With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

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


(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.






  • 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

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


  • 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.


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