With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Speak Your Language

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 10, 2010

April 5 – 7, 2010

All Pictures

Poking sea cucumbers

Wade in the Water

The beach at Koh Tao is great for kids. It’s not very deep. In fact you can walk right past most of the docked boats and not even get your knees wet.

There were plenty of fish and corral to look at so, needless to say, snorkeling is big on Koh Tao. Because I have claustrophobia and the water here is very calm and shallow, I used my time here to get comfortable with a mask and snorkel on in the water.

The last time I went snorkeling was in Vietnam. I jumped into deep water then put on my mask. I felt so enclosed that I ripped it off before I could even look at some fish. I had to change the diving mask for some swimming goggles. Goggles aren’t that great when it comes to looking into salt water.

While I spent most of my time swimming and snorkeling by myself, Mark was off in his class. He was earning his Open Water PADI diving license. Koh Tao is a great place to learn to dive. There are hundreds of dive resorts and the prices aren’t very expensive. Most places will give you a discount on room rates when you sign up for a course.

sunset on Koh Tao

Ethnic Ambiguity

Mark would leave early in the mornings with his fellow dive-mates and come back late in the afternoon. I entertained myself with swimming, eating, sleeping, and talking to other backpackers.

One question I get asked a lot is, “Where are you from?” I know that because I haven’t lived in the states for a while my accent has changed. So most English speakers will guess from the fact that I speak English very well, that I at lease come from an English-speaking country, though they might not know which one.

For those whose first language isn’t English, they might not be able to hear an accent, since I don’t have a strong accent pointed in any particular direction. They try to look at me to make their guess. They are always wrong. Sometimes, amusingly so.

“Are you Thai?”

“Your mom is from Vietnam!”

“You definitely look Cuban.”


“Your from somewhere in Africa!”

“Seychelles! You look just like a lady I knew once, and she was from Seychelles.”

“Are you part Mexican?”

They are all wrong! 😉

Getting used to a snorkel mask

Can you tell where I’m from?

All Pictures


(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.






  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.


How to get there:

  • 10°30’10.8″N 99°10’33.4″E

From Hua Lamphong Train Station (หัวลำโพง) –

  • Take any of the southern line trains.
    • Remember Chumphon is not the last stop.
    • The train might not get there on time so don’t get off unless you see signs saying Chumphon.
  • Many stations do not have a sign clearly saying the name of the station, but Champhon has many signs clearly written in Roman script.



  • 272 – 1,134 THB depending on the class and type of ticket


  • About 6 hours, more or less, depending on the speed of the train.


  • If you are riding in from Bangkok you DO NOT want to take a 3rd class seat for this journey.
  • It can be spelled Chumphon or Chumporn. Just a little way to help you get lost.

Koh Tao
Ko Tao

How to get there:

  • 10°04’58.1″N 99°49’25.9″E

From the Chumphon train station:

  • You can buy tickets on the ferry to Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and some other nearby islands.
  • The prices are 450THB for a 3.5 hour ride on the slow boat and 550THB for a “2.5 hour” ride on the fast boat.

My ride on the fast boat was actually more like 3.5 hours, but it was a very fast boat. It did leave later that advertised. I don’t know if this means that both boats are slower than advertised or the same speed.


  • Slow boat (3.5 hour-ride) 450THB
  • Fast boat (2.5 hour-ride) 550THB


Well theoretically it should take about 3 hours to get to Koh Tao from the Chumphon station, but… We arrived late at the station at 5:15 in the morning and we didn’t reach Koh Tao until 11:00 in the morning.


  • The cost of the ferry includes a ride to the dock from Chumphon station.
  • There is no need to buy tickets before you get to Chumphon.
  • The ferry dock is not on my map because I have no idea where is it. But once you get to the Chumphon railway station people selling ferry tickets will find you, take your money, stamp your hand or put a sticker on your t-shirt, and make sure you get to Koh Tao or whatever island you want.

Crystal Dive Resort

How to get there:

  • Once you get to the dock on Koh Tao, head left along the beach.
  • Go until you see a giant cement turtle.
    • It’s about a 5 minute walk from the dock.


Crystal Dive Resort
Padi Career Development Center
Mae Haad, Koh Tao, Thailand


  • +66 (0) 77 456106


e-mail: info@crystaldive.com


  • The cost of a bungalow by it self? …I’m not sure. But the price gets cheaper when take diving lessons here.
  • Cost of the courses depends on which course you take. The one that Mark took was the beginner PADI open water course for 9,800THB it came with 200THB accommodations.


  • Crystal Dive Resort owns 2 sets of bungalows, one near the dock and another one that’s about a 20 minute drive away.
  • The dive classes are at the one near the dock, but the other resort is nicer.
  • If you stay at the one that is not near the resort there is a free taxi, provided by the resort, that will take you back and forth.
    • They always come in time to take anyone that needs it to get to their dive  class.


3 Responses to “Speak Your Language”

  1. Tom said

    I know your ethnicity! I can tell from the photo. Clearly you are from the Maldives. They have their meetings underwater.


  2. […] and I were on vacation on Koh Tao when I got an email from the Japanese embassy in Guam. They were sorry to inform me that I had not […]


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