Published: January 11th 2007December 25th 2006
Mae Koh Island
Ang Thong National Marine Park
Sometimes things don't always go as planned.
I'll spare you the details of booking our flight, accommodation, and train tickets - a logistical nightmare, and a commentary that would make this entry a little exhausting to read. But I will mention the high monsoon winds that stopped the ferries a day before our arrival and threatened to ruin this entire vacation.
I'll begin at 8:00am in the town of Surat Thani after an overnight train ride from Bangkok (we had seats, not sleepers - see above).
We pull into Surat Thani, the jumping-off point to the southeastern islands, and were greeted by some friendly people directing us to a counter (read: table in the middle of the street) to buy bus/ferry combo tickets to Koh Samui. Half-asleep and a little worn out from the train ride, we made our way to the counter and asked how much for two people. We both hear different answers, and instead of confirming the lower price, like a retard I hand over the money and ask, "Was it 400 Baht, or 500?" Of course the response was "500!" and there went any chance of getting the other 100 back (about $3 CDN).
On Mae Koh, overlooking Ang Thong National Marine Park.
Thankfully, the one time I wasn't careful with our money came at a very low cost. Chocking it up to experience and stupidity, we jump on the bus and chat it up with a nice Korean couple from New York en route to the Donsak port. Nearing the ferry terminal, this French guy approaches the bus crew and starts demanding they take him back to Surat Thani.
Tek me bek to Soorah Ta-nee, ah doont went a seex ow-wah feh-ree ride to Koh Sa-moo-ee. I weel tek ze spidboot and git zer befah yoo. And sam-whan stole mah baguette!
Six hours?! What the fuck is he talking about? The Korean couple looked just as confused as we did (not always a good thing, but at least we weren't in this alone). So I ask the French guy where he got his information and he starts freaking out like I just yoinked his poutine. I confirm with two other travelers, the staff, and the ferry timetable that the 80km trip will only take 90 minutes and that the French guy is, in fact, a complete asshole.
Concluding that there are worse places to be than stuck on a slow boat in southern Thailand with gorgeous weather and cold beers, we kick back and enjoy the ride.
Arriving in Na Thon (in a little under two hours, Frenchie!), we
Speeding off into the sunset.
begin the process of finding a driver to take us to our resort. Seems all these bastards have gotten together and agreed on some shitty price and will not negotiate whatsoever. Nevermind the fact that Denise and I are going half as far as the other passengers (who are staying at a different beach), we still pay the same price.
So, off we go, baby-stepping our way to paradise. About 15km out from the main town, our songthaew
stops at the side of the road and the driver instructs us to walk for 20 minutes along a dusty path to our resort. There are no signs directing us, nor did we have a map. After walking with our backpacks in the heat - and having guessed correctly, on two occasions, which direction to turn - we finally arrive at Harry's. Tired, sweaty, and hungry, we check-in at 2:00pm. Our hardships were soon forgotten, as within minutes we were cleaned up and stuffing our faces in the relaxing open-air Chill Out lounge.
In retrospect, despite all the headaches we went through to get here, it really wasn't all that bad. For the uninitiated this may seem a little a
Palm Tree Clock
We used the postion of the sun relative to the palm trees to schedule our day. The sun behind this tree meant lunchtime.
overwhelming, but for anyone that has traveled in developing countries, this sounds par for the course and not that unusual at all. Now, looking back, it's was actually quite a bit of fun!
Our stay on Koh Samui was wonderful, to say the least. Our days were spent lounging by the pool, swimming, walking on the beach, and eating and drinking. Our bungalow at Harry's
was fantastic, the food was excellent, and the staff was very friendly. The 20 minute walk was a blessing actually - isolation has its benefits, and it was peaceful during the day, and dead quite at night.
We made a disappointing jaunt into the main beach town area one night, and were accosted by touts and Indian tailors, and a beggar that dropped her cel phone while jangling her cup o' change. It was noisy and crowded and hardly the place to be for those looking to get away from it all. Why people would come to such an island, only to stay in the busiest strip filled with traffic is beyond me.
To break the monotony of sun-tanning, we decided to take a Sea Safari
to nearby Ang Thong National Marine
Waiting to take us back to the ferry.
, just an hours boat ride west of Koh Samui. We had a great day of eating, sea kayaking, hiking, swimming, jumping off the boat, elephant trekking, and chatting it up with most of the passengers (including a nice couple from the States teaching in China that we had dinner with that night). It was a very relaxed, friendly environment, and we had loads of fun!
In the end, the transfer from hell just added to the experience. And it was nice to have a proper vacation for once. Camille & Denise
There are more photos below