We took turns working on our photos and the travel diary since we had been out of touch for so long as we sipped our juice and grazed through the buffet. Almost all Thai hotels offer a full breakfast buffet with an omelet station in the mornings and they are very good. Finally we packed up our gear and headed back around the island to return our car at the airport; but, of course, by now it was nearly 11:00 and we knew that we would spend the next couple of hours on boats and buses so we stopped at a beachside cafe, took a cabana and had a couple of drinks and lunch and played dice until all the world seemed in order and then continued to the airport
. We hoped to catch the hourly ferry to the mainland, take a bus from there to Surit Thani airport and rent another car for the next leg of our journey......and that is when life got interesting. We barely made the the 3:00 ferry and only then realized that it was a full sized ferry and that we could have probably just kept our car.......but live and learn. We spent the 90 minutes watching the glassy sea from the upper deck and really enjoyed the landscape of the approaching mainland with its jagged hills silhouetted by the sun. We took the minivan to the bus station and needed to go to the Surit Thani bus station to pick up our last transport to the car rental office at the airport. Well.....when we got into downtown Surit Thani, the bus stopped outside a Honda dealership and our bags were already on the curb when we realized that this was "our stop". A Tuk-Tuk driver was right there to take us 40 kms away to the airport for $20. Something smelled fishy to me.....like "what happened to the bus station where buses usually go?". I turned down the Tuk Tuk driver and approached the people at the dealership for assistance and we eventually had half a dozen people trying to 1. help us and 2. figure out why we had stopped there when we wanted to go to the airport. In retrospect, we think the bus driver called his buddy the Tuk Tuk driver to give him some business and we didn't know any better at the time. I am sure that everyone else on the bus went on to the bus station like you would normally.
Anyway, now we stood in the midst of all of these nice people who offered us cold water, chairs, their cellphones until finally we established that we wouldn't make it to the rental agency before they closed and so one of the guys put us into his car and drove us to a nice hotel and we'll take their shuttle to the airport in the morning. So now it is time to explore and have dinner, so we set off across the street pausing briefly to watch dozens of eeking bats swirl around a building next door and then I noticed a guy getting out of his car with something long and thin in a leather case. He went into a building across the street and so we followed, hoping to find a pool hall where we could play and eat a bite. Needless to say, when we came through the doors all eyes were on us; but there were generally smiles all around and they invited us to join in but they were all playing snooker! This I know only from the fact that the tables for snooker are 6' X12' and they use unnumbered colored balls. There was one each of pink, green, yellow,brown, blue, and black and 6-7 red balls. After that; we were lost. We sipped our beers and tried to watch and figure it out but we couldn't. We thought the table on the end was regular pool because they were using numbered balls but then we saw that they were dealing cards and then playing them to determine the order of the shots so we were still confused.
So back to the hotel and there we had a hot curry shrimp soup for two, chicken with cashews, deep fried bananas with vanilla mousse, and a scoop of ice cream each......all for about $15. The room was nice with a queen bed and A/C for $30. We called it a night early; and would have had a good night's sleep but around 2:45 we woke to the sounds of a good time in the hallway right outside our door. I finally stepped out a bit after 3:00 and asked them to hold it down but even at 4:00 their doors were now closed and we could still hear them going strong so I went down to the desk to get help and the said that they were sorry, but that the group would be leaving in 10 minutes anyway. Really?! Sure enough, it was a group of teens or college aged kids and by 4:30 they were rolling their bags down the hall and filing onto the elevator and now all is quiet again. You really have to admire whatever would motivate a group that age to get up so early to travel.
So tomorrow....actually today...soon, we'll go get a car and head for Khao Sok National Park and I hope we will have some good stories and photos to share from there but it might be a couple of days before you hear from us since the accommodations are floating houses on a lake and I'm guessing that wi-fi might be a problem.
It began as another glorious tropical day as we awoke to the sounds of birds outside our windows and the morning light glowing through our sheer curtains. We got up and went for a swim in the ocean before breakfast and the water was so luxuriously warm that we stayed probably longer than we planned; but hey, that is why we don't have a schedule in the first place.