Day 181: Mo’ Money Mo’ Trouble

You’ll be pleased to hear, none of us were sick after yesterdays cold water fight, we woke up healthy as could be. But compared to yesterday, today is a relatively short one to write about. As the best part of it was spent travelling. It saw us leaving Koh Phangan and taking part in a loooooong journey to Bangkok, and what’s worse, that would only be the halfway point. So come one, come all, and read all about another day in the life of this traveller…

• My day started earlier than my roommates. Today marked the 3rd, and potentially last jab in my fight against rabies. I set an alarm for 8am, but had a terrible nights sleep because of it. From 5am onwards I kept waking up. When the hour arrived, I got up and went to the bathroom to kill the dragon. With a fresh smelling breath, I walked upstairs to rent a bike.

• I’d only need it for an hour, as the hospital wasn’t far away. After handing over my passport and signing the rental form, I was issued a scooter. This one wasn’t anywhere near as nice as Red Danger, it was smaller and looked broken. The bike only cost 50 baht, so I didn’t complain, then off I set towards the hospital. My wallet was empty, so I’d need to make a quick stop to an ATM on the way. Luckily there was one outside the 7Eleven, I parked up the bike, and went through the on screen instructions, only to read the words “transaction cancelled”.

• Thinking it was probably just an error, I tried a second time. Again, the words “transaction cancelled” popped up. “This can’t be right”, I thought. I tried two more times after that, each time reducing the amount I wanted in case the machine was running low. Both times I was shown the same message. “Perhaps it was just a faulty machine”, was my next thought, so I got back on the bike and continued towards the hospital. All the while looking out for another ATM.

• I found two more machines, but both gave me the same message. The second machine was even kind enough to provide me with a suggestion, “transaction cancelled, contact issuing bank”. “GREAT!” I couldn’t get any money on the one day I actually needed it. Not only would I need to pay for my hospital visit, but Sarah and I needed money to settle our bill at Hut Sun. It was then I came up with another idea, hopefully the hospital would accept my card as payment. Maybe it was just a withdrawal problem, so off I set to get my jab.

• When I arrived, the hospital was empty because of the early hour. I asked the nurses if it would be possible to pay for my injection before hand, that way if the payment was declined, I wouldn’t be left in an awkward situation. It was then they told me the hospital only accepted cash as payment. “DOUBLE GREAT!” My only hope now was that a different card would work for withdrawals, but to get one it meant I’d have to return to our room.

• When I got back the girls were still asleep. Sarah wasn’t happy with me coming back, accusing me of “bursting through the door”. When in fact all I did was open it. It had been a while since I used my debit card, and because of that, I couldn’t remember the pin code. Sarah was kind enough to lend me hers, and she told me to make two withdrawals in case we couldn’t resolve the issue with my credit card in time. By then my rental time was up, so I had to hire a bike for another hour. I wasn’t very happy with the previous one because the fuel gauge was near empty when I got it, so I asked if there was a different bike I could take. There was, but unfortunately it was a tad girly. It was baby blue in colour, and had cartoon like skulls wearing bows on the side. I rode the bike pretty fast for two reasons. 1. To get the darn injection malarkey over with. And 2. So nobody saw me on the embarrassing vehicle.

• This time around the withdrawal worked outside the 7Eleven, next stop the hospital. I was seen to very quickly when I arrived. With the same girl injecting me as before, this time she was a lot better. I barely felt the thing go in – that’s what she said. Hopefully that was the last of my injections, I had two days left before the dogs trial was over. Should the mutt still be alive on the tenth day, it would mean it didn’t have rabies, and all this had been for nothing. I walked away with a smile on my face, thanking the nurses as I passed, and paid only 410 baht for my treatment. I then stopped in the 7Eleven on the way back for my “good boy treat”.

• When I got back to our resort, for the second time that morning, we finished packing our bags, then went upstairs to settle our bill. Somehow we miscalculated and ended up with extra change. We divided it between us as best we could, and had breakfast. It was then I sent a message to my mum to figure out just why my bank had cancelled my card. Perhaps it was the large payment I made to the clinic in Koh Tao, that’s the only transaction big enough to have flashed up on the bank’s radar. Afterwards, we returned to the room for all of half an hour, before one of the ladies took us to the pier in the company’s large 4X4. Only in Thailand would you be allowed to sit in the back with the luggage, and that’s just what Anna and I did. We briefly befriended a Brazilian woman before she decided to sit inside the cab. Little did we know that would be the best place. Her name was Raquel, but went by Rachael for us simple westerners. She had travelled a few places, but for the past 4 years had been working and living in Australia. Just as we were about to set off, two Russian girls decided last minute they wanted to join us. This delayed us by 5 minutes, and was most likely the cause for what happened next.

