Thailand (March 2008)


In March 2008 I spent 7 days in the southern part of Thailand - not a long time but I certainly packed in a lot of nature-watching and managed to take around 4,000 photos! On this page is the general information about my journey and the picture links below will take you to three other pages: Staying in a Treehouse in Khao Sok National Park, Scuba Diving in Koh Tao, and Exploring Koh Samui. At the bottom of this page and the other pages I've included some useful links, just in case you want to go to these places yourself.

Staying in a Treehouse in Khao Sok National Park Scuba Diving in Koh Tao Exploring Koh Samui

Trip outline


Journey

Day One: I left Fukuoka on a Thai Airways International flight to Bangkok, arriving at 3:40PM local time after a comfortable five-hour flight. I'd arranged to meet a travel agent (from Traveller2000) at Hualamphong Station (Bangkok's main train station) at 5:30PM, but it took ages to get through immigration control and the Bangkok traffic was terrible and my bus was really late, so I ended up jumping off it and running to a subway for the final two stops, arriving at the station about 20 minutes late. Luckily the agent was still waiting and handed over my ticket for the night train from Bangkok down to Surat Thani in southern Thailand. I tipped generously for making him wait! The station was not as big as I had imagined, but I liked its atmosphere. There were several groups of young backpackers also waiting for the night train, but as I didn't see them on the train later, I think that they had their own group carriages (luxury!). Hualamphong Station has two sides to it - one part has western-style fast food restaurants and coffee shops, the other has a great little Thai food court. Guess which one is cheaper? I ate a very spicy curry and Tomyam Soup for around 150 baht (450 yen).

Hualamphong Station
Hualamphong Station.
Sleeping berths on the night train
Sleeping berths on the night train from Bangkok to Surat Thani.
Sleeping berths on the night train
Sleeping berths on the night train from Bangkok to Surat Thani.

The night train left Bangkok at 7:30PM and I found myself sitting in a carriage with Thai people. In my section were two women travelling with their elementary-school-age children (two each). They were friendly and, although they only spoke a few words of English, we chatted for about an hour. They taught me a few Thai phrases and how to count - but my poor attempts at the tones resulted in shrieks of laughter from the kids. I was the only one who had dinner - delivered to my seat - the Thai people had brought their own food with them. After dinner, one of the train staff came through the carriage and converted all the seats into beds, which was quite an elaborate procedure. I had paid for a more expensive lower berth and it was really spacious, so I was able to keep my backpack with me and still stretch out. I slept pretty well from about 10PM to 5AM.

Phunphin Station
Phunphin Station (Surat Thani).
Phantip Travel Agency in Surat Thani
Phantip Travel Agency in Surat Thani.
Phantip Travel Agency in Surat Thani
Phantip Travel Agency in Surat Thani.

Day Two:After my good night's sleep, the train arrived at Phunphin Station just outside the town of Surat Thani. I walked past all the shouting taxi drivers offering 150-baht rides into Surat Thani, and caught the local bus, which cost 15 baht! Mind you, with my big backpack, it was quite a struggle to squeeze through the tiny bus door and I occupied two seats, so it's probably a good thing that most backpackers use the taxis! I just did it for the experience, not because I'm stingy - honest! Once in Surat Thani, I wandered around until I found the Lonely Planet recommended travel agency, Phantip Travel. They sorted out my ferry ticket to Koh Tao (via Koh Samui) and ordered a minivan to take me the 100km to Khao Sok National Park, where I was going to stay that night.

Continued...