So travelling from Hanoi to Bangkok was interesting. We took a taxi, a bus, a plane, a train, a boat, a tuktuk, and with plenty of walking meant we took 7 forms of transport in one day! Excluding the cost of flights, it cost us around £4.5 each to get from Hanoi to Bangkok. It’s also much warmer this far south compared to Hanoi!
Bangkok is a quick stop for us to catch up on the stuff we didn’t have time to do at the start of our trip. We were also ready to take on the hustle and bustle of the city that was so daunting the first time around, but it wasn’t quite what we expected. The Thai king had died a few days before hand, and as a sign of respect everything was toned down. Even Khao San Road was quiet – which was very different to our first experience of it. Everyone was wearing black as a sign of respect too. Every shop was filled with black clothing, and everything around the city seemed black, white, and grey. We tried to follow suit (ish).
That evening we went on a river boat cruise that was given to us by Stray Asia (after their new system had mucked us about (which was 4 months ago now. Time flies!)). It was a challenge getting there with forgotten tickets, missed boat taxis, and a crazy tuktuk driver who got us there much faster than we were expecting! Glad we took a tuktuk rather than a taxi – there was traffic everywhere. After battling through the crowds to the boat, it was a nice meal and cruise. 2 hours up and down the river in Bangkok. The live entertainment was cancelled (because of the king) but it was a nice, higher-class meal compared to anything we’ve had in a long time.
The next morning we went to the floating market. We thought it would be around the corner, but actually it was 2 hours away.. On the way we stopped off at a market that was on some train tracks. Every time the train came by, all the vendors had to pull their shops inside and out of the way of the train. Once the train had passed, they all frantically put everything back out again to carry on. The floating market was very touristy, and a very interesting way of shopping for souvenirs – no locals shopped here! Traffic jams on the boats were very likely.
After returning from the market we just relaxed for the day. Went to Khao San and got a massage and some Pad Thai (I’ve missed them, so tasty) before getting on the night bus to Koh Tao. The night bus was comfortable, and we managed to get seats at the back with plenty of leg room. Though the air-con was turned up to 11, it was freezing cold! We stopped at midnight to get some food at a random cafe somewhere, before heading onto Chumphon pier for the ferry. We arrived at 3am, which is much earlier than we expected, and so began a long wait until 6:30am for the ferry.
Once we arrived in Koh Tao we made our way to Crystal Dive, where I was going to learn to dive. The next few days were filled with various activities such as watching educational videos, and practising in a swimming pool. Had to do stuff like taking your mask off underwater and clearing it of water when you put it back on, or practising low/no air techniques. It was really good to finally get in the water – there’s so many fish just beneath the surface. I did have an encounter with a Titan Triggerfish, which is the only fish that will actively attack you in the waters around Koh Tao. Now I wasn’t properly weighted and kept floating upwards. This was a problem because the Tiggerfishs’ “territory” is above it, which I was now floating upwards into. Luckily I got away in time, but it was displaying its warning signals at me, getting ready to attack. Close call! Anyway, I passed the course easily enough, and had lots of fun doing it.
The pictures below show here sums up exactly what Southeast Asia is like. You’ll see a nice street with nice restaurants and shops down it, but turn a corner and you’ll see stuff like this:
Also, we walked past a school and saw some strange educational signs..
After my course was finished Claire and I sat down and discussed our plan for the rest of the trip. While Koh Tao was nice, with the kings death putting a dampener on everything and being the height of the rainy season, we decided to put off the rest of the south islands until after Christmas. We have the ability to do this with our trip, and it made sense to enjoy the islands at their peak in glorious sunshine. So we decided to pull some plans forward, and head off to Bali a week earlier than planned.
This, however, started with the night boat. To save money, we took the night boat from Koh Tao to Surat Thani, before getting the bus to Phuket to get a plane to Bali. With 100+ people crammed into a boat with ‘beds’ no wider than I was, it was an experience. One lady kept taking over Claire’s bed, which is apparently an easy thing to do because in the morning I realised I had done the same with the lady next to me. Oops!
Once we arrived in Surat Thani, we were shuttled in tuktuks to the office before finally getting into a minibus to Phuket. They dropped us off at a bus station outside of town instead of in town, and we shortly realised the reason for this. They had tried charging us £5 each to take us to the airport, stating that at the bus depot they would charge £7.50. But once we reached the bus depot in the main town, we found it for £2! Lucky we didn’t listen to the guy. After relaxing all day in Phuket to kill some time (we found a hostel that would let us store our bags and have a shower, which was much needed), we made our way to the airport. Turns out there’s a brand new terminal building and Jetstar (who we were flying with) didn’t have a permanent check-in desk at the terminal. We spent some time trying to research which one we had to be in, but everything online is out of date. Eventually we realised we were in the right terminal, and then got our flight to Bali, via Singapore (which left at 5am, so first time sleeping in an airport!).
Oh, and for reference, you need an onward ticket to enter Bali, so if you’re going there, make sure you have a ticket out or they won’t let you in!
And so there we are, after many long nights of awkward sleep. This post is a few days out of date because of poor internet, and we’ve spent a little time in Bali in between. But I’ll let Claire update you on what we’ve been getting up to.