On our way back from Cambodia, we were planning on heading to the coast for some beach time next. However by the time we arrived in Bangkok it was around supper time and we decided to spend the night in Bangkok and hit the road the following morning. A couple of folks from the Netherlands, we got well acquainted to on the sardine bus back from Cambodia, were spending their final days of their trip in Bangkok. Having no place to sleep for the night we hitched along with them to their hotel. After checking in and cleaning up we all headed out to find something to eat and drink. We walked around for a little bit and wound up settling on something normal in all our books, pizza! Pizza pies, garlic bread, chicken wings, salad and Pepsi. It was definitely a nice taste of home, Johan couldn’t stop smiling and eating all of the chicken wings. We were all stuffed by the time we were done mowing down.
Content food wise it was time to find something to do! There was rumblings of a market in the area and off we went to sniff it out. After a few broken english conversation with the locals we soon found out it was already over and the night market a district or two over was closed because it was pouring with rain. Scratch that idea and to the bar for some drinks it is! Jess spotted this super tall building in the skyline and said ‘that place must have a roof top bar, lets head there!’ A block or two of easy navigating the Bangkok streets and we were at the base of the behemoth building, Baiyoke Sky Hotel. We all ventured into the lobby and found out there was indeed a roof top bar on 83rd floor.
Up we went, settled in and ordered up some drinks! We wound up sipping cocktails, chatting, and swaying to the über chic music the DJ was playing, one drink turned into more, and eventually we wound up staying there way past close. We think it was now sometime after 2am when we finally headed back to the hotel, the Samaran Hotel that is. The girls had to use the facilities after the long elevator down, and searched for one in the closed market stalls below. The original plan was to walk back to the hotel but after being grossed out by bathrooms in the market we scratched that one. Now our game plan was to try and find a cab. Taxi’s in Bangkok are super reasonable if you use the meter, which they are supposed to by law, but a few refuse to anyways and throw out a ridiculous set fare. We have learned that if they tell you ‘no meter, 100Baht then you must be really close to where you need to go and you may as well walk (thus they are trying to rip you off). Our night and luck was going too well up to this point, there was no way we were going to meet a reasonable cab driver. 100 Baht, 50 Baht, 49.9 Baht, but nobody was willing to do the meter for a 2 block cab ride and the girls had to pee! Finally after asking all of Bangkok to take us home, this tiny Thai driver said yes to the meter and we were off to the Samaran Hotel.
Now, the only trick to the meter is I’m pretty sure they pretend they don’t know where your hotel is and do a pit stop to this group of cab drivers to discuss where it is while the meter is running. Seen it before and saw it again with this guy. We even pointed to where it was on the map, but still no dice. There is something about Thailand that makes navigation rather difficult, and earlier in the drinks lounge we were all discussing it. The thing is, us foreigners can pick up a map or a book of Thai and try our best to say the name to the driver. For example we may tell them “we need to go to Samaran hotel” and they will stare at us and say “huuuh?!”. We can repeat Samaran at least ten times and finally the guy will say “ooooh you mean SAAAAMMMAAARRRAAAAAAN Hotel?!” and the word will be a high-pitched squeaky version of the word you have been repeating for the past 15 mins with no recognition. This is not a con by the Thai people but a difference in how they pronounce words. You can have a Thai language book, and try your best to pronounce what you’re looking for to the Thai people. However I can guarantee you, when they finally realise what you’re saying they will squeal back some Spongebob Square Pants voiced version that will make your head spin. So it was hilariously coincidental that this guy was probably the most enjoyable cab driver we’ve gotten on our trip. When we tried to tell him the Samaran hotel, this exact thing happened and he squealed a high-pitched SAAAMMMAAARRRAAAAAN at us, we all burst into laughter. He caught on that this was making us laugh and we kept asking him “sir can you tell us where you are taking us please?” and he would frequently squeal Samaran, which got us all giggling the entire way home. He also dropped some gems like ‘where you want to go? Shopping?’ and ‘why you goto sleep? Bangkok never sleep’ among others. (others being trying to convince us to go to a lady boy show, or a ping-pong show, and by ping-pong we don’t mean the sport with paddles) eek! We all got back to the Samaran Hotel and headed up to the room and said goodnight with visions of an 8:30 breakfast and an early start.
No real suspense here, that didn’t happen and we didn’t get packed up and checked out till 11:30-12:00. Behind the ball a bit we went hunting for a Western breakfast with our 2 Dutch friends. After not too bad of a search we found one in a hotel right next to the train station, which was perfect. A few guesses of what the piano-man was playing, folding the napkins into something different, and pictures later we all headed to the station to catch our train to the bus station and say goodbye.
