Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Getting to the Gulf O' Thailand

VIP bus to an overnight sleeping boat to Ko Tao (turtle island) on the other side of the Thai peninsula sounded like a fairly simple journey. Maybe it's because we are nearly done with this trip and made it through the trials and tribulations that suddenly show up when moving this way. I forgot that things don't go as smoothly as expected. I forgot to expect anything. I got lazy and thought we were in the final inning with a huge lead.

The VIP bus was a mini-bus that we have ridden in many times before. They look fine, but have virtually no padding. The half hour trips are fine in one, but many hours can be an ass killer.

Theory: Since most of the local folks weigh a hundred pounds less than me, they are unaccustomed to having such pressure bouncing on hard seats for long periods of time. They don't understand the pain in the ass.

We were taken to the town were we were supposed to catch the boat, but not to the pier. We waited at the little bus depot for the different ride to our boat for about an hour. There was no hurry since we had five hours to get there. A real VIP bus shows up to gather folks heading to Bangkok. Once the others were loaded, they decide to usher the eight of us going to Ko Tao into the double decker vehicle. We figure they are giving us a lift o the pier. Placed in the belly of the monster with no view we all doze in and out of sleep kind of thinking the pier must be pretty far.

Two and a half hours later Asiana was waking me up - "did they forget about us?". Something went wrong. Not long after that the bus pulled over, (I believe after a few cell phone calls by the operators) and dumped us on the side of the road where two tuk-tuks showed up to take us partway back. Rather than taking us all the way to where we were supposed to be, since that would have taken so long and we'd miss our boat, we were taken to a closer port where a wooden cargo ship was getting ready for us. By getting ready, the young boat workers were laying out grass mats on the upper deck. This boat was not for tourists. The boat was fully loaded with beer, soda, and water to stock the island. None of it was available to us. Begrudgingly, they sold us one large water from one of the cases so we could survive the overnight voyage. We rummaged through the ship and found some life vests we could use as pillow and made ourselves as comfortable as possible with those and whatever our backpacks offered.

I think it was probably a funner experience than the normal tourist shuttle would have been. Our groups was made up of mostly Germans and a couple from Los Angles. It was adventurous and even a bit romantic, not the African Queen, but uncomfortable and exciting non the less.

We were awoken from our restless sleep by the familiar call from the landing pier, "Taxi! Taxi!" at 5:30 am. I don't think there can be a worse alarm clock sound. Four of us wanting to head to the remote east side of the island loaded into the back of a pickup truck and bounced our way over the hills to our destination.

Location:Ko Tao Thailand

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