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Archive for April, 2010

The Cobras Are the Least of Your Worries

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 26, 2010

April 24-25, 2010

All Pictures

What!?

I think we should head back now

Mark organized a meetup trip to Khao Yai National Park. There were some new “weekenders” this time. We all met up at the Mochit bus terminal then got on the next bus to Pak Chong.

From Pak Chong we took a songtow to an entrance to the park. The fee to enter is 40THB, if you are Thai or have a work permit.  Other wise the cost is 400THB.

Since my company is not really on the ball when it comes to doing paperwork in a timely fashion, neither Mark nor I have work permits yet. We are still in the “process stage” of being legal workers in Thailand. I’m just a few tedious steps from getting health insurance. Mark is a couple of steps behind me, since he changed schools. I might be employed in Japan by the time I get my work permit for Thailand.

From the gate we started to walk toward the campsite. We could have rented a private songtow to take us in, but we  didn’t know. We took a public songtow to the entrance instead. Public transportation vehicles are not allowed to enter the park, only privately hired vehicles. If we called for a car, truck, or whatever to come pick us up, there is no telling how long we would have had to wait. Besides, this was a great opportunity for John to fulfill his life long dream of hitchhiking on every meetup trip.

On our way up we passed a sign that said, “Beware, Cobra cross.” Don’t worry. We didn’t see any cobras. Though John did hear an elephant. I doubt anything out there can kill you. Though some of the stuff out there can kill you, you are mostly likely not going to see any of them. Maybe…

tents up!

After we set up our tents we went for a walk along the road towards some waterfalls. It was a cobra-free, yet leech infested walk. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we had almost walked to the nearest waterfall. There were monkeys relaxing on the side of the road and they stole our attention. Within seconds we all forgot or lost interest in the waterfalls.

Later, after the sun had set, boredom took hold of us. There was really not much to do. We were under the impression that fires were not allowed at the campsite, though no one could say where this idea came from.

Our plan of action was to get some flashlights and head off in the jungle to see what the waterfall looked like in the pitch dark of night. I think it was John that suggested it and no one really protested too much, at first. The protests came after we were deep in the jungle and when they popped up, they were ignored until the vote to head back became unanimous.

a tiny hungry leech

Welcome to the jungle

As you’ve probably guest, I was leeched upon. We all were. Those tiny blood suckers where everywhere! For reference if you find a leech sucking your blood, the leech entry on wikipedia.org recommends picking them off with your nails, pinching at the head of the leech. Make sure to clean the wound, put on a band-aide, and don’t worry, for most people leech bites are far from serious.

Salt, for a leech that is on you and sucking your blood, is not a good idea. According to wikipedia.org, it just makes them vomit. You don’t want a leech that is attached to you to vomit into your wound.

Everyone in leech socks

Everyone stop for a leech check!

The next day we did one more trek into the jungle to see some water falls. It took a long time to get there. After the previous night’s leech attacks we stopped every 15 minutes to do a “leech check”.

These inspections, which required a leech buddy to look at your feet and ankles, did not prevent bites. In fact they probably gave the leeches extra time to attach themselves onto stationary socks and shoes. One even got inside John shoe with his foot still in it. Those leeches are sneaky little bastards!

Is it safe to jump this month?

The falls that Leo did jump

We did manage to see the waterfall that was used in the Beach. The movie itself was filmed on Maya Beach on Phi Phi Leh, but there is a scene where people have to jump off a waterfall to enter the pot haven. Of course it doesn’t look like the waterfall in the movie or any kind of waterfall because it was the dry season. But, I assure you, this is the spot.

hitchhiking in Thailand

Maybe we should tap on the roof…

To get back to Pak Chong, we hitchhiked. We got into one truck that took us a few kilometers in the direction we were heading. Then we got into the back of another truck.

The second truck driver was supposed to take us to the gate, but he never stopped. We thought that he was just being kind and was going to take us all the way to Pak Chong, but then we got on the highway heading towards Bangkok. He forgot that we were in the back of his pick-up!

We tapped on his roof, which probably surprised him. “Oh my god! There are a bunch of foreigners in the back of my truck. How did they…. oh right…”  He dropped us off at the nearest stop for buses heading to Bangkok.

Mark made a video for this trip:

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Pak Chong
(ปากช่อง)

How to get there:

  • 14°42’17.2″N 101°24’38.2″E

From Mochit Bus Terminal

Go to the second floor counter 86 and buy tickets (108THB). The ride is about 2.5 to 3 hours long.

Cost:

Hours:

  • The ride is about 2.5 to 3 hours long.

Notes:

  • Be sure to ask the bus driver to tell you when the bus has reached Pak Chong. There is no bus terminal at Pak Chong, just a bus stop.
  • There is a stop about an hour or so into the trip where you can get off and use the bathroom. Just make sure that the driver knows you have gotten off so he will wait for you to get back on the bus.
  • The bus stop is not on the map below because I don’t know where it is. I’ve been there, but I can’t find it on the map.

Khao Yai National Park
(เขาใหญ่)

How to get there:

  • 14°24’05.4″N 101°22’11.1″E

There are many ways to get to Khao Yai National Park. It is a very big park that spans many provinces. One way, the way we took, is by first going to Pak Chang.

From Pak Chang –

Once you get off the bus from Bangkok, you should head down the street (a left turn after getting off the bus), pass the pedestrian bridge. Take one of the blue songtows to the park. The ride costs about 45THB.

Address:

Khao Yai National Park
PO Box No. 9
Pak Chong District
Nakhon Ratchasima Province, 30130

Phone:

  • 081-877-3127
  • 086-092-6531
  • For emergencies 086-092-6527

Website:

  • For all Thai national parks: here

Cost:

Notes:

Watch out for monkeys, deer, leeches, cobras, porcupines, elephants, and alligators. Though, I didn’t see any elephants, alligators, or cobras. Mark almost walked into a porcupine though. Monkeys tried to steal stuff from John’s tent. We all got bitten by leeches. And there were deer everywhere!

To move around in the park, if you aren’t bringing in your own transportation, there are three options.

