I’m backdating this entry half a week due to the fact that I’m not toting my laptop and so I can’t write in real time.
We spent a couple of nights just off Khao San Road in a busy guesthouse, far enough from the noise but close enough to the action to stumble to. Double room with A/C, fan, basic amenities and clean enough for $15/night. We love Thailand already.
It wasn’t long before the humidity had us taking afternoon siestas and primarily functioning after dusk. Given the 40 degree heat and near total humidity, we needed to make any beach our heading, ASAP. Quite frankly, we weren’t able to enjoy Bangkok for this reason. May as well head elsewhere, we will have plenty opportunity to return. We booked an overnight bus and ferry to Koh Samui, an island in the South.
That evening we had a very social night, meeting tons of other travellers. Among the nine of us in our crew, was a German girl who mentioned that she had rented a bungalow on Koh Phangan, paying a laughable 8,000 Thai Baht/month ($240 CAD). Hmm, Koh Phangan you say?
After an intoxicating evening mixing our own drinks at 7/11, finding inspiration to eat fish jerky, squid and crickets, we decided that Koh Phangan would be our new heading. Coincidentally, the next full moon party was in just a few days, which was convenient but also meant that prices were grossly inflated. FYI, if you don’t know Koh Phangan is the place to be during a full moon. The island attracts 9,000-12,000 party-goers and upward of that in high season.
I need to mention the Western men and Thai sex workers briefly here. While it doesn’t much bother me, of course I am intrigued by this seedy business (the same goes for my Amsterdam visit). But I did notice one couple that really made me cringe -for the Thai woman. Greg and I were maybe 80-m from our guesthouse and I spied a couple dining street side. Holy [expletive]! “Greg, we need to go back and do a double take so you can see this guy. He is fucking scary!” We retraced our path five metres. This dude was probably in his mid forties-early fifties, had long scraggly black hair, dark sunken eyes and a crooked nose. He was a near doppelgänger for Alice Cooper. All I could think was a) that man may very well kill this girl; and b) there is no amount of money in the world that I would accept to have anything to do with that man and his penis. No way.
So bus travel. Veteran travelers be rolling their eyes right now and saying, “Wait until you go to Cambodia.” I am a novice, forgive me.
Your travel agent says it will take 12 hours, add two-three. Your A/C will cause frost bite so pack a heavier layer. The coach is a ‘VIP’ bus but take everything you would be upset to lose and pack it into your carry on. Sleep with it on your stomach, no exceptions. There is a 99% chance someone will go through your stowed luggage; don’t bother with locks as they can pick them.
You just waited on the street for your bus, for an hour plus and it’s 30 plus degrees out. You are dehydrated but wait, there’s no toilet and they won’t tell you now but the bus will only stop once. Exploit stops at all costs.
You will be herded like sheep. Random transfers will be made, you will exit and the bus will leave. No one will tell you how long you will wait there, 1,2,3 hours? Then some disorganization will occur as the travel middleman puts a sticker on your shirt, noting your final destination. You, the human parcel will board a smaller bus and be deposited onto the ferry (glorified boat).
One of my fellow passengers said he slept great…with four Valium. As a counter-argument to bus travel, our trip from Bangkok to Koh Samui was booked for 600 Thai Baht ($18). However, we decided mid-trip to go to Koh Phangan so that was an additional $9. $27 or so dollars to travel for 12+ hours. Not bad.
Arriving in Koh Phangan we have acquired an entirely new set of problems. Such examples include: our $3.35 laundry service takes an entire day to complete, $1.50 beer warms so quickly and the beach is so shallow! Island life suits us quite well. At night big leafy palms buzz with critters, stars shine bright and darting around the island on our moped is as fun and thrilling as it is convenient.
Following tonight’s full moon party we will check out of our ‘luxury’ beachfront apartment and head north island to Bottle Beach while hunting for a proper house rental.