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Koh Tao - The Death Island

In my last post, I promised to meet you in Thailand... well, here I am. My arrival on a paradise island was not without difficulties.

However, I had planned everything. I had bought my plane ticket from Đà Lạt to Bangkok and then I had to find a ticket from Bangkok to Koh Samui. Not rocket science, knowing that there are several flights a day.

But life doesn't always go as planned. When I arrived at the VietJet counter, the mocking smile of the agent who looked at my passport and my non-refundable ticket foreshadowed an unpleasant surprise.

He explains to me that from the international airport of Đà Lạt, I cannot leave the country because they do not have access to the E-Visa system with which I entered Vietnam.

My brain is working at full speed. I no longer have a motorbike and the route would take a few days by bus, a slow and uncomfortable means of transport.

I go around the counters of various companies to find a domestic flight that will bring me closer to Thailand. The next flights are full. I therefore register on the waiting lists in the hope that a place becomes available.

Once again, luck is with me.

A few minutes before takeoff, I am told that there are two places left towards Ho Chi Min. So I buy two tickets, which I have to pay cash and I sprint to check in, go through security and show up for boarding.

After a little delay at security, where the agents are busy emptying two bottles of outdated cognac into the garbage cans, because a poor traveler had omitted to put them in the checked baggage, I finally board the plane.

Upon my arrival in Hồ Chí Minh, the agents I speak to lead me from counter to counter until I manage to buy two tickets to Bangkok. That evening, when I opened the door to my bedroom, I collapsed in my bed. The day was exhausting.

Definitely, I don't like airports or airplanes.

The next day, new departure to Koh Samui. I wait a few days there, because it is the full moon and the ferries to Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan are full. (Koh means island in Thai)

Koh Pha Ngan, where I stop, is renowned for its Full Moon party which can bring together no less than 30,000 people from all over the world.

Dancing until dawn, alongside thousands of travelers with bodies painted in neon colors, on a magnificent beach under the full moon, is surely an extraordinary experience... but not for me. I prefer, by far, a short walk on a deserted beach... or almost.

I finally arrive in Koh Tao, 4 days after leaving Đà Lạt and there is wonder.

Koh Tao (Turtle Island) is a paradise. It is one of the best scuba diving and snorkeling destinations in the world. Its pristines waters offer a visibility of 15 meters, enough to allow me to admire the underwater fauna in its smallest details.


I have snorkeled in Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and never have I seen so much color and variety than in this region of the Gulf of Thailand

The dive sites are superb and most are accessible from the beach. So we rented two scooters to explore the island from top to bottom.

À ma première sortie, à la plage de l'hôtel, j'ai vu plus de poissons et d'organismes marins, en nombre et en variété, que toutes mes autres plongées cumulées et ce n'est que le début.

Koh Tao - Death Island

All is not perfect in the Garden of Eden. Since 2014, more than 50 tourists have died there in unclear circumstances.

  • 'Suicide' found hanged with hands tied behind back

  • Couple of millionaires drowned "by accident" in the middle of the afternoon in the swimming pool of the hotel

  • "Drowned" following a fall from a cliff... without any injuries

  • Poisoning of a young tourist following a mixture of alcohol and antibiotics...according to the police

  • ...

Some of these cases have been marred by accusations of incompetence, lack of transparency or suspicion of negligence on the part of the police and sometimes local justice.

A book has even been written to raise public awareness about these inexplicable deaths.

Rumors say that a very influential mafia family rules the island. Maybe it's the truth, maybe it's a myth. However, when you put your mind to it a bit and look beyond the hype headlines, there's nothing unusual here. People like to be scared... so let them get excited.

For three years, I have been traveling off the beaten track and I have never felt in danger. I use my common sense and my intuition and, even more, those of my companion. I know that traveling involves risks. However, these can be mitigated with simple precautions, the first of which is to respect people and their culture.

I invite you to dive into the adventure too and not let the fear of dying taint the time spent on this earth.

Add life to years, not years to life. (Andre Malraux)

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