1. Walk. Just remember this is the second largest national park in Thailand and it spans several provinces.

2. Rent a scooter. I saw a guy rent a scooter at the entrance. It cost him about 300THB. Call one of the numbers above for more information.

3. Hitchhike. This is the method that we chose. Make sure you are able to communicate where you want to go before you stop a vehicle. Use a map or have someone write the name of the place in Thai before hand. You are more likely to get a ride from pickup truck drivers than from sedans, especially if you have a large group.

4. You could also hire a taxi or songtow to drop you off and come back in a couple of days to pick you up again and take you to the bus stop or train station.

  • Camping:

There are at least 2 campsites that I know of, in this park. There were little shops and restaurants near both camp grounds. The ones near our campsite opened at 7:00 and closed at 19:00, but the tent rental place closed at 21:00.

There is a camping fee is 30THB to camp whether you bring your own tent or not.

Make sure all your food is properly sealed and put away when you leave your tent so that it doesn’t get taken by monkeys, deer, or ants.

Map:

Posted in Khao Yai National Park, Nakhon Ratchasima, Pak Chong, Thailand | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Much Baby on the Road

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 17, 2010

April 13, 2010

All Pictures

Songkran Water Festival

Around Krabi Town

To be honest, there isn’t anything to do in Krabi Town. It is basically a halfway place to everywhere else. Our bus back to Bangkok didn’t leave until 17:30 so we wanted to see some of the sights around Krabi. We narrowed it down to just 2 things, the Emerald Pool (Sra Morakot) and the The Hot Springs.

It was the first day of the Songkran Water Festival and there were many kids standing on the side of the road waiting to throw water and colored stuff on people. They seemed to only wet people who wanted to be wet. Our driver didn’t want to be wet, so he kept the windows of his car rolled up.

The kids would flag down scooters which would slow down to be squirted with Super Soakers. Several children would stand in the road to wave down drivers. This caused our driver to worry a bit. “There are much baby on the road. They don’t look for car. Not safe.”

Emerald Pool / Sra Morakot

Solitary, but not on Holidays

The Emerald Pool, which is in the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve, was our first stop. It cost 20THB to get in. It’s usually not as crowded as you see it in this picture, but we happened to go on the first day of a national holiday that was also a water festival. The water is not very deep. If you’re taller than 5’4″ you’ll be fine. Watch out for the occasional rock in the water. Getting in and back out again out can be tricky. Use the wooden walkway if you need to.

Klong Tom Hot Spring

Should I just jump in like she did?

Next we went to Klong Thom to the hot spring. This one cost 100THB to enter. If you go, make sure to go to the top of the mini waterfall. Don’t swim in the river. It’s a death trap!

We saw kids jumping in and around in the water. So we thought it was safe to jump in too.

There was no obvious way to get into the water other than to jump. I stood on a platform looking for a way in, when the lady standing next to me jumped in. It looked like a high jump, but if she could do it…

Mark and I jumped in. Mark hit his shin on a rock. I slammed my heel on a concrete slab. Once in the water I kept stubbing my toes on sharp rocks. Every turn in this water was potential trip to the hospital. Plus the water was very cold (for Thailand).

We got out of the water and walked a little further up the path. There was a natural hot tub with a crowd of people sitting in it. Because the water is hot, people can’t stay in it for too long. We waited for about a minute for some folks to get out and then we took their places. It was great!

free wi-fi at the dock

Free Wi-fi!!

Once we were done soaking up some warmth, Mr. Deen drove us to the Krabi Sea Port. This was where we would get a ride to the bus station and then head on to Bangkok, with a short stop in Suratthani. I was surprised to find free wi-fi at the sea port in Krabi, but there you go. Free wi-fi in the middle of nowhere.

We also found a shower in the handicapped bathroom. I’m not sure if it was for anyone to use, but with the choice being between taking a long bus ride while being unwashed or quickly taking a shower and hoping that we don’t get caught, we took the shower. Mark stood watch while I showered. Then I stood watch for him. To our delight, there was hot water.

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Mr. Deen

We found this guy through the Good Dream Guesthouse where we stayed. He charged us 1,600THB to drive us around for one day. He was very happy and loved listening to the Eagles and Country & Western music.

Phone:

  • 089 587 8120

e-mail: thawatchai_dee@hotmail.com

Cost:

  • Negotiable

Hours:

  • Negotiable

Notes:

  • We were introduced to Mr. Deen through the Dream Guesthouse

Emerald Pool
(Sra Morakot)

inside

Khao Pra – Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary
(เขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าเขาประ – บางคราม)

How to get there:

  • 7°55’16.3″N 99°15’04.8″E Khai Pra
  • 7°55’24.2″N 99°15’35.4″E Emerald Pool

There isn’t any way to get there by public transportation that I know of. You will have to either take a taxi, rent a scooter, or join a tour group.

By car –

Take Highway No. 4 to Khlong Thom District and turn left to Route No. 4038 to Lam Hap Sub-district.

Address:

Kok Thai Sub-district.Sri Mahosot District
About 23 kms from city center Krabi Town
Thailand

Cost:

There is an park entrance fee of 20 Baht, but if you are with a tour group this fee would be included in the tour package.

Hours:

I think it closes at 17:00 or 18:00, but I’m not sure.

Notes:

  • Bring your own towel, swim suit, and sun block.
  • Food and drinks are not allowed in the park, but there are several restaurants at the gate.
  • Be careful. The pool has some rocks and dips in it that you cannot see.
  • If you exit you have to pay to re-enter, unless you are a smooth talker.

Klong Tom Hot Spring
Namtok Ron Khlong Thom
(น้ำตกร้อนคลองท่อม)

How to get there:

  • 7°56’01.6″N 99°12’12.5″E

By car –

Go to Ban Bang Khram. Go about 45 kilometres from town to Amphoe Khlong Thom, then take Sukhaphiban 2 Road for 12 kilometers.

Cost:

Hours:

  • I think this place closes at 17:00 or 18:00.

Notes:

Be careful when swimming in the river below the hot spring. You might think it looks safe because there are many children jumping in and out and around the river. But these children have very bad parents, who don’t care about their health. There are many sharp, jagged, and poky things that will cut you a leave you needing stitches.

