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November 7th 2006
Published: November 7th 2006
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Ocean at last!Ocean at last!Ocean at last!

Finally, on the express boat to Ko Samui! Can't wait to see where we'll be staying
Despite "Reet's" recent warning that I just got hardcore scammed (who are you, Reet? Do I know you?) things seem to be going well. Maybe we did get scammed into going to the particular agent that we did, but I'm glad that we did because everything is going really well.

The bus we took was not a government bus, it was private, which did slightly concern me because I have heard lots of warnings about people going through the baggage and stealing from it during long bus rides (just as Reet said). However we kept all valuables on us as a matter of principle (not that we have a lot anyway) and our bags seemed to be the same as we'd left them when we got to our destination. What was our destination? We still don't know. The bus was nice (the outside had a huge Disney mural and the inside had really comfy seats and A/C, thought the Matrix movied they showed continually cut out and the bathrooms were unusable by a girl). We weren't realllly sure where we were supposed to get off, but at one point this guy woke everyone up (it was an overnight bus) and
Where are we going?Where are we going?Where are we going?

Mark looks pretty happy on our first songthaew, but Derek and I were both a little worse for wear having had no sleep on the overnight bus. At this point we hoped we were going to the ferry pier, but we weren't 100% sure!
started yelling at us in a language that possible was English. We weren't sure what was going on but we could see our backpacks being unloaded out of the window, so we decided that was a cue to get off. We had been let off at some travel agency place in some town somewhere. This Thai lady had me show her our tickets and she said that a bus would come at 7:30am to take us the rest of the way. Turned out that a pickup truck was coming at like 7:15am to take us the rest of the way--a 15 minute ride to the ferry pier. Well, it wasn't really just a pickup truck. A big form of transport here are songtheaws, which are like pickups with a covered bed and two benches in the back. I actually like them waay better than taxis. So we got in one when they started yelling "Ko Samui!" and it took us to the ferry. We had like an hour wait there (where I paid 5 Baht to use a hole in the ground toilet--but at least it was fairly clean and they gave me a tissue to use as toilet paper).
I see a boat... that's a good signI see a boat... that's a good signI see a boat... that's a good sign

Waiting at the "ferry terminal" to load onto our boat to head to our own island paradise!
While waiting for the ferry we watched this rowdy, extremely vulgar group drink beer and say offensive things. On of them had a shirt that said "You F***ing F***" (with no *'s). Nice. Then, we realized they had Canadian flags ALL over them! UGH!!!! We were horrified. They were seriously so awful.

The ferry ride was uneventful. We passed some fisherman in longboats, which was cool, and a number of floating offerings which had been released the night before in honour of the full moon, to give thanks back to the sea (I think). The ride was about 2 1/2 hours, and we tried to sleep for as much of it as we could. The overnight bus ride hadn't been very restful. On the island of Ko Samui, we got in another songthaew with a really nice, really helpful driver, who took us the the start of a side road which housed our bungalows.

We're staying at Challee Villa, which is perfect for us. Our bungalow is totally a classic bungalow on the beach, and we eat most meals at the little restaurant there, called the "Chill Out Cafe." Tonights supper will consist of some cheap Thai food,
Home Sweet HomeHome Sweet HomeHome Sweet Home

Our nice bungalow at the beach at Chalee Villa
consumed by moonlight under a thatched room with some great western chill tunes playing in the background. We think it's a family that runs the place, and they're all great, friendly, and speak pretty decent English. The beach isn't amazing (pretty small beach with really coarse sand) but the water is incredibly warm. The water hasn't been very clear, but youcan pick up pieces of coral and see all the cool invertebrates living on them!! Awesome!! We're in the market for snorkel gear, but it looks like it's going to cost us about $100CAN and we're not sure if we're going to splurge... (Xmas present, Dad?) One of the best parts, for me, is the western-style toilet bowl. I was EXTATIC when I saw that. You have to pour water from a bucket down it to "flush" but at least it allows me to sit while doing my business. It also gets unbareably hot and kind of smelly in our bathroom, oh, and overrun with mosquitos, but as long as you keep the door closed it's not too bad. The shower is cold but that's just more refreshing than anything. Oh, and the sink "plumbing" is a tube that runs
Life at the bungalowLife at the bungalowLife at the bungalow

We love it here
right onto the bathroom floor. Hahahaha. Yet I'm extremely happy with it. It's funny how your standards change depending on your situation, because I love our bathroom!

Today we took a songthaew into Chaweng (or something. I can never remember these Thai names) which is a big commercial/party strip on the island, with supposidly a huge, glorious beach. We didn't actually make it to the beach today because we were pretty taken with all the shops. I'm SO glad I barely bought anything in Australia, because I can get it all here. (The boys are getting mad at me now and saying I bought TONS of stuff... but they have no idea how bad it could have been if I hadn't restrained myself at every turn). Anyways, there' lots of good stuff to be had here for 1/10 of the cost of Australia. I'm getting a bit better at bartering, though it's still not my favourite thing to do. I bought some board shorts today for about $6 Canadian. Hopefully they fit, because I didn't get to try them on.

One other funny thing--everyone here thinks Derek is Thai!!! They keep trying to talk to him in Thai,
Mark's poopedMark's poopedMark's pooped

That journey took a lot out of us! Good thing we have our lovely bungalow to chill in
and when he's by himself he NEVER gets hassled by anyone like the rest of us do. Plus, he bought this "long live the king" bracelet today (Thais LOVE their king, and so do we!), which is just perpetuating the image. I think I've said before that people in Bangkok always laugh outloud at Derek. They MUST think it's because he's Thai trying hard to be American.

OK, well I'd better go. We've been in this English bar for ages because it had free internet if you bought beer, but they only had one computer and this annoying guy has been playing online backgammon on the other one for ages, and Mark went first on the one available computer.


7th November 2006

$100 for fins, mask and snorkel in Thailand sounds a little high. Many resorts offer use of them for free. But if that's what you want for Christmas, go ahead. Put them in a mesh bag on the outside of your pack to keep the water and sand out. (I know but I have to offer some parental advice). Is your bag getting over-stuffed and heavy with your acquisitions? You 3 can ship a box home by courier to lighten the load. You should get a map. I wouldn't want to be on a bus not speaking the language and not knowing where I was/was going. I see from the online map that you are only 1km from the ferry on the north end of Big Buddha beach. Sounds like you are happy with where you ended up and that's all that counts. That's not a scam in my book.
7th November 2006

We need pictures
Lets see some pictures of the Big Buddha -- the beach's namesake.
7th November 2006

Re: Scammed
Hey Jess, I'm having a great time keeping track of your journeys. Having visited many of the places you plan on going, I can only say that you only get scammed if you feel you paid more than the experience was worth. Put your own value on what you want to buy or do, and you'll never go wrong!!! As for bartering, start you bid at about one-third of the asking price and you should come out ok. Don't be afraid to walk away, because you can almost always find what you want again a few feet down the mall. Keep posting and have fun!!!

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