“Well I guess that’s it,” my friend Tony said with a smirk behind his eyes on my last morning in Koh Tao. I had just ordered overnight oats at one of my favorite beachfront restaurants. His infamous punch line was coming.
“You’ll get on the ferry and leave Koh Tao forever and I’ll never see you again.”
What started as a laugh took a sharp left turn and instantly produced enough tears to soak my own overnight oats. Tony uses these kinds of lines to make a jab at the overdramatic scenes of leaving, but this morning was a little different because it was suddenly real.
Leaving Koh Tao is never easy, especially when there isn’t a return ticket. Especially after 8 months here. Especially after all of the people I’ve met. And especially for the way the island has molded this new direction my life is headed in. My extended stay may have initially happened by accident, but it was absolutely the right choice.
The last time I left on the ferry was in November for a Christmas visit home. I knew I would be back. Now, with a one way ticket to New Jersey, walking down the pier felt a bit scarier. When would I ever see my little island that had become home again? Would I ever see it again?
I looked back at my friends waving goodbye on the pier, only really seeing their outline because my eyes were filled with fat salty tears that rolled their way to being reunited with the ocean beneath me. I wiped them away, and my doubt with them. Of course I’ll be back. Koh Tao is the siren of the Thai islands. Once she has you in her grasp, you’re bound for life.
No, it will never be the same. It never could be. We lived for 3 months on a closed island while the rest of the world scrambled in a COVID-19 panic. What a strange and wonderful time. The memories will live on infinitely and continue to lure me back.
Like I always say, the universe works in strange and mysterious ways. I’m certainly glad that it brought me to Koh Tao. Until next time…