Koh Tao: Finally Leaving!

Read more about my Self Care Sabbatical and the other places I’ve visited! 

After nearly 4 months in Koh Tao, I finally left. It definitely felt like time to go, though I was still a bit sad about getting off this island that I had come to think of as my home away from home. I was only supposed to stay a week or so in Koh Tao. But I had arrived at the point in my trip where I really decided to let go of the planning and just let things happen.

And that’s sort of how I ended up in Koh Tao until mid-May.

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I got to spend months living on a tropical island and scuba diving nearly every day. I came to Koh Tao to learn how to scuba dive and get my Open Water certification. I left Koh Tao as a PADI Pro, a Divemaster. I learned how to do Muay Thai. I missed winter entirely. I skipped a flight back to the US in February, found new subletters for my apartment, and managed to get some decent freelance work so I could keep paying my bills (mostly diving expenses – now I’ve got a new, expensive hobby). I made new friends. I celebrated Songkran, the Thai New Year.

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my favorite dive buddies!

I loved living on this island for months. I fell in love with scuba diving (which I am also doing a bit of in Indonesia) and now am also a Pro diver which means I can actually make money diving. That was never something I considered when I arrived to do my Open Water course, I had no idea even what I divemaster was!

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Even after leaving Koh Tao, I’m still traveling for a bit. I managed to extend my time in Asia a bit more so that I could travel to Indonesia, the one country that I had really wanted to visit if time allowed. And since I definitely had the time, I made my way to Bali after leaving Thailand. Luckily enough, one of my diving friends was also planning to visit Bali in May so we were able to travel together for a week before she returned to Koh Tao and I continued on.

Now I am back to solo traveling after 4 months of spending time with people all of the time. It’s a bit weird. I’ve caught myself talking to myself again 🙂 I feel a little weird eating alone when I forget to bring a book or don’t have wifi. And yet, it’s so incredibly wonderful to be back on my own again. Nowhere to be, nothing expected. Can do what I want, when I want. I miss having my friends around, but I am also loving a bit of solitude and time to just unwind. Even though I lived on my own in Koh Tao, I spent most of my days with other people from morning until late in the evening. My schedule was flexible, but there were things I had to do and places to be at certain times of the day. It feels so freeing now to just have time to be on holiday, making my own plans as I go.

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I will say that I don’t miss being a tourist. Or carrying my bags around. Or, for that matter, packing and re-packing my bags. I got a bit spoiled being settled in an apartment for 3 months and now having to lug my bags around (with stuff that I accumulated in Koh Tao) is a bit annoying. Not looking to a few more weeks of traveling with all of this stuff. Even though I got asked if I wanted a ferry ticket nearly every day while living in Koh Tao (the same vendors I passed at least twice a day), I came to ignore it and just accept it as part of my walk to the dive shop. But now the vendors appear out of nowhere and I am not prepared to just ignore them. And there are the souvenir shops, the beachfront restaurants, the women outside of the temples or at the ferry piers – all of them calling to Buy Something or Eat Something. I really didn’t miss this at all.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have made this all happen. Things just fell into place, even though I was a bit stressed a few times back in February when I had thrown all of my plans in the air and hoped things would work out. I had to have a lot of faith in my instincts that told me to stay. I knew that I would have regretted leaving – and after all that time in Koh Tao, I can definitely say that it was the right decision to stay.  

This trip, this self-care sabbatical, has been so much more than what I thought it would be. Or what I intended it to be. I guess that was kind of the point. To do something a bit unexpected, a bit unplanned and just figure things out along the way.

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