Just stay out of the river.

Map:

Posted in Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve, Khlong Thom, Krabi, Krabi Town, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

6 More People

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 17, 2010

April 12, 2010

All Pictures

Railay Beach

It’s Amazing

Railay Beach is known more for rock climbing, like what the guy in the picture above is doing, than for its beaches. But this beach was featured in seasons 1 of The Amazing Race and The Amazing Race: Asia, so I had to see it.

We didn’t climb with King Climbers, the company used in The Amazing Race. Mark wanted to, but I’m afraid of heights and was only interested in swimming. Besides, by the time we got to Railay Beach everything was closing up.

Getting a boat

Big Cigarette Time

We walked to the dock that was a block away from our hostel. Before we even got a boat or asked about boat prices, I did something that would save us from a lot of pain later on. I took a picture of a sign that has the name of our dock in English and in Thai.

We were approached by one of the guys that were hanging out by the dock. He said that we could get a boat soon to Railay Beach, but we would have to wait for 6 more people. I thought that the 6 other people were on their way, but after waiting for half an hour, I realized that there were no such people. We where waiting for any 6 people and this could take forever.

The dock guy started making small talk with us. Most of what he said didn’t make much sense, but he seemed quite happy about whatever his topic of conversation was. In the middle of one of his nonsensical ramblings he took out some leaves and started to roll a cigarette.

“What are you doing?” Mark asked.

“Do you know BIG cigarette? I like BIG cigarettes. I like marijuana, but no money. BIG cigarettes and big marijuana is good time!” He then proceeded to roll a ciggy with way too much tobacco in it to be closed.

Just when I was beginning to worry that Mr. BIG cigarette was our driver to be, another guy told us that we could go now, if we paid 15,000THB. This was way too much. I told him that I would be willing to pay 700THB but nothing more.

“Oh no! You are trying to rob me. I will meet you halfway, 12,000THB.”

“That’s not half way,” I said. I began to think that maybe this guy also liked BIG cigarettes with marijuana and this was how he was able to afford them. Or maybe he said 12-thousand when he meant to say 12-hundred. Either way 7-hundred was all I planned to pay.

A lady overhearing our conversation, turned to me and said, “You know, you can take a bus to Railay beach.”

“Really? how?”

Suddenly Mr. Halfway said, “How about 700THB? Does that sound good?”

Railay Beach near sunset

More Monkeys, yeah… – said sarcastically

The boat dropped us off at Railay Beach East. Then we walked to Phra Nang beach. Along the way we past a group of monkeys doing their thing. Soon after Mark found a banana salesman and got a bunch of bananas for the monkeys. They appreciated it very much.

The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming and taking pictures. This beach was supposed to be a “secret”, but there were many people there. It wasn’t crowded, but it was no secret. It was a nice beach though; very nice.

We were looking at the romantic sunset, when we notice all the boats leaving. We were able to get into the very last boat which was heading to Ao Nang (Nang Beach). This ride cost us 80THB each and got us very wet.

We had dinner in Ao Nang and took a crazy motor bike ride back to our dock. I had a hard time explaining which dock we wanted. But then I remembered that I had taken a picture of it. I showed the driver the picture. Then he knew exactly where to take us.

All Pictures.


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Good Dream Guesthouse

How to get there:

  • 8°03’45.3″N 98°55’04.8″E

From the Krabi Sea Port –

  • Take a cab.
    • It will cost 200THB even though it’s a 20 minute ride.
    • It’s a  flat rate of 200THB to anywhere in Krabi Town.
  • Give the taxi driver the address below.

This is the Good Dream Guesthouse where we stayed. There is another one.

Address:

Krabi Good Dream Guesthouse
83 Uttarakit Road
Muang, Krabi, 81000, Thailand

Phone:

  • 075-622993
  • 075-629059

Website

e-mail: krabidream@gmail.com

Cost:

  • 520 – 650 THB per night depending on the type of accommodations and length of stay.

Notes:

  • There are 2 Good Dream Guesthouses. If one is full, just ask about the other one.

Map


East or West Railay Beach
(อ่าวไร่เลย์)

How to get there:

  • 8°00’19.5″N 98°50’21.0″E (West Railay Beach)
  • 8°00’27.0″N 98°50’28.0″E (East Railay Beach)

From the Krabi Sea Port –

  • Getting here will cost 200THB. Just ask any of the people standing behind any desk.

From Krabi Town –

  • Just walk down to any of the docks (there are many) and begin exercising your negotiating skills.
  • Normally it will cost you 150THB per person if you have about 6 people. If you have less, your skills will be put to the test.
  • Just remember what dock you left from so you know which one to return to.
  • There are also buses, but I don’t have information about them.
    • Just from looking at the map, the bus might take a long time depending on where you are.

Notes:

  • There will be many places to buy hot food and cold drinks.

Map


Phra Nang Beach

How to get there:

  • 8°00’44.8″N 98°50’12.3″E

From the Krabi Sea Port –

  • Getting here will cost 200THB. Just ask any of the people standing behind any desk.

From Krabi Town –

  • Just walk down to any of the dock (there are many) and begin exercising your negotiating skills.
  • Normally it will cost you 150THB per person if you have about 6 people. If you have less, your skills will be put to the test.

From Railay Beach (East or West) –

  • Find a path heading south and it will lead you right to Phra Nang Beach.
  • If you can’t find the path, just walk into some resort.
    • If you look like you don’t belong in any of the really expensive resorts in this area, someone will be sure to come along and “guide” you away from the premises while pointing you in the right direction.

Notes:

  • There is a really sketchy looking path that you can climb up to get a scenic view. If you continue on the path and head down you will see a lagoon, though I’m not sure if you are allowed to swim in it. From what I know about it, which isn’t much, the lagoon isn’t worth the tedious effort it takes to see it.
  • There are a lot of monkeys that are not too shy around humans. They will steal from you. Keep shiny and delicious things inside your closed backpack or purse.
  • If you are not staying on this island, make sure that you leave when all the boats do, or you will be stuck there.

