Published: February 16th 2012February 6th 2012
The bus to the Thailand border was uncomfortable. The bus was very old and the seats were in a uncomfortable recline position that could not be adjusted but it got us to Poipet on the border with Thailand. Here we were instructed to get off the bus, walk through immigration before embarking on a different bus once in Thailand. They gave us all red stickers to wear that were instead of a ticket. You lose this sticker you need to find another way to Bangkok they told us.
We walked through Cambodian immigration and was stamped out but it took 3.5 hours of queuing time to get through Thai immigration. People were jumping the queue which irritated everybody and you could see some westerners who did not like to wait, mostly Russians, who must of paid the security to be able to jump the queue, again to everyone’s frustration!
Once through we were met by the bus company who gathered us up in mini vans and took us a couple miles down the road to a cafe where we were given numbers on our stickers in the order we arrived and told to wait until our
number was called. After an hour our numbers came up and we went to board the mini vans that were making the journey to Bangkok. Unfortunately a party of 7 Russians (I must sound very anti Russians but just stating facts) had been moaning about waiting and even though they had not been there as long as others were allowed to board our mini bus first, bagging the best seats!! Ahh I was SO angry and could not help but make a snide comment. Terry and I had to then move to the two seats at the front next to the driver. Bit of a squeeze but actually turned out better than being in the back as all the luggage was loaded between the aisles so did not look very comfortable for them either.
Terry and I had seat belts so put them on and continued our 4 hour onward journey to Bangkok. Unfortunately our driver was CRAZY. Swerving in and out of traffic that at times Terry and I were too scared to look. Only thing that did make me happy was the Russian party were not used to this sort of driving and were scared. They kept
trying to tell the driver to slow down but he did not speak a word of English so ignored them – Ha. Finally 12 hours after leaving Siem Reap we were in Bangkok.
28/01/12 - Bankok and Hua Hin
We spent another 3 nights in Bangkok at the same hotel as before, Merry V, but this time went for the cheaper room with shared bathroom – 200bht (£4). Terry got kitted out with a Tailor made suit. We went to Raj Tailors near Khao San Rd who did a really good job. Terry just has to ensure he keeps the suit safe until we get to Oz. One of the days was awful, rained all day so I ducked into a salon to see how much a hair cut was. In the end I sent all day there as I had a cut and highlights (£18). Manicure and pedicure for (£5) and Terry and I both had a one hour Thai massage - (£4). The thai massage was painful, they get you in some weird positions before you suddenly hear a cruch and think that cannot be good! haha. At one point the masseur tried to pull each
of my fingers out of my sockets, which I cannot stand anyone cracking their fingers around me let alone someone doing it to me, I said 'no, my fingers do not like that'. Terry who was next to me could not stop laughing but the masseur carried on my massage without popping my fingers. OUCH!!
We booked a bus to Hua Hin which is 230KM south of Bangkok to visit Terry’s uncle who was out here for a month in his villa. We spent a couple of days with them before catching a train for only 50bht (£1pp) south to Chumphon. It is only 80KM away but the train travel is slow in Thailand and took 5hrs! We were heading to Koh Tao east of Thailand in the Southern Gulf Coast. There was a bus and boat package from Hua Hin all the way to the Island but this was £20pp, same price as the boat and bus package we had seen in Bangkok. So we decided to make our own way to Chumphon and catch the over night ferry which takes 6 hours but costs lot less then the express day boat that does it in 2 hours.
We are in no rush and saves on accommodation ready for us to spend the next day in the sunshine. The night ferry was 200bht (£4pp) plus 100 bht (£2) for our taxi to the port from town. There were two night ferry options, one that was 300bht and was a car ferry but did have bunk beds available in a huge room or there was our boat which was a lot smaller and you sleep on the floor. We brought the tickets from a hotel in town who said the car ferry was better as you have beds but she said there is approx 40 beds all in one room. I imagine this would be crowded so said to Terry lets go cheaper as be just as uncomfortable sleeping with all those people.
We got dropped off at 9.30pm at the pier and were the only backpackers there; everyone else must have gone during the day or took the other night ferry. Our boat was small and was a cargo boat filled with stock for the shops on the islands. We started to think we had chosen the wrong option but luckily had brought some beers with us
so drank a couple thinking it was going to be a long night. Once on board the small crew ushered us up on to the second floor which was a large room with mattresses, sheets and pillows on the floor. There was only two Thai people up there so we bagged our own little area and realised this was pretty cool actually. At 11.30pm we set sail, half hour earlier than planned, and Terry and I both had a great night sleep and did not wake up until we had arrived in Koh Tao at 5.45am, just behind the other night ferry. We decided to wait at the port until day light before finding accommodation or getting a taxi. Spoke to some travellers who were on the other boat but they said they had an uncomfortable night as was so many people in one room! Yah so we paid less and had a good night sleep – love it when that happens, take a risk from the norm and it pays off!!
Most of the shops do not open till 8.30am so we found a cafe that opened early, had breakfast, Terry finally had decent
full English, and hired a moped for 200bht per day (£4). Plan was to look around the Island for accommodation and when we need to get back to the pier we can come back via the bike which saves on the taxi fare, which is normally 100bht PP on average for a short journey! We checked out a few areas but decided to stay near the pier as found a nice cheap place and as we have the bike we can go to different bays during the day.
We brought a cheap snorkel and mask to see if it was any good before we invested in another and headed off to the south side of the island. The snorkelling was not the best but I think we were in the wrong area so we headed further up the east coast.
