Travel by Land is Never as Straightforward as They Lead You to Believe…

All right, so, when last I left you we were on the small, peaceful island of Ko Phayam. 

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It was time to go.  But, going is never simple.  Even though you have to deal with taxis or shuttles and security, flying is way easier than traveling by land.  When you want to fly, you go online, book a ticket, and show up at the appropriate time, and it is pretty straight forward from there.  But, when you travel by land, you never really know what you’re gonna get.  For example,  we bought a high speed boat ride from the island of Ko Phayam to the mainland in Ranong.  Simple.  It left on time, and took us to where we expected.  But, then we had to contend with taxi drivers who would rather be shot down for their inflated rate, than actually work.  We walked a bit before finding a local transport who told us he’d take us to the bus station.  He gave us the same price as all the locals that were jammed in the back of the truck with us, so that was nice.  He dropped us across the street from the turn to the bus station, perfect.  But, on our way to the bus station someone stopped us and showed us the bus to Khao Lak, which was where we were going.  Now, I know that busses in Thailand make multiple stops and that your destination may not be the destination of the bus.  Either way, the guy told us that the bus was going all the way to Khao Lak.  I’d blame it on being lost in translation, but he spoke English quite well enough, and even pointed at the destination line on our ticket and said, “Khao Lak.” Hours later we found that the actual translation of the Thai words on our ticket said, “Takuapa” which was, obviously, not Khao Lak.  Though we were quite disturbed, we couldn’t reasonably become angry with the driver, because he had nothing to do with the swindle.  And, really, it’s our fault for not proceeding all the way to the ticket counter.  But, when you’re in another country you never know if the customs are different, so you try to go with the flow. 

After another bus ride we made it to Khao Lak.  We wandered around the main road