KO PHANGAN - THAILAND

Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
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51
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Trip End Oct 14, 2009


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Sunday, July 12, 2009

We decided to leave with these two couples (Darrell and Ingrid, Tommy and Suzie) and all travel to the island of Ko Tao, Thailand together. It is on the other side of the mainland off the east coast.  We took the morning ferry together and bought bus tickets to get to Surat Thani where another ferry would take us to Ko Tao.  The tour office assured us we would be on a big comfortable bus and arrive in Surat Thani with plenty of time to catch the evening ferry to the island.  Note to self: never believe tour operators in Thailand.  A small...no...tiny bus arrived and we piled in thinking we were the only ones.  But no, they made many more stops until the bus was totally full.  These buses are NOT made for tall people.  I had to sit with my legs completely spread apart just to fit into the seat.  I felt bad for the small Thai girl sitting next to me, I kept saying I was sorry for taking up all her space, but she didn't seem to mind. 

The bus then dropped us off in a town where another bus was going to pick us up.  We ate at a little food stand and had great noodles (although spicy) and all these veggies.  The day was starting to look up...we were feed and our bigger bus was coming to get us.  Then it pulled up...the same size bus, only slightly newer.  So by this time, Tommy, an older guy was really starting to get angry about our situation.  His wife is Thai so she was getting the blunt of his madness as it was her job to figure out this mess.  Again, we were hoping it would just be the 6 of us, but they stopped 10 more times and picked up more people.  They fit 17 people in this 12 person van (with all of our luggage!).  Tommy was starting to get car sick, and the driver wouldn't let him sit in front because of his anger problems.  I can't write what he was saying, or they would probably take our blog off this site.  So a few hours into our 5 hour ride, a few people got off and Tommy got to move into the front seat.  After about another hour he had the driver pull over in the middle of nowhere and he said he was getting off because he couldn't handle it anymore.  Darrell and Ingrid asked him if he knew where they were going or how they were getting there and he simply said "We're going home".  So Darrell and Ingrid continued on the journey with us, planning on meeting their friends later on.  I still have no idea what happened to Tommy and his wife, I hope they made it home safely.  I was glad Ingrid and Darrell stayed with us.  Ingrid and I talked for the majority of the 5 hour trip.

The four of us arrived in Surat Thani about 8pm and Brian and I decided to take an overnight ferry to Ko Tao.  Darrell and Ingrid were having to change their plans to meet up with their friends the following day.  They got a hotel room and let us store our stuff and we got a bite to eat.  Great food here.  So we took an overnight ferry, but changed our minds at the last second and decided to go to the island of Ko Phangan instead.  It's great being able to change our plans like that.  We have no schedule.

Having no schedule has no left us here, on Ko Phangan for 7 nights.  We thought we would stay 4 and now it is 7.  We have decided it is harder and more stressing to leave, then to simply stay.  We are on the very north part of the island that is fairly remote.  There are few hotels here and one small village with just the basics.  No fancy hotels, bars, restaurants, backpackers, just real Thai people.  We are at a small hotel called Coral Bay Resort, and yes, there is a bay of coral right off the beach that Brian has snorkeled (I've tried).  We are staying in a private bungalow on stilts.  We have a wrap-around deck that looks right over the water and the surrounding mountains and it is costing us a whopping $10.50 per night.  The weather hasn't been wonderful - lots of clouds, but its not so bad.  We can still swim everyday and the temperature is perfect.  Our bungalow is great, except for the bathroom.  It has a manual flush toilet, meaning you have to scoop a bucket of water into the toilet after every use.  That has gotten old, but its not a deal breaker.  We also have lots of wildlife surrounding us as you can imagine.  There is a 6 inch gap between our bathroom wall and ceiling, making plenty of room for unwanted visitors.  We haven't had too much of a problem luckily (knock on wood).  The only thing that has really gotten to me is this mysterious poo.  That's right, poo.  It seems every time we leave the bungalow, when we get back there is a brand new present for us on the bathroom floor.  It is small and we're not too worried about it, but it is really annoying.  One day i fell asleep in our hammock outside and woke up to some on my shoulder, whet into the bathroom to clean it off and found some on my contact case!!!  It won't leave me alone!  I have come to believe that it is a lizard of some sort.  Yesterday when we were eating lunch, Brian noticed this 4 foot lizard wondering outside on the patio of the lobby!  By the time we got out there with the camera, he was gone.  A 4 foot lizard, just out and about.  If they grow that big, I'm sure there are a couple good sized ones hanging out near the bungalow - which I've decided is good because they can eat the roaches we've seen!  Still, I wish they'd stay away from my contacts.  I even had Mom on Google Images, looking up pictures of poo and telling me what she thought it was.

