Travelling into the heart of Thailand
Koh Samui Travel Blog› entry 5 of 11 › view all entries
December 27th, 2007 – by: dfoo
The bus ride itself wasn't too bad for the first hour. We were back-seat bandits and I had a spare seat next to me which I could spread my stuff on. It was what happened after the first hour which turned my fantastic bus experience sour. A girl got on and sat in the seat in front of me. Ok thats might not sound like much of a catastrophe. But it was. Whilst I don't mind people sitting in front of me. When they sit in a faulty seat which has no back limit then that becomes a big problem. So she would lean back on the seat to get some shut eye and it would bang up against my knee. Lucky she was only about 12-14 years old. I don't think my knees could have sustained the weight of a adult. So for the next 2 hours I would have the seat in front of me digging into my knee caps and occasionally when the bus ride gets bumpy the seat would literally go back until it was literally centimetres from my face. In hindsight it was quite comedic. When we went over bumps she would literally get woken up because she would be catapulted up and down by the faulty chair. The bus ride wasn't all bad though. It was my first chance to see the Thai countryside, via the glass of my window. What I saw was beautiful hills capped in lush forests and roads upon roads lined with palm trees. Or they could have been coconut trees. Not quite sure. Didn't get a close enough look. Anyway it was gorgeous. It was on this bus ride that I really felt like I was in another country. That I was in Thailand. Whilst Phuket was unique in its own way, it didn't feel like Thailand to me. It could have been any other over commercialised island resort in the world. I think you really get a sense of what a country is like when you travel by bus through the quaint small villages along the way. Whilst we didn't stop on our way to Surat Thani, not even for food (lucky some locals got on the bus to sell me a bag of pineapple), you could still gather a sense of the awesomeness of the towns you passed through.
With the 3-4 hour bus ride behind us we arrived in Surat Thani pretty weary. I don't care how much they try to sell the bus rides in Thailand as being comfortable, even selling some tickets as VIP tickets. They are not in the least bit comfortable. Well not for me. But I wasn't a huge bus fanatic to begin with. The ferry ride in contrast was good. I much rather take a ferry than a bus any day. Even if it takes longer. There us something about the fresh salty ocean breeze blowing through your hair and being able to stretch your legs and move about. It's intoxicating. Having never been on a cruise, I can understand its allure. You will definitely find me travelling from port to port on a cruise later in life. Besides the lack of chairs on knee caps, the ferry ride also had another point going for it. It offered some spectacular views of the islands and coasts of Thailand. The islands of Thailand are like no islands I've seen before. Previously, for me, islands were low laying sandy things. But the islands of Thailand jut out of the sea like great monoliths. All with great mountainous terrain covered in trees which drop sharply into the water just as sharply as they shoot out of the water. You just see big dark shadowy things in the distance and know its another island. Your mind drifts off and romanticises for a second of another fabulous island which has yet been discovered. I think someone actually told me that not all the islands in Thailand have been discovered. So maybe somewhere out there, I have my own little undiscovered gem that I can claim as my own.
Before I got off the ferry at the port of Nathon. I read in my guidebook that the songthaews at the port will take me to Chaweng for 50BHT. Okay it was dearer than the songthaews in Phuket, but not unreasonable. It was only when I got off the bus that I realised that I've been duped. They asked for 100BHT. It was my fault for not negotiating a price before I got on the songthaew. Which left me open to all there demands. As it was already getting dark and I was famished. I paid them off and proceeded to stumble to my guesthouse which I had pre-booked. With so many resorts already in Samui and lots more being developed its hard for locals to know where all the resorts are. So obviously when I said Embassy Guesthouse, I didn't expect a lightbulb to go off in anyones head. Lucky for me I knew the name of the larger resort nearby. Which was more well known. I eventually found the place after walking around for a bit. I even walked past it at one stage only to turn back and see 'Embassy' emblazoned across a sign.
I walked in nonchalantly as I could, but it was hard when you're both hungry and tired. The foyer of the embassy is quite deceptive. It doesn't look like a guesthouse at all. There is a row of shiny LCD monitors where people could surf the net. Big brown couches and menus dotted around the place. A bar and stools at the end of the room. It just looked like a normal cafe to the untrained eye. So I walked in quite unsure of myself before someone approached and asked if I was alright. I guess it was quite the sight, a guy with a large backpack attached walking into a bar/cafe. Before I even finished my sentence and said I was looking for the guest house, I was told there wasn't any room. Okay, I'll try this again. I've got a booking, but was a little late due to the bus/ferry and getting lost. As quick as I said that access was granted and was greeted by name. Which really surprised me. I didn't expect this. I guess I'm used to checking into hostels where you're just another face in the crowd. Where your bed is sold off if you are more than 30 minutes late. To be expected is something else. The rooms where actually above the cafe. And before I even had a chance to withdraw the key from the keyhole and take in my new surroundings I was laying spread eagle across the double bed. How I missed you. After I got up from the excitement of having a double bed to myself I rang the girls to see if they wanted to head out for dinner. As they were in Bo Phut and tired themselves they would not be coming into Chaweng for dinner. Having pass the main shops on my way to the guesthouse, and not having any idea of good places to eat in Chaweng, I decide to go to the laziest and easiest option. I head for the golden arches I spotted just 20 minutes ago. Having only seen the inside of a McDonalds, my room in the guesthouse and a few shops along the street, I'm already beginning to like Koh Samui. It just has this energy about the place. People are more relaxed and happy. It eliminated any worries I had in the previous few days about not feeling like I was in Thailand. Finally it feels like I am here where I should be. It's like I belong here. It's hard to explain. It just felt right.
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