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Published: December 17th 2009
The journey from Phuket to Ko Phayam would prove to be a fairly easy one - a bus from Karon to Phuket Town & then a connecting bus from Phuket to Ranong, where we would then get a speed boat to the small & tranquil island of Ko Phayam. The bus from Phuket to Ranong took 6 hours, with one stop off at a smaller, official bus station, where we grabbed some cheap & not so nice food. Stretched legs & refreshments out of the way, we carried on the journey to Ranong, finally arriving at Ranong bus station at 16:00, where we were greeted & picked up by the owner of Vijit’s - the resort we had pre-booked to stay at. We somehow managed to tactically pile all 7 of our back packs around 6 full plastic canisters of gasoline & then ourselves on top, whilst the 3 girls sat in the cabin. We then made our way through the small fishing Town of Ranong, to the ‘non-commercial’ port, where all of the big fishing ships docked. As usual, we found ourselves climbing across a number of boats, which on this occasion included a police boat armed
with 15mm machine guns at either end. But before there was any climbing across boats, we had the more challenging task of climbing down a 15 foot, bamboo & scrap wood ladder that seemed to have been put together by a blind Elephant… it was very suspect, especially with the additional weight of our back packs. Thankfully we all managed it, some easier than others, but we were all now settled & ready to jet off in our speed boat.
It was an interesting ride over to Ko Phayam, mainly made so by the fact that this seemed to be the voyager cruise of the speed boat as all of the locals on board wanted a turn at the helm, & various counterbalancing techniques were practiced & eventually applied with the most effective one being 2 of the younger boys standing at the back & either side of the speed boat, running from side-to-side to stop the boat from tipping or veering too far off course. The exercise was made all that harder when certain individuals (namely myself), were counterbalancing the counterbalancing by stepping across to the other side of the boat to get pictures of the sun set,
that filled the skies with amazing colours. After a couple of frowns from the 2 weights at the back of the boat & a telling off from Sam & Elaine, I sat back down & took pictures from where I was seated in fear of unintentionally capsizing the speeding boat & killing us all, or at least, tossing us into shark infested waters. Travelling in the speed boat slashed the time in which it took us to reach the island - we were there in no time. The now usual procedure of being hoisted up onto the pier was applied, before we were met in the dimming light, by a young boy & a chap from Winchester who had been sent from Vijit’s to pick up our bags & then help navigate us back to the resort. The vehicle they had rocked up in to take all of our bags seemed a little worse for wear. It must have been in a former life, some kind of mini truck; however it looked like it had been used in a Top Gear experiment. All of the doors had been taken off, all sides of the trailer had been removed, there was
no front window & there were just about 2 seats in the front. The only thing missing was the ‘Stig’ to drive it. Anyway, as there was no room for any of us on the truck, we had to hire motor bikes, which proved to be the only mode of transport to get around on. That out of the way, we headed to Vijit’s following the makeshift truck along 1 of the only 2 roads on the whole island before turning off & riding down small sandy footpaths in the pitch black dark. We got to Vijit’s with only 1 incident of a bag falling off the back of the truck, before checking into our rooms. Sam & I managed to nab the last of the rooms at the front of the resort (which literary stepped onto the beach), whilst the others were happy with the other rooms located just at the rear of the resort - all equally as basic, but as comfortable.
Once we had dumped the bags we all met back up in the main seating area & ordered food & drinks. Although it was dark, the area was nicely lit & the sound of the crashing
waves just in front of us had a real calming affect & helped us relax from our earlier travels. We didn’t stay up too late due to a combination of tiredness & the fact that once the electricity goes off, it doesn’t come back on until 2 o’clock the following afternoon when a new gas canister is used to power the generator.
The next morning we woke at a reasonable time & had some breakfast before walking 5 meters down to the beach where we enjoyed the white sands, warm crystal blue waters & the entertaining crabs busy scurrying about; occasionally stopping by to pinch one of us. As the island was so quiet, & lounging around on the beach all day could become a little monotonous, we had to think of activities to pass our time like for example, growing a beard, or shaving each other’s hair off etc. Naturally not everyone participated in the above activities, but I did find it quite surreal shaving Dean’s & Kieran’s head on the beach, unfortunately due to Barry’s ever receding hair line, he had opt out of this particular pass time. After DP’s Barbers had shut for the day, we made
tracks to seek out some of the other beaches, heading to the far north of the island.