• Anna and I were having a laugh in the back, we even took photos to immortalise the moment. But shortly after leaving our resort, the weather took a turn for the worse. The day started with such promise, sunny and warm, but now that we were exposed, along with all our baggage, it began raining. And not just any sort of rain, thick, heavy rain, the sort that soaks you right through. Fortunately for Anna and I, we could duck behind the rear window, and we wouldn’t feel the sting of driving into the falling droplets. The Russians on the other hand. Occasionally we would pop our heads up, but a falling raindrop can really hurt when you’re travelling at 60km/hr. So for the most part we were hunched over. By the time we arrived at the pier we were soaked. Later on that day, Sarah told us the lady driving the truck was really annoyed at the Russians for causing a delay, as she felt bad for Anna and I getting wet. We didn’t mind, in fact we found the whole thing quite funny. We then said thank you and goodbye to our driver, and took shelter under the tin hut as we sorted our boat tickets.

• We had to wait an hour at the pier, we used that time to get better acquainted with Raquel. She was heading to Koh Tao, and we spent the best part of our wait talking about places we’d been. At 12:30pm a large ship pulled up. The groups were divided between two boats, because we were going to Surrathani, we ended up on a different boat to Raquel. We took her name to add on Facebook, as she said she wanted to track our travels. We climbed aboard, and found a seat, ready for a 3 and a half hour journey.

• The voyage was quite choppy, and I had to stop blogging after a while in case I was sick. We stopped at certain islands along the way, losing and gaining passengers each time. By the time we reached Surrathani, I was just grateful to be off. I felt rude when it came time to grab our holdalls. They had been under a cover on the deck the whole way, and as more people came to the surface to collect, the more frustrated I became. It transpired that if you didn’t take action, you’d get nowhere. Groups of people were blocking the way, those who didn’t grab their bags stood idle, staring around looking for some help. Then there were the other types of people that annoyed me, the pushers. Regardless of if you were waiting or not, they’d squeeze into the smallest gap in front of you in an attempt to get their bags first. I don’t like doing it, but I felt like a mug letting people push by, so I started pushing myself. I managed to grab all three of our bags, and we got off pretty quickly, leaving everyone else to bumble around.

• At the docks we had to locate our bus. There was a beautiful large coach parked outside an office. It was a bright blue double decker, I think it was probably a VIP one. When a local man asked us where we were going, and we said Bangkok, he pointed in its direction. “Yes”, we all thought. But as we made our way towards it, something from a sketch show ensued. Directly behind that coach was a grubby little local bus. We asked the man if it was for Bangkok passengers, to which he said yes. Fortunately it was just a transfer to a bus station, from there we’d catch a proper coach all the way to Bangkok. The seating arrangement were rather odd inside, instead of it being your usual two seats each side, they had a different layout. The seats were in threes and twos. You could tell it was just for locals, the legroom was just about big enough for a child, as was the shoulder space. The three of us squeezed together with our a fuss, but for those aboard who didn’t know each other, I’m sure they were well acquainted by the end. It was a squeeze to say the least.

• For the hour or so that the bus journey lasted, my knees were constantly pushed against the seat in front. There was nowhere I could move them to be more comfortable. So I think it’s safe to say I was happy when we reached the station. We had a two hour wait before our next bus arrived, and after Sarah sorted out the tickets, we were told we’d be on bus number 2. We ordered some food and sat at a table, but for the whole time we were there, we didn’t take our eyes off the buses. Each time a new vehicle pulled up, it was like playing Russian roulette. The relief we felt as a shoddy bus turned, and didn’t reveal the number 2, was practically palpable. We passed the time by playing cards, with me being the sore loser every time the girls beat me. But I soon cheered up when I learned they had to use a squat pot. Regardless of how good a hand they hand, their wasn’t any formation of cards that would allow them the more pleasant option of a urinal. After our pre journey toilet breaks, the bus showed up on time at 7pm.

• Thank the gods, it wasn’t a rubbish one, in fact it was the complete opposite. We had seats that reclined, and heaps of legroom, there was even a toilet aboard which Sarah managed to use to annoy me. Whenever she needed to go, I had to go along with her to keep the door held shut. She did that twice during the night! Sarah procured the seats, while Anna and I chucked the bags on. For some reason she didn’t get the best ones, Anna and a stranger had those. Because they had nobody behind them, it meant they could recline their seats as much as they wanted. Something Sarah and I couldn’t do. It wasn’t until I questioned Sarah about it that she realised her poor seat selection. The journey was scheduled to last 10 hours, so we got as comfy as we could in our seats, watched some tv shows, before Sarah fell asleep. I then worked on the blog, and concluded my day by awarding myself a screening of an animated Batman movie.

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