it all started when we made the decision to explore one of the lesser traveled thai islands. there are so many islands and we have the time, so we figured this trip was a chance to get off the island circuit. after some research, we landed on koh jum. the tiny island wasn’t too far away, looked to be pretty authentico and i found the perfect place to stay.
Ting Rai Bay Resort caught my attention for obvious reasons, but it was also ranked #1 of 7 accommodations on Koh Jum. the $21/night resort looked to be the perfect place to escape to on a remote island… private ocean view bungalows, hot showers, kayaks & snorkel gear provided, a delicious restaurant, beachfront massages and wifi on the beach. sign me up!
a couple of days before leaving for Koh Jum, we got enough of a wifi connection in tonsai to call Ting Rai Resort via Skype and ask about availability – they had one bungalow left for our dates – perfect! but the danny lost his spotty connection and they were gone. no biggie, we’d call back. but the morning we were departing for Koh Jum, i asked D (repeatedly) if we should call Ting Rai and confirm the room, “babe, we’re fine. let’s just show up and we’ll get a good rate.” okay.
and that’s when our Koh Jum adventure began.
the morning of our departure, we woke up in tonsai to a brutally hot and humid day. the sun was beating down on our bungalow and the air was sticky and wet. we had a couple of options for our first leg of transportation… a) jungle hike for free with our packs to railay to catch a $5 boat OR b) pay a $8 person to take a boat direct. “the jungle hike will be so fun!” exclaimed my husband. fine, whatever. it was too hot to argue.
with sweat dripping from everywhere imaginable, i slowly worked my way down the steep, slippery jungle path cursing danny’s name with each step. with a pack on both my front and back, i was convinced that i’d lose my footing and break something or die of a heat stroke. after my grunts and sighs got loud enough, d turned around and offered to carry something for me – but i refused (like any self-respecting woman trying to make a point would).
when we arrived red-faced and soaking wet in railay east 45 minutes later, we sat around for a bit but there weren’t enough people wanting to go where we were going, so we had to pay extra — yup, ended up being $8 person anyways.
so after the 45-minute jungle hike, the next few hours went something like this:
: 40 minute longtail boat ride to Krabi Town
: Negotiate a taxi ride to the other side of town
: 1 hour taxi ride to the “other” ferry pier
when we arrived at the ferry pier, we realized that we’d been sold a ticket for the local produce ferry. for real. so, we loaded up with a few Thai women, their boxes of veggies and took the slow boat 1.5 hours to the island of Koh Jum.
we arrived in koh jum hot, hungry and ready to plop on the beach. we were greeted by naked island babies running amuck and a handful of guys who looked like they could help us. we asked a guy/taxi driver(?) in a pickup truck for a ride to Ting Rai Bay Resort. he immediately got on the phone and then looked at us, “you got reservation?” no. “Ting Rai full.”
<i’ll let you imagine the look my husband received at this point in our journey>.
Despite the news, we asked he take us there. I needed to hear this for myself. We tossed our bags and ourselves in the back of the pick-up truck and off we went to the other side of Koh Jum island.
After miles on bumpy back roads, we arrived at Ting Rai Resort – and it was perfect. Quiet, a glistening private beach and the epitome of guilt-free relaxation. There was literally nowhere else to go or things to do. Just chill.
But sure enough, Mrs. Tamm informed us that the room had been reserved earlier that afternoon – the connection cut out and we didn’t confirm. Fair enough. Okay, what about tomorrow? Sorry, we’re full for the next three days.
Alrighty then. Can we use your wifi and get a pineapple shake? Sure. We immediately logged into our trusty TripAdvisor and Agoda apps and everything on the island was showing “no availability.”
We asked Mrs. Tamm for recommendations and to make some calls on our behalf which landed us at, “a newer bungalow place up the road.” With no other options, we were back in the pick-up truck and moseying down to Aosi Bungalows.
Definitely not Ting Rai Resort, Aosi was pretty sweet in its own right. By the time I finally joined Danny in the restaurant/bar later that night (it was better we spend a couple hours apart), he’d already become friends with the owner, Yo, and the other four guests. Us and the German/Aussies took turns connecting our iPods to the bar speakers, making bonfires and swapping stories of the road.
The setting was like something out of the jungle book. The entire place was built into a jungle mountain that met the ocean. Lots of steep stairs to get anywhere, but worth every stair-master moment when you arrived at your private bungalow with a wrap-around porch and nothing but views and monkeys.
Oh, the bungalows. No AC. One small fan. All mis-matched sheets that looked like they’d come from your grandma’s garage sale. An old wasp nest in the corner of the ceiling. A manual toilet (dump a bucket of water in it to “flush”). No warm water from the drip of a shower. Fine. We’ll deal. We’ve stayed in worse and we’re here for the beach, not the room. Just not the Koh Jum Island retreat I had in mind, but whatever. Let it go, Teri.
The moment I lost it was late the first night when I went to the bathroom for my before-bed-pee and out of the corner of my eye I see something bright orange staring at me. A bright orange frog.
Careful not to scare the jumping creature, I finished up and ran out to Danny. “I think it’s poisonous,” I immediately declared. “Babe, it’s fine. They’re more scared of us than you are of them.” Uh huh. Refusing to go to the bathroom the rest of the night, I made Danny go with me so I could squat outside. Better than a poisonous toad. And since Aosi was void of wifi*, we had no way to look it up.
The next morning, the toad was gone but the black wasp had arrived and was inside of our bed’s net. Another day, another insect.
Fast-forward to the next night… I sent Danny into the bathroom to check for any lingering creatures and when he declared it safe, I headed in. WRONG. My husband would be the worst sleuth. I marched back out and informed him that indeed there was an orange frog in there. Where?! The thing had camouflaged itself with a decor tile on the wall. And once I had a closer look, I spotted ANOTHER orange toad camouflaging on the shower faucet.
By this point, we were laughing at our literal jungle hut. So we curled up under our mosquito net with the fan blasting (and think about how fun that is when the fan is blasting your net onto you) and watched Legends of the Fall on our laptop. How crazy cheesy does that movie seem now? Just us?
*I know I shouldn’t care about wifi on a tropical island, but unlike your 7-day Hawaii vacation, we’re constantly trying to figure out where we’re going next and how the hell we’re going to get there. Our intention for Koh Jum was to spend a few days researching islands and countries to loosely map out the next few weeks. Without wifi, we couldn’t do any of that or even determine where we were going next. So get this, we ended up buying fruit shakes and ice cream from a woman so we could camp out in her dining room (no joke) and use her snail-paced wifi long enough to figure out where we were going the next day. Oh the joys of spontaneity.
At the time, Koh Jum was kind of a nuisance of a trip but in hindsight it was pretty rad. Kind of like Spicy Villa on the beach? We literally had an entire beach to ourselves, watched monkeys swing from trees and were in complete relaxation mode.
this little kitty was the sweetest thing ever. she just wanted to be held or pet at all times.
d at “his spot” in the restaurant / bar / bungalow hang out. good views, huh? see the kitty tail?
those are her back legs stretched out. little flop all curled up!
fish decor cut from water bottles, cardboard and a sharpie = all the decor you need.
looking down the beach at Aosi Bungalows.
ting chilin’ on the beach – solo.
we found a soccer ball and played while we watched the sunset.
after a couple of nights, we were ready for our next island. so we loaded a long tail boat and cruised out to the middle of the ocean where there were a bunch of other boats bobbing together. after sitting around for a few minutes, we see the ferry coming towards us. ha! awesome system. pick-up in the middle of the sea.
one by one, we tossed our bags onto the ferry and then loaded ourselves before taking off to koh lanta!