Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day 7 Digest from the train, Surat Thani and Koh Samui, Thailand

For the earlier daily travel digests from my South East Asia Backpacking trip, look here.

It was an early start to my day as the movement in the train woke me up. After asking one of the train guards, I got to know that the train was running late by 90 minutes. I tried sleeping again, but could not get to sleep and hence got up, opened the screens on my side windows and watched a very beautiful sunrise followed by great views of lush green countryside passing by.

In a short while, the entire train started to wake up and the catering department came to take the breakfast order. I had to order from them even though they were a bit too pricey. In a short while, one of the AC compartment attendants came, removed the bedding and converted the beds back into seats and the catering department guy came with the food, took a table piece from below my seat and plugged it next to my seat and voila my breakfast table was ready. I was impressed with the design and after the initial excitement wore off, I dug into the food as I was really famished.

By the time my breakfast was done, the catering attendant informed us that we are expected to arrive at Surat Thani in 45 minutes. Thus, we packed our stuff and stayed ready. Once we got down at the station, we reached over to the information desk and told them that we had our Lomprayah bus and boat ticket bookings. They took us to the Lomprayah shop and asked us to wait for 30 minutes. Soon, a bus came and it took us 90 minutes to reach the Don Sak pier. I spent most of the bus journey sleeping and when I did wake up, I had a stiff neck. The boat looked great. It was supposed to be a high speed catamaran. I was impressed. It was clean, large and air conditioned. The boat journey was supposed to be about 60 minutes. Just after we left, the weather got bad and it started raining. We would feel the bumpiness in the water, but not that much. The boat simply sped on top of the rough waves. Thankfully, by the time we reached Koh Samui, the rains had stopped but it was still cloudy.

When we got out of the boat, we were swarmed by taxi guys with price lists to different parts of the island. Each fare was above 300 THB and the driver told us that distances were 20 kms, 30 kms and so on. I was wondering whether I was on an island or a large city. One of the taxi drivers explained us our location and the island’s geography using a map. He said he will take us to Lamai beach for 600 THB. But, I smelled a scam and hence kept moving. Finally, I got a Toyota Innova AC taxi to go to Lamai beach for 300 THB. We did not know where we had to go as we had no bookings. Hence, we asked the driver if he had any budget accommodation recommendations. He ended up taking us to one, but we didn’t like it. And we had also released the vehicle by then. Hence, we started walking on the road and by then we found a share taxi and bargained with the driver to take us to Chaweng beach for 60 THB per head.

In about 10 minutes, we were dropped at Chaweng beach. I was still struggling to come to terms with the sheer size of the island. We were on the Chaweng main market road. We looked all around, but did not find anything that fit our budget. An Indian waiter from an Indian restaurant saw our plight and offered to help and once he found out that we were Indian, he asked us to sit in his restaurant, gave us access to the restaurant’s wi-fi and asked us to go online and check out hotels that fit our budget. We found some names, got directions from the Indian waiter, thanked him profusely and hit the road again. We were sweating profusely as it was a super sultry day. We went from hotel to hotel, but did not like the rooms. Finally, our walk stopped at P Chaweng guest house, located on the main market road. We checked into our room, freshened up, had our lunch in the evening and explored the Chaweng beach before the sun set.

The evening was spent exploring the beach and the various shops and restaurants on the Chaweng market road and we ended up having dinner in a large Thai restaurant that seemed to attract a lot of people. The food was really good even though the prices were slightly on the higher side. During dinner, we watched a lot of taxis with blaring speakers and huge hoarding that were inviting people to different events, be it a wet shirt party, a muay thai boxing match, an ice party or others. This was quite a new experience to us,but apparently this was the norm in the islands here. One can sit in these taxis and get a free drop to these hangout joints. But, since we were tired, we decided to explore some shops nearby and then headed straight to the hotel to hit the bed. After all, it had been a hectic day for us and the sun and the humidity had really sapped our energies. But, as I was sleeping, I knew that I could not survive for long in this island city and created plans of getting out of the city as soon as possible.

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