This is the account of our travel between Koh Lanta and Bangkok. It’s been nearly a week and we are finally ready to relive the experience. Just as a side note, we are in Cambodia and have been teaching English for 3 days, but more about that later.
So it begins. . . Actual phone conversation as heard by Erin:
John: Hello. Is someone there? Are you going to come pick us up? We are still here. We are still at Sunset Bungalows. No, we have not been picked up yet. It’s 2:45pm, we were supposed to be picked up at 1pm. Are we going to make the overnight bus to Bangkok tonight? What? What? I don’t understand. Call back in 5 minutes? You are going to pick us up tomorrow now?
This sets the scene of our last afternoon in Koh Lanta. Shortly after hanging up the phone we found out our hotel had just booked their last room for the night so we called and booked a room at the first place we had stayed on Koh Lanta, Papillon. Five minutes after that a mini bus pulled up looking to pick us up to take us to Krabi where the Bangkok bus would leave from. At that point we figured it was our chance and we’d better take it. We hopped on with four other passengers and a slim hope of actually making the bus to Bangkok that night as it was scheduled to leave at 4pm and our 3pm pick up and minimum of 2 1/2 hours of driving didn’t seem promising. The mini bus made several stops on the island, filling the bus with passengers, at which point John said, “I’m sure we won’t be making any more stops,” but we managed to squeeze one more person in. Thirteen people in a twelve person mini bus for the next 3 1/2 hours. There was one exciting moment on the journey to Krabi when we noticed the bus driver had decided to take a brief nap at the wheel. Thankfully one of the passengers was paying close attention and woke him up before we were off the road.
We were dropped in Krabi at the travel office where we had booked our transportation back and they knew exactly who we were without asking. It was obvious we had missed the bus to Bangkok and would spending the night in Krabi, on the house. They seemed to have a standing arrangement with the guest house next door (maybe this isn’t the first this has happened) and we were given a room for the night. It was a clean place to sleep for the night, so we threw our bags down and went out to eat at a great night market (mmm… Thai noodles, Thai iced tea, banana shake, banana shake, and Thai pancakes). Krabi wasn’t a total bust and we found enough to entertain ourselves till our 3 pm mini bus pick up the next day (oddly, an hour earlier than they said).
Mini bus number two. Hopped on this bus and were concerned when we had gone less then a mile and the driver pulled over and waited for no apparent reason for 30 minutes. We also picked up other passengers along the way and were feeling nervous not knowing when the overnight bus was actually leaving. We made it with 20 minutes to spare. From there we rode a big bus for 5 minutes to the side the road where we were lead a block on foot to a travel office, paused for few minutes, and then were herded down the block to another big bus which luckily would be the final bus of the day. We spent the next 11 hours hardly sleeping due to constant honking, stopping for gas/food, and frigid air conditioning which rivaled sleeping on the snow at the Mueller Hut (why did we send those 15 degree bags home?). To finish it off, at 6am the bus stopped somewhere in Bangkok on the side of the road, the bus driver yelled “bus stop!” and we got out. As always there were taxis a plenty and we were on the first one out of there. We thought our adventure was over but we had selected a taxi driver with an erratic lead foot that got us up to almost 85 mph as we weaved through traffic. The part that was most concerning was he made sure to buckle up but managed not to have any seat belts for us.
Even though it was exciting/scary he did his job and we were back where we spent our first days in Bangkok. Needless to say we were thankful we chose to fly to Cambodia after recieving unamimous advice not to take a bus. We stored our bags, got some street breakfast, checked out the 46 meter long reclining Buddha, had a foot massage, more street food for lunch, hopped on a plane and were at our hotel in Cambodia 48 hours after leaving Koh Lanta.
We have lots more to say about Cambodia but it will have to wait for another day.