The roads were very bumpy, sandy and full of pot holes but we managed to get Hin Wong. I never went in here but Terry did and said he saw tonnes of fishes. It was a rocky headland and I could see hundreds of crabs crawling over the rocks so it put me off going in – such
The next day was torrential 24 hour rain so we did nothing but stay in and watch movies all day... Waste of our motorbike hire to as we missed the deadline to take in back at 9am as the rain did not start till 11am. Plus we had filled it with petrol. We decided to leave the following day as I think the weather put us off staying longer as we saw on the internet it was going to be here a while.
Terry took the bike back to Lederhosen bike hire which is owned by a German and his Thai wife. We had heard that Koh Tao has a very nasty bike scam where they will closely inspect your bike for any damage and charge crazy fees. We had taken pictures of the bike before we rented it and was present when the Thai lady checked it. We also thought maybe it was the Thai people who were the scammers and another reason we went to Lederhosen – boy was we wrong. Terry said the Thai lady inspected the bike for ages looking all around. We had not caused any damage as hardly used the
bike so he was not worried. She then looked under the bike which she had not done before we hired it and nor had we. She said we had scratched the bottom. Unfortunalty she had our passport as deposit and demanded £60 then £30. Terry got angry, the German guy was useless pretended he did not know what state the bike was in before we rented it so we would have to pay. The lady said she had not marked any scratches on the bike underneath on her piece of paper (that is because she never looked there!!) and in the end Terry gave her £6. I mean to drop from £60 to £6? What for if she thought we had damaged it? Just extra pocket money for them I guess. Very sad though and this is the first time ever we have had trouble with any hire shop, it is the best way to see a place so will hire again but will have to keep looking on the internet to ensure the island is a safe place to hire. I mean you google Koh Tao and there is so much about bike scams. Some of the roads are
in bad condition but we never went down them so why don’t they warn people to keep away from those roads? I think they make more money this way I am sure. Rant over, apart from this incident Koh Tao was great but expensive to get around if you have no bike as you are left to the mercy of the overpriced taxis!
So Ko Pha- Ngan, heard so much about this place over the years, envied friends who had been over the years... and now I am here! YAH! However I am now older and more boring so instead of hanging around for the Full Moon party we are now ensuring we are off the island before the party commences. For the simple reason it is too damn expensive! During the Full Moon which is on the 8th
Feb, you have to stay a minimum of 7 nights, the accommodation prices treble in price and as we only have a 15 day visa for Thailand this would mean an overstay for us which again means charges so alas I am finally here in Ko Pha-Ngan but just for the beaches and maybe a
couple of buckets ;o).
We caught the ferry from Tao to Thong Sala pier in Ko Pha Ngan (250bht, £5pp) and it took only an hour and half but it was so choppy people we being sick all around me. I thought I was going to be joining them but I kept remembering what dad used to say on our ferry rides to France “keep looking at the horizon and you won’t be stick” so I did but still felt very sea sick but was not sick!
Soon as we arrived around 11am we hired a bike. Was pretty cheap at only 150bht (£3). We were so careful with checking the bike over that the Thai lady laughed and said do not worry it is fine. We took around 100 pictures, pointed out every single mark on that bike, we were there ages! We left out backpacks with the lady and said once we have found our accommodation we would be back to collect. We decided to head up the west coast and avoid the backpacker area of Hat Rim which is in the South East but we soon turned back. It was very beautiful but quiet with
only overpriced guest houses or places to stay that were cheapish but in the middle of nowhere so would have to use the bike on the evening which we do not like to do. After a couple of hours, we headed to Hat Rim, flew passed a Tesco Lotus store (they get everywhere) and was surprisingly impressed with the area. Found a great hotel just off the main strip for 400bht (£8) with balcony and minutes from the beach. The town is very much geared up for the party scene but it was not busy when we were there, some stands on the beach selling buckets (vodka or whisky with mixers) and the bars were open but not at all busy. We ended up staying 3 nights all together. Did a bit of snorkelling in the north which was really good, the island itself was beautiful. Golden sandy beaches, built up only in some places but you could escape easily if you needed to. Loved it here!
Another island we had heard so much about from friends who had been on their honeymoons and my brother who went on a luxury break
with his girlfriend. However we were not on a luxury budget so knew we would have a different experience to them. We caught a ferry from Ko Pha – Ngan to Samui (200bht, £4pp), on calm waters and took only 45mins. We landed at Na Thon pier and hired a bike straight away in the town for 150bht. Again we looked over the bike but the lady just said bring it back in one piece and that was it. So off we went, leaving our bags behind. We headed up to the North of the island and stayed in a cheap but amazing place in Hat Bo Phut, just outside the Fishermans Village area. We had a large room for only 300bth (£6) at Bo Phut Mansion House. The area was amazing, full of expensive restaurants that lined the beach but such a great atmosphere. I liked walking around in the evenings, people watching. One of the days we drove all around the island which is around 100km. We saw the very popular Cheweng beach which the beach was lovely but the town was horrible, too busy and full of crazy drunk tourists. One guy cut us up on our
bike, so Terry tooted him and he then stopped his bike and pretended to go to push us off – I mean really?? Full of Thai women selling themselves it felt like a mini Bangkok. We quickly moved on to the south west of the Island which was more rocky but unbelievably quiet, maybe too quiet, full of exclusive resorts and the beaches were stunning.
Loved all 3 of the islands but probably found Koh Pha-Ngan the nicest. The weather was a bit strange, what with the torrential 24hr rain fall in Tao and some days were a little hazy. We are now heading over to the islands on the east of Thailand where the weather does look a lot better!
There are more photos below