Heaven on Earth?
So, we have spent the last few days on Ko Samet.
On friday we checked out of the bed and breakfast around ten am and headed for the skytrain. We got off at Ekkamai station where the Eastern bus terminal is located. We bought our tickets and settled down to wait for the midday bus. Our bus didnt actually leave until twenty past twelve but we did get given a free bottle of water.
Our adopted dog Chuck
The bus was a standard coach type affair, not dissimilar from the greyhound buses we had used in America and much better than we were expecting. Our journey took roughy four hours, travelling through towns that looked similar to Bangkok
and then through very barren areas, with only a few shacks along the side of the road to say people were living there. We saw many cows, most were just idling by the road, eating the rather coarse looking grass. We finally arrived at a rather run down looking town, which is where our bus terminated. We collected our bags and traipsed across to the other side of the road where we found Nuanthip pier. We gave our ticket to the lady behind the counter and she told us to take a seat. Our ticket said we had to wait for twenty people before the boat would leave.
Seeing as there was only one other person from the bus wanting to go on the boat and another bus wasnt expected for an hour, we figured we might be in for a bit of a wait. As it turns out we didnt have to wait too long, the lady at the desk told us to go down the pier. We then were waved onto the boat by the ancient looking guy who chuckled as we walked across the precarious plank to the boat, trying not to fall into the water with eveything we own strapped to our backs.
We sat downstairs but were waved to go upstairs by another couple that were on the boat.We followed, to find deck chairs laid out and gratefully took a seat. I guess the boat had decided not to wait as there was only five of us in total that made the crossing, which was a bit choppy in places.
Trying not to fall in
The weather was rather overcast, but still very muggy as were hoisted our backpacks and trudged down the pier. We were greeted by a lot of men eager to offer 'taxis'. These were actually 4x4 trucks whose flat bed had wooden planks attached to make seats. We declined as the area we wanted to try for accomodation was in the opposite direction to the popular touristy part. We walked past some shacks that had no windows, and in some cases no doors, a bit alarmed that this may be all we could afford to stay in. After much walking, and a bit of wondering if we should turn round we came upon a rather nice looking resort. We wandered up to the restaurant part to see if we could find someone to talk to and was greeted by a very friendly dog. We were a bit wary so didnt stroke her much, but she was so friendly it was hard not to.
Fish waiting for scraps at the restaurant
She rolled onto her back so we could rub her belly and we noticed that she had a shaved side, with evidence that she had recently had some sort of operation, which we figured meant she wasnt a stray. I named her Chuck (I dont know why, she just looked like Chuck) and she followed us as we tried to find someone to talk to. A boat came across the river on a line which started at some huts on stilts and a couple disembarked so we asked them if they knew where were could find someone to talk to. They pointed across the river so we rang the bell (the boat is kept in the middle of the water) and they sent the boat across. We had to throw our backpacks into the boat, trying to avoid the wet spots while simultaniously trying to keep our trainer shod feet dry. We managed, just about, and got hauled across on some sort of automated pulley to what turned out to be the actual restaurant for the resort.
Its a hard life!
The resort was well out of our price range, 4,000B a night but we did stop to have dinner there. Our table was coffee table high, which had a glass top which meant you could look through it to the sea below. Our chairs were futon type cushions set on the ground and we dangled our legs in the gap under the table, nothing between our feet and the sea except maybe a foot of air!
We asked the resort where we could find cheaper lodging and they pointed next door, so we went over to see what their prices were, hoping it would be ok as it was getting dark. We were met by a lady and found out a double room right by the sea was 400B a night. We looked at the room and were very pleased, it was a nice tidy room with ensuite bathroom & shower, mosquito nets over all the windows and best of all Chuck was their dog! We didnt do much beyond have a shower and relax in the deck chairs outside our room that night.
Beckham with his 'thief's mask'
The shower and tap are very weird, they ebb and flow in pressure. Im not sure if this means the water is coming straight from the ocean or that it is just struggling to come from some sort of filtration tank. The next day we walked down to the main part of the island, where we had to pay 200B to enter as 98% of the island is a National Park. Here we found shacks lining the street, a seven eleven convenience store and lots of places renting mopeds & quad bikes. We walked through this to the end, where the resorts started and found pure white sandy beaches stretching all the way down the side of the island. We took our shoes off and strolled down, enjoying the lovely sunny day, walking with our ankles in the water (which was warm).
We have spent our time just relaxing, it is very different here to Bangkok.
The blue roofed one is ours
We have been very lucky to stay here at Ao Klang resort (Ao means bay), the beach isnt anything we could sunbathe on but it is wonderfully peaceful; our room is the closet to the water so we are lulled to sleep by the lapping water. We also have made a firm friend in Chuck, she spends the evenings with us on the porch of our room, content to lay by our deck chairs and always greets us with great enthusiasm whenever we return. She is very well behaved, she never tries to come into the room and when fed something she takes it gently. If there was any way I could get her home I would buy her in a heartbeat. There are two other dogs here, a small rather tubby one called Wicked and a white one called Beckham, neither of which is half as friendly as Chuck. Beckham came by the other day with a coloured in mask on, he looked very comical.
welcome to the beach
There is also a row of cages containing cats on the opposite side of the road to our resort, we found out that the owner of the resort has rescued the cats from all over the island and looks after them, though her mother has told her no more as it is costing them a lot to feed them all.
It is currently the rainy season and along with regular showers we have been party to some very intimidating thunderstorms. The claps of thunder are so loud that it almost makes the room shake, and the rain pours down so hard you think it must surely wash everything away, but next day everything is just the same, with the ground bone dry. We had to retreat from the porch one night due to a thunder storm and felt very guilty leaving Chuck out in it but figured she would have somewhere to shelter. We opened the door five minutes later to find she was still faithfully sitting on the porch, soaking wet and with her tail going ten to the dozen to see us. We couldn't shut the door on her again so ushered her into the room, practically having to drag her in as she is so well trained she refused to come in willingly. She crawled under the bed, more to hide incase the owner caught her and told her off than to hide from the storm and remained there until the rain stopped, which is when we let her out.
Today we decided to rent moped, we were going to move down to the busy part of the island but after we looked at a few places we decided to stay where we were. It is cheaper and much nicer here so the alternative was to hire a bike which would get us to and fro quicker. We hired it under Rachel's licence but after trying it she decided she would be too nervous so I have been the driver. I figure its ok as I have a provisional licence and as long as I dont total it there shouldnt be any problems. We want to explore the island more than just the beach, there are some good sunset spots apparently so we hope to get up to them one evening.