Tao Tong Two
Koh Tao, Thailand
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Tao Tong Two Koh Tao Reviews
May 02, 2006
Ko Tao ('Turtle Island') is a small --21 sq km-- island 70km east of the Thailand mainland between the towns of Chumphon and Surattani. A SCUBA diver's refuge, this island is quickly becoming the place to be for both backpackers and divers alike. Unlike its sister island, Ko Samui, made famous in the book "The Beach", Ko Ta has not yet been overrun by farang (foreigners), but it is a bustling community none-the-less and is growing every year. To reach Ko Tao, book a train from Hualamphong Train Station in Bangkok to Chumphon; I recommmend a 2nd class sleeper car, lower berth, with fan and traveling at night. From Chumphon book the high-speed catamaran from Lumprayah company.
If you're a backpacker or diver looking for a peaceful, remote and beautiful place to stay on Ko Tao then I highly recommend Tao Tong Villa and Tao Tong Two. These sibling guesthouses retreats are located on the Laem Je Ta Kang promontory north of Ao Jun Jeua in the south west of the island. Access to this area is relatively limited; long-tail boat is the best way to get there and will run you 100-150 baht for 1-2 people--some drivers will try and charge you 200b, don't let them. You can walk from the main pier at Ban Mae Hat, but the road is rutted and very steep so only attempt this in the early morning or late afternoon and I don't recommend carrying any heavy gear--except plenty of water.
Each has simple bungalows with locks, fans and mosquito nets (see below for more on mosquitoes), as well as a restaurant. The restaurants have slotted wood decks with low, Asian-style tables, and plenty of pillows to put between you and the deck. Of the two, Tao Tong Two has the most stunning view.
Bungalows run from 300-500b during the high season, 200-400b the rest of the year. [The exchange rate at this writing is 38b/1 USD in Bangkok and 36.5b/1 USD on the island].
Though the location of these slices of paradise should be enough to lure you here, the best reasons to visit are the owners--two cousins named Talek and Saan. We spent nearly 2 weeks at Tao Tong Two and the most powerful memories I will take away are wise advice, long talks, unfettered laughter and sharing new card games with Saan. A former accountant in Bangkok, Saan is kind and intelligent with a great appreciation for the place he's built and a passion for his people.
The food is of excellent quality and is average priced for the guesthouses on the island. A great choice for breakfast is the fruit salad and a cup of coffee/juice/fruit shake. The salad is a large plate of bananas, pineapple and watermelon for 45b. Coffee will run you 20b, juice 30b or a fruit shake 30-35b. [In Thailand, a fruitjuice shake is juice, ice and sugar blended together and is very refreshing].
For main meals I highly recommend the No Name, a collection of vegetables and, if you like, meats, lightly fried (similar to tempura) and served with a sweet and spicy chili sauce [55-100b]; coconut curry [45-80b] with rice [20b]; Pat Thai noodles [50-70b]; BBQ fish, grilled with tomatoes and a lightly spicy pepper [100b]. Prices vary depending on what meats you like--veg only, chicken, pork, fish, squid, prawn or mixed seafood.
For a simple, high protein meal order 2 fried eggs [20b] and a side of rice [20b].
Do not be mistaken, the isolation of this island reduces some of the more common western amenities. Though they have toilets and showers they do not work the same and take some getting use to. AS well, every garden of Eden has its serpent and in the case of Ko Tao it's mosquitoes. Before that runs you off, know that I despise mosquitoes and I would come back here any time. The little buggers are only very active around sunrise and sunset, while not-uncommon winds can keep them well under control.
In the end, Tao Tong Two is the kind of place most budget travelers long for--quiet nights and lazy days; blue, clear warm waters; inexpensive accommodation; friendly people; and fine food.
Part of the Megan and Rich in Asia 2006 travel blog
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