Goodbye Ko Tao

With Christmas around the corner and our families coming to town, our time on Koh Tao had come to an end. With my parents (Anna and Earl) flying in to Bangkok late at night on Dec. 18, we needed to leave Koh Tao on the afternoon of the 17th. Booking through a travel agent again–man these guys are helpful–we made arrangements to take the afternoon high speed ferry to Chumpon, a bus from the ferry dock to the train station, and night train to Bangkok. Catching the Lompraya high speed ferry for the third time, we thought we knew what we were in for. After checking our bags, we headed straight up to the top deck, slathered on some sunscreen and laid back expecting a similarly smooth journey as the return from our visa run.

Well, in the few days since we’d been back, the seas had shifted from a glassy calm to rough water bringing a cold front into the region. Immediately upon leaving the dock, we knew we were in for a rough journey. Waves came spraying us all the way on the top deck and we had to hold on to keep from sliding off the metal benches. About fifteen minutes into our 2 hour ferry ride, several members of the crew came up to shutdown the top deck and send us all down below.

Not interested in repeating our first experience by joining the sickies inside, we opted for the benches in the aft of the second deck. While we may have gotten sprayed by waves on the top deck, we got drenched on the second. A combination of water streaming off the top deck and sea spray whipped at us by the wind left us soaked through and through. We spent the next hour and a half clinging to our seats and watching the rolling seas.

We arrived in Chumpon looking like we’d swum over from Koh Tao and hopped a very air-conditioned bus to the train station. Fortunately, we had a few hours to kill in Chumpon before our train arrived. We grabbed some dinner and took advantage of the Thai-style bathroom that generally includes a handheld shower nozzle for a quick fresh water rinse. Mostly, we were glad we had on quick drying clothes!

We caught our train around nine, finding our way to our assigned sleeping berths, and made it to Bangkok around 7 am. With all of our belongings on our backs, and not able to check in to our hotel at the airport until the afternoon, we did what every logical person would do and headed to Bangkok’s largest shopping mall. MBK offered free bag storage, about a million shops in a very confusing layout, a famous international food court, and a movie theater! After meandering the shops, we caught the matinee of Hunger Games.

Now, you wouldn’t think that going to the movies in Thailand would be very different from home, but we got tripped up by a few surprises. First, movie theater seating is assigned and you pick your seats when you buy your tickets, not knowing whether you’ll be sitting next to a friendly Thai lady or a row of chatty kids. Also, the popcorn comes in a variety of flavored none of which is hot and buttery. They don’t let you into the theater until time on the ticket (we were shooed out with another western couple). Most importantly, between the previews and the beginning of the film, you must rise for video tribute to the King and the King’s Anthem.

After the movie, we made our way to the airport hotel and waited for my parents to arrive so we could begin our next adventure. More on that next time.

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