Day 153: Extra-Vehicular Activities

• So continuing on from the bus journey. Both Sarah and I did achieve sleep, but the longest interval was roughly 4 hours. The first time we were woken up was by one of the drivers, he asked us for our passports during one of our stops in order to make photocopies. Seeing as I had just woken up I handed it over without question. It was only when I came to my senses that I grew concerned.

• I began looking for the guy outside, but couldn’t find him. In the end I was too tired and fell asleep back in my chair. Only to be woken up a second time when the kind gentleman returned with our passports in hand – panic over.

• Like every long haul journey we’ve been on, the a/c was on full blast. Luckily the lady in front of me was only using one blanket, so I stole the spare one and fell back asleep. This was ultimately to my demise, with the blanket pulled up over my head I hadn’t realised the bus had stopped sometime later, and all its passengers were queueing at Malaysian immigration control. For the third time that trip the same guy had to come and wake us.

• Our tiredness meant we were at the back of four long rows of people. Like always no matter what one you change to, the previous one moves quicker. The only reason we changed was because of a short little man trying to usher all his bus load through first. We were already late arriving, and now we were in a queue that was moving twice as slow. At one point Sarah dropped her passport and bent down to pick it up again. Then all of a sudden the short, rude, obnoxious, arrogant, b**** of a woman in front kicked her leg back and hit Sarah’s shin. Instead of apologising she simply said “space”, over and over. The horrible hag did it on purpose! Too bad we were outside an immigration office, otherwise we’d have added a lot more words to her limited vocabulary.

• Our human alarm clock was waiting for us the other side of the office, and he guided us back to our bus. Sarah took Rachael’s place a few moments before, when she began to worry that the bus might have left without us.

• We didn’t get a chance to fall asleep again, as it was only a 5 minute ride to Thailand’s immigration control. We hopped off with bags in tow, and ended up on a shorter queue. But it didn’t stop the short man from pushing his people through again. With a 15 day visa stamp in our passports, we climbed back aboard the bus to be taken to Hatyai.

• We managed to sleep on and off throughout the last leg of the journey, and the sun had risen by the time we arrived at the travel office. The bags had already been unloaded, and then began the fun and games. Anytime you get off a bus in Southeast Asia there are people awaiting your arrival, this morning was no exception. The problem with that is you just want 5 minutes to gather your thoughts, especially when you’re half asleep because of the hour of the day.

• Before we even knew what was going on Sarah began following two guys, while I collected our holdalls. We were trying to locate the bus station because we wanted to get to Koh Lanta. The boys said they could help and began taking our bags and loading them onto the backs of their mopeds. You should know readers that all of this happened within 5 minutes of getting off the bus. We told them we wouldn’t be going with them, and I returned to the travel office to ask what was going on.

• Because of the language barrier (we had been spoilt in Malaysia, they all spoke such good English there) the lady didn’t understand me. I then tried asking her how much it would cost to get to Koh Lanta, to which she told me 500 baht (£10). By the time I got back outside to Sarah, the boys had replaced their bikes with a tuktuk van. They wouldn’t accept any less than 30 baht each (the joy of Thailand, the whole haggling process was back) so we climbed aboard and were driven 20 minutes down the road to the bus station.

• We didn’t notice it at first, as all they did was drop us outside another travel shop. It wasn’t until we turned around that we saw the large construction. The driver walked us inside the shop to try and get us to buy a ticket from them instead. But after the guys disgusting attitude we told him to stuff it. He said “my bus my rules!” And was asking for 550 baht. We just laughed and walked away.

• Luck eventually showed its face that morning, it came when we enquired about bus times. When we actually located the correct booth, the man inside told us there was a bus leaving for Phuket in 15 minutes time and would cost 140 baht each. Seeing as that was en route, we snapped it up straight away and followed the driver to his vehicle.

• There weren’t that many people aboard, meaning we had a good choice of seats. We watched a few tv shows to pass the time and after another 3 hours travelling we had to switch buses. As I attempted to rise from my limited legroom chair, my foot slipped on a puddle of water that had accumulated no thanks to the contestant a/c blasting away. The resulting damage: my shin smashed forward into the metal bracket of the chairs in front, causing it to bleed slightly and swell. That made two of us with injuries that day. Sarah walked into a barrier at the Thai immigration office, giving her a large bruise on her thigh.

• The second bus was a public bus, so as well as filling it with people at the station, we made stops along the way to pick up more. There was no room to get comfy at all, my knees were pushed against the chair in front, and to my side were people squished together in the aisle. I did my best to fight the tiredness that kept washing over me, but eventually I lost the battle and became a dribbling mess. My head was rolling all over the place like a human bobble head. Even with Sarah’s shoulder to rest on, I still managed to flop into her lap. She said I was like a baby, unable to support my own head!

• The journey lasted around another 3-4 hours. It was our third bus of the day and we hadn’t even reached our destination yet. We then had the task of buying yet another bus ticket – for the record, this was the last one. It cost us 250 baht each for a minibus to take us on the last leg of the journey. It wouldn’t be arriving for another hour, which was perfect as it gave us enough time to freshen up and have some food. YES, we were back in the country that sold pad thai. The day wasn’t such a drain after all.

• We both enjoyed a dish of the good stuff and waited out our time in the restaurant. At 1:15pm a minibus full of people going to Koh Lanta showed up. Sarah and I took the last two seats, then the driver sealed us in by wedging our bags between us and the door.

• I did my best in the second round against tiredness, but it KO’d me within the first 2 minutes. The only time I woke up was when my large cranium jolted to one side. There was one thing I hadn’t missed since being away from Thailand, the quality of its roads. If we weren’t avoiding potholes, we were going over bumpy gravel like terrain, and if it wasn’t that it was sharp bends.

• We had to cross two rivers on a large vehicle ferries. It looked similar to a big floating car park. We stayed in the vehicle both times, and it wasn’t long after that, that we arrived in Koh Lanta. The driver stopped the vehicle to ask where everyone was staying, but much like us, most people were winging it.

• He drove slowly through the popular areas, dropping off passengers with reservations as he went. Eventually we reached the last stop. Because the driver couldn’t speak English that well, he ran to a nearby tourist information. A lady came back with him and she explained that beyond our current location was more pricey accommodation. The area we were in was perfect for backpackers. “Fair enough”, we thought, and got out to explore our new home.

• We decided that it would be best to use the wifi at a nearby bar. This would save the legwork of walking to each and every resort. There was another couple in a similar predicament as us, and they joined us to do the same. Funnily enough we ended up booking the same resort, and split a tuktuk 4 ways to get there.

• The resort was lovely. It was comprised of wooden huts, each one was very spacious, had en suite bathrooms, and a really comfy bed – well our bed was at least, I didn’t go around testing all of them like Goldilocks. The restaurant was located on the beach, they sold amazing food, and had two adorable pug like dogs hanging out there. After showering and eating some more pad thai we explored the town.

• Our friendly receptionist gave us directions to the nearest 7 Eleven. Along the way we passed loads of resorts, and enough restaurants to keep it different every night. The highlight of our walk was a purchase of M&Ms, but we did learn of great diving and snorkelling opportunities that we may partake in, in the not too distant future.

• Back at the resort we spoke with the receptionist again to see if we could move up the property ladder to a better situated hut. He told us he wouldn’t know if one would be free until the morning, so with that unpromising sounding news we returned to our room. After going through the evening rituals, we climbed into bed, put on some tv shows, and wound down ready for a hard earned good nights sleep.

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