The journey to Koh Tao
I feel like we’re a gang of livestock getting ready to be sent off to slaughter there we huddle together on the little traffic island – nested between two three-lane roads – just at the end of Soi Ram Buttri, the parallel street to Khao San Road, in Bangkok. There have to be at least a hundred of us – and a lot have already left – long time backpackers and short time travelers, standing there with our luggage in all shapes and sizes, with different colored circles plastered to our tops. We’re waiting for the buses that will take us to Chumpon, before we’re ferried off to Koh Tao, Samui or Phangan.
This was not my plan, at all. I hate travelling this way, being hurried off with a big group and hasted from place to place – but in this case it was definitely the cheapest and by far the most convenient way to do it. They have placed the public bus central for buses heading south to an incredibly inconvenient location, only reachable by car and taxis. I was a bit skeptical at first as well, as I’ve heard all the horror stories (and met quite a few people experiencing it during my months in South-East Asia) of people getting robbed on buses originating at Khao San, especially the buses going south; of people hiding in the luggage compartment and going through the backpacks during the night; buses left at the side of the road, deserted by the staff and people noticing that somehow they’d even lost valuables from their on-board luggage. But this seems legit, Lomprayah – the bus/ferry company – has their own office (off of Khao San), the buses are all marked with the company name and I haven’t read anything about robbing incidents on them.
When they finally arrive we’re all scurried off to our respective buses. I enter the one I’m supposed to take and start looking for my seat. I see a huge woman sitting in the window seat almost in the front of the bus, I take a look at my number, please, please, please don’t let the seat next to her be mine – it is. She takes up almost half my seat but somehow I manage to squeeze in, making sure to sit as far out to the side as I can manage, still all the fat on her left arm is completely covering my right. I keep scouting through the bus, hoping it won’t fill up and I can take another seat, but to no avail, soon every single seat is taken. At least the aircon probably won’t be a problem on this ride.
For a while I have the luxury of getting slightly away from her sweaty blubber when I have my seat leaned as far back as possible, while hers is still in upright position, but sadly it won’t last too long and I can’t wait for the ride to be over. Some eight hours later it is. We arrive at the ferry dock and have to wait there for a couple of hours until sunrise. The waiting area is filled with lounging beach chairs and loads of stone tables and chairs. Sadly all the lounging chairs are already taken, as mine were one of the last buses to arrive, but I lean over one of the tables and manage to catch a bit of sleep anyways. And a few hours later I’m on the ferry, finally on the last leg towards Koh Tao, and my first steps towards getting a diver’s license.