6th – 7th April 2012
Pretty much wanting to get out of Ko Samui even though I had a good day of seeing the rural side of it, I had enough of the tourist trapping lifestyle after a couple of days of it. Also, I was aware that time was pressing to get to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand and then travel into Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
We also made the controversial decision not to go to the Full Moon Party today as well as we knew transport would be completely full after the party so we decided to go on the day of the party when the trains will be relatively empty. Booking our train ticket to leave from Surat Thani to Bangkok later today, we had got ourselves a taxi to take us to Nathon Pier of Ko Samui in order to get a ferry at 3pm…or so we thought.
Checking out the ferry times previously, we wanted to take the Seastran Express but all different websites that advertise the times and prices say different things. It was pretty confusing. Getting the taxi, I told the driver to get to Nathon Pier and take us to the Seastran Express office. I repeated myself several times and the taxi driver nodded and smiled and took us to the pier and after paying over the money, we discovered we were at the wrong office …at the Lomprayah office…the most expensive ferry/catamaran. I was pretty annoyed seeing as I repeated myself the name Seastran Express and he just nodded to say he understood. If he didn’t, why didn’t he say so?
We had to walk to the next pier in order to find the Seastran Express office and came across an office of sorts. The woman looking after it asked us where we wanted to go and I said Surat Thani but I only wanted to go to Bandon Pier of Surat Thani as the pier directly in town, not Don Sak, which was an hour’s bus ride from town. Seeing as we booked the train for 8.45pm and it was 2pm, I really wanted to get in town directly as I knew travel in Thailand is famed for late arrivals.
Nodding her head, she started sorting out our tickets. I repeated myself so many times and said keywords such as Bandon Pier, Surat Thani, Seastran Express, 3pm. She said there’s a service at 3pm. Hesitantly, I took the tickets after confirming what they were and headed off to the shuttle bus to…..Seastran ferry. This was the normal ferry service…NOT Seastran Express. As we settled in the waiting room, I was fuming. Why put us on the wrong boat? The ferry arrived 1 hour late.
Already it was 4pm and our train leaves in 4 hours. And we still needed to get to Surat Thani.
As we boarded, there was a circus of cars trying to leave the ferry. I don’t think they’ve heard of queuing here. By the time the cars left and then some cars boarded, the ‘3pm’ ferry left at 4.30pm. I was pretty anxious of missing the train and settled down into my seat listening to music and reading a book to distract myself from the heightened worry.
Looking outside, I noticed we weren’t sailing direct into Surat Thani but to Don Sak. An hour away from Surat Thani. Feck. I silently cursed the ticket office lady.
Rushing on shore, we found a bus that would be taking us to the train station, a good hour’s drive away. Only after I really emphasised where we wanted to go..via sign language. I did a train motion by my side and gave train noises. I suddenly saw the flicker of recognition in the bus host’s eyes and I could have dropped to my knees at that point and prayed for my good fortune.
Climbing on my bus, I chillaxed for a bit but still keeping my eye on the time. It was now 6.30pm and we still had a bus journey to do. Again, I read my book to distract myself.
As night drew in as we skimmed the outskirts of Surat Thani, I was pretty much thinking of the option that we might have to stay here if we miss the sleeper train. But it was 7.30pm as we arrived in Surat Thani and we were told to get off….in the middle of the dirty and sleazy town wi no train station in sight. We had to take a tuk tuk instead. Why didn’t the bus drop us off outside if we were going to the train station? Too tired to care, we hailed a tuk tuk to take us to the train station and it was pretty far as the train station was on the outskirts of Surat Thani.
Finally we arrived at the train station with 40 minutes to spare and ensured we found the right train. Actually, Matt and I figured we would be spending 3 hours at the train station but we arrived much later than planned. All thanks to the tuk tuk driver who broke Mach 1 in order to get us to the train station. Buying some essentials I.e. crisps and bread to make crisp sandwiches…(I wanted something easy) we settled on the sleeper train. Well, it was an express train but no berths. Just upright seats. I wasn’t too bothered as I can sleep ok as long it is dark.
I was quite glad that we didn’t spend the 3 hours in Surat Thani. The place was so not appealing to me whatsoever and it was the first place that I felt unsafe in Thailand. Maybe it’s because it was dark but as a major stop off point to go to Ko islands or to Phuket, I expected something more swish.
The train left exactly on time to the minute. How’s that for irony.
The train wasn’t too bad. We were given blankets, a meal and some free water. I like this train! Why can’t the trains back in Britain do this?
But the light was continually kept on so the whole carriage looked like it was filled with dead bodies with everyone draping their blankets over their heads. I got some sleep but wasn’t a deep one but I still felt refreshed when we arrived in Bangkok an hour late.
As we were pretty much wanting to get to Chiang Mai very soon and arrive with plenty of time to spare And also during the day, Matt and I booked a flight out of Bangkok to leave later that afternoon. Meanwhile, we needed to get to the airport.
We left Train Station to the Metro Line underneath to the Skytrain point. The Metro was dirt cheap (35 baht) compared to the taxi I got from airport to Khao San Road (400baht – 8pounds) and it was totally worth it. It was very swish and also held security due to the recent terrorist scares Bangkok has had recently. I had to go through an airport security scanner but only after turning off the external processor of my cochlear implant and passing it throughout outside of the scanner.
Getting off at the metro station, we had to take a 5 minute walk to the Skytrain point to get the express service straight to the airport. We were stopped by a tuk tuk driver along the way who claimed that the Skytrain is closed today and he will take us. Such blatant lying. I thanked him for giving me a really good impression of Bangkok..not.
The Skytrain straight to the airport was pretty painless and we arrived at the airport with a few hours to spare. I ended up reading most of my book. It was pretty funny – an idiot abroad. That’s the name of the book…not me. If I had to be called something, it would the sexy, tall, dark and handsome abroad. Maybe a modest man abroad…
Finally, we checked in with Bangkok Airways and got given access to their lounge woo woo where I could stuff myself silly with the free buffet and coffee. Love it!
Climbing aboard the small plane, we jetted off for our 50 minute journey as opposed to a 15 hour train journey!! And we were quickly given a meal! I love Bangkok Airways! They certainly know how to look after me, particularly after the hassle of the travelling in which many times I kept commentating ‘erm..this isn’t where we should be/go..‘
Finally, Chiang Mai appeared on the horizon and I was pretty excited to finally get to the place many people claimed to have the best part of their travels. And you know what? It would soon prove to be.
But first, Chiang Mai, here I come!