Bangkok to Ko Tao – In search of a thai beach

Day 16 – Round the World 2008

Today was the day we would escape the noise and the niffs of Bangkok and head for the sun, sand and sea of the Thai islands. Yesterday we had booked a bus to the Island of Ko Tao, a tiny little place just off the east coast of Thailand, to start our 10 days of island hopping. We had heard rumours of continuing Monsoons in the southerly

islands of Ko Phangang, Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi and thought Ko Tao was the best bet to start off with being the most northerly of the bunch. Apparently the monsoon can continue into the start of December in the south of Thailand so we thought if we could spend a few days in Ko Tao then it might dry up further south in time for us to make like a goose and head on down there.

The well travelled trip from Bangkok to the islands can be anywhere between 8 and 12 hours depending on which coast you choose so it’s pretty much always overnight on the train or the bus. We had chosen the bus as it was a little quicker, a little cheaper and it would pick us up from Khao San Road, saving us a trip to the train station. The bus didn’t leave until 7pm so we had the day to see a last few sights of Bangkok. We decided to take a wee jaunt along the river, taking the ferry down from Banglamphu to the Skytrain stop to the south. The ferry ride was pretty cool, passing by the grand palace, various golden tipped temples, or Wats, and racing a bunch of Long Tail boats, but losing by a mile as the rickety looking little craft flew by, powered by their spindly looking, 3 metre long propellors.

We jumped off the ferry and onto the Skytrain, thinking we’d stay on around the whole circuit as I’d read that it gave you a really good view of the city. It turned out though that apparently that had been written prior to the entire train being plastered with adverts making it near impossible to see out of the windows. So, instead, we exited the viewless train at the siam Square area and decided to get some food. We had a pretty relaxed afternoon exploring the huge food halls that prop up Siam Square’s huge shopping centres, and then jumped back onto the skytrain before heading back north on the ferry.

We were getting the bus that night at 7pm so we headed over to the travel agents around 6.30 to queue up. Miracle of miracles, dead on 7 the little travel agent guy came out and led us off through the streets of Bangkok in search of our bus. We arrived at a huge junction, just north of Khao San Road, which had tons of buses queued up all around the outside edge – apparently we weren’t the only ones choosing to have a highly unconfortable sleep on a bus tonight. We headed over to one of the queues and were greeted with an amazing looking bus right at the front. It had huge comfy seats that reclined right back, foot rests that came up to the horizontal and even included enough space to put your feet on them and stretch right out. There were fluffy blankets on every seat, a little bar in the middle of the bus and a huge TV screen for videos at the front. ‘Awesome’, I thought, ‘Might even get a little sleep on this bad boy’. I should have known though, the little travel agent guy marched right on by and Cat, I and our fellow 20 or so bussees behind us could only look on wistfully at the bus/luxury hotel on wheels as we trudged on. We marched past around 6 or 7 more buses, each less luxury looking than the last, until we hit our own shit-heap. It was actually pretty good as buses go, the seats still reclined pretty far and we got a telly, but having been taunted by the full VIP experience up the queue we were never going to be satisfied.

The rest of the evening was just bussing and attempting to sleep – plenty of the former and not a whole lot of the latter – but at least we were on the way. Tropical beaches and reef-bound snorkel trips here we come.

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