The Turtle Island
This is one of the most sought-after destinations for scuba diving in the world; a small island of less than 1500 inhabitants, a turtle-like shape and pristine waters make Koh Tao a place you want to wander in. It used to be home to thousands of sea turtles, however these have mostly moved on to other islands now.
Initially the island was uninhabited, with only the occasional fisherman from the neighbouring islands looking for shelter in a storm or just resting before continuing on their journey. Koh Tao is less developed than Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, but has become increasingly popular especially with the mid-20s, backpacker-crowd in search of relatively inexpensive scuba diving certification. For the past few years, there has been an age increase with many of the visitors that first visited the island over ten years ago now returning with their families.
The best and easiest way to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao is the bus to Chumphon and then the ferry to Koh Tao. You can book all of this for 2000 THB both ways through Lomprayah ferries. The bus from Bangkok is air-conditioned, VIP and takes about eight hours and takes you directly to the jetty to get the Lomprayah high speed catamaran to Koh Tao. The train is more comfortable with sleeper cars but is usually off time.
Lomprayah Cataramarans are the best mode of transport to Koh Tao as it takes one and a half hours while Songsern -- the other option -- takes about five hours. Lomprayah costs 600 THB each way.
Places to stay
This is probably the most important decision you will make for the entire trip of Koh Tao. You can try AC Resort, which is brilliant with wooden walls, air-condition, hot water supply, wi-fi and pool and is priced between 1500 THB to 3000 THB. The entrance is noteworthy as you enter the hotel through a cave. The rooms are within 20 metres of the beach. This is on the Sairee Beach.
Koh Tao Montra Resort, is a great place to stay, right by the ferry and you can take a short taxi ride to Sairee should you please. You can get a standard room from around 3400 THB and enjoy the huge pool, resort surroundings and beach front dining.
Ranging between 1200 THB to 600 THB are the rooms at Ban's Diving Resort, which is also on the Sairee Beach. This one is really close to the beach and there is also a 7Eleven nearby.
Honeymoon couples can try Ao Muang Resort where rooms are priced at 2700 THB and enjoy the serene scenery and quietness of the Mango Bay. There is not much night life but it's worth it as the stunning white sand and shades of blue water will please you day in and day out.
All the restaurants on the beach offer fresh sea food curries or BBQ's with rice or different potato variations. However, some of the restaurants are slightly better.
Lung Pae is situated in the mountains. With a 180 degree panoramic view of the pristine waters and is highly recommended for lunch. They offer a wide variety of fish steaks and grills. I would recommend the Salmon Steak or the Mackerel Steak. Prices range under 500 THB per meal. They offer free pick up and drop.
Porto Bello offers great Mediterranean and sea food options. Raviolis are particularly good and something one should definitely order.
Beside that, there is a pan-cake stall, which sells basically parathas with either tuna fish mix or nutella and strawberries. This unique food seller is from Cox's Bazaar and has been in Koh Tao since the early 90s.
Particularly the mussels in Koh Tao are absolutely fresh and taste amazing. Just ask them to BBQ it or put them in creamy pasta sauce and cook it.
Things to Do Snorkeling
Koh Tao is surrounded by large rock formations covered with stunning colourful coral reefs with an abundance of marine life that starts just a few meters offshore. The most popular way to combine snorkeling and sightseeing is one of the “around island” boat trips. You will find parrotfish, angel fish, triggerfish and blue spotted rays at most of the sites. You can also go on a private trip by hiring a long-tail boat, which costs about 3000 THB for eight hours and can accommodate up to nine persons.
Have you ever considered there is a whole other world within our reach? With scuba diving explore the feeling of weightlessness while experiencing the stunning visual display of the underwater world. Bans Diving School is one of the most popular in the world located at Sairee Beach. To experience what it feels like to breathe underwater, the half-day discover scuba diving course is a great option. A certified instructor will supervise you all the way. This costs about 3000 THB and is worth every penny of it.
Beach hopping by long-tail boats
You can beach hop by hiring a long-tail boat. It is probably the most scenic way to commute and will give you the feel of Columbus as you will explore new beaches and bays almost every half an hour.
Try going to Mango Bay, Freedom Beach and Tanote Bay. The trip to Koh Nan Yuang is something to cherish. The trip is 300 THB return and your driver will entertain you with hilarious charades along the way.
Crystal clear blue and blue-green waters and stunning white sand makes it worthy enough for a space in your memory for life.
Biking, trekking and cliff jumping
You can bike almost everywhere in Koh Tao but for the more adventurous should try the Tanote, Reservoice, Koh Tao Wind Turbine and for the very hardcore , Laem Thian.
Tanote Bay and Laem Thian offers cliff jumping opportunities with heights varying from 10 feet to 42 feet. After the jump you'll have to swim a bit to get to the shore.
You will inevitably fall short of time in Thailand or any other island in Thailand. One quick suggestion would be to take a massage at the beach side reflexology centres and enjoying the sunset with that. The massage puts you in trance, you can enjoy your island reflections in half sleep mode.
Contacts: AC Resort #077456197; Ban's Diving Resort #077 467 077.
By Taskin Rahman
Photo: Taskin Rahman
All about UTI
Have you ever wondered what UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) is? At any point in your life, you may have experienced it and not understood what it could have been.
Urinary Tract Infection is typically a urine infection, which almost every single one of us faces at some point or the other, especially during Ramadan. Interestingly UTI is a problem even in winter because people tend to drink less water. Although urine infection is more often a 'girl issue', it does affect many men but has a significantly higher incidence among the ladies.