So, we've been here a week and have had to think long and hard about what day it is and we don't even bother trying to figure out the actual date anymore...its too much work.  But this is our vacation from our trip.  We have basically slept late, napped in the hammock, swam at the beach, read, and have eaten!  My biggest goal for this week: eat a banana and chocolate pancake everyday - and I have been very successful at that.  We also have met some fun people staying here.  The most exciting thing we have done is rent a motorbike...

We decided we would just share one because that way one of us could look and the other could drive.  However, the bikes here are a little weak and I found myself realizing that we are the Willbond verison of Dumb and Dumber!  Two people our size should not be sharing a motorbike.  So, we left the resort with me walking up the hill to the road and Brian forcing the bike up the hill while wobbling back and forth.  So, I get on and off we go.  Some spots are very hilly here, which we didn't realize before we left.  We first go to the south part of the island, Hat Rin, where they hold the Full and Half Moon parties.  We were still trying to decide if we were going to join the fun for the Halfmoon but after seeing the town, we quickly decide not to.  Way too touristy. 

The road to Hat Rin though is nothing but steep scary hills.  I had to get off a few times and walk up the hill because the motorbike can't take the two of us up.  Pretty embarrassing.  On the way out of the city, instead of me getting off to go down the hills I stay on.  We discover the brakes don't work so well and I have to try, with all my power, not to completely loss it and scream at the top of my lungs.  I'm pretty sure my heart stopped for about 10 seconds going down one hill that had a sharp turn at the end.  I just kept thinking of my parents telling me that morning to be careful on the bike.   But, we made it down all those scary hills and are still alive - Thank You God!  But instead of quiting while we were ahead, we thought "Hey, lets give Becky a shot at driving". 

We were in the middle of the jungle after taking a road to find a waterfall (that was completely dried up) and the road was long and flat.  I got on and drove it for a few seconds by myself, then Brian got on.  He was enjoying it and not having to worry about the road, just enjoying the scenery (which was wonderful by the way).  I hadn't got down how to turn yet, so when we came up to a sharp turn and saw another motorbike coming at us, something clinched inside me and I gunned it instead of put on the brakes.  So away we went around this corner, the other person trying to swerve out of this crazy lady's way (while yelling curse words at herself) and getting over in the grass giving me just enough space to swerve to the other side of the road.  I don't know how I stopped but I remember thinking "okay, you're gunning it, take you're hand off the handle" and it stopped.  The poor guy had a huge bag too that fell off and into the ditch.  I was so embarrassed, and kept saying sorry, he was really cool about it and didn't seem bothered at all.  He must travel a lot.  Brian just was speechless and eventually said "okay...I think I'll drive now".  So that was the end of my turn.  we are lucky this was just on a side road and not a major road and also that it was a motorbike coming at us and not a car or truck. 

After our really FUN day out, we went for a swim and on the way back we saw a couple that had bandages on both their knees and elbows.  I knew exactly what had happened, they had rented motorbikes.  Sure enough, they said their brakes had gone out on them.  So, I spent the rest of the day thanking my lucky stars. 

We were planning on leaving yesterday, but twice now we have asked to stay another night.  It is harder to leave than to stay (as I said earlier) but we have to get going, so tomorrow is the day...we are taking a 45 minute boat ride to another small island - Ko Tao.  It's a rough day of travel ahead.
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