Thailand or Bust! Part 2: Koh Samet

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August 15th 2009
Published: August 15th 2009
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After spending the night on Khao San Road we got up and went down the street to get breakfast. Then we were to set off for Ko Samet (Samet Island!!) We knew to get to Koh Samet we needed to take a bus from the Eastern bus terminal (Ekkamai) and that the easiest way to get to the bus station was via the skytrain. So, our next mission was to get from Khao San Road to the skytrain. Since we had been ripped off by the taxi driver the previous day, we thought it might be cheaper to get Mr. K the tuk-tuk driver to take us. We found him on the street but he would have none of it, “too far”, and then referred us to a taxi driver who outright refused to turn on the meter. So we decided to walk away when Mr. K. said that he would do it for cheap if we would let him take us to another jewelry store. We went upstairs to grab our bags and when we came back down Mr. K was nowhere to be found. Sure enough though, another tuk-tuk driver was all good and ready to go. We told him up front that we were going to Koh Samet and that we needed to go to the skytrain so we could get to the bus station. He agreed to take us to the skytrain for 20 baht (maybe 75 cents). It sounded good to us. Too good. We got in and then he decided that we were going to first stop at another TAT (tourist office) and he said over and over again that we should go inside say we’re going North or South and then buy a bus ticket and he will get a free gas card. Well we thought, ok, if the office can give us the tickets we need, no problem. We went inside…

“We need skytrain tickets to the bus station.”
“You buy them there.”
“We need a bus ticket to Koh Samet.”
“You buy it there.”
“We need a ferry ticket to the island.”
“You buy that there…did you come with a driver?”
“Grab your bags and let me talk to him for you.”

She opened the door to the tourist building and it was a sound not that unlike an old wife bitching at her husband. She told us that we had better hurry to the bus station because the ferries to the island don’t run all day. We hopped back into the tut-tut and told the driver, look we can’t get what we need here… I know, I know, I know… so he went a block down the street and pulled over and told us again, say you’re going North or South and buy a bus ticket and I get a free gas card. Apparently we were supposed to change our entire vacation plans so that he could get his free gas card. I don’t think so, buddy. So we told him, take us to the skytrain we can’t get anything at the TAT office. This did not keep him from stopping at the next TAT office another block away. At this point we got out of the tuk-tuk and walked away. That fool was wasting our time. We walked a bit of a ways down the street and got a taxi driver to take us to the skytrain for a set fare. At this point I was set to despise tuk-tuk drivers.

The skytrain was really easy and very cheap to use. After we bought our tickets we realized that this is the way we should have been traveling all along. We got to the bus station with no problems and then got our tickets for the bus. The bus ride was super long (4 hours) and we passed a lot of really poor looking neighborhoods. It was also interesting to see how, at places, the highway was built up almost like a bridge. I guess with all of the swampy land there’s only so many places to build a road. We dropped a lot of people off at the towns along the way. Apparently you can tell the bus driver where you want to get off and he’ll let you off. When we finally reached our destination we got off of the bus and then went over to the dock to buy our ferry tickets. Oddly, the ferry from the mainland to the island doesn’t leave at a set time but rather when there are 20 passengers. It actually didn’t take as long as I expected for 20 people to show up and soon we were off to the island. The ‘ferry’ boat was amazingly slow. It took us a half an hour to get to the island. When we got off we found that our hotel was the equivalent of a block from the dock. We walked up the hill to our hotel and checked-in to our room. Compared to the room that we stayed in the night before it was incredible. It smelled clean! There was air conditioning, we had our own bathroom and the toilet flushed!

We ditched our bags and then headed down to the beach for dinner! The beach was great! White sand box like sand. Lots of beach side restaurants where you could sit at a table and eat or sit on a mat and lean up against a chair like thing on the ground. One thing that we definitely noticed on our way to and at the beach was the large number of dogs roaming about as they pleased. It seemed like all of the dogs had tags on them but there was no owner to be found. After dinner we took a nice walk on the beach and then sat down on a mat at another restaurant and just stared out at the water. Especially compared to Bangkok it was so peaceful. Soon enough we called it a night.

The next morning we sunscreened and bugsprayed and headed down for a day at the beach! We took a short swim and then ate breakfast. As we were sitting down to eat I was approached by two women on the beach. “You like massage?” Of course I like massage, who doesn’t? haha “Do you want your hair breaded?” Was the other question they asked. Part of me really wanted to get a massage and the other part of me was a little afraid to be sore from it the next morning. The deal was closed when a French family sitting not too far from us hired two people to braid their daughters’ hair, another person to give the mother a foot massage, and another person to give the father a scalp massage. So after breakfast I went with an upper middle aged woman to the shade of a palm tree where she but down a blanket, a towel and a pillow and I paid $6 for an hour long massage. When I paid her there was no doubt in my mind about whether or not I was going to be sore the next day. For a woman who looked kind of feeble it was amazing how strong her hands were. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up the next day and was not in the least bit sore.

