The last part of the journey and of ten months of solo travelling – before the unexpected return home – was devoted to two of the various pearls of Thailand: Koh Tao island, with its pristine beaches and stunning sunsets, and one of the most uncontaminated and breathtaking places I ever visited in my life, Khao Sok National Park.
10 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 282 🇹🇭
“Very good Vieri!
Are you happy now?!
You and your damn decisions!
I told you to go to other places, cause Thailand is big and rich … but nothing!
You and this idea of coming to Koh Tao!
You and your head!
Always following those silly unnecessary sensations!
Happy to be in this Hell now?!
Hey, look … I’m leaving! “
“Okay. I’ll see you in a few months then.
In case I get bored here in this Hell.”
11 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 283 🇹🇭
There’s a huge problem in Thailand.
I came across it from the very beginning, when a border guard approached me and my bike on his own to take a picture of me, with extreme courtesy.
The same problem I found in the smiles of Chongmek monks, where I was a guest for one night, or in Scott’s hospitality and those guys I played soccer with in Ubon Ratchathani.
I saw it in the kindness of the people and in the hugs with old and new friends, in turbulent Bangkok.
I had another long dose on the trains and in the streets, surrounded by greetings and curiosity.
And I have been experiencing it since a little more than one day on Koh Tao island, everywhere I turn.
There’s a serious problem in Thailand.
There is too much to chose from, too many places to see, too many people to meet, too many moments to savor (these are 4 random photo taken from the last 24 hours), too many moments when you wish to stop and do not move forever, hoping time would do the same thing.
Because there’s only one problem in Thailand.
It is too beautiful.
12 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 284 🇹🇭
For many years of my life I only had one concept of “sea”.
Tied to a single place, it was something connected to a strip of land, sand and waves in Italy named Celle Ligure.
Maybe because I have spent there several summers of my life (lucky for having been able to do so).
Maybe because – even knowing that there are much more beautiful places around – for almost all of my life I have known only that one.
Whatever it may be, but for me the “sea” has always been “one sea”.
Thanks to many travels I laid my eyes on many other oceans, gulfs and bays … but my concept of “sea”, after all, has never really changed.
“To go to the sea” for me has always meant to go “there”, where I knew everything, where I knew everyone, where there was no left sand to walk on and no left water to swim in.
I never felt – it was my limit, I know – an impossible curiosity towards new things, towards the outside.
Until last year.
Until the Cyclades.
There, on those islands, I learned how to venture myself into new beaches, into unknown blue, cycling or walking through grim coasts which suddenly revealed hidden treasures of rare beauty.
The “sea” suddenly began to move onto other shapes.
And me, with him.
It could be red like the Red Beach in Santorini, silver-gray like Kleftiko cliffs in Milos, purple like Kamares sunset in Sifnos, white like Plaka in Naxos, mystical green like Aegliali in Amorgos.
There, during those two months of travel I finally learned the pleasure of discovery, the thrill of the New.
And it was all connected with the sea.
With the colour, with the sound, with the smell, with the energy of the sea.
During this long journey – also due to the route I’ve taken – I didn’t touch or see the sea so many times.
The only island I was on – Koh Rong, Cambodia – was extremely fascinating, but going around on my own was almost impossible and this somehow limited my desire to push myself in front of new beaches, new waves, new energies, new “seas”.
It is basically for this reason that, once I entered Thailand, I decided to travel first to the South, rather than in the Northern forests.
I was hoping to find some island where I could lose myself again, day after day, in that thirst I had loved in Greece which led me to meet new concepts of “sea” and, thus, new sides of myself.
I’m glad I did.
Cause today, it all happened again.
Here, in front of this sea.
Here, in Tanote Bay.
13 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 285 🇹🇭
“Tomorrow’s too late,
Future never comes.”
A friend told me, just yesterday.
For some reason I couldn’t think about anything else (hoping that future would come indeed), today, before swimming to the center of the Shark Bay, to see sharks, live, waving “hello” with their cute black fin, for the first time in my life.
14 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 286 🇹🇭
“OK, Vieri. Then, if it’s okay for you, we will have the second meeting in about ten days, in Koh Tao. I’ll keep you updated, but we will be happy to welcome you as our guest for lunch at the hotel, so you would also be able to know one of our resorts. If you can, in the meantime, move to the Island. I’m sure you’ll like it.”
The first meeting was in Bangkok, happened due a number of connections and a bit of chance (or perhaps no), and ended with a handshake.
The third … we’ll see if it comes.
