It was time to leave the islands. While I loved spending time at the beach, the pricey party that comes with it was getting a bit repetitive (as was the techno EDM beats they played nightly). So I booked a boat-bus journey north to Bangkok for about $1000THB, with the eventual goal of getting to Chiang Mai, a city in the northernmost province of Thailand.
The journey began at 9pm with two other travelers I had met in Koh Tao. As instructed, we met the travel agent in front of his office, but he seemed preoccupied drinking his beer and watching TV.
“Excuse me?” I said, “Is it time to go to the ferry?”
He nodded, grabbed his beer mug and a remaining half-empty bottle of a large Chang and said, “Follow me please.”
Obedient, we jumped a gate and walked through a sketch looking alley, up a huge hill (killer after having hiked cliffs all day), and then got into the back of a pick-up truck. He maneuvered us to the boat terminal, and left us at the pier.
Taking in the scene, you could see an industrial looking boat open for loading. I approached the woman seated at a tiny table in a small plastic chair near the boat and asked her about our reservation.
“Come back at 1030pm. Too early now.”
Fuck, what? They told us we needed to be there at 9pm! That bites. We hypothesize that our taxi driver wanted to drop us early so he could go finish his beer, and then we decide to saunter up the street a bit to grab a drink of our own at a place called The Taco Shack hostel. I ended up ordering the fish taco and a fruit smoothie, and boy, was that delicious. Highly recommend stopping in for a fish taco and a brewsky at this place in Koh Tao. (Who am I kidding, I highly recommend going to Koh Tao!)
Post-tacos, (around 1030pm) we got on the boat via the big ramp, with some man yelling directions to the sleeping quarters from above in Thai. He flailed his arms and we followed, finally greeted with these tiny bunks:
I nuzzled into my sleeping sheet (so handy), and next thing I knew it was 5am and we were docking at Chumpon pier on the mainland.
My friend M. and I had considered continuing straight onward to Chiang Mai on a night train that same evening, but when we arrived in Bangkok around 2pm, an 8pm night train trip sounded like a fucking terrible idea.
So, we found a cheap hostel near Kao San road and I got to experience Bangkok again in a fresh new area. Second time must be the charm because I loved it. The tree-lined streets, the outdoor patios, random van bars, and adorable funky street lighting really won me over. The cheaper prices and coconut ice cream also helped cement my love.
The next morning, we forewent the train when we found ourselves a cheap flight to Chiang Mai ($30CDN from Don Mueng airport in Bangkok). Classic travel speed bump though, our online ticket reservation was not found (always screen shot your confirmation kids!) so we had to hurriedly book another flight at the airport. Luckily it was only $10 more, and we departed 45 minutes later.
Arriving in Chiang Mai was awesome because we easily grabbed a red truck shared taxi and settled into our hostel for a nice nap. I am so glad to be up north, and if Chiang Mai continues to be this cute, I think I’m going to have to love it here.