Day 12 – Tues -16th June:
Woke up for 5.48am when the train was supposed to arrive as stated on my ticket. On the other train that I was on the other day they woke you up for the correct stop but this time no one was around so I asked the guard and some other English speaking tourists and they said that the train had been delayed by one hour, a very common occurrence in Thailand. So I went back to bed for another hours rest.
When we arrived we were met immediately by a crowd of Thai bus and taxi drivers as normal when getting off any transport here. I followed a bus driver whom a group of other tourists were booked with. I asked them and they were all on his bus and they all had tickets already. I bought a ticket to Ko Samui (I just decided there and then which island to go to) and then had a chat to a Canadian family who were in the bunks next to me on the train. There was a mother and father and three children, they were French Canadian so were bilingual and were traveling for two months. When I said that I had just bought my ticket, the couple said when they traveled when they were younger and they just used to get up in the morning, pick a place and say, that looks nice we will go there today. Now they have children they said they had to plan the whole journey all in advance.
I then had breakfast at one of the cafes next to where the bus was parked and bought some snacks for the journey. The bus was scheduled to leave at 7.30am but didn’t actually leave till about 8am I reckon. About two hours drive later we arrived at the ferry dock at a place called Donsak and then waited another 30 mins for the boat. We were given stickers in exchange for the tear-off part of our ticket, different colours marking out our destination. They called the names of the islands in order of where the boat would arrive; last to first. Ko Samui would be first so our bags were loaded last.
Up until now all the transport I have taken has been used mainly by locals and a scattering of backpackers but this ferry to the islands was was 100% white backpackers, this is because the locals don’t go to the islands and if they live there then they don’t leave the islands. The ferry was a slow one (I have since learnt you can pay more and get there very quickly) and also really old. As we were loaded last there were no top deck seats left and so I sat inside. On the back of every chair was an ancient looking faded fluorescent orange life jacket. I looked out at the water during the journey and thought ‘it doesn’t look that blue’ but I have since read that the sea in this area is meant to be green and it was more green now I think about it.
I arrived and walked past all the Thai’s trying to flog you a taxi and found a cafe where I had a shake and cake and used the wifi. I found a decent place to stay called the Weekender Villa on trip adviser right on the beach, I went for Lamai beach as that is where my friends from the geckos trip would be for the next few days and I was possibly going to contact them.
I asked at a tour office and they said a songthaew would cost me 100 baht which is cheaper than a taxi so I got one. I was the only customer but as we went towards Lamai beach it stopped and picked more people up. I have since learnt that they run a bit like a public bus, charging the same rate for each person and then just stop off in the general area. The Songthaew drove down the main road and then down the side road to Lamai beach. I pressed the button when I saw the word ‘weekender’ flash past. I walked into the reception but it was like 3,200 baht a night. I showed them the trip adviser page and told me that I was in the wrong place. So back out in the road I asked a taxi. It they wanted like 300 baht. I said no and the man refered me to a motorbike taxi. I was hot and tired by that time and I just wanted to get there so I paid 100 baht and the motor bike took me right to my hotel door.
In the reception there was a white guy, possibly Australian from the accent, a refreshing change to trying to make myself understood to non-English speakers. I might have sounded a bit strange to him as I have started to miss conjunctions out of my sentences, it took me a while to speak properly to him. They had a small pool and I had my own air con bungalow with a slightly raised patio.
After checking in I took a short walk on the beach and then out down the street to 7-11 and what did I see! A bookshop! I saw a massive sign (see pictures) advertising it with an arrow and ‘walk 50 metres’, so I walked down a sand dirt track 50 metres and there it was. An awesome second hand bookshop called Island Books and the guy there buys books back as well! It’s a shame I left some of mine in Bangkok for free in a book swap. Anyway I chatted for quite a while to the owner a British man from Liverpool and a self proclaimed ‘Scouser’. He told me, amongst many other things, that he married a Thai woman and has lived here for 25 years and only been home twice in that time. I think his wife has now died but he has never gone back to England. He talked about his Thai mother in law quite a bit but so I think he must spend quite a lot of time with his late wife’s family still. He said he doesn’t get books shipped here but buys them all off the locals and other Europeans who live on Ko Samui. The books were mainly English but he had a small room at the back with a section of books in 20 other languages! You can read pretty much his life story here in the about us section of his website.
I bought a book and said I’d be back again before I left Ko Samui. It was almost hard to get away as he was happy to chat. I guess he doesn’t see a lot of fluent English speakers and certainly not ones who are interested in talking about books :p
Back at my hotel I took an early night.Day 13 -Weds -17th June:
In the morning I got up fairly early and hired a Kayak from the hotel reception. I kayaked round the whole bay at Lamai beach, see map and to the Grandfather and Grandmother rocks, ‘Hin Da Hin Yai’ in Thai, which I couldn’t get up very close to because I was in the water on the kayak. It took about an hour and a half but the return trip only took forty minutes because the tide was pulling me that way.
I was starving when I got back so ate lunch in the the hotel, western food again, I am a little fed up of rice :p. I read my book by the pool and then in the evening I walked all the way along the beach adjacent to where I kayaked. This was not very successful as the sand on the beach is quite sharp and maybe ok to walk on for a short while but after an hour my foot was bleeding quite a bit. Oops…
I waded into the sea to see if I could walk to the Grandmother and Grandfather rocks but it turned out you can only get to them from the road. While I was in the sea my ‘waterproof bag’ got wet, turns out it is only rainproof not sea proof and the daft thing is I actually kinda knew this. So my phone got soaked! I also actually have a waterproof case for it but I took it out of said case only hours earlier duh!
So one dead iPhone…. But I am not too upset as there was nothing important on it because I backed it up to the computer before I left home and I have my iPad, which is fine. I was planning on buying a new iPhone on returning from this trip, looks like that is a certainty now.
Next up: days fourteen and fifteen.
Previously: days ten and eleven.