For now I just enjoy the (possible) idea of the next months.
And the view.
From up here.
15 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 287 🇹🇭
It’s the same old story, actually.
It’s still my favourite pastime, when I’m on an island.
To take the bicycle, to pedal and walk (if roads require to do so, sometimes because of impolite dirt and sometimes because of implausible slopes) trying to reach a new bay.
Losing myself also.
For a few hours, at times.
And then, very sweaty and hot, to slip into the water and to swim connecting those land banks which embrace that unique and inimitable sea groove, tying it up in ribbons.
As if every time I wanted to conquer it with my own strength – from the very start to the very end – that pretty little … new treasure chest of blue.
16 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 288 🇹🇭
In six days that I’m in Koh Tao I had only ventured myself in the Eastern part of the island.
I was told that it was the most beautiful one.
Not that the Western part sucks, however.
17 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 289 🇹🇭
Exactly 7 days, since the time I arrived.
It didn’t happen since quite a while.
From Yangshuo, to be precise.
To stay so long in the same place.
In the same island, in this case.
It is as if something was holding me here, almost against my own will.
And I really cannot understand why.
18 Marzo, Koh Tao (Thailandia) | Giorno 290 🇹🇭
Ok, I may also be obsessed with Thai (but not only) sunsets, and actually I had something else to write about today … but how could I choose not to share such a show?
Here it’s not only about witnessing another day that has dragged on, nor contemplating a new moment that shines, comes to the climax and then, silently, leaves.
But it’s about peeping how God himself sets to work, drawing on the colours of his infinite palette and using a seraphic celestial eraser to clean the painting, so to complete another of his incredible masterpieces.
19 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 291 🇹🇭
When you can take a boat – like everyone does – to reach one of the most secluded bays of Koh Tao, but you choose instead to venture yourself on the alternative way, sweating and having fun for an hour and a half on absurd roads and terrible dirt in the middle of a tropical forest on a Thai island.
And then getting a few hundred meters from the goal, locking the bike to a tree, walking down a long stairway, stopping for a photo in front of one of the most beautiful sea cradles you’ve ever seen, preparing to enter the water to swim the last 200 meters which separate you from the beach, closing all of your items in the airtight bag you bought a few days earlier.
Finding out just once you’re dry on the sand that you didn’t close it as tightly as you thought.
Gambling away your camera, like this, for good.
Swearing to the point that you wake up even the corals.
Because you got to Mango Bay the way you wanted to, but you’re a real idiot.
20 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 292 🇹🇭
You are strolling around quietly on the beach, drawn in your thoughts, when you see them.
The Thai masseuses.
You don’t know why, but instinctively you give in to their invitations and believe that it is finally time for a Thai massage.
You lie down and prepare to dream about palm trees, coconut oil, swings on the sea, lazy waves and smell of salt … but she, the little masseuse, crushes you into crazy morse and violent strokes, as if she wanted to fight like she was Hulk Hogan.
And muscles and bones react as if all the coconuts that just finished dreaming about had impetuously fallen on you out of a sudden.
And with them … the whole palm.
21 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 293 🇹🇭
First of the two-days Free Diving course just passed, in time to recover from apnea losing myself into these colours.
As a former swimmer, I thought it was an absurd easy thing.
Instead, another one of those cases where I have to reconsider myself: difficult, challenging, interesting.
Very, very, very interesting.
A new way of learning about your body.
A new way of living water.
Tomorrow we test it in the sea (and see with which kind of results).
Tomorrow we test it down there.
Where my eyes fly over, not far from the purple, in this very moment.
22 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 294 🇹🇭
Two days to learn in a different way to know better an element – Water – where I grew up and where I have been living for years.
Two days to try to discover a new, different, strange and fascinating world.
Two days to start going down towards the darker blue and more into the depths of myself.
Two days to be able to hold my breath for about 3 minutes and to get closer to 10 meters deep, with a sully ear, in the calm sea.
Two days to figure out that if in horizontal swimming I’m still good, vertically, instead, for now … I’m happily ridiculous.
23 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 295 🇹🇭
One of the reasons that encouraged me to stay (and allowed me to do so), for over two weeks, on Koh Tao island.
Every night … a different one.
Tomorrow the second and last reason.
Cause tomorrow night we start again.
Tomorrow night, we leave another time.
24 March, Koh Tao (Thailand) | Day 296 🇹🇭
The second reason why I stayed so long in Koh Tao is, as always, the most important one: persons.