Map:


Posted in Ao Nang, Krabi, Krabi Town, Phra Nang beach, Thailand | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Beach

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 15, 2010

April 9 – 11, 2010

All Pictures

hanging with fish

Where Leo Walked

Our next 3 days on Phi Phi Island were mostly spent in and under water. On the 9th we signed up for a day trip around Phi Phi for the 10th. We wanted to see Maya Beach, the beach where the movie The Beach was filmed.

There is a 400THB entry fee for all non-Thais who don’t come to the island with a tour group. The tour was 450THB. To go on our own, a taxi boat would have cost about 200THB. We would have had to also bring our own lunch since there isn’t anywhere to get food on the island. There is a “snack bar” but it wasn’t open when we were there. The tour provided us with lunch. So we took the day tour.

The Tour Catalogue

No Sharks or Mosquitoes

The day trip was great. We started out by snorkeling at Shark Point. There were no sharks and not much fish to see. Several of the people on the trip said that they saw jellyfish and got back into the boat. I did too even though I did not see a jellyfish. I wasn’t willing to take any chances.

Our next stop was Bamboo Island.  There is a campsite on this island and a 400THB island entrance fee. Like all the other islands, the entry fee is waived when you come with a tour. We ate lunch on this island and had time for a little swimming.

Then we went to Mosquito Island. We never set foot on the island, but we swam near it. There were so many fish. This is where I learned that fish love pineapples. I went in the water with a piece of pineapple in my hand. It attracted tons of fish!

Fish love pineapples

My favorite spot on the day trip was Pileh Bay or Viking Bay. There was no beach but the water was beautiful! You can see it in the picture below, but the photo just does not show all the wonderfulness of this bay. I think it was more beautiful than Maya Beach. Which was a bit disappointing and crowded.

the lagoon

Here is a video that Mark made:

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Ivory Phi Phi Island

How to get there:

  • 7°44’23.4″N 98°46’13.7″E

Once you leave the dock at Koh Phi Phi Don, you head almost straight then take a right turn before you get to the beach.

Address:

IVORY Phi Phi Island
81000
194/1 Phi Phi Island, Moo 7 , Ao-Nang, Maung, Krabi THAILAND, Maung, Krabi 81000, Thailand

Phone: 075-601149

Website

Download

Cost:

  • 1,000 – 2,000THB depending on the room and season.

Hours:

  • Check in after 12:01
  • Check out before 11:01

Notes:

This place comes with free wi-fi, but the signal is strongest on the ground floor.

Map:

Posted in Koh Phi Phi Don, Koh Phi Phi Leh, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

They Just Don’t Understand Why We Come

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 12, 2010

April 8, 2010

All Pictures

Following the “blond” guy to the taxi boat

Blonds are just… cooler.

Before Mark and I even set foot on Phi Phi island (หมู่เกาะพีพี) we knew the type of resort we wanted. We wanted some place that was quiet, away from the crowds, and affordable. Once you get off the boat and pay your 20THB entry fee, you are bombarded by herds of Thai men and women trying to get you to ride in their taxi boat, stay in their hotel, eat their food… It can be overwhelming, even for an experienced traveler.

Mark and I walked toward Loh Dalum Bay and found a “Blond” guy at a tourist information booth. He seemed calm and very non-aggressive. In fact he talk slowly with a thick Thai-British accent and gave off an aura of coolness that no heat could melt. He probably wakes up every morning to a clock radio that plays smooth jazz music at just the right volume.

He started out by asking us what we wanted. Then he asked for our price range. He never tried to get us into a hotel higher than the number we told him. He was too cool to haggle. We looked through his book of hotels. All the prices were written down along with some amenities.

sitting at our overly rustic bungalow

A Quiet little Bungalow

We picked one place that was a bit out-of-the-way with basic bungalows. It wasn’t fancy, but it would be quiet, right?

The “resort” was very basic… rustic… Okay, it was a dump! If they were charging half their asking price, it would not have been too bad. But for what we were paying, I expected a bit more.

Wait, let me correct that. It would still have been a dump at half their asking price. But then I could say, you get what you pay for.

Please stay up…

The room was a badly built shack that felt like any sort of breeze would knock it down; luckily there wasn’t any. It was hot!

The restaurant had crappy food. There was garbage everywhere. They turned on the electricity only from 18:00 in the evening to 6:00 in the morning. Random open buckets of water lay about the place which attracted every mosquito within a 10 mile radius. And the worst part…  was when I asked where the bathroom was.

Ms. Mud Mask – “Okay, Sir. I show you.” This woman with what appears to be a homemade mud mask on her face pops out of no where and waves me over to follow her.

Ms. Mud Mask – “Sir, this is the lady’s bathroom, you can go here. That is the men’s bathroom. It is for only men. Okay, Sir?”

Me – “And where is the shower?”

Ms. Mud Mask – “Okay– Sir, for women, it is right in here.”

I looked into the women’s “shower”. It was an unlit room with a giant open bucket of water. I couldn’t really see it, but I imagined it contain a countless number of bug larvae just waiting to someday hatch and bite me.

I stomped off to get Mark and showed him the women’s shower. He laughed. Then he wondered where the men’s shower was. He looked into the men’s bathroom. There wasn’t even a bucket.

“Where shall we hang our washing?oh… anywhere? Everywhere!”

That’s when we decided that we would take the first boat that passed by this hell-hole the next morning and go back to the main area. Our little quiet hideaway was not what we were expecting. We would have to make the best of it in the mean time.

I have to say that the snorkeling was decent. There were a lot of fish in the sea near the “resort”. We spent about 3 or so hours swimming around the little beach. I was exhausted when I got back.

Might as well hang out my clothes too.

I just wanted a quiet dinner and to head off to bed early. But the mud-faced lady put on some really loud Thai music and started to sing and dance. I went to bed and tried to sleep, but the staff started a little horse-play. They were having fun and yelling across the resort. That’s when I realized that they just don’t get why people come here, or maybe, they just don’t care.

There is a main part of the island filled with nice hotels, fancy hotels, cheap hotels, all sorts of hotels. But they cannot offer peace and quiet because they are in the heart of the touristy part. People who leave that area and pay way more than they should for a little shack in the middle of a garbage heap that’s about to slide off a hill, do this for only one reason. They want quietness.

