Thieves, protesters, sea sickness and a very long wait...
29.03.2010 - 30.03.2010 33 °C
We had heard much about the legendary 'Full Moon Party' on Koh Phang Nhang, which takes place roughly once a month on the night of a full moon. Unfortunately the date of the next party crept up on us, and we ended up looking to book accommodation the night before! We'd been warned that you need to book in advance, and whoever it was that gave that advice certainly wasn't lying. I'm sure if we had just turned up at Koh Phang Nhang we would have eventually found a bed for the night, but seeing as our budget is incredibly tight we decided to just scrap the idea and head for the smaller, quieter island of Koh Tao instead.
Unfortunately, before we could reach a heavenly paradise we had to travel through yet another hellish bus journey. All started well and we headed south on our overnight bus ride from Chiang Mai towards Bangkok. However, things rapidly turned sour when Steph awoke to a Thai man dressed all in black, with his hand inside the bag of the Italian lady who was sleeping in front of us! She woke me, and I caught a glimpse of the guy darting for the stairs behind our seat. I chased him down, but he had already made his way into the baggage compartment and (re)locked the door behind him. In total shock we immediately checked our day bags and money belt to make sure nothing was missing. Fortunately we were okay, but after waking the rest of the bus to inform them we found that the Italian lady was €200 short, and a French lady sitting on the back row had lost 1800 baht (all her money) from the money belt under her shirt!
The Italian women's husband together with myself and a couple of the other guys on the bus went to confront the bus driver. We screamed at him to stop the bus and to give back the money they had taken. He handed over the keys to the luggage compartment so I headed down stairs to the check it out. To my dismay I found broken padlocks, pliers and a small compartment behind the driver where 3 Thai men were hiding! After a minute or two the bus driver pulled over, strangely at our correct drop-off point in Bangkok. It was about 5am, so we'd arrived well over an hour before schedule... suspicious considering we are almost always late!
A few of our fellow passengers attempted to ring the tourist police without success, and eventually we got the attention of some traffic police. Shortly after that an annoying random American guy turned up, and got involved by helpfully pointing out to the police that Steph was the only witness to the incident. That was our cue to leave, as Steph had previously read a number of books about how easy it is to get locked up in Thai prisons. Even knowing we were completely innocent of any wrong doing, we decided it was best to avoid any contact what-so-ever with Thai police. A wise choice me thinks.
It was now 6am. Loaded up with our bags and feeling shattered and still in shock, we took a sweaty walk through the Bangkok sunshine. We headed for the travel agents we had used before to cross into Lao a few weeks earlier. That journey was excellent from start to finish, so we were hoping for more of the same on the rest of our way down to the islands. Of course it was still too early for the shop to be open yet, and unfortunately we discovered it doesn't open until 10am! With nothing better to do we sat around and decided to go get some breakfast. Final the travel agent opened and we booked the earliest bus possible out of Bangkok. This meant waiting until 7pm, so we had time to kill...
We took a river taxi down to the shopping district and had a wander around one of the best shopping malls I've ever visited. Pity we weren't looking to buy anything! Then we took a walk through the red shirt protesters on our way to Khao San road. We grabbed some dinner from a street vendor, then finally we headed back to the travel agents in time for our bus down south.
This time the overnight bus to Chumpon, our jump off point for the boat to Koh Tao, was much better. There were no drama's and we arrived at the dock in plenty of time to catch our boat to the island, which was due to depart at 7am. Feeling very sleep deprived and in need of a shower, we boarded the boat. It wasn't long before Steph started to feel a little queezy. With only a plastic bag that had a gaping hole in it to hand, things got a little messy. I went to fetch some proper bags and came back to my pretty girlfriend in a bad way. Amazingly though, she seems to have perfected the technique of being sick silently!
A couple of bumpy hours later we finally reached Koh Tao and headed for our accommodation. Unfortunately we had chosen a budget option, and it really showed. The room was horrible with bugs and insects all over the place, and the mattresses came completely with lots of orange mould stains. A perfect end to a horrible 60 hour journey. Let's hope the beaches and the diving help...