spinning, before sliding back down to try again. I shared a few stone faced looks of terror with another tourist opposite me. On the third or fourth attempt, it made it.
Luckily we had no such problems this time around. When we arrived at the pier, we were stamped on the back of the hand and led like cattle to the boat that would take us south across the sea.
I enjoyed the swaying motions and cool sea air but others didn’t show as much appreciation as I did. The journey took over an hour and this was too much for some. The crew offered nausea tablets to everyone and sick bags were dispersed. Hopefully the trip was worth it for the pale faced people aboard.
The first island was small and rocky. After some tinkering with my snorkel, I made my first plunge and saw swarms of brightly coloured fish. Some were a blue that shimmered as they twitched this way and that. Some had stripes. Some even had ridiculously long noses. But all were beautiful. I couldn’t help but smile and choke on some sea water.
I made my way around the island, gazing at the coral and the multitudes of fish that darted around them. Long, black spikes inhabited the nooks and crannies below. Sea urchins certainly looked sinister and the thought of getting stung was enough to send a shiver through me despite the warmth of the water.
Eventually I found myself at the other side of the island. I heard the horn of the boat signalling it was time to leave so I hastily made my way back.
Too hastily perhaps as, to my dismay, I realised I had skirted too close to the island and currently resided in a shallow area with a field of sea urchins between me and the boat.
Depth was difficult to gauge, and this added to the.. excitement? of it all as I navigated the rocks that didn’t have spikes as calmly and cautiously as I could. Finally hitting open water was a relief. After a quick inspection back on board, I concluded I had narrowly avoided an unpleasant sting. One man wasn’t so lucky, as a crew member had to use a knife to dig part of the sting out of his foot.
The visibility on the next few stops wasn’t as dazzling as the first, but it was fun none the less. Bread was given to attract the critters and although not environmentally friendly, it certainly worked. I hovered round a few groups of people feeding them. The fish were so close you wanted to reach out and touch them. I tried multiple times and failed of course.
The last island was more of a resort. The water was warm and shallow and there was a pier that people could easily walk down to reach the beach. I was content with just sitting in the water, as I do.
A good few people slept on the way back. I could have joined them, but I was already thinking about what I wanted to do the following day. I decided it was about time to branch out and do some more independent exploration.