But the people running this place, didn’t understand that. They thought their job was to entertain the guests and so they played loud horrible music. They sang and danced and wonder why everyone got up, went back to their bungalows, then took the first boat out the next morning.

It’s a nice beach at least.

Another thing most people in Thailand who cater to tourists don’t understand is how having prices written down relaxes them. When I ask, “how much is this?” and the seller rattles off some price after doing a little eye-flip to the sky like they’re thinking, I know I’m getting screwed.

I feel better when the price is written down. I can stand back and think about whether or not I want to pay this without bothering the salesperson. When there is no written price I feel, “this guy’s just charging me as much as he thinks he can get out of me.”

The next day we found a hotel that was very nice. It wasn’t lonely, on a peaceful beach, or in a super quiet part of town, but it was clean and had a/c, wireless internet, and no open buckets of water. And it was worth it!

sunset

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Ivory Phi Phi Island

How to get there:

  • 7°44’23.4″N 98°46’13.7″E

Once you leave the dock at Koh Phi Phi Don, you head almost straight then take a right turn before you get to the beach.

Address:

IVORY Phi Phi Island
81000
194/1 Phi Phi Island, Moo 7 , Ao-Nang, Maung, Krabi THAILAND, Maung, Krabi 81000, Thailand

Phone:

  • 075-601149

Website

Download

Cost:

  • 1,0002,000THB depending on the room and season.

Hours:

  • Check in after 12:01
  • Check out before 11:01

Notes:

This place comes with free wi-fi, but the signal is strongest on the ground floor.

Map:

Posted in Koh Phi Phi Don, Thailand | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

No Number

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 11, 2010

Night of April 7, 2010

All Pictures

Take up as much space as you like, I’ll just try to sleep with my head hanging out the boat.

Just Roll Him Over

I had in my coin purse 2 receipts; one said, “Koh Tao to Suratthani,” the other, ” Krabi to Koh Phi Phi”. All we had to do was stand out on the road near our hotel and wait for the travel agency’s taxi to come and pick us up. We were told that the taxi would come at 19:00, and the boat would leave at 21:00. But after waiting there for 10 minutes the bugs started biting.

There is a phenomenon known as “Thai time” which makes it nearly impossible for anything in Thailand to start, end, arrive, or depart as scheduled. Knowing that the taxi was to pick us up at 19:00, I calculated that the taxi could actually arrive anytime between 19:30 and 21:30. So when  our hotel’s free taxi to the dock showed up, we took it instead.

We got to the dock around 19:30 and put our backpacks on the deck. I have a bright yellow bag that I use when my backpack and I must separate. I take important items from my backpack and put them in my yellow bag. These include, my passport, any money or credit cards, all uninsured electronics, a pair of socks, and long-sleeved T-shirt, and my inflatable pillow… plus what ever Mark tosses in there.

a really bad shot of Mark’s diving video

We left for about 1.5 hours to a bar that was showing a movie starring Mark and his diving classmates. When we came back to board the boat and settle in, we were told that we had “no number”.

Me – “What does that mean?”

The ticket checking guy said, “no number” again and point to the beds on the lower part of the boat.

Me – “Is that where we sit?”

Ticket guy – “No Number!”

Me – “So where do we sit?”

Ticket guy – “No Number!”

Me – “What does that mean?”

Ticket guy – “No Number!”

I tried ever conceivable way to ask the annoying man where “no numbered” people are supposed to sit, but all he would say was, “no number.” Mark decided to just pick an empty spot so I joined him. We just sat back and watched what happened.

There was another couple who came aboard without numbers too. They couldn’t get much information out of the guy either. He told them to take the boat tomorrow. “Tomorrow you can have number.”

That’s when I realized that our boat had been oversold. I looked around the boat. I wondered why there were people laying in the path that should have been left clear as a walkway to the bathroom. They, I later learned, also had no number. I noticed that these middle people had mattresses and pillows and that there were numbered spots that had no mattresses and others had missing pillows.

Life on the lower deck

Then the people whose spot we were apparently in, showed up. We had to get up and stand awkwardly to the side. We waited until everyone who was to board had boarded and ask Mr. Unhelpful once more where we were supposed to sit. He never spoke a word to us, but just counted his tickets. He counted them about 5 or 6 times before he grabbed our tickets from out of Mark’s hands and ripped them up. Then he wrote us new tickets, with numbers, and handed them to Mark.

Should we sit here?

Mark looked at the tickets’ numbers and then to the corresponding beds. “These are taken.” Mr. Unhelpful did not respond. So Mark repeated, “These are taken. People are in them.” Mr. Unhelpful waved Mark off in disbelief. Mark pointed to the spots. Mr. Unhelpful followed Mark’s outstretched arm with his eyes. Then he grabbed the tickets from Mark’s hand again and started counting tickets once more.

At this point, 2 more people had come to Mr. Unhelpful’s table. They had numbers, but there were no mattresses. I looked down at the people in the middle. Most of them had mattresses.

But the couple could not get any information out of Mr. Unhelpful. He was busy recounting tickets for the 4th time and would need a 5th and 6th time before he was ready to communicate with anyone in this realm. Mark and I started to ask about bed 114 and 115. They were empty and had been empty this whole time. But Mr. Helpful was still on recounting round number 5.

Are you using this?

Those beds, 115 and 116, that were left empty had owners. Owners that didn’t show up until 21:50; ten minutes before the boat left. Yes. This 21:00 boat actually left at 22:00.

When he was done he gave us new tickets. These were technically empty. The man in 74 was fast asleep and sprawled out on both space 74 and 75. The man in 75 had moved his into 76. 76 was Mark’s newly assigned number. I was 77. This bed was where the girl in 78 had put all her crap.

In the real world the space allotted to 74, 75, 76, 77, and 78 would have only had four beds assigned to it. But this is not the real world; this is Thailand. The land where no one has ever said, “This one’s full.”

People will pile 6 souls on a motorbike, 8 people in a sedan, hundreds on a subway… Max capacity is taken as a challenge and every time I see a pickup truck speeding down the highway with 20 people dumped in the back I can tell that the driver is beaming with pride.

