At the pier, there were already tons of people waiting. My travel agent told me that he had already checked us in on the boat and that we’d have a bed. When I bought the ticket, I asked twice, whether I’d have a bed or just a mattress on the floor. The dive instructors warned me, that you can get lucky with the night boats and have a nice one, or not. But my guy was like: yeah, yeah, bunk beds, bunk beds. I guess they understand something else under this term because when I saw the boat, it was just two floors of mattresses and no space for luggage at all. They stored away our backpacks in the stomach of the ship (of course I had my scarf and contact lens solution in there and therefore I had to sleep with my lenses while being rather cold).
There really was no space. It meant that you had to share any space you got with the neighbours you happened to lie next to. Luckily, mine were a slim British girl and a short German guy. I really don’t know how bigger people can spend the night on this boat. To make things better, I just tried to go to sleep right away. I think I (and also everyone else) even slept for most of the ride. The slight rocking was ok, I just didn’t like when the boat went directly over a big wave and fell down at the other side. But luckily, I didn’t have stomach troubles anymore.
We reached Suratthani at 5.10am and were greeted by a slight rain. I really lucked out with the weather on Koh Tao! Apparently, they had a lot of rain over the past weeks but I didn’t have to use my umbrella once while I was there 🙂
I waited until my bag was unloaded and got into one of the taxis that brought me to the tourism office. The taxi ride was quite nerve wracking because there was a huge spider on board! Well, normal size, palm big, for Thailand.
At the tourism office, they exchanged our bus ticket to a sticker which we had to wear. There were only me and 3 others going to Hat Yai. At 6.30am our minivan took us on a 5h ride through the rain, with a few stops at gas stations and a stop at a food station. The driver then just dropped us off at a tourism agency somewhere in Hat Yai. Then, I needed to figure out what I should do. I could have taken a tuktuk to the bus station to see if there were other, cheaper buses to get to Ipoh and then the Cameron Highlands. But the lady at the agency insisted that there only was a bus in the morning and that I’d have to take a bus to Butterworth for 400 Bht and then go to Ipoh from there and to the Highlands afterwards. However, I’d only be in Ipoh at about 8pm and so I’d have needed to spend a night there, which I didn’t want. I asked again, if I could not take a tuktuk to the boarder and take a bus from a bus station in Malaysia but she just looked at me puzzled and referred to the station in Hat Yai again. So, I decided to go to Kuala Lumpur directly, which cost 500 Bht and would get me there by 9pm. And the bus was leaving in 20min, so I didn’t have to wait long. A songtaew brought me to the red travel coach. Wow, I’ve never seen a bus with such comfortable and big seats!!! You could tilt them back very far, so that probably even I would be able to sleep! And there was a power plug! I could live on that bus:) Except that there was no toilet…But luckily I was feeling healthy again!
After about 40min we reached the boarder (hah, and I thought I could just walk over the boarder from Hat Yai), where we had to get off the bus and walk through customs, where they took my visa out. At least now I had some time to say goodbye to Thailand. In Koh Tao I was just too tired and my last meal was a pizza because my stomach didn’t feel like too many spice. Not exactly my usual way of exit. I will miss the “sawatikaaaaas” and “kap kun kaaaaas”! I’ve had a good time in multifaceted Thailand.
The bus ride took about 9h and I managed to watch 4 episodes of Gilmore Girls. I had lunch at a stop around 4pm and changed my remaining Bht to Ringgit. At another stop, I went to the bathroom and when I got back, a German guy told me that I should better get my stuff out of the bus. Apparently, we had to change the bus and nobody knew why. They also never told us why and how long we were stopping anywhere, we always had to go ask first and their English seemed to be limited to “20 to 30 min”. There were only a few white tourists on the bus, the rest was Thai, Indian or Malaysian. There were also quite a few women with head cloth.
So, we changed the bus and I now had a seat in the top front row. But I liked the other bus better since the windows were cleaner and this one didn’t have power plugs (should have charged my laptop earlier).
We reached Puduraya bus station at 10pm and since I knew that Chinatown (with many cheap hostels) was close by and so I asked how to get there. I really only had to walk 100m and then I saw Chinese signs to the left. As soon as I walked into that street, a guy asked me whether I needed a hostel. He seemed very nice and his name was Aslan, like the lion from Narnja:) So, I talked to him for a little and then decided that the Oasis guest house he worked at sounded good for at least the first night. It was only a 2 min walk but quite an exciting one. So, first I almost bumped into completely naked Jesus looking guy (was glad I wasn’t alone then, but there were sooooo many people on this road anyways). I didn’t look long enough to check whether he was just drunk or crazy or both. Then, a street to my right there was a gate and behind it a road with about a 1000 red Chinese lanterns. I asked whether there was a festival going on and Aslan said “no, just Chinatown”. And there was shop after shop…Woohoo, I’m going to have a good time here:) That’s how I always imagined a Chinatown to be. Nothing like in NYC or San Francisco.
The dorm was full but there was a bed in a private room where a Russian girl was staying. The dorm would have been 15 RM with breakfast, but so they let me stay in the private room for 17.5 RM. The Russian girl was very nice and even went to fill my water bottle (with filtered water). I was too tired and hot to move. The room was very simple and I’d say really a lower class place to stay but from all the people I’ve met at this hostel I’ve heard that they had been there for several nights or even months. I guess you get used to it (especially the bathroom sink being more like a storage room). We had a fan but no windows and I was way too hot. But since I was so tired after having traveled for 26h (it was actually past 11pm already, because KL is a time zone ahead of Thailand), I managed to sleep. But only after spending a few minutes on perfectly working wifi;) What a treat after a week practically without it.