After my massage fest, Mike and I went back into the water for a bit. When we came out we sat down in chairs shaded by umbrellas along the beach that were placed out by the restaurant. Since we were starting to get a little hungry we ordered some fruit and ice cream from people who were walking up and down the beach selling food. The ice cream man had a little cart that he pulled around that was cold for the ice cream. The fruit (half of it I had never even seen before) was purchased from a man who was carrying around two baskets. One of them was balanced at the front end of a pole and the second was balanced at the back end of the pole. The man then placed the pole on his shoulders and carried his goods up and down the beach. There were a lot of people selling food on the beach this way and unless you actually wanted to buy something from them you had to be really careful not to make eye contact with them. If you did, it was all but guaranteed that they would come over and try to make a sale. In addition to fruit (and coconuts that they would crack open and put a straw in so that you could drink the juice) there were also people that carried a small grill in the back basket and were selling cooked meat. There were also people selling shawls and trying to get people to let them draw henna tattoos. The massage women also walked around the beach all day and I wish that they would give out stickers for people that already had massages that said just that as I got approached by them all day. I was actually surprised to see the number of both men and women that were up for getting a massage on the beach.

After lunch we reapplied sunblock and then Mike stayed under the umbrella while I went back out into the water. Afterwards we decided to go back to the room for a while, rest and change and then come back down to the beach for dinner. While we were at the beach we could see that we had gotten a little bit sunburned, not hard to believe at all since neither or us had seen any serious sun in a really, really long time. We were uber pasty. And today we were either under an umbrella sitting on the beach, or swimming in the water being exposed to direct sunlight very near the equator. When we got back to the room and showered, it was easy to see that we were indeed very sunburned. In fact, as of now, it has been four days and Mike’s shoulders are still the epitome of red and my nose is starting to blister. Whether or not it was indeed the sunscreens fault or not I will forever blame it on the sunscreen. For a sunscreen that said water resistant, there sure was a lot of it on my hand when I wiped away sweat and a whole lot of it in my eyes when we went into the water.

We ate dinner and took one last night time stroll on the beach and then went back to the room to crash. Sleeping was a pretty painful experience with sunburned shoulders even more so for Mike who was sunburned everywhere from the waist up. After breakfast the next morning it was time to start making our way back to Bangkok.

When we got off the skytrain in downtown Bangkok at Siam shopping center we heard sounds much like that of a drum corps. Excited, we both ran to side and sure enough we saw people in purple uniforms, hornline, battery and colorguard included! We ran down the escalator and through the mall so that we could get out to the area where they were playing but by the time we got there they had disappeared. So, we went back inside and sat down at a restaurant for dinner. After a dinner of pizza, pasta, and garlic bread (mmm!) we went back out into the open area where the band was before and they had come back to play! It was not a drum corps but a marching band since there were also woodwinds included in the mix. We listened to them play a few tunes before they marched into the mall itself to march around and play for a little while. It was definitely not something that I had expected to see in Thailand. I must also say that I could see extra colorguard equipment lying off to the side and the only thing that kept me from playing with it was the fear of being arrested in a foreign country.

After Saim, we went to the National Stadium area where there is Tokyu department store and the MBK shopping center. MBK was enormous. We didn’t actually buy anything in any of the centers but it was nice to walk around for a bit (and get some ice cream!! 😊 We also looked at the things in the informal market outside of the mall. There is a huge bridge area that connects the different shopping centers and there were people sitting on the floor selling jewelry, bags, clothing, etc. Afterwards we took the skytrain as far east as we could go. Then we were on a mission to hail a taxi driver who would actually turn on the meter to take us to the same hotel that we stayed in the first night we arrived. The first driver said no so we told him to go, the second driver said yes and as we were explaining to him where we needed to go a police officer came to see if we needed help. The taxi driver and the policeman didn’t know where the hotel was so the policeman waved the driver away and called the hotel for us. Then he waved down another driver and gave him the directions. The policeman putting us in the taxi also ensured that the driver was going to turn on the meter. The police officer was a huge help! When we got close to the hotel the driver had to call it one more time because he was not entirely sure where to go. Not too long afterwards we arrived at the hotel and were taken to our room which turned out to be nicer than the one we stayed in the first night.

After settling in a bit I went downstairs to exchange the book that I had just finished reading for another book from the bookshelf that I had remembered seeing the first night we stayed there. Since the door didn’t seem to have an unlock option I took the key from the holder in the wall and headed downstairs. I wasn’t downstairs long when Mike came down. Apparently the holder that the key was in on the wall activates the power in the room. So when I pulled the key out everything in the room turned off. Oops!

The next morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and then went to the airport. This time we had a transfer in Hong Kong. I really did not expect such beautiful scenery when we flew into the Hong Kong airport. The runway was literally right beside a body of water. The mountains were gorgeous and I could see them sticking out of the clouds as we were flying in for our landing.

Next stop: Seoul Incheon Int’l Airport South Korea. We got in a little later than expected, caught the bus to Daegu, took a taxi and arrived home a little after 1am. It was a good trip. It was really nice to get out of Korea for a little while and especially to spend some time on the beach!! 😊

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15th August 2009

Ok, now I see your point... your drivers are horrible. I hate sunburns, they can be soooo painful. But it looks like you had a good time in Thailand. How was the food?

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