We managed to get the sleeping man to move over a bit. I, passive-aggressively gave the girl in 78 a dirty look, but she didn’t move her bag until she realized that I would use it as a pillow if she didn’t put it somewhere else.

I then spent a good part of the night pushing her arm off of me. I would move her arm and within 10 minutes I would feel it on my back again. She was a determined cuddler.

At one point I got up to use the bathroom and the small gap that had been my spot was gone. Her right arm and leg had filled in the space. I carefully lay down on my side in Mark’s spot, trying not to wake her. Then feigning night terrors, I suddenly flipped over on my back, crashing down heavily on an arm and leg in my spot. She didn’t want to cuddle after that.

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Koh Phi Phi
(เกาะพีพีดอน)

How to get there:

  • 7°45’00.1″N 98°46’42.9″E

From Koh Tao –

There are hundreds of travel agencies that will sell you tickets from Koh Tao to Koh Phi Phi. There is a fast boat (1,050THB), that leaves at 9:30 and a slow one (950THB) that leaves at 21:00, to Surathani (สุราษฎร์ธานี).

From Bangkok –

1. Take a train to Surathani, then a bus to Krabi. Go to Krabi dock and take a ferry to Koh Phi Phi.

2. Take a bus to Krabi. Go to Krabi dock and take a ferry to Koh Phi Phi.

3. Fly into Krabi. Go to Krabi dock and take a ferry to Koh Phi Phi.

Cost: (from Koh Tao)

Hours: (from Koh Tao)

  • fast boat – leaves at 9:30
  • slow boat – leaves at 21:00

Notes:

  • The ticket from Koh Tao, will also include a bus ride from Surathani to Krabi and a boat from Krabi to Phi Phi Island.
  • I think that it is better to book your ticket through an agent, because the price includes transfers from docks to bus stations, and bus stations to docks. It is not fun dealing with pushy tuk-tuk drivers at 5:00 in the morning.
  • Make sure your agent has given you a bed number for the boat. Try to get a bed on the top. The picture above is of the bottom part of the boat. people with no bed numbers must fight for a space in the middle which is actually the walkway passengers use to get to the bathroom. No one is allowed to sleep in the middle on the top part of the boat, so the people there can easily get to the bathroom.
  • I also recommend bringing a pillow and a blanket. People tend to hoard the pillows and there are no blankets even though it does get cold on the boat. Mark and I had sleeping bags and inflatable pillows that we travel with. Make sure to take things to keep you warm, along with your valuables, out of your backpack before the crew stores all the luggage below.
  • There are no trains to Krabi.

Map:

Posted in Koh Phi Phi Don, Koh Tao, Suratthani, Thailand | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Speak Your Language

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 10, 2010

April 5 – 7, 2010

All Pictures

Poking sea cucumbers

Wade in the Water

The beach at Koh Tao is great for kids. It’s not very deep. In fact you can walk right past most of the docked boats and not even get your knees wet.

There were plenty of fish and corral to look at so, needless to say, snorkeling is big on Koh Tao. Because I have claustrophobia and the water here is very calm and shallow, I used my time here to get comfortable with a mask and snorkel on in the water.

The last time I went snorkeling was in Vietnam. I jumped into deep water then put on my mask. I felt so enclosed that I ripped it off before I could even look at some fish. I had to change the diving mask for some swimming goggles. Goggles aren’t that great when it comes to looking into salt water.

While I spent most of my time swimming and snorkeling by myself, Mark was off in his class. He was earning his Open Water PADI diving license. Koh Tao is a great place to learn to dive. There are hundreds of dive resorts and the prices aren’t very expensive. Most places will give you a discount on room rates when you sign up for a course.

sunset on Koh Tao

Ethnic Ambiguity

Mark would leave early in the mornings with his fellow dive-mates and come back late in the afternoon. I entertained myself with swimming, eating, sleeping, and talking to other backpackers.

One question I get asked a lot is, “Where are you from?” I know that because I haven’t lived in the states for a while my accent has changed. So most English speakers will guess from the fact that I speak English very well, that I at lease come from an English-speaking country, though they might not know which one.

For those whose first language isn’t English, they might not be able to hear an accent, since I don’t have a strong accent pointed in any particular direction. They try to look at me to make their guess. They are always wrong. Sometimes, amusingly so.

“Are you Thai?”

“Your mom is from Vietnam!”

“You definitely look Cuban.”

“Filipina?”

“Your from somewhere in Africa!”

“Seychelles! You look just like a lady I knew once, and she was from Seychelles.”

“Are you part Mexican?”

They are all wrong! 😉

Getting used to a snorkel mask

Can you tell where I’m from?

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Chumphon
(ชุมพร)

How to get there:

  • 10°30’10.8″N 99°10’33.4″E

From Hua Lamphong Train Station (หัวลำโพง) –

  • Take any of the southern line trains.
    • Remember Chumphon is not the last stop.
    • The train might not get there on time so don’t get off unless you see signs saying Chumphon.
  • Many stations do not have a sign clearly saying the name of the station, but Champhon has many signs clearly written in Roman script.

Download:

Cost:

  • 272 – 1,134 THB depending on the class and type of ticket

Hours:

  • About 6 hours, more or less, depending on the speed of the train.

Notes:

  • If you are riding in from Bangkok you DO NOT want to take a 3rd class seat for this journey.
  • It can be spelled Chumphon or Chumporn. Just a little way to help you get lost.

Koh Tao
Ko Tao
(เกาะเต่า)

How to get there:

  • 10°04’58.1″N 99°49’25.9″E

From the Chumphon train station:

  • You can buy tickets on the ferry to Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and some other nearby islands.
  • The prices are 450THB for a 3.5 hour ride on the slow boat and 550THB for a “2.5 hour” ride on the fast boat.

My ride on the fast boat was actually more like 3.5 hours, but it was a very fast boat. It did leave later that advertised. I don’t know if this means that both boats are slower than advertised or the same speed.

Cost:

  • Slow boat (3.5 hour-ride) 450THB
  • Fast boat (2.5 hour-ride) 550THB

Hours:

Well theoretically it should take about 3 hours to get to Koh Tao from the Chumphon station, but… We arrived late at the station at 5:15 in the morning and we didn’t reach Koh Tao until 11:00 in the morning.

