In order to get to Koh Lanta, our chosen destination for the Holidays, we decided to go for a more adventurous travel option. As of Tuesday afternoon the only thing we had booked for certain was a train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, a town only two thirds of the way to Ko Lanta. Generally speaking its not a good idea to not have a place booked 2 days before Christmas, but with tourism being down at least 20% we thought we had a good shot. And so the journey began around 4:00 pm with a tuk tuk ride from our guest house to the train station. We then boarded the 5:35 p.m. train which we would be on for the next 12 hours. The cool thing about our train was we were in the sleeper car and would have beds with sheets for the night. Erin was out by 8 pm or so and didn’t wake up until 4:30 am. John on the other hand was up a little later watching the stars and playing a little guitar. This was by far the smoothest part of our journey.
Once we figured out which stop to get off on (since many of the stops didn’t have signs or even platforms) we got off the train and were quickly herded to a tourism office to set up the rest of our transportation. It felt like there was something the tourism office workers didn’t want us to know but we were somewhat at their mercy since nothing else was open. We were not alone as all the other tourists were there as well so we felt that we were in good company. So after an hour we hopped on a bus headed for another tourism office/bus depot where we loaded off one bus to open air seating area with about 100 people milling about waiting to head off to different destinations. We only waited a little while before getting on another tour bus which would take us two hours further south to Krabi. We were starting to wonder if we would ever actually make it to Ko Lanta without paying someone some more bahts since our original receipt had been taken and replaced at every stop.
We were deposited at another office/bus station in Krabi. After standing and waiting for 30 minutes to figure what we supposed to next, we witnessed a group of tourists storming off dissatisfied with a discrepancy between what they thought they should be getting and what they got. Finally it was our turn to find out what we got. Luckily it was a minibus which took us down the road to yet another tourism office. This would be our last office stop and also where we ended up booking our accommodation for Koh Lanta, our return ticket to Krabi, and bus tickets back to Bangkok. So one plate of pad thai later we were on our last minibus which would take us across two ferries and finally to Papillon, our home for the next 4 days. As we pulled up around 2 p.m. (22 hours after getting on the tuk tuk) it was reminiscent of a place we stayed in Costa Rica a year earlier which, fortunately, we liked. We settled into our bungalow, went and checked out the beach, found a little hole in the wall cafe across the street and were ready to relax. It’s been a wonderful place so far and we even spent Christmas Eve eating a three course dinner at a long table with a majority of the guests staying here. We plan to be in Koh Lanta a total 10 days resting from our New Zealand whirlwind tour and preparing for our month in Cambodia.