A bunch of stops later we got off and started to make our way to the bus terminal. It was staring right at us, but 6 lanes of Bangkok traffic was between us. Did we mention that cross-walks are non-existent here? We made it to divider and then were stuck trying to cross the last 3 lanes for a bit. Until a couple young guys popped off a bus and said ‘you goto Rayong?’ We gave them a yes and they promptly ran out into traffic to stop it so we could jump on the bus. It seemed like perfect timing and our good luck was continuing! The bus was empty which was the cherry on top!
This bus had a group of 5 Thai’s in their 20’s running the show. Hanging out the door calling out something in Thai and occasionally pulling over to pick up passengers who would bite at the call out. It was only supposed to take 2-3 hours to get to Rayong. However, it was about 6pm when we looked at each other and wondered when are we going to get there. When we got on this bus it was empty and the guy collecting the money from passengers only had our money. Fast forward a few hours and he now had a fat stack of cash with a packed bus, these guys had their hustle on. Eventually we found out the bus will arrive in Rayong at 8:30pm, a solid 3-3 1/2 hours later than it should have.
Our plan was to catch the ferry in Rayong to get to the island of Samet for the night. Not going to happen so much. The bus dropped us off in the middle of nowhere in Rayong and we had no clue what to do with no hotel in sight. So we started walking and passed an electronics store. Browsing in we looked to see if they had computers to look up somewhere to stay or something, but alas didn’t see any so we kept on walking. Eventually we came to an intersection, stopped and walked back to the electronics store where we had a chance encounter. The owner of the store was there and owns a hotel just down the road. The two of us, him and his daughter all jumped in his SUV and off we went to the hotel. It couldn’t have worked out better! His daughter spoke very good english and even helped us plan our time in the area while we ate. After we filled our stomachs and heads we said thanks again and retired for the night. Highly recommend Madina Hotel in Rayong! (Just think ‘Funky Cold Medina’)
The next morning we got up and headed to Ban Phe, just 15 minutes from Rayong, to catch a boat to Samet. Everything went fairly smooth, we rode there in a local truck/taxi called a sangthang and then got on a speedboat to take us to the island. We found a nice bungalow at a good price and had a relaxing few days on the island. We had hopes of going to a turtle conservation center but as this is low season in Thailand for tourism all of the boats that were heading to the island were un-booked. In Thailand, if you want to take a boat you buy your ticket and then wait for 6 other people to buy tickets before they leave. Sometimes the vessel of transport seems so packed you have no idea where they are planning on putting these magical extra people but you have to wait for them before you can go. Also don’t forget Thai time is never on time. So because there was no 6 other tourists to go to turtle island, the boat men wanted us to purchase an entire boat ourselves, and at just over 200 Canadian dollars, Jessica’s dreams of playing with baby turtles were left in the dust. Instead we took this time together to relax, swim in the ocean, eat some great surf and turf and of course lay on the beautiful white sand for two glorious days.
After our relax time we made our way back to Bangkok, and it went 1,000,000% smoother. From the bus station in Bangkok we headed to catch an overnight train to Surathani and then a boat to the island of Phangan for the full moon party! Now we are sure you faithful readers remember our urine soaked adventures of the last overnight train we took, but something had finally happened for us on our trip and everything we did seemed to work out just perfectly. This overnight train only had the two of us in our bunk, as opposed to 4 in the previous one, and although not the Ritz it did not smell badly and arrived on time. We were herded into a van after the train and onto the boat ferry pier to go to Koh Phagnan.
This ferry pier had the most tourists we have seen in all of Thailand and it seemed to us (or at least seemed very much to Jess) that these tourist were just looking for a reason to go crazy(giggdy, giggdy). This place was girls gone wild, Thailand style (GOO!) and it really didn’t do much to uphold the reputation of tourists on a whole. Thai people are generally modest, with the exception of some sex trade workers, and wear all of their clothing when swimming in the ocean. It is however acceptable for foreigners to wear bikinis on the beach and tank tops in the heat. This is not an eye sore or a problem. But on the main land pier were tourists, men and women, who were in full on bikinis and speedos sticking their junk out like hill-billies on trash day. Aaron didn’t seem to mind these ladies so much (wonder why?!). This theme seemed to continue for our time in Koh Phangan as we saw tourists doing many things when drunk and partying that made our heads shake with a chuckle. Including getting retarded tattoos, riding motor bikes like Evil Kenevil (Jess had a foot in mouth moment on this topic), dressing more naked than new-born babies, and playing with fire, literally.
