|I was back on the road early this morning as I caught a taxi to the bus station in order to get myself down to the south. I easily found a cheap 2nd class ticket to the port town of Chumphon, and I was off. It wasn't quite as bad as yesterday, but I still had 7 hours on the road today. Why does thailand have to be so long and have all the major attractions at each extreme end?
My plan was to get off in Chumphon and get a ferry from there to the island of Ko Tao, a diving mecca in southern Thailad. My Lonely Planet said the bus would drop me off at the bus station, outside of which there were tons of travel agencies where I could book myself a ferry ticket. Of course I get off the bus in the middle of a deserted street with no bus station in sight and have no idea where I am! And there was no map of the city in my guidebook so I had no chance of figuring it out on my own. So I walked around a bit hoping to find a travel agency but to no avail. Finally I passed a police station and inquired there, but the man on duty spoke very limited English. He flagged down a moto taxi driver and after a few minutes he finally got my "Ko Tao," which apparently I was saying in the wrong tone so he had no idea what I was saying at first. He then pulled out a flyer for a travel agency and it had a number on it, so I gave them a ring and they came and picked me up right where I was....disaster averted.
Over at the travel agency place the guy told me my options for getting to Ko Tao, which basically consisted of the slower but cheaper ferry tonight at midnight, or the faster and more expensive one tomorrow morning. For someone on a budget like mine, the choice was pretty easy. He of course tried to convince me otherwise, saying that there were big waves tonight, it would be rocky, and that I should probably wait until the morning. Convinced he was just trying to make more money off of me, I told him I'd try my luck with the night ferry.
So at about 10:30pm he drove me and Roland, a German guy who's been livig on the island for 16 years now, down to the pier, where we met our "ferry." Haha, it was actually more like a fishing boat laiden down with supplies for the island. I climbed on board with Roland to find that we were the only passengers and in the middle of all the food, drinks, and furniture in the hull was a mattress thrown on the floor and a few pillows for us. At this point my adventurous side was pretty pleased with the interesting scenario I had managed to get myself into. That was until I chatted a bit more with Roland. He told me that the boat was so full with supplies because the night ferry hadn't gone for the past 3 nights due to roughness (it's the cool season in other parts of Thailand, but still the end of the rainy season here on the south coast on the gulf of Thailand side). Then he informed me that there's a bigger night ferry that takes over cars and trucks and it also usually takes foot passengers, but not tonight. When I inquired as to why, he conjectured that they proabably wouldn't want to take on any more casualties should the boat sink in the bad conditions. He said this completely straightfaced, like it was nothing. He then proceeded to look around the hull and point out various pieces of furniture that we could us as flotation devices should our boat sink....ummmmm, YEAH! At this point iI'm pretty much freaking out!!! The huge coachroach that crawled by not too far from my toe at about this exact moment certainly didn't make matters any better either!
To make a long story short, the ride ended up being totally fine. Maybe this old German dude was just trying to scare the shit out of me, who knows? We set off around 11pm and since the first part of the trip was still on a river, it was nice and calm and I managed to fall asleep right away. I woke up a few more times in the night with the rockiness, but each time it wasn't rough enough to stop me from falling right back asleep. Lucky for me I'm a heavy sleeper!