Notes:

  • The cost of the ferry includes a ride to the dock from Chumphon station.
  • There is no need to buy tickets before you get to Chumphon.
  • The ferry dock is not on my map because I have no idea where is it. But once you get to the Chumphon railway station people selling ferry tickets will find you, take your money, stamp your hand or put a sticker on your t-shirt, and make sure you get to Koh Tao or whatever island you want.

Crystal Dive Resort

How to get there:

  • Once you get to the dock on Koh Tao, head left along the beach.
  • Go until you see a giant cement turtle.
    • It’s about a 5 minute walk from the dock.

Address:

Crystal Dive Resort
Padi Career Development Center
Mae Haad, Koh Tao, Thailand

Phone:

  • +66 (0) 77 456106

Website

e-mail: info@crystaldive.com

Cost:

  • The cost of a bungalow by it self? …I’m not sure. But the price gets cheaper when take diving lessons here.
  • Cost of the courses depends on which course you take. The one that Mark took was the beginner PADI open water course for 9,800THB it came with 200THB accommodations.

Notes:

  • Crystal Dive Resort owns 2 sets of bungalows, one near the dock and another one that’s about a 20 minute drive away.
  • The dive classes are at the one near the dock, but the other resort is nicer.
  • If you stay at the one that is not near the resort there is a free taxi, provided by the resort, that will take you back and forth.
    • They always come in time to take anyone that needs it to get to their dive  class.

Map:

Posted in Koh Tao, Thailand | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

3rd Class Citizen

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 6, 2010

April 4, 2010

All  Pictures

3rd class seated compartment on a Thai train = HELL

That’s my seat!

I would not recommend 3rd class seat tickets for a long train ride, ever. For the 9 hours we were aboard the train, it was torture. A third class seat means no a/c, stinkier than normal bathrooms, lights that never get dimmed, and people ready to take your seat if you haven’t occupied it for the last 10 minutes. They will get up if you can prove that you do have tickets for the seat, but you need good proof!

It’s not so much that the seats are uncomfortable, because they aren’t. …well not for sitting. For sitting the seats are more than adequate. They recline pretty far back. In fact the person in front of you can recline right into your lap!

They just do not make very good beds. It may not seem that way when half the car is snoring like a choir of chainsaws. But, I had a hard time sleeping without parts of my body going numb.

Then there are the flies. They dance around your head and sing in your ears. The more you swat at them the more resilient they get. All of this is not so bad, because it gets worse.

Whenever I did manage to fall asleep the train would eventually pull into a station. Then wretched vendors would get on board and yell out their wares.

“I’M SELLING SOUP! SOUP! GET YOUR HOT SOUP OF SIN HERE!”

They wouldn’t just wake me up. No! I would be startled awake. I would wake up terrified and my heart would be racing in my chest. Looking around in a panic, to find the shrieking screams coming from a little old lady or man selling horrible soup. I think this is one of the stages of hell.

Do people really need to eat at 1:00 in the morning?

I firmly recommend planning ahead of time so that you can get sleeping compartment tickets before they are sold out.

Would I have been better off in one of those luxurious tourist buses? Hmmm. I would still be woken up several times during the night. I would still have been offered sin soup. But, I would not have had to deal with the flies or the seat stealing. So, maybe.

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Chumphon
(ชุมพร)

How to get there:

  • 10°30’10.8″N 99°10’33.4″E

From Hua Lamphong Train Station (หัวลำโพง) –

  • Take any of the southern line trains.
    • Remember Chumphon is not the last stop.
    • The train might not get there on time so don’t get off unless you see signs saying Chumphon.
  • Many stations do not have a sign clearly saying the name of the station, but Champhon has many signs clearly written in Roman script.

Download:

Cost:

  • 272 – 1,134 THB depending on the class and type of ticket

Hours:

  • About 6 hours, more or less, depending on the speed of the train.

Notes:

  • If you are riding in from Bangkok you DO NOT want to take a 3rd class seat for this journey.
  • It can be spelled Chumphon or Chumporn. Just a little way to help you get lost.

Koh Tao
Ko Tao
(เกาะเต่า)

How to get there:

  • 10°04’58.1″N 99°49’25.9″E

From the Chumphon train station:

  • You can buy tickets on the ferry to Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and some other nearby islands.
  • The prices are 450THB for a 3.5 hour ride on the slow boat and 550THB for a “2.5 hour” ride on the fast boat.

My ride on the fast boat was actually more like 3.5 hours, but it was a very fast boat. It did leave later that advertised. I don’t know if this means that both boats are slower than advertised or the same speed.

Cost:

  • Slow boat (3.5 hour-ride) 450THB
  • Fast boat (2.5 hour-ride) 550THB

Hours:

Well theoretically it should take about 3 hours to get to Koh Tao from the Chumphon station, but… We arrived late at the station at 5:15 in the morning and we didn’t reach Koh Tao until 11:00 in the morning.

Notes:

  • The cost of the ferry includes a ride to the dock from Chumphon station.
  • There is no need to buy tickets before you get to Chumphon.
  • The ferry dock is not on my map because I have no idea where is it. But once you get to the Chumphon railway station people selling ferry tickets will find you, take your money, stamp your hand or put a sticker on your t-shirt, and make sure you get to Koh Tao or whatever island you want.

Map:

Posted in Chumphon, Koh Tao, Thailand | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

I just want train tickets

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 6, 2010

April 3, 2010

All Pictures

Hua Lamphong Train Station

Better Off Without Help

If you ever need to buy tickets for a train leaving the Hua Lamphon train station, it’s best to go online first and write down the train, class, and type of seat/sleeper you need. If you forget to do this, it’s no big deal. There are some helpful people, seated right at the entrance nearest the Hau Lamphan MRT (subway) station exit.

You can just walk up to them, tell them where you want to go, and ask for a train schedule. They’ll even point you in the right direction to buy your ticket. My mistake came when one of them asked me if I wanted to buy bus and boat tickets from Chumphon to Koh Tao too. At first I said, “Sure, why not?” The lady that asked me the question then beckoned me to follow her.

