Baan Dinso Hostel Bangkok
Traveling to a strange destination is often made more memorable by turns and twists that we didn’t expect but could happen during our trip. At least that is so for Nidhi Akkarivat, general manager of Baan Dinso Hostel Bangkok, who describes himself as a down-to-earth person who prefers a “non-posh” lifestyle.
Nidhi went backpacking to Cairo during a Ramadan Festival once, and to this day, he can still vividly remember the experience. “The locals were extremely kind, and one particular person, Mahmood, was keen to take me home for the Ramadan dinner,” he recalls. “That afternoon, Cairo’s streets were congested with traffic as citizens were rushing home before sunset. Still, the locals gave Mahmood and I a free ride until we got off at a very crowded small community surrounded by houses made from mudbricks, not far from the textile factory where he works. Mahmood lives in a 30sqm-house with eight other family members whom I had shared a most amazing meal that afternoon. What they had done for me was so genuinely kind I wish I could thank them again now.”
But his ideal holiday destination could be anywhere. He says, “I love to walk very long distances with no map in hand, and can get lost in all directions. This often puts me in situations where I get to meet many interesting people from all walks of life.”
In Thailand, Nidhi’s favorite place is Koh Tao, the so-called “Turtle Island” just an hour or so away from Koh Samui. “This island has some of the most beautiful dive sites in Thailand,” he says. “Groups of friends can enjoy long distance snorkeling or just simply relax under the shade. At night, beautiful phosphorus sparkles are washed on to the shore and you can enjoy a good walk on the beach.
“Scuba diving and snorkeling are the major activities on Koh Tao and there are many great operators who offer services. My personal favorite is New Heaven Diving School on Chalok Baan Kao beach (www.newheavendiveschoolcom).Occasionally telephone and Internet signals go down for several hours especially during monsoons or bad weather although sometimes I consider this a plus.
Overall, the island is so surreal, I can’t describe enough how beautiful it is, because when you’re there you probably won’t ever need any of these words.”
His first brush with Koh Tao happened when he took a two-week “Basic Ecology” summer course there during his undergraduate studies at Mahidol University International College. In fact that was the only time he was there, in 2007.
And yet, it has remained a top favorite, even though he has since been to other interesting places. “I really want to take my girlfriend there,” he says.
Nidhi says he would definitely visit Koh Tao again. “When I have enough savings in my account!” he says, “I’m currently I’m saving for a one-month trip to the U.S. in January and I’m really excited about it because I have never visited the country before.”
Must-Do: Dive and snorkel
Don’t Do: Avoid jumping on that rental motorbike when you’re under the influence of alcohol. The vendor often charge ridiculously expensive price for any slight damage to their vehicle.
Must-See: Sunset beach, glittering phosphorus sand at night
Sleep at: Anywhere on the west side of the island
Eat at: Farango’s Pizza
Drink at: Enjoy your beer on the beach ☺
Bring: Musical instruments
Don’t forget: Stock some fresh water and drinks from the mainland because they tend to be quite expensive on the island.
Others: Try to spend at least two weeks on the island to explore it thoroughly.
Anything else: Schedule your visit right and you can also take a boat from Koh Tao to the full moon party on Koh Phangan.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Bangkok city, take the bus from New Southern Bus Station to Chumphon. Bus tickets can conveniently be bought on the day of travel at the station as they offer many trips every day. From Chumphon, take the Lomprayah ferry to Koh Tao, which takes about two-three hours. Tickets can be reserved online www.lomprayah.com. Bus tickets cost around Bt700 to Bt1,000; the ferry costs, Bt600.