UTI is a group of infections that affects different parts of the urinary system, starting from the kidneys to the outermost part called the urethra. It is not unusual for many STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) to act like UTI, but it is a different problem that can even be caused by simple harmless bacteria that live in your gut (E.coli).
The symptoms are quite obvious and most people who have suffered know immediately that they have it. They include a burning sensation during urination and feeling the need to use the bathroom many more times than usual (frequency). Some people also experience an increased urgency which is basically the feeling that one cannot hold the urine in. Rarely, there can be blood with the urine. In many cases there may be fever as well as pain in the loin.
Why should one go to see the doctor if they have UTI?
Obviously, the problem can be quite painful and uncomfortable but leaving that aside, infections of this nature tend to ascend into the upper portions of the body and may affect the kidneys. They also increase the chance of kidney and bladder stones.
In pregnancy, UTI can be dangerous as it can spread to the womb and damage the amniotic sac (the bag which holds your baby with a special fluid for protection). This can be quite dangerous.
Things to do if you have UTI
You should obviously go to a doctor if you have at least one or more of the symptoms stated above. In the meantime, you can do the following (this is especially important for those women who suffer from urine infection very frequently):
Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
Try to empty your bladder regularly, at least once in 3 hours and once before you go to bed.
Add a spoon of baking soda to your water during the early part of the infection. This will make the acidic urine more alkaline, which helps fight the infection. (Does not cure but reduces the pain and burning. May be done in addition to antibiotic therapy).
Increase your intake of Vitamin C and A. This will help fight the infection and promote healing (Do not take Vitamin C and soda together).
Avoid caffeine and alcohol. They will make matters worse.
When cleaning the area after having answered to a call of nature, washing should be from front to back and not the other way around.
Wear cotton undergarments and stay away from tight underclothes.
It's best to avoid making love for a few days while you have the infection. If the male partner wears a condom then the infection will not spread. It is important to remember to urinate before and after intercourse. Both partners should remember to clean up afterwards (this is important for those who are recovering from or are frequently affected by this infection).
You can also take over-the-counter drugs like paracetamol to reduce the pain.
Patients who often suffer from this can have a cup of pineapples each day -- an enzyme in pineapples helps fight the infection.
Raw cranberry and cranberry juice also clears the infection and helps reducing burning.
By Dr. Naomi Mirza
Noom: Losing Weight Android Style
From managing your budget, passing time, planning schedules to even Run Pee, which tells you when to take a bathroom break during a movie, we now have apps for everything. While some of these programmes border on the ridiculous, such as IHobo, there are a number of them we can't do without. One of the hottest such necessary apps around is Noom.
Noom is the brainchild of WorkSmart Labs, creators of the popular Android app which tracks your workout. Noom uses similar features, with new additions, but serving an entirely different purpose altogether.
Stripping Noom down to its basic application, the app is supposed to help you lose weight. It tracks every meal you eat, all your workouts and even offers nutritional guidance, incorporating the Check-In feature. The feature further tracks how much you have walked, sets a target for it and informs on how many calories have been burned.
The graphics for the App have been updated and made more user-friendly, using lists to track your progress rather than graphs. It also helps in setting up a personalised weight loss plan, customised to your needs.
This helps the app determine how many steps you need to walk, set up your meal plan and provides a limit of calories intake. The design is intelligent enough to keep users engaged and this weight coach comes completely free of cost, that being another perk.
Although you will be able to share your progress via both Facebook and Twitter and keep everyone informed, there still remain a few problems. Firstly, as user-friendly as it is, it is sometimes hard to navigate towards specific options. Secondly, if you work out and walk at the same time, only one aspect will be recorded and thus the calories burned shown will be less than the actual amount.
However, with 13.5 million downloads and an average of 4.2 pounds lost by around 86 per cent of active users, Noom's drawbacks are few and far between. Give this app a try and see the benefits for yourselves.
By Osama Rahman
CHECK IT OUT
Valentine's surprise at Nando's
As the month of love, February, is approaching, Nando's, a South African restaurant chain that made a big hit in the country, is setting a romantic stage for lovers to make a memorable mark in their loves stories. In February, the restaurant will be decorated in a majestic fashion making it a unique place to be on Valentine's Day and throughout the rest of the month.
Nando's have introduced three couple's meals based around the Quarter Chicken, Chicken Steak and Chicken Espetada. As we all know Nando's is famous all over the world for their Peri-Peri Chicken and its exotic taste and flavour, which cannot be found in any other restaurant. Along with the main meal, other offerings on the Valentine's Meal are Peri Bites, Designer Drinks, Extra Side, and Premium Belgian Ice- Cream. All in all, it is a perfect meal to have with your 'one true love'. The Valentine's Meals at Nando's start at Tk.1,314 and are targeted at couples.
But Nando's aims to take its customers a step beyond the service of good food -- they want to serve them a memorable experience. This Valentine's month, each week a couple will get the chance to get a dazzling diamond ring from Diamond World along with a candle light dinner at Nando's and other fabulous prizes, information of which is available on their Facebook fan page - 'Nando's Bangladesh'.
All Nando's wants to do is touch lives and this Valentine, they want to make four lucky couples' special day very, very special with really, really good chicken and a very adorable diamond ring. After all, diamonds are said to be a woman's best friend.
By Dibarah Mahboob