The Long Hard Journey to Ko Phangan

Trip Start Feb 27, 2012
Trip End May 19, 2012

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

This turned out to be one of the biggest adventures of our trip - a 38 hour monster journey by bus, train and boat from Siem Reap to Ko Phangan in time for the full moon party. Yes, we did consider flying direct but that would have cost $700 each!

Getting up at 5am we were dumped outside a convenience store with a bunch of other tourists where we waited for some time for our "bus" to arrive. Well it was supposed to be a bus, although the flyers had shown the real deal what actually picked us up was a van which somehow, we all managed to squish into.

The drive to the Thai border wasn't so bad and the border crossing was a sinch, the next six or so hours into Bangkok though was a nightmare - drivers are obviously paid by store owners to stop at their premise so that tourist buy things from them. Either that or this driver was deliberately stopping every half an hour in the hope that we would bribe him enough to hurry up. The tactic worked as an American couple in the can/van had a plane to catch and only made it in time because they parted way with some US dollars.

By the time we finally arrived in Bangkok everyone was quite stressed - our bags were dumped in the middle of the street and we had to hurriedly pack everything up in the middle of rush hour (all the while with us sketching out that pick-pockets would get into our luggage). Not knowing where to go next Liz and I managed to befriend two uber-travelers - these guys had been travelling around the globe for the past year, and on the cheap too; living off just a few dollars a day. Total champions.

With their guidance we managed to catch a bus to the train station. Due to Bangkok having the worst traffic I have ever seen however the journey took two hours. We were only 5km away from the station but the bus had to stop and start about every 10 meters. If we had actually know how to get there we would have just walked.

Upon arriving at the station we joined several hundred other like-minded tourists trying to get train and ferry tickets to Ko Phangan. Some important looking people carrying clipboards told us and our new UK mates that they had all sold out and the only option left was pricey bus tickets from the travel office upstairs. This turned out to be yet another scam - just before we almost paid for the bus tickets some angry girls burst through the store front door demanding their money back as there was still plenty of train tickets left. Lucky.

The train itself was reasonably comfortable but we got virtually no sleep as almost everyone on board was also off to the party and keen to start drinking early (including some Russian tourists who downed a bottle of vodka in less than an hour). Once we finally arrived at the ferry terminal we were totally exhausted.

At this point I completely lost it with the ferry ticket lady and made a huge scene at the counter as I thought that our tickets had been taken and were being scammed yet again (turned out I was in the wrong, I just snapped after three weeks of people constantly trying to rip us off).

Finally after a cramped ferry ride we arrived on the island in the searing heat. Unwilling to take the risk on a taxi driver we walked with all our bags for nearly half an hour before we'd had enough and stopped for lunch where we had the best Pad Thai I have ever tasted (the food in Thailand is amazing!). Refreshed, we succumbed to the nagging taxi drivers' pleas and arrived at our hostel....

Only to find that we needed to pay for our complete stay upfront. Faaaarkk! After hunting for an ATM machine for an hour we finally checked in and crashed.

This full moon party better be worth it!!

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