Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Taxi, Bus, Boat, Bus, Taxi, Bus, Taxi, Minivan, Ferry, Minivan, Ferry, Minivan, Koh Lanta

So we’ve dubbed Ko Samui “mommy-appropriate”, meaning that there’d be plenty of things to accomplish there that seemed like Mom would want to do.  Plus, they have an international airport, so it’s possible to fly onto the island from Bangkok, making it a prime destination for people who only have a week or two.

So we left Koh Tao and the scuba-ing with Dan and Jenny with the plan of heading to Koh Samui and catching a plane to either Phuket (the closest airport to Koh Lanta) or Singapore, as we weren’t sure exactly where we were going to go yet.  That morning we flipped a coin and it came up Koh Lanta. We got off the boat and the four of us headed to the airport.
Unfortunately, when we got to the airport we heard that all flights to both places were closed for the day.  As a result, we said bye to Jenny and Dan and made our way to a hostel we found in Lonely Planet, where we thought we could find a quick trip to the mainland, but it turns out that the last boat leaving the island for the day . . . . was the one we had gotten off of. 
The tickets to Koh Lanta were available, but we had to leave Koh Samui at 6am.  The hostel we were in did not want us to check out so early, so Leslie stayed there while I walked Chaweng Beach (NE of the island) looking for a place to stay that would let us checkout early enough.
Eventually, I found a tourist agency that directed us to a nice little place where we had both TV and AC for 500 baht ($13-ish).   After checking in we found some food at the Ninja Cafe and the neat little strip on Chaweng convinced us to stay a day. 
The next morning we decided to mail some stuff home, so we got the things we decided we didn’t need/want to carry around and headed to the Post Office.  My ratty old jeans were part of this as I’ve decided the fisherman pants are lighter and more comfortable.  We ended up taking a taxi as we couldn’t find it ourselves.  We then bought a box for 35 baht and filled it with our stuff.  At that point, we checked the prices and figured out it would be slightly over 10,000 baht to mail something. . . yes, that’s slightly under $300. 
We decided to carry some stuff . . . my jeans will find their way into the garbage.
Heading back to the beach was fun though.  Leslie and I hopped on a motorbike-taxi and driver led us down the street in a manner that mom probably would not have approved of. 
We walked the beach of Ko Samui and hung out at a little restaurant where we could eat in the pool.  It was about 6000 baht a night to stay and REALLY nice.  We didn’t stay there.  We also got massages for 250 baht ($8). 
The beach was pretty nice but quite crowded.  Koh Samui is also more westernized than most places, so billboards for McDonalds and Burger King join the ads for Outback Steakhouse and all your faves from back home. 
We checked into football golf, which is like golf except you kick a soccer-ball, but decided against it as it was $30 each.
We went to bed early that night as we had to wake up the next day. 
Our day of travel got off to a rocky start as we missed the taxi to the pier.  Fortunately, a nice motorbike-taxi driver called the company and had them come pick us up.  We made it to the pier on time, but weren’t really sure if we were on the right spot.  Our ticket was to Koh Lanta, but everyone kept saying “Phuket? Phuket.”  There was one woman who spoke a bit of english, but not quite enough.  She kept saying, “how many peoples?”  and would go to the next person when she got confused.
We decided to go with the flow and got on the Phuket bound bus.  The bus drove about 100 feet and had us all get off to walk onto the ferry.  We then drove a few minutes in the port town of Surrathani and got out at the airport.  We were then shuttled into a taxi which took us to a restaurant/tourist travel hub. 
We ate some poor quality food while they showed us the epitome of western cineman . . . . Jackass 2.  Soon another bus pulled up outside.  This one had an amazing 70s technicolor interior with just Leslie and I on it.  About ten minutes later, two more westerners got on as we made the trip to Krabi, a port/tourist town on the east.
P.P. Family was the name of our destination, which helped us book a hostel.  We aren’t so sure that was a good idea, but what’s done is done.  Then, we got in a minivan which took us to another travel agency/hub, which transferred us to another minivan. 
After driving around doing some errands for the driver and picking up 8 people for the 8 seats we headed south to Trang and a little car ferry. 
When I say little car ferry, I mean it.  Imagine a floating concrete slab about the size of a basketball court with six inch railings around the outside.  No walls, that’s it.  We took two of these with another short minivan ride in between.  Before getting dropped off at Sandy Beach Resort on Koh Lanta. 
The food was a bit iffy the first night and I think that’s what made me sick.  We stayed one night in the cheap bungalo before checking into the nice one for the following night, as my stomach was in knots.  I spent all of yesterday in bed as Leslie took care of me.  She did great.
Today I was feeling much better.  We rented a moped and headed out to check out the island and look for a new hostel.  It was a blast going all over the island and we really only got lost once ;).  We knew something was wrong when the ocean was on the wrong side.   
We’re just about finished with Thailand as our visa is up on the eighth.  As a result, we’ve decided to splurge on a hostel flying a pirate flag on the southwest of the island (http://www.maps-thailand.com/map-koh-lanta.php).  900 baht ($26) got us a room with  AC, TV, solid walls (hopefully no mosquitos) and a friendly staff that’s about  an eight to fifteen second walk from the beach.  (depending on if you put your shoes on). 
We’re doing pretty good, but Leslie is getting a little too close to the mosquitos of the area.  With a hand that has 15 bites.  We’re working on not scratching it and the pharmacy gave us some anti-histimine cream today.   I don’t think the itching has subsided, but the swelling looks a lot better.  The woman who ran the pharmacy was great, too.  She’s pointed us at the place to find better deals on hostels (our new hostel is 300 baht cheaper, and nicer), where to go to get good deals on shopping and food. 
I’m learning that you can judge if something is a good deal or good quality by seeing if any locals are eating there. 
There were no Thais in either of the two restaurants that got us sick. 
Happy Trails.

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