The journey to the first beach was a difficult one, especially as there are no roads & the bikes we had, as usual, weren’t equipped to handle the off-road dirt tracks we found ourselves challenged with - nevertheless, & as usual, the bikes got us there free of any real difficulties. It was a short walk down a newly cut path before we reached Monkey Bar where we enjoyed a drink & a free Banana, took a few pictures & headed off to the next beach, Long Beach. The ride down the steep dirt track proved to be more fun than going up, more so because we didn’t have the girls on the back, so we could mess around & do dangerous & silly things we weren’t supposed to. Some way back down the track, we finally caught up with Sam & Elaine who had got a head start on us & had walked down - far. So far in fact that as we made our way down on the bikes, we got a little concerned that they had either taken a
wrong turning, or had been abducted by aliens, neither proved to be the case, as they were just around the next corner, safe & well. Apparently they had just walked at a leisurely pace, however there was no way they could have gotten that far without running some part of the way. The journey to Long Beach wasn’t too bad, as although there were still no roads to ride down, there were footpaths that doubled up as small roads, so it was a lot easier. When we arrived, it was relatively apparent why it was called Long Beach… because it was very long, especially in comparison to our beach & the previous beach we had just visited. It wasn’t however as nice. Personally it reminded me of a naff beach from back home; dull with no character. The others felt the same, so we didn’t hang around for long & headed back to a little restaurant we passed on the cross road where we enjoyed some good ‘Pad Thai’, cooked by big mamma. After we enjoyed Big Mamma’s culinary delights, we headed for our next destination; the big Buddha sat at the top of a hill. Once we had taken
some pictures & enjoyed the sights from the top of the hill we rode round to Oscar’s, a bar that had been recommended to us by the chap from Winchester. I’m still not too sure who Oscar was, but I suspect it was the weird, foul-mouthed midget from London as he seemed to be behind the bar the most. Whilst we were there, the girls were eyeing up the Sunday Roast Dinners listed on the menu & after we sank a couple Chang & played some pool, we headed back to the resort to get showered & changed where we met up with Kieran & Kate, before heading back to Oscar’s to get a Sunday Roast, or so we thought. What the girls had failed to read before getting excited about the Roast dinners, was that all orders had to be made a day in advance so they could get the necessary meats & ingredients, so rather than eating our Sunday Roast, we ordered it for the following day & then headed back to Vijit’s to eat.
After dinner, we picked up where we had left off from the following night & started up our game of Black Jack.
This wasn’t however just any old game of Black Jack; this was Black Jack with a twist & a bottle of Sam Song. Black Jack has many forms & variations depending on who you’re playing with & what planet, country, county, city, town, village or post code they’re from, & as a result, a friendly card game can often turn into a drunken disagreement. So the twist that was introduced was that each of us playing would take it in turn to apply our own variation of Black Jack, or how they like to play it. So no disagreements, no questioning just their rules. The first couple of games weren’t too bad with only minor variations & a double shot of Sam Song for the looser. However, the following 4 or 5 games became a little more interesting & adventurous, for example, blunders were now 2 card pick-ups & a single shot of Sam Song, Red Jacks could cancel anything, including 2’s & when a ‘Speed Round’ was called, you only had 2 seconds to play your hand, which if you failed to do so resulted in a blunder which in turn was a shot of Sang Song etc. With
the new rules introduced at each game, the Sam Song had gone & it soon became apparent who could play & who couldn’t no matter what variation of Black Jack was being played. Barry probably came out worse than most, falling blunder at the hands of his own rules with not many people lagging behind him. As we had run out of Sam Song & it was late, we turned it in & went to bed.
The following day was a fairly chilled out one, with a few hangovers being nursed from a night full of blunders. Everyone fell into the groove of the Island & relaxed & enjoyed the peace & tranquility of the beautiful surroundings. That day, all Sam talked about was the Sunday Roast & how she couldn’t wait & how it better be good as otherwise she would be disappointed. Well finally the wait was over. At about quarter past six we made our way over to Oscar’s for our Sunday Roast. We all sat around a big table, where we were served our dinners, 5 Chicken Roast’s & 2 Beef - all equally as good, made even more so by a second helping of
vegetables, plus Sam was happy, so it must have been good. We enjoyed a few drinks & watched the football before heading back as we needed to be in a good shape of mind to plan for the journey we had ahead of us, back to Bangkok, to start to make our way North.
As it happened, we decided that we would get the slow boat from Ko Phayam to Ranong, Ranong to Champon via a 4 hour bus journey & then a 9 hour sleeper train from Champon to Bangkok. The only complication we encountered was getting the sleeper train, mainly due to the fact that we didn’t want to have to pay for an overpriced 2nd class ticket with air-con. So after messing about trying not to do so, & in the process missing a train, we eventually booked our tickets for the sleeper train which ended up being 2nd class with air-con. As we had missed the early train, we had 4 hours to kill, so just sat around in a bar next to the train station where we endured countless terrible renditions of crappy love songs being sang by screechy Thai women who made the
songs their own by singing every note out of tune. Once our ears had stopped bleeding, we made our way over to the station, crossed the tracks & jumped onto our train to Bangkok. Needless to say it was a cold train ride back to Bangkok especially being stuck in upper beds right next to the fans pumping out sub minus air & any other shit that gets spurted out of the unclean & dirty air-con. The following morning, still tired & very much awake we arrived into Bangkok at around 8 o’clock, where we were happy to get off the train into the warmth of the smoggy Bangkok air. All 7 of us jumped into a minibus where 5 of us were dropped off at the top of the Khoa San Road & Kieran & Kate, left for the Southern Bus Terminal heading to Kanchanaburi.
As soon as we stepped out of the minibus the realisation that we were now back in Bangkok quickly hit us.
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