After staying in Bangkok for several months, I decided it was time to get out and do some traveling again. After all, that’s why I went half way around the world. I was willing to stay in Bangkok so long because I was dating someone. I am not a huge fan of Bangkok. It’s fine to visit for a while, but any longer and it starts to wear on the nerves. It’s a big city with massive amounts of traffic congestion. Not something I consider all that appealing. So I went south.
My first stop was Koh Samui, the second largest island in Thailand after Phuket. It’s in Surate Thani, so I took a night train and then a bus to the ferry terminal that takes you Koh Samui. I could have flown and saved a considerable amount of time—the bus takes almost 2 hours to the ferry terminal, and the ferry takes an hour; never mind the long train ride—but I enjoy the land travel and find it requires a lot less planning (it’s also cheaper).
Koh Samui is rather developed, but not in the seedy way that Pattaya is. They are definitely catering to tourists with loud bars and expensive restaurants, but if you search a little you can find inexpensive local food joints. My hotel was extremely nice for 500฿. That is more than I usually spend, but I was in the mood to relax in a nice place after my break up and getting out of Bangkok.
The beaches are rather nice in Koh Samui. I pretty much just hung out on them during the day and went out with some Danish friends I met at night. We slogged our way to a really nice bar up a giant hill (sweating the entire way) only to find it was extremely over priced and empty! That sucked. The staff was doing everything they could think of to make us stay, even showing us buckets—totally out of place in a venue like that. We worked our way back to the main drag and drank cheap beer, played pool, and talk about how Denmark is source of everything in the world. =)
Most people head to Koh Phangan for the half moon and full moon parties, and then to Koh Tao. I thought about doing this—not for the parties, but to see the islands—but my new Danish friends were so awesome I went with them to Ao Nang in Krabi.
Ao Nang, Krabi
The ride to Ao Nang was a mess. We took a short bus ride to the ferry terminal and then a ferry to the mainland. During that time, our bags had been riffled through. Everyone had something taken. It was often stupid stuff, like jeans, shirts, flip flops, and other oddities that didn’t make much sense. Some people had credit cards, cell phones, cameras, and other valuables in their bags that were stolen. Why they put that stuff in their bags instead of on their person is beyond me.
The worst part was the bus company refused to help us. They would not call the police. They said we had to go to the airport and they would not help. Nor would they hold the bus for us or let us take a later bus. Me and my Danish friends took the bus since we didn’t lose anything worth worrying about, but some Israeli girls lost a lot. When they tried to get help the staff was so rude it was almost hard to believe we were in Thailand. The driver was a total jackass and even drove off with the door open (almost running over one of the girls). It was crazy.
But it got better. The driver dropped us off in the middle of nowhere and we were told by a real rude lady we would have to pay to get to Ao Nang. Fortunately, I had kept a copy of my receipt and the Danish girls were able to get their travel agent to call for them. Turned out were were a short distance away from where we needed to be even though they told us otherwise. The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth because is was such an organized racket. Even people that don’t have things stolen still get screwed out of a few hundred baht at that last “stop.”
Once we were in Ao Nang it was really nice. I had one of the best hamburgers of my life there and the music scene is truly awesome. They have a local live band playing covers of really great music at one bar that was really good. We managed to close that place down. I also had a really good elephant trek that was fun (and it helped that my elephant driver was ridiculously sexy). We didn’t spend any time on the beach, but they looked nice. I probably could have stayed a bit longer, but once again the Danish girls were on the move and they were so much fun I had to go with them to Koh Phi Phi.
Koh Phi Phi
I’ve been to Koh Phi Phi many times. It really is a beautiful place, but it is getting terribly overrun with tourists and backpackers. The prices are high and the streets so clogged it is nearly impossible to get around. The beauty is still there, but I doubt it was last much longer. There are simply too many people. It’s so focused on tourism it is almost impossible to find good Thai food. Still, I had a good time.
I avoided the tourist stuff since I’ve done it many times before. Instead I just relaxed on the beach or walked around town. There are no cars on Koh Phi Phi, so it is just people, bicycles and people pushing carts around. The bar scene is pretty strong and clearly overrun by stupid drunk backpackers. Not really my thing, though I did meet a really nice lady from Switzerland and a nice guy from Brazil at a more laid back bar. Always meeting people!
Koh Phi Phi is where I had to leave my Danish friends. We took a ferry to Krabi Town together, but they were heading to Bangkok and on to Seam Reap, Cambodia. I stuck around in Krabi Town for a couple days waiting for my ferry to Koh Lipe—perhaps the best island I have ever been to in my life!