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Published: January 25th 2017
Getting into Thailand did not go as smoothly as I had hoped mostly due to (as always) my lack of planning and knowledge. I basically looked at the map and decided to make Koh Muk my first destination. After saying my goodbyes to Celine I hopped onto a ferry boat bound for Satun on the Thai mainland. Once in Satun immigration was a breeze as I had my prearranged visa. At the ferry terminal their were many direct "tourist" options for $400b ($13USD) to get to the island of Koh Muk. I shunned them of course and hopped onto a local bus bound for Trang ($120b) where I would try and transfer to another bus for Kuantungku Pier where I could get to the island. Didn't happen - at least not right away.
Arriving at the bus terminal in Trang I figured their would be some kind of transport to Kuantungku Pier. Wrong. Nothing to be found. Out of options I decided to walk the 3km back into the city centre. Here I found a guesthouse where I learned that the only minibuses going to the pier were done for the day. I checked in for a reasonable $200b and
was stuck in Trang for the night. Thailand 1, me 0. The next morning I hopped into a crowded minibus ($100b) where I was dropped off at the pier with a few smoking Thais looking at me with confused faces. "What hotel did I come from?" I was asked. "I took the public bus" I replied. "No one does that, and without a transfer ticket we can only get you on the boat for $200b" I was told. "OK, fine." Finally I was on a boat to take me to Koh Muk an island in the Trang group in the South Andaman Sea. As I boarded on the boat a couple from France had told me they had just arrived from Satun on the direct tourist transport for $400b. For those keeping track instead of a four hour journey, mine was two days and cost me $520b. Nice. Thailand 2, me 0. This was my second lesson of learning not to fight the tourist machine that is Thailand.
Finally on the island I needed a place to stay so I headed out walking asking around for a room. "All full" I was told over and over again. Starting to
think I would have to sleep on the beach the woman at the last resort said they could put together a makeshift dorm in their storage building for me and five other people who were in the same predicament. The price would be $500b which was steep considering what we were getting, but what other choice did I have? We were also granted full use of the resorts' facilities including the pool. I felt like I was Gilbert, or perhaps Booger living a scene straight out of Revenge of the Nerds.
Finally sorted I was able to relax and take a stroll on the island. The interior of the island consists mainly of rubber plantations which are actually pleasent enough to walk through. The beach was pretty standard and had a great view of the limestone formations that make the Adaman famous and the water was crystal clear.
Koh Muk has what is dubbed "The Emerald Cave" which is on the southwest coast of the island not far from where I stayed. At low tide you can canoe or swim into the cave through its snaking interior and out the other side where a hidden cove is revealed
where pirates used to bury treasure. Sounded good to me so I rented a sea kayak and headed out. I can count on one hand the amount of times I've been in a kayak, but I feel my form heading into the sea was good. About an hour and a half later I arrived into the cave and paddled my way into the darkness and out the other side to the cove. A pretty neat adventure for the day and the place itself was quite beautiful.
As my time on Koh Muk came to an end I decided to make my way to Koh Lanta a couple of hours north in the Andaman Sea. This time I bought the direct ticket on the tourist ferry for $550b. The transport prices seem a little high and all of the places on the island have the same price. No negotiation. At least I know I am getting the correct price. In the morning a taxi boat took me to the main ferry. We then shuttled around picking up tourists from various resorts and then headed for Koh Lanta. Once at the pier on Koh Lanta an armada of waiting taxis were
there to take everyone from the ferry to their various hotels and resorts all included in the ticket price. The transport was totally seamless and moved with a vigorous efficiency. I've not come acorss any transport that is as orchestrated as it is here on the islands in Thailand. A well oiled machine indeed. As I had no accommodation pre-booked I hopped into a taxi heading to Long Beach. Sounded pretty good to me.
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