Made the midnight bus, it was packed and had to do a short run around showing my ticket to different drivers, trying to find out which bus I should hop on. After going through three bus drivers, who kept pointing to another, one of them finally took the ticket to a young girl, about 12, she spoke sternly to the 40 year old bus driver, and then guided me over to the correct bus and I hopped on. It was a relief because for a minute there my beer buzz was slightly wavering. Before boarding the bus I got a second fitting for my suit, and then sat at bar drinking beers, smoking cigarettes, and ferociously writing in my journal for 2 hours before my bus would depart. The bus was packed and I sat down next to a 20-year-old Thai, who spoke a little English, enough to mediate between the bus attendant and me. In Thailand they have a bus driver and then a bus attendant who takes you to your seat, gives you a bottle of water, and a towelette when you stop is up. Great service I must say but the busses are hit or miss, I’ve been on some decent ones, this one was a downright shotty bus, a 2nd world version of the best from Thailand via 1983. It was lousy, in all regards. But it was a 2nd class ticket for a 4.5 hour ride, at about $10.
Finally we took off, all the while the words of the hostel clerk, who replied when I told him I was taking the midnight bus, hesitantly o yeah…you should be safe. One of those moments someone says something and you mean to question at the time but don’t, then it just lingers, what did he mean. Thoughts of me being the only guy on a bus and getting mugged by some thugs at desolate stop in Thailand wavered through my mind, but the bus was packed with younger people just commuting to and from Bangkok. After about 15 minutes of the bus scuttling around, we pull into another parking lot with busses, we stop, all get out and change busses. Bus #2 was nice, it was clean, bright, had water and cookies at each seat—don’t get that on a greyhound. Not that I am a big person, yet I am bigger than most Thai’s and the busses are designed for Thai’s, so not always the most comfortable, yet I did sleep about half the time.
We pulled into the Trat bus station sooner than I thought, it was about 4.30 am, and the place was bustling. I stepped off the bus, found a toilet for 3 baht–they are really into charging a few baht or tenths of a cent to use a public toilet. A man sits at a small tv dinner tray, and sells little soaps, toothbrushes, mints and the like for freshening up as well. I then walked up to a row of taxis, or renovated pickup trucks. They are open in the back, have tarps to come down on the sides when it rains, a thin roof, and two benches facing each other in the bed, you can fit maybe 8 people in these. A fella’ greeted me, I said Ko Chang, he then pointed to his truck with a few people in it already and said 100 baht. He then tried to fit 2 more larger sized guys in, to the point I was smushed, and the girl next to me was completely smushed, all the while her boyfriend looked on as I was forced up close and personal with his little hunny, before the big man even sat down. The heavy man looked at the spot that had cleared, and just walked away. We all wiggled a little ways away from each other, and the boyfriend pulled his main squeeze back over to him so she didn’t have to be squeezed up next to this guy. After that we were off. We took an early morning ride through the empty streets of a town still sleeping, or just about to put its feet on the ground.
It was lovely ride I was silently basking in the bustle of travel–glad I only had one small bag with me. I was only going for 2 nights 2 days, so I brought more electronics than clothes, 2 pairs of underwear, 2 shirts, extra shorts, minimal toiletries, computer, gopro, and camera. At the ferry it was about 5 am and I had to wait until 6 for the ferry to leave, so I bought a beer and found a quiet spot to listen to the song of birds and roosters bring in the morning sun over a lush rolling jungle mountainside. I would take one more taxi ride until I was on the ferry and crossing the bay to the island. Took about an hours ride to get on to the island. Once we got to the pier, cars were rolling off the ferry along with people walking, I was a little apprehensive, because I had no reservation at a hotel, I had read a little about the island before setting off. And I knew I was looking for lonely beach, a destination for backpackers, and a place for some party’s, a little away from the quintessential travelling suitcase tourist. Its like they are gonna unload a 3 ringed circus with all the shite they are carrying around, and then they buy more bags for a all the shite they bring back with em.
Light and prosper you may go,
and may you find all you need
a little further on down the road.
Tired, a little soar from the bus ride, and just wanting to get to where I was going, to take a nap. Yet didn’t know how to tell a taxi driver who speaks another language, take me to a hip place, and then I saw it–the Honda zoomer, a nifty yellow scooter sitting right in front of me. I showed some curiosity and quickly was told 250 baht. A minute or two of turning over the idea, well geewhizz hadn’t never rode a scooter, they are the cause of most accidents for tourists, but my insurance did cover wrecks on a scooter, I agreed. I filled out paperwork, showed my passport, and then he said “I keep” referring to the passport. This guys English was minimal at best, I keep, yes no, number baht, passport, that’s about all this guy knew. I said no no, I need to keep, what if someone asks for it, thinking the police in worst case, or checking in to a room the best case. He points to his phone number on the paperwork and says for them to call him. I try to give him my license, we have a tough stare down, I was sending all my honest vibes, and he says no I keep. I tried to bluff and say no I cant do it, he hands me back the passport says ok look, he takes me to his room, opens a drawer and shows me two other passports, and says all the scooter renters take passports. Again this is a lot of hand signaling and me just supposing the language here. Finally I decide ok, he gives me a pink helmet, we look it over together, I point to a green helmet, he gives it to me takes back the pink, we smile and say ok. Now I’m on the scooter…