Running Out of Luck

Trip Start Jul 09, 2013
Trip End Feb 15, 2014

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, February 10, 2014

Our flight with Thai Lion Air was very smooth and we arrived into Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport. The usual way to get to the city centre from this airport is to take a 4 taxi; however we had researched that it is also possible to catch a local train for 10p. We thought this would be a bit of an adventure so decided to try it out. 

It was a very unusual experience as the train does not have any doors, and all of the windows are wide open because of the 30 degree heat; the train was pretty busy but we did still manage to get some of the last remaining seats. Throughout the journey we passed several villages where people lived in little more than shacks, and right next to them would often be a large traditional pagoda/temple painted in beautiful gold and red colours.  As it turns out, this would be the only part of the ‘real’ Thailand we would get to see. 

Bangkok is a relatively major interchange for the rest of Thailand and we knew we would be spending some time exploring the city at some point, but for now we almost immediately booked a bus heading south east to the secluded island of Ko Chang. The journey basically took the whole day and consisted of a 6 hour bus trip, followed by a ride in the back of a pickup truck (a songthaew) to a small ferry port, 40 minutes on a boat, and then finally another taxi to our hotel. 

Thailand is famous for having several islands which are supposedly meant to have beautiful white sandy beaches and stunning landscapes. Many western backpackers visit the islands in the south of the country such as Ko Samui and Phuket; we decided not to visit these southern islands because from research we found that they are typical holiday resorts full of drunk English people – this is not really what we came travelling to see. Instead, we chose to visit Ko Chang because it is supposed to be less developed than many other islands and often overlooked. The island is meant to be secluded but we found that it was still quite busy with tourists. 

We stayed in the area of Klong Prao which is between the main resort area of White Sandy Beach, and the main backpacker area of Lonely Beach; as it turned out this was a good decision, there were a few restaurants and bars around, but no noisy night life or busy town – this was perfect for us. 

We spent a day relaxing by our hotel pool, and went to the beach in the evening to have a few cocktails and watch the sun set. Apart from the occasional stray dog and the distant sound of loud music coming from a bar further down the beach, this was actually a pretty good way to spend the evening. 

On our next day in Ko Chang we decided to hire a motorbike to see some of the other parts of the island. This is a common thing to do in Asia and motorbikes are very cheap to rent. We hired some motorbikes on our last travel trip in China and this turned out to be one of most memorable days, so we couldn’t wait to do it again. In Asia they give you a helmet to wear but nothing else; we would perhaps be lying if we said it wasn’t a little dangerous, but everything about Asia is a little dangerous; you do not go particularly fast on the motorbike and you just hope you don’t fall off as you may get grazed and injured, but it is a chance you take. We set off with Mike driving and Rachel as the passenger; Ko Chang is very hilly but has pretty much just one road round the island so you can’t exactly get lost. After passing through the backpacker town of Lonely Beach we continued along the road to the very last resort which is secluded at the very south of the island. At this point the road was pretty much empty so Rachel decided she would like to try riding the motorbike – on her first attempt she was fine, so she had another ago. This was when things went terribly wrong and she lost control and fell off! Luckily Mike was not on the bike and rushed over to check she was ok. It became obvious that Rachel’s arm did not look good and she was covered in grazes. We didn’t really know what to do, but thought we better get Rachel to a Thai hospital of some kind to get the elbow looked at. 

With no passing cars, the only option was to get back on the motorbike and be a passenger whilst Mike drove to the nearest hospital about 20 minutes away! Perhaps luckily for us the Thai hospital was a private run facility which meant it was likely a lot cleaner than the public hospitals (and the staff spoke some English). Rachel went for an x-ray and was then told she had fractured her arm. Not being medically trained we thought this sounded better than a broken arm and were expecting a quick cast to be on our way. The Doctor then called us into his room and said that Rachel needed an operation and that he could send us immediately to Bangkok hospital via air ambulance; we thought this seemed a little over the top! After asking more questions it became apparent that the operation was not too urgent so we decided that we would get ourselves back to Bangkok. We didn’t bother arranging travel insurance for our trip and luckily the cost of the Thai hospital was still less than any excess we would have needed to pay. We knew we had been riding our luck and we probably won’t travel without insurance again. When we left the hospital we got into the back of a Songthaew to go to our hotel and on one of the sharp corners a car crashed into the back of us – it really wasn’t our day! 

We now had to decide what to do with our trip. The Doctor had told us we really needed to get to a hospital within one week, and we thought it would definitely be best getting Rachel back to the UK so she could visit a decent western hospital. So, over the next few hours we spent time planning our journey back to the UK. 

The next morning we checked out of our hotel and set off travelling back to Bangkok. The journey took us on 3 songthaews, a ferry, 7 hours on a bus, and a metro ride to get back to the city. Ko Chang was certainly a long way to go for a beach; the island is on the verge of being too touristy and we have definitely seen better secluded beaches in nicer places.
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