Using every form of transportation to get to Koh Tao
When you fly into Suvarnabhumi airport (BKK), it will most likely be a late night flight, having you land sometime near midnight. Despite the influx of international flights, getting through customs is fairly quick. We chose a taxi because our hotel wasn’t close to any train stops, but it was somewhat close to the train station we needed to use the next day. Rachel had sent an email to the hotel letting them know of our late night arrival. Our taxi driver didn’t know any English, but we had an app that translated our hotel’s address to Thai. I had my Apple Maps up and when we got close, I told the taxi driver he could drop us off and we’d walk the rest of the way, but he insisted on driving us to the front door, which took us around several more blocks to get there.
When we found the front door, it was gated shut, presumably closed but there was a door bell. *Ring ring ring* *Ring ring ring.* Nobody came, we sat on the stoop for a solid twenty minutes pressing the door bell and waiting. Nothing. Rachel checked her email and looked at me… Because it was so close to midnight, she had told them we’d be arriving the next day, by mistake. Nobody was going to answer our door bell ringing. So here we are… In hot Bangkok at midnight, with no place to go.
We started to walk towards the Hua Lamphong train station, where we were headed to the next day, fully prepared to sleep on a bench in or right outside of the station. Luck would have it, as we were strolling down the block, a guy was walking towards us on the same sidewalk and entered a door right before we passed. It was a hostel.
“Excuse me,” I quickly interjected before the door closed, noticing that he worked there rather than being a guest. “Do you have any rooms available right now?”
He very politely got us set up with a room and some bath towels for what equated to $11/each (the towels were a deposit that we got back). He showed us to our room, and we hit the sack. When we woke up, Rachel went to take a shower. Somebody had knocked the sink handle off in the girl’s bathroom and it was spraying water everywhere. The water had flooded the entire floor and began seeping into our dorm room. She had run down to inform the front desk and it seemed like they didn’t understand, because nobody responded. She came back up to the room and let me know. I went in and shut off the quarter-turn valve to keep the water from spraying anymore, but it was still enough to continue flooding the entire floor.
She finished her shower and I took one in the somehow dry men’s side. When we went to check out, the desk attendants presented us with a delicious breakfast of soup and fruit. We had some time to explore the local area and found a bright, llama themed café and a bookstore that doubled as a pad thai shop where we got our first dose of mango sticky rice.
The agency we bought tickets through was right across the street from the train station, so we picked them up, enjoyed a beer across the street, and got ready to board our train. Sleeper trains are a great way to save money in Thailand. You get a ride and accommodation all in one. You fall asleep in one place and wake up in another. That is, if you can get any sleep. Our seats turned into bunks that just happened to be right beside the loudest sliding door that led to the restroom. So all night, the door wooshed open and closed three feet from our pillows. I was fully awake at least an hour before we reached our final station. Everyone creeped out of the train, dragging from half-sleeps and crowded around some benches for the next hour while we waited for a bus to arrive. I managed to grab some shut eye here before arriving at the dock in Surat Thani around dawn.
Boarding the ferry was a waiting game, first for our boat to arrive then to actually take off. The water wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t calm either. We took some dramamine and quickly nodded off from continued exhaustion.
It was either the ocean air or the excitement of finally arriving at our destination that woke us up with energy. Koh Tao was the last island in the Chumphon Archipelago that the ferry would go to, so our anticipation was building greater and greater.
When we finally docked at Koh Tao, we hopped off the boat and were met with some craziness. There are tons of people there – some awaiting friends, some trying to sell you rides across the island, some waiting to get on the ferry back the way from which we came – but it’s a relatively linear path to exit the dock area.
We made it under a canopy when Lamai met us with a sign that had our names. We introduced ourselves and she led us out to the parking lot where we hopped in the back of a pickup truck and drove into the island, following streets that had a visible incline, until we reached our home for the next few nights – The Place.