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Published: September 14th 2014
Karaoke at full volume
No sleeping on this bus
Jo had booked what appeared to be a stunning little bungalow on the beachfront in Koh Tao, a small island in the Gulf of Thailand. We planned on getting in some diving and taking it easy for the remainder of the trip. This day was always going to involve alot of travel but we figured it worthwhile as Koh Tao looked like our kind of place.
We were at the breakfast table around 0830 and by 0900 I had gassed up my bike for the final time and Jo had finished packing. We dropped the bikes back to Say Cheese Guesthouse and began asking around about how to get to Chumphon where we planned on taking a ferry to Ko Tao.
There was one place that had a bus / ferry combo that unfortunately left at 0830 to catch an afternoon ferry to Ko Tao. No-one else in Hua Hin knew of an alternative so we needed to try to come up with a plan to catch up to the bus and try to book tickets on the same ferry. The train did not seem to be an option - it left at 1100 and we thought it unlikely
Not bad... but not Kho Tao
to make it into Chumphon in time. It became clear (we thought) that another bus would be the best option and after a THB100 (NZD4) tuktuk ride about five kilometres south we were at the bus station trying to figure out the quickest way south.
BY 1000 we were on board a double-decker bus for what we were told would be a four hour journey to Chumphon. We were already 90 minutes behind the bus we could have been on had we not allowed ourselves the luxury of a sleep in.
As the four hour bus trip stretched into five hours it became clear that we would not be able to get to Kho Tao but we would not give up until all options had been explored. I tried to get some sleep but the TV had movies on at full volume with Thai overdubs and no english subtitles. To make matters worse, each movie would run for about 20 minutes then inexplicably change to a new movie. When I thought things couldn't get any worse the karaoke began.
The final nail in the coffin came when we discovered that the bus station was 15 kilometres from the centre of Chumphon. A bloke approached us at the bus station and offered us a taxi for THB30 each, this quickly became THB 50 each and then THB150. We hadn't said a word and the rate had already tripled! We finally decided not to trust him as the taxi he was referring to was a private car.
We walked around a kilometre away from the station as we've often found there's money to be saved by getting away from the transport hubs but by the time we found an Esso Station we were ready to give up. The lady behind the counter ordered us a taxi over the phone and we waited ten minutes for it to show.
The "taxi" was a ute driven by what I can only assume was a friend or family member and we were told the ride would cost THB300. It seems that sometimes, despite our best efforts, in order to be taken for a ride, we needed to be taken for a ride.
By the time we got to the ferry booking office in Chumphon the last ferry had long since left and it was clear we were stuck in town for the night. To make matters worse, the office was located at the train station and the train we could have taken ex Hua Hin had already been through! While we'll always choose to travel independently, every now and then a nice planned tour wouldn't be all that bad. Someone else to do all the time calculations and make the arrangements for us would certainly have been nice on this occasion.
We booked a ferry and hotel pick-up for early the following morning and had no choice but to book a new hotel - Chalicha Resort. Chumphon seemed to have little to offer the tourist and seemed to be just a launching point to the Gulf Islands. We had a late lunch nearby and spent THB100 on a taxi to go the 1.4kms to the hotel.
Our room was big and overlooked the pool. As with many of the places we stayed, the room seemed like it was a little unfinished. Each hotel we'd stayed at to date was close to being something nice but always seemed to have something lacking. I could only assume the one unpainted concrete wall in this room was a "feature wall".
With a few hours of daylight remaining we spent some time in the pool, wishing we were on Kho Tao. We had a late dinner of super spicy chilli prawns and chicken and spent an hour or so chatting with a couple that had just returned from Kho Tao. We were given some tips about what to do and where to go and the girl showed us her "Kho Tao Tattoo". By all accounts the roads on Kho Tao were rough and slippery with sand, drains and steep hills to contend with. The Kho Tao Tattoo is any bruise, scrape or injury that shows other tourists that you have ridden a motorbike on Kho Tao.
Jo looked nervous - I was looking forward to the adventure.
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