Back to meet some friends on the eastern islands
Trip Start Nov 18, 2002
157Trip End Ongoing
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So now to our mission to meet friends from home who are already in Koh Tao. Retracing steps/journeys that we had already done just a few days ago made it all the more easier.
We got the ferry from Penang to Langkawi and then from Langkawi to Saturn. Again we had calm sea and the journey was fairly uneventful.
Then once we docked in Saturn we passed through immigration with officially dressed officers in proper uniforms unlike Ko Lipe in their Billabong shorts etc!!! Then we faced the on slaught of the minibus mafia who try all they can to get you to take their expensive option of transport to Trang instead of us wanting a lift the local bus station about 10minutes away where our journey fare is less than half the price they were quoting. It never ceases to amaze us how many people just believe everything these mini bus drivers say such as 'you wait long time for bus' or "there are no more buses today....blar....blar" We don't listen to that old nonsense anymore we've heard it all before.
Once at the bus station we had to wait just 20 minutes for a nice big new ish bus to take us to Trang about 2 hours away.
As we had stayed in Trang before the town lay out was familiar to us. We stayed in a nice little place right by the train station called My Friend. In the morning we had free tea/coffee and biscuits before we headed off on the next leg of our mission.
We were to find out that our only option of getting to Surat-Thani (for the ferry to Koh Tao) was by minibus. We try and avoid minibuses at all costs. As we have said in the past Martin does not fit into a minibus very well and least of all for a 4-5 hour journey.
Thankfully the minibus turned out to be a very modern big one not like the type resembling an old VW Camper with a few seats bolted inside!
The only problem is there is not much room for luggage least of all for 2 hefty backpacks and so our only option was to pay for an extra seat for the bags or not go. Ok we surrender and the bus left Trang as planed at 8am. Apart from the driver having to make a couple of stops on route to buy a bottle of M 150 which is like our equivalent to a very strong Red Bull and that swigs from it on the way, our journey was swift and smooth and rapid after the M 150.
Once at Surat-Thani bus station we then had to do battle with all these touts trying to sell us ferry tickets with the mini bus to Don Sak (the port where the ferries leave from) included. No we wanted to just get to Don Sak (having been warned that these combined tickets we well over priced) ourselves and buy our own ferry ticket from there. It seemed like everyone we spoke to was on the make from us. "All we want is the minibus to Don Sak" we would tell them. 'Ok come with me' then we find out they want to sell us the bus and boat ticket combined too, just like all the other people that said 'come with me'!!! Ahhhhhh
Eventually I had to got to the toilet and when I came out and paid my 5 baht to the lady I thought I would ask her where we could get the mini bus to Don Sak. She took us over to it and there we paid our 100 baht each for the 45 minute drive to the ferry port. Horray!
There were a couple of other tourists on the minibus who had been sucked into buying the combined ticket paying well over what we paid separately for. The ferry ticket to Koh Phangan alone was 220 baht and the mini bus was 100 baht making 320 each in total. They had paid 500 each (making a difference of 180 baht which is just £3.60 extra per person) which I know in the big scheme of things is not much in our world but here in Thailand that is a lot and just because some minority locals want to 'scam the tourist' we object to that. We hope that the more people know this hopefully the less it will happen. Well, maybe!
So once at Don Sak we bought our ferry tickets and were on the next ferry at 4pm to Koh Phangan. The big old car ferry took about 3 hours. We were greeted in the dark at around 7pm by a huge host of touts from various hostels and resorts dotted around the island. As we were taking the ferry the next day at 9am we decided we would stay in the port town called Thongsala so it was an easy walk to the ferry again.
So it was just one night in sleepy Thongsala. Everywhere seemed to shut down for the night by 9pm. We had a meal in the American diner type place downstairs from where we were staying at Bua Kao Inn and then it was off to bed.
The last 2 days have been quite a mission and although you just seem to be sitting whilst going from town to town it still gets quite tiring and catches up with you eventually.
We are looking forward do to meeting up with our friends tomorrow in Koh Tao. Get the beers ready guys!!!!