Each one with their own history, each with their own experiences, with their habits, their aspirations, their desires, their doubts, their questions.
Each one with their energy.
Each one with their smile.
So thanks Surja, Fernando, Nines, Mei, Belen, Miao, Lena, Isabel, Julia, Max, Barda, Stefano, Lisandro, Mario, Rakel, Morgane, Andrea, Diego, Arno, Bio, Chiara, Francesco and Noky for making these two weeks even more rich and … unforgettable.
25 March, Khao Sok (Thailand) | Day 297 🇹🇭
Two weeks on an island, surrounded by clubs, bars, wifi, phone lines and satellite receivers, and when are you going to receive the phone call you’ve been waiting for days?
When you have just arrived in the middle of the Thai jungle, and the only thing you can hear coming from the phone … are the frogs.
26 e 27 March, Khao Sok (Thailand) | Days 298 – 299 🇹🇭
Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t able to maintain the daily commitment of sharing something – even a simple picture, a story, an impression – on this page.
The fact is that, after having cycled for about 70 km to get to the Eastern entrance of Khao Sok National Park, along with some friends I got on a tailboat which, after about an hour and a half above green-emerald waters – in the middle of mountains and valleys whose beauty I could never imagine before – I reached some little wooden bungalows, floating on the edge of a lake cove where there is no electricity (except for a couple of hours in the evening), running water and any type of connection.
Fortunately, I dare to say.
Tomorrow – when I’ll be back in Bangkok for the last part of this Thai month – I’ll write a little more about this Park, using some of the photos taken by Simone Piccini / Wanderhang (my camera is broken since the day I had an accident in Koh Tao).
These three pictures I’m posting here have been taken with my phone, in those moments when I managed to wake up from the enchantment I fell into because of the magic surrounding me.
I don’t think they can give you completely the idea of the wonderful isolation that I was living – and listening – for almost a full day.
But I hope they can.
28 Marzo, Bangkok (Thailandia) | Giorno 300 🇹🇭
Imagine a star-shaped set of valleys, 165 square kilometres wide.
Imagine a King who decided to build a dam, in the 80s, to change the economy and the agriculture of a virtually unliveable tropical zone.
Imagine a river that takes over a year to fill the new natural “pool”.
Imagine an immense lake that grows deep, month after month, until almost a hundred meters, surrounded by stunning karst mountain which suddenly become habitat for dozens of new species of animals, birds, reptiles and fishes.
Imagine you get there after having cycled for 70 kilometres, forcing your body to the limit and suffering because of the oppressive heat.
Imagine you spot the lake for the first time when you’re still hot and dripping sweat.
Imagine you dive into it immediately, right after parking your bicycle, falling in love at once with its warm emerald-green waters.
Imagine going up, along with 4 friends, on a tail-boat strongly piloted by a local Thai lady who’s not much into smiles but still very calm and gentle.
Imagine flying on the blue mirror for over an hour and a half, losing yourself, breath after breath, in the most wonderful immensity.
Imagine reaching a series of small wooden rafthouses, perched on the slopes of a mountain that now has become a wild shore.
Imagine you find your nest into a 2-square-meters room with no electricity, no water and any kind of connection.
Imagine swimming in front of your tiny wooden patio, trying to find out what is hiding down in the depths and to maintain your balance on a buoying tree trunk.
Imagine you jump on a kayak and decide to paddle towards a new part of the lake, before darkness comes; imagine you get surprised by a tropical storm, when you’re in the middle of nowhere and of a deafening silence; imagine you observe the surface that now ripples far away in the distance, where rain is already lashing the waters, contemplating it with a smile; imagine the wind that suddenly gets crazy and starts haunting you, gliding on you like a monstrous hawk ready to throw you into the lake.
Imagine you’re not afraid of it, but, instead, you feel like abandoning yourself completely to nature and to its threatening strength.
Imagine you close your eyes, inhale and prepare yourself to receive every single drop of rain, embracing it like part of your own body and your new being.
Imagine joy suddenly exploding, for a short moment, all inside and around you.
Imagine living the present as never before, and as if you hadn’t expected anything but that, all this time.
Imagine a night full of stars, on an artificial lake, sitting on the edge of a wooden path, surrounded by mountains and natural sounds, perfectly matching with the music of your heart.
Imagine the dawn. In the same place. With the same emotions.
Imagine one of the most incredible places you’ve been during 10 months of travel.
One of the most mind-blowing of your life.
One of the most magical of your dreams.
All of this, for me, was Khao Sok.