As I made my way into the station I remembered that in my experience with Thai trains, I have not known any of them to get to their destination at the time stated on my ticket. In fact once, the train never made it all the way there and passengers were told to “take taxi”. No refunds or apologies were ever given.

I stopped the lady and told her that I had a change of heart and why. “I just want to buy the train ticket.” She told me that it was okay, and that I should follow her. She then proceeded in a direction opposite to the ticket counter for the trains.

Me – “But Ma’am, isn’t it over there where I buy the ticket?” I pointed where I thought I should go.

Lady – “No. Please follow me.”

Me – “But I’ve been here before, and I bought my ticket over there.”

Lady – “No. Please follow me.”

Me – “I don’t want a boat ticket. I just want a train ticket.”

Lady – “It’s okay. Follow me.”

Then I thought, maybe the ticket counter I had pointed to was where you buy tickets for trains going north, and I had to go upstairs for tickets on southbound trains. When we entered a travel agency I realized that it didn’t matter what I said to the lady. She would always reply that it was okay and I should follow her.

Hypothetical Me – “Ma’am, I think I’ve just been shot,”

Hypothetical Lady – “It’s okay, follow me.”

Before things got even more out of hand, I told the travel agent that I had changed my mind and I only wanted to buy train tickets.

Ticket Man – “Oh you can buy those here. Same price as downstairs. But you cannot buy boat ticket there.”

This guy had clearly missed the point.

Me – “I don’t want boat tickets.” This comment made no sense to him.

Ticket Man – “How you get to Koh Tao. It Island you know?”

Me – “Can’t I buy the ticket there?”

Ticket Man – “Yes. But I give you special deal. How many ticket you want?”

Me – “What if the train is late?”

Ticket Man – “You take 19:30 train. Get to Chumporn 3:37. Train can’t be late. But, if train late, no problem. Boat leave 7:00. No way to be late for boat.” He started the call to get me train tickets. “Oh it full. Why you don’t take bus?” He then pulled out a laminated flier for a bus company.

Me – “I don’t want a bus. I don’t like them.”

My last bus-company bus was not too pleasant. The driver drove like the devil was chasing him. Every time I fell asleep, the bus attendant woke me up asking if I wanted something to drink. At midnight the bus pulled into a side-of-the-road diner, turned on the lights, and played loud horrible music to get everyone up and out of the bus to eat some nasty soup that tasted like sin.

I explained all this to the agent, only leaving out the sin-soup.

Ticket Man – “No. This bus quiet. No one bother you. You have fun! Also at 1:00am, bus stop for dinner. You have soup!” (Okay, he didn’t mention soup especially, but I’m sure that it was on the menu.)

Me – “I just want train tickets.”

Ticket Man – “Then go down stairs.” He then motions to the lady to take me away.

That’s when I noticed that there were other tourists waiting to buy tickets on a bus that came with soup. I would have felt bad, but I told the lady and the agent that I just wanted train tickets. It was them that lied to me and felt that they could change my mind.

When we got to the ticket counter, the same one I had pointed to earlier, I bought my tickets. All the decent classed seats and all the sleepers were sold out. I took what was left. The lady stood next to me the whole time.

When I was done she said, “Okay, boat ticket now?”

Me – “No. I just want train tickets.”

Then she looked at me as if I had been wasting her time all along. Her face dead and void of expression except for a small eye roll. With no emotion she said, “It’s okay.” and walked away from me in disgust.

I wanted to yell at her as she walked away, “I TOLD YOU I DIDN’T WANT BOAT TICKETS, LADY! I TOLD YOU!”

…And turns out that we were both right. The train I took was supposed to get to Champorn at 3:37 in the morning. Mark and I almost got off at the wrong stop, because at 3:45 when the train stopped, we thought it was our stop. But seeing no one else getting off made us a bit suspicious. At 5:15 we pulled into Champorn in time to catch the 6:00 bus to the dock, and in time to catch the 7:00 ferry. I could have bought the tickets in Bangkok, but Thailand has an unofficial “no refunds” policy and I didn’t want to take any chances.

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Chumphon
(ชุมพร)

How to get there:

  • 10°30’10.8″N 99°10’33.4″E

From Hua Lamphong Train Station (หัวลำโพง) –

  • Take any of the southern line trains.
    • Remember Chumphon is not the last stop.
    • The train might not get there on time so don’t get off unless you see signs saying Chumphon.
  • Many stations do not have a sign clearly saying the name of the station, but Champhon has many signs clearly written in Roman script.

Download:

Cost:

  • 272 – 1,134 THB depending on the class and type of ticket

Hours:

  • About 6 hours, more or less, depending on the speed of the train.

Notes:

  • If you are riding in from Bangkok you DO NOT want to take a 3rd class seat for this journey.
  • It can be spelled Chumphon or Chumporn. Just a little way to help you get lost.

Koh Tao
Ko Tao
(เกาะเต่า)

How to get there:

  • 10°04’58.1″N 99°49’25.9″E

From the Chumphon train station:

  • You can buy tickets on the ferry to Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and some other nearby islands.
  • The prices are 450THB for a 3.5 hour ride on the slow boat and 550THB for a “2.5 hour” ride on the fast boat.

My ride on the fast boat was actually more like 3.5 hours, but it was a very fast boat. It did leave later that advertised. I don’t know if this means that both boats are slower than advertised or the same speed.

Cost:

  • Slow boat (3.5 hour-ride) 450THB
  • Fast boat (2.5 hour-ride) 550THB

Hours:

Well theoretically it should take about 3 hours to get to Koh Tao from the Chumphon station, but… We arrived late at the station at 5:15 in the morning and we didn’t reach Koh Tao until 11:00 in the morning.

Notes:

  • The cost of the ferry includes a ride to the dock from Chumphon station.
  • There is no need to buy tickets before you get to Chumphon.
  • The ferry dock is not on my map because I have no idea where it is. But once you get to the Chumphon railway station people selling ferry tickets will find you, take your money, stamp your hand or put a sticker on your t-shirt, and make sure you get to Koh Tao or whatever island you want.

Map:

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