March 10 2010

We made Best Best Pancakes in Mae Haad our standard breakfast spot for Koh Tao – Cheap and good; and sugar and fat takes you a long way, right?

Before breakfast, we checked out of Sunshine Resort and moved our backpacks to Baan Leevadee. Then we picked up Madeleine and Jasmine, had some food, and then we returned to our new place to check in properly, and to cool off for a while.

Next we decided to find a beach. On our way out, the manager’s husband recommended we just take the next road left down the way back to the main road. That got us down to Aow Leuk. The road down is, as all sand roads on Koh Tao, not to be disrespected. It is dangerous enough that you should think about what you’re doing while riding it. But it’s not so bad as not to try it, in my opinion. The beach at Aow Leuk is privately owned by the resort down there, but they welcome visitors as long as they don’t bring own food and drink. They also offer snorkling equipment at 50 THB, which seems to be the standard fee here. There are some rock formations along the edges of the bay, but I don’t know if it’s really worth diving right there – but the water is great, and there are high waves to play around in.

After swimming around a while, we went back to our bungalows to wash the salt off, and then decided to explore the island some more. First we went to Pranee’s Kitchen to grab a bite, and then, pouring over the map, we decided to check out Mango Bay, on the far north of the island. This turned out to be the best decision yet during this trip.

Tanja and Jasmine on a scooter
The joy of making it up the first set of hills. Just wait...

The road to Mango Bay is tricky, and I would advice against trying it unless you have some two wheels experience, and definitely stay away if you don’t have knobby tires: Even though most of the toughest parts of the road are paved – at least to half the road’s width – the parts that aren’t paved are often extremely washed out, forcing the wheels into ruts that may not be headed in the direction you’d like to go. Also, some of the hills on the way are extremely steep. I saw several ATVs sliding downwards slowly, while their drivers were pulling the brakes so hard the wheels where actually locked. This is, of course, partly due to bad riding technique, but it shows that you really can’t afford to take this road lightly. It is dangerous. Really.

A tree over the road
Yep. That's a tree across the road. It's actually high enough to ride under if you bend enough.

But all warnings aside, I can say that those who choose to try this road, will have a memory for life: It’s so beautiful, and so much pure fun, that it’s worth it, hands down. It can be made with a scooter, but we quickly saw that it’s too steep for riding two up – Madeleine and Jasmine had to step off and walk several times. A properly ridden (preferably manual shift) ATV shouldn’t have any problems with the road, nor should a rider of a motocross.

The path from the parking area to Mango Bay
Yes, that's the ocean. And yes, it's a long, warm walk.

Once the road ends (with a small parking/turning zone), you’re faced with a footpath that turns into a set of stairs. The view from up here is wonderful. At the bottom is the Mango Bay Resort, with a pier where it’s possible to enter the water. Snorkeling here is great: Lots of fish, corals and clams. It’s almost magical enough to draw your mind off the fact that you’ll have to climb back to the bike afterwards.

Madeleine and Jasmine decided to take a longtail boat back to Sai Ree Beach, while Tanja and I went back the same way we came with the scooters, which, when riding solo, actually was a walk in the park.

On the way back, we stopped at a fruit market and bought some ripe mango and water melon. In the evening, we made a return visit to Pranee’s and then we went to Ban’s again, together with Jouline and Daniel, to have a chat and some beer, before going back to Baan Leelavadee for some rest, that we’d really earned this day.

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