Officially the first day of our Andaman Coast Vacation
We arrived at the bus terminal a little earlier than we expected. It was close to a 12 hour drive after the breaks were factored in. A few facts about our bus ride:
Turned out the ticket attendant who couldn’t find our seat also sat at the very back of the bus and would take his jacket off when he wasn’t working. He was seated perpendicular to our seats so we would see him lying across the two chairs sleeping and then suddenly jolt up if the bus stopped. He would rush to put his jacket on and hurry down the steps to see what was happening. We found it odd that he would be seated on the 2nd floor atthe very back of a double decker bus.
There were a lot of sketchy stops. Through the darkness we would feel the bus slow down but wouldn’t be able to see any buildings or markings of a bus stop. We would sometimes catch a glimpse of people standing next to suspicious looking packages. Some big, some small. Packages were quickly loaded onto the bus and we would continue our driving. I don’t think we would have found it so odd there was some consistency. Sometimes money was quickly passed to the driver and the sizes of the packages were unpredictable….
Another thing to note is our coworkers and travel books/websites all warned us about locking our luggage and bringing all our valuables on the bus with us. We made the decision not to lock our bags to show we had nothing of real value in our luggage. We stayed nervously confident that all our belongings would be accounted for -and they always were!! yay.
Our exhaustion quickly turned into hyper-ness which I captured in this short clip: Megs uncontrollably laughing and me encouraging her giggles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kvk9o42ahQA
We were excited to get off the bus and start seeing Krabi Town! We had a decent amount of sleep on the bus and were eager to check into our hotel and begin sightseeing. We easily got our bags off the bus –but then the confusion set in. We did not see any taxis waiting. There were no visible forms of public transit. There were just locals repeatedly asking us if we needed a ride or to book a tour. All we really wanted was a map and to go to our hotel. We finally figured out that the locals were the ones that charged taxi fare but drove their own vehicles at an outrageously set price. Sheer genius on their parts; we really had no other viable options. We felt like helpless tourist. No matter how near (or far) the location was we were at the mercy of the driver. We paid the set rate and quickly discovered how close our place was to the bus depot. If it had been a metered taxi the fare would have been at least half of the outrageous rate we were quoted.
Our suggestions to all those who work at the Krabi Town Bus Terminal:
To all the taxi drivers trying to strum up business -don’t swarm the bus and start grabbing at peoples’ luggage. Passengers have been on the bus for nearly 12 hours– we don’t want to get off a bus and see a bunch of people touching our belongings.
Wear name tags or something to distinguish yourself as employees. The taxi drivers and the ticket agents just blended in with all the other passengers and other people at the terminal. (People kept approaching us asking if we wanted to book tickets. One man was carrying around a mug and cellphone. We weren’t looking for a scenic tour of the town by some local with extra seats in his car. We wanted a taxi driver to drop us off at our destination.) Ironically, we asked somebody else for a ride and he directed us towards “mug man”. So in the end he DID get our business.
We were disappointed to arrive at The I Talay Room and Souvenir Guesthouse only to discover that they were closed. The rooms are located above the souvenir shop. The shop’s tables were all covered in cloth but we could see that they did have some cute souvenirs for sale. Judging by the exterior of the building we were not having high expectations for indoor facilities. We sat outside in the gorgeous sunshine trying to be patient. It was a little frustrating that one of the staff members came up to us to tell us their English speaking staff member would arrive at 10am and we could then check in. She was puttering around in the background which made us wonder why she came into work if couldn’t check us in or open the store? Things that make you go hmmm.
We did some Lonely Planet Travel Guide reading and lots of Candy Crushing (iphone game app) to pass the time. When the staff member did arrive after 10am we struggled to understand that we were still unable to check in. I noticed a sign was in Thai but had the numbers 1:30pm. I groined and relayed the message to Megs. Neither of us saw a MESSAGE anywhere on agoda.com (where we made the reservation bookings online) about 1:30 book in time. After patiently conversing in Thenglish (Thai-English) Megs was brilliantly able to communicate the time 11:30am. We now had hopes that our room would be ready at 11:30am. Megs was adventurous enough to go off on her own in search of food and a quick sight-see. My lazy-ass volunteered to stay with the bags and bask in the sunshine.
Finally checked in around noon. Not the way we had planned our first day of vacation. Our plans of spending Christmas lounging on the beach while drinking refreshing cold drinks was a bust!! We had lost half the day and were now exhausted from sitting around in anticipation. We got to our room and it smelt awful. A mix between: dust, mold…just overall staleness. We were told THERE WAS HOT water, just not on our floor we had to go upstairs. (I don’t have hot water in my apartment so I was really looking forward to some hot showers on my vacation) Our air-conditioning didn’t work and our windows were sealed shut by screws. Please enjoy our room review. (If you are wondering about our accents: Megs is from the United States of America and I am from Canada).