We had wisely opted to stay on the beach further down from the partying and had a really great time here. Our accommodations were booked in advance due to fear of not finding a place due to the influx and was really nothing like the pictures. The beds even had plastic covers on them because of all the puking tourists who must have ruined beds before. Trying to escape from our not so nice place, we wandered down the beach and saw a heavenly ocean side pool that belonged to the resort behind it. We soon discovered that with the purchase of lunch or a drink at the swim up bar, we could use the pool for free! It was here that we met our new friends from London, a couple named Sheree and Ian. We spent that night with them at their bungalow and were introduced to some friends they had traveling with them. Once again one drinks turned into many and before you knew it we were really, really, drunk.
One of us was much more drunk than the other, and happened to prove the plastic bed useful as he got sick all over it, all night. Not naming names here but HE really sucked that night, because every time the sheets were changed and we were safely dozing off to sleep, he woke up and got sick all over again. The most hilarious part of this was when Jess was trying to help someone change their soiled clothes and he stated “I’m big boy, I can look after myself! Go to bed!” And then fell back asleep covered in grossness. Oh dear (don’t remember, probably didn’t happen). So need less to say we weren’t really moving too quickly the next day and slept it off on a bare mattress of plastic, with most of our clothes at the cleaners.
The last eventful thing that happened at Koh Phangnan was of course the full moon party. We went down to Haad Rin (The Beach where The Full Moon happens) the night before the party to eat some sushi and see what we were up against. This area was a gong show to say the least and it wasn’t even the night of the party! Fast forward to the next night, we went down to Haad Rin (pronounced Hat Rin) around 11pm. Number one on the menu was getting painted up a bit. Not entirely sure what we wanted and overwhelmed by choices a lot of time was spent moving from artist to artist. Eventually Jessica suggested the Mike Tyson tattoo for Aaron and Jessica just told the artist do whatever then wound up with a butterfly. Next up we bought a bucket, which contains a mickey of your favorite poison & mix, we went with the original rum, red bull, coke and headed to the beach. What a sight it was! There was lots of beach side bars pumping music, platforms with people dancing, water slides from the top of bars, massive skipping ropes on fire, and fire poi. When we were watching one fire poi performance some guy ran into the circle and started running around. From our point of view he was getting awfully close to the fire and trying to do cart wheels. He never got hit, but from what we saw the night before these guys aren’t professionals and do sometimes lose control! The following day on our way out of Koh Phangan we met a girl who had the rope braid burned into her thighs, looked really gnarly.
There aren’t a lot of real toilets at the party, maybe enough to cover 4,000-5,000 people but not the 20,000-30,000 they estimate, so you have people just going in the ocean. Some go out a ways (but not too far, that’s the champagne room) and others just do it right off the beach, squatters included. You could get yourself into some serious trouble here, good & bad, with 150-300Baht buckets ( about 4-8 CAD). Don’t worry we had learned our lesson and took it slow on the drinking. Eventually we ran into our British and American friends we made at the resort randomly at a fire performance and hung out with them for the rest of the night. Some good-hearted fun later all decided it was a good time to head back and skip the sun rise. When we left the beach looked like war zone with all the passed out people in the sand. You take the busiest night club in your city, dump all those bodies on the beach and that’s how many passed out people there were.
We had a pretty big group heading back to the same beach and we all filled up a truck easily. Handed the driver a 100Baht per person and nothing…the driver made us wait for more people when we had no more seats! Eventually two more people came and sat on the tailgate but now were arguing because he was charging them 200Baht each. This was an extremely painful process and after lots of banging on the truck by the passengers we were off. Once we got back straight to bed we went and didn’t wake up until around 11am when a large group of partiers came back. Singing, chanting, yelling we really don’t know how they lasted that long. Without even blinking they sat down at the lounge at the resort and continued drinking! This is where having a hut close to the beach and restaurant sucked and not being able to sleep any more we got up to eat some breakfast. While we were waiting for our food, buddy at the rowdy table said walking by ‘it’s the full moon party, come over and join us’. We replied maybe after we finish our eggs we’ll hop over to the crowded party table. The rest of the day after The Full Moon was quiet lots of hangovers soon kicked in, even half of Aarissca! The tables turned on this instance.
The next day, we had a boat to catch at 7am in order to get to Krabi and explore Thailand’s Andaman coast. Another failed earlier morning rise, we finally arrived at the pier for the 1pm boat and got on the boat with no extra charge even although our tickets were non-transferable! We arrived into Krabi later in the evening and are now preparing for some more beach time. Next time we’ll write you the events in that chapter and the conclusion of our Thailand adventure! Thanks for reading, till next time!