While Megs unpacked I told her I was just going to relax and lay down. I accidentally (but by no means fought NOT TOO) fell into a deep sleep and Megs saw that I had dozed off so decided to join in on the fun. We didn’t mean to NAP until 4pm but boy was it wonderful. We deserved it. We felt so relaxed and refreshed when we woke up.
We got dressed and were now pumped for our Krabi Town adventures. We walked along the water and inquired about boat fares over to Koh Phi Phi. We booked return tickets that also provided us with a minivan shuttle to the boat dock. The agoda.com reviews were right in saying the night market were very close to our place. It was definitely within walking distance of the hotel and we enjoyed looking at all the stalls. I am always on the lookout for fresh coconut water and I was not disappointed when I finally found some.
During our very leisurely walk we stumbled upon the Hotel/Restaurant Good Dream that was featured in the Lonely Planet in 2008. They were showing a Christmas movie in English at 7pm. Their sign advertised that it was the only English movie they owned. We glanced at the menu and were intrigued by the style of it. The dry sense of humor throughout the menu is ultimately what sold us on the place. For my Christmas dinner I ordered fried rice and Megs ordered the special of burger/fries/soda pop. (A fun fact about Megs that I learned very early on is that she is addicted to Coke. Not diet coke not pepsi –Coke. I am not a big soda pop drinker but I can appreciate her addiction and have joined in on it on numerous occasions…She thinks it is funny how I have to let it sit for a while to let the fizz die down. (Unlike most people I much prefer flat pop! She won’t drink it once it has lost its fizz.) Sadly Megs did not enjoy the burger as much as she had hoped to. She tried to coaxed me into taking a bite but I kindly declined…after expressing her thoughts on it tasting funky I thought it best to skip that offer.
After our leisurely dinner we walked around the town and grabbed some fresh fruit from the market. We were going to be having an early morning so I bought some breakfast foods. We decided to have a chill night and just hang out back at the hotel. DESPITE our super un-high-speed-internet Megs was able to skype with her family in America. Her Mom’s story about how she broke her wrist was (tragically) hilarious. In my humble opinion the Selby’s are gifted storytellers. They can find the humor in anyyyyyy story!
This was a pretty long blog for not having done much on day one of Krabi! Sorry for those who aren’t speed readers. Happy Holidays!!!!
Thanks for reading!
(with help from Megs)
***A reminder that any picture on the blog can be enlarged by double clicking over it*** I upload them at a medium or small size to save on data storage***
These past few months keep surprising me with unforeseeable outcomes. Many have been so amazing. That phrase of EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON is feeling like a reoccurring theme in my life.
In 2012 I joined a Facebook group called Bangkok Expats. I made a post about my back story and how I was eagerly planning my move for 2013. Mia replied to my post and we quickly began swapping stories of our Thai adoptions and our present life. I felt an instant kinship to her. Not wanting to go too deep into Mia’s personal story I can say that she is a Thai adoptee like me. She was adopted into a loving Australian family and raised away from her homeland. At the age of 21, she flew to Thailand alone to travel and discover the country. I was fascinated at how many similarities we shared. I felt an insta-bond to this lady I had yet to meet. My commute to getting to Mia and her husband Eddie’s house was memorable. Meeting them for the first time was both exciting and amazing. It just refueled my joy for having made it to Thailand.
To get to Mia’s house was an adventure in itself. I had never been to her house before and FOR THE LIFE OF ME could not locate it on a map (paper or electronic!). I was nervous to have to take a taxi for the first time. Recently, locals and tourists have felt the need to share horror stories of tourist being kidnapped or being taken on the LONGEST route possible to their destination. Mia reassuringly told me to call her if I had any hassles and gave me all the details on how much the fare should be and what possible routes the driver would take. I was feeling excited and nervous.
On a daily basis drivers of: tuk tuks, motorcycles and taxi’s honk at me or slow down to try and get me to hop aboard. I always try to look uninterested and keep walking to whatever destination I am heading towards. So the first time I need to hail a taxi I thought it would be easy! I kept scanning the traffic and standing as close to the edge of the sidewalk as possible. I knew that if I walked to BIG C and the other shops there were always vehicles hanging around waiting to drive people. I was just so stunned that no one had picked me up by the time I was almost halfway to the shops. I then spotted a green and yellow taxi (with his light on) coming out of a soi. I waved at him and he nodded his head. I confidently took the front seat and optimistically asked him if he spoke English. He said, “Little bit”! Phewff I was able to exhale. I got a good vibe off of him and the fact that he answered back in English. I was very prepared for the, “Nitto”.
Well to my AMAZEMENT my taxi driver not only spoke a little English…HE SPOKE a lot and we were able to converse completely in English. It did make me slightly nervous when he told me he had to tell me something, “I have to tell you that the green and yellow taxis are private. We don’t belong to a company”. I gave him this blank stare. He quickly reassured me that I was SAFE! He just wanted to let me know that people in green and yellow taxis own their own cars and make their own hours. So he is selective as to which passengers he takes. He bought his car from a dealer and designed the inside of it. I asked him why he chose for his car to have cable but not a gps system? He said he found them to be unreliable and got more lost with them. Not even 2 minutes into the ride I noticed a Canadian flag sticker on the meter. (OF COURSE I NOTICED it because whenever I am in any taxi I always incessantly check the number as it grows bigger and bigger!) The taxi driver told me that Canada is one of his favourite countries. For respect to the couple’s privacy I won’t share their whole lives’ histories but …again I felt like everything was happening for a reason. His wife is American, whose Dad works (worked?) for an oil company. She was born in New Mexico but did a lot of moving around as a child. Their family moved to Thailand and that is where she met him. She is now an English Kindergarten teacher. We switched contact info and was told I could call him if I ever needed a ride. I could even schedule times days in advance. So fancy 🙂
Let’s just say I am now friends with 2 amazing couples! Both women met and fell in love with Thai men and never left Thailand. So sweet. So romantic. In one day I welcomed 4 incredible people into my life. Thailand is really living up to its name: The. Land. Of. Smiles.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. So proud of Kiwi Momma for all her blogging of the Singapore/Hong Kong trip. I knew you could survive without my IT services 🙂
P.P.S. Looking forward to reading all of your NEW YORK blogs DOM! This is so exciting that you will be in your “home away from home” so sooooon!!!!
What a great blogging community I am helping to create. Go Suma go!
I woke up to my delicious breakfast of: sticky rice, fresh fruit and coconut yogurt. (As I type this I notice little ants crawling all over my keyboard – They better stay clear of my fingers or they will be squashed or blown away!) Pi Loong brought over some freshly cut up papaya for me because she thought EVERYBODY loved it…I am the minority. That is one fruit I just do not enjoy. I did try a piece since I haven’t had a piece in years. I will admit it wasn’t as bad as I remember it being but I was not a converted fan!
After breakfast we had a look at my map AGAIN. I just feel so disoriented. In New Zealand I was trying to circle places on my map where; hostels, hotels, Babies Home and friend’s lived. In general I have a horrible sense of direction and was really wanting to get a visual of where everything was located. My Thai/English map is pretty detailed but it is still so hard to find anything. Pi Loong says there are just so many streets in Thailand! I had the address of Hope Academy School and Pi Loong said she knew where it was, but I wasn’t convinced. To her defense; she knows the Suhkumvit area really well. She was born in Thailand but has been living in the United States on and off for 18 years. I keep calling her my little American because she is so westernized now. All I knew was we had to head towards Victory Monument then walk a few blocks more to the school.
We caught a bus easily. I like how passengers pay their fare once they are seated. A bus attendant comes to give you your ticket and change if needed. What I will have to get use to is hailing the bus and climbing the stairs as it is moving. I watch people hop on with their flip flops and I worry that they will miss a step and fall and get crushed! We got off at the Victory Monument stop and thought we were going the right direction by walking along Ratchawitee Road. Unfortunately what we were not aware of was the fact that we were going in the opposite direction. We kept walking and walking and I couldn’t see ANY building numbers. Pi Loong asked a motorcyclist where to go and HE LED US a Stray BIG TIME. She had advised me to always ask a motorcyclist if you are lost because the “the streets are theirs”. They will always know the roads better than taxi drivers. Well my first experience with them wasn’t amazing. We passed a street sign pointing out different locations of landmarks. It showed that Victory Monument was behind us. At this point I had a strong feeling we were lost and going in the opposite direction. It was HOT and I was getting disgusting purse sweat! As we kept walking she informed me that the motorcyclist said he would take us to our destination but she said NO WAY! She was too scared and never rode them. She said we were learning by walking. After more walking she finally asked another 2 motorcyclists for help. I was confused when Pi Loong told me okay we would go with them. She had passed up the last offer. Now I knew we were lost. I was excited to finally be able to stop walking!
So my first motorcycle experience in Thailand was scary FUN. My friends KNOW I love me some motorcycles. The faster the better! But these drivers weave in and out of traffic like they own the road. I was peering inside peoples’ cars and inches away from touching their side mirrors. I thought it was great that Pi Loong was facing her fears and that we might actually make it. WELL while on the motorcycles our drivers stopped a few times to ask for help. So my confidence in finding the school was wavering. They dropped us off at a building and told us we were close to where we needed to go. IT WAS NO WHERE NEAR the right place. We were both frustrated at this point. Pi Loong wasn’t happy that they dropped us off at the wrong place and now we were more lost. Well we eventually did make it back to Victory Monument by way of taxi. I think there is around 5 lanes of traffic that loop around the Monument with 8 different turnoffs? That may be an exaggeration but It is one busy place. We had been so close — if we had just taken a different direction when we got off the original bus ride. Luckily we DID make it to the school. I think it took us 3 hours or so to make it but it was worth the journey. The school didn’t’t look anything like the website pictures. It is located down a soi (small side street) and I never would have found it without actively looking for a sign. I was relieved to see a receptionist when I entered the building. Unfortunately I quickly realized the receptionist that spoke English was on a break and this girl covering barely spoke. Considering it is a language school to Learn Thai you would think they would have had someone who spoke more English than she did. She kept trying to get me to fill out enrollment forms. I was trying to tell her I was already signed up and paid my fees. I wanted to know the class schedule and if I needed to sign in? Pi Loong was trying to help translate but it was making the girl more confused. She was on the phone a few times to tell the receptionist they had lost my paperwork and she didn’t know what to do. At this point I BEGAN TO WORRY that maybe I wasn’t signed up as a student and my middle man had organized my visa but not my tuition fees. I was trying to get a hold of him and he wasn’t answering his Thai number. That made me nervous. I WAS NOT GOING being scammed was I? The girl was asking me for my passport and if my paperwork had gone to Laos? Thankfully another staff member that spoke English cleared everything up for me. He informed me you simply show up for classes. Again, that seemed odd. How did they know I had paid a year’s worth of tuition if they couldn’t even locate my paperwork? Oh well not my issue. What did rattle me a bit was when the staff member was asking me why I didn’t speak Thai. He was asking me what level of Thai I felt I was. I answered that I was definitely a beginner!! He didn’t seem to believe me. I explained that I was raised in Canadian and therefor never learned Thai. Hence the reason why I had enrolled for classes. He thought it was funny that I didn’t know Thai. Like he was expecting me to be fluent in it. Kept asking, “Really? Really why don’t you know it”? Hopefully these classes pay off! After at least an hour of unnecessary waiting we were finally able to continue our day.
We caught the BTS Skytrain back to the BIG C near the hotel. At this point it was around 4:30 and I was exhausted and sweaty. I was hoping to go back to the hotel and shower and grab a quick nap before meeting a new friend Kaimook at 7:00 at MBK. Pi Loong thought it was best we go on the BTS Skytrain and head over to MBK now. I half-heartedly agreed. I had not planned on looking or feeling the way I did to meet a friend for the first time. I wanted to freshen up but it wasn’t really my call. I would get totally lost without Pi Loong’s help so whatever she was saying goes! I bought a pass for the BTS and tried to catch a couple minutes of sleep. We got off at the Siam stop…and then Pi Loong started to ask for directions. We weren’t lost this time..just needed a little push in the right direction. I felt the need to apologize to Kaimook when I saw her. She had come straight over from work and was dressed in a lovely skirt and blouse with gorgeous heels! I was in my denim shorts and tshirt…with frizzy haggard looking hair. It was quite the contrast. She laughed it off and said I looked like a tourist. Oh man I will need to class up the wardrobe once I am employed 🙂
Photo found on google images
MBK is 7 story shopping mall that is VERY popular to both tourist and locals. There are so many different shops and gadget booths. Kaimook was my technology angel that night. We went to her friend’s stall so we could get the “friends discount”. I got my internet all sorted out. I traded in my locked iphone 4 for a gently used unlocked iphone 4s. They transferred all my pictures and some of my contacts over. I had to buy a data plan for my sim card so I could get 3G internet and wifi but I am all hooked up now. It has been great to actually have an Iphone that works again. I used to have to push the home button repeatedly until it worked. Taking pictures was a nightmare because it took so long to get to the camera! I am also glad I didn’t buy an internet stick for my laptop because it can share a network with my phone. So convenient! It will be nice to be back to only having one phone! In Ne w Zealand I always had to make sure I had to have my Iphone (to take pictures and wifi) and my NZ phone J
We dined at a yummy Thai restaurant then said our goodbyes. Pi Sangwan met up with us at the hotel later that evening. It was so nice to have Pi Loong and Pi Sangwan together in the same room again!
This was a pretty long blog. I plan to keep the upcoming ones shorter. NOT full day experiences anymore. Too time consuming trying to stay current on my blog and journal!
Thanks for reading
xox Amanda Sumalee
PS. The 3G internet is great when it is working. Unfortunately for me it is pretty sporadic. Just decides when it wants to work! Luckily there are a lot of free wifi areas close to the apartment and most bus stops have TRUE wifi host spots which is my service provider.
PPS. Remember you can click on ANY of the pictures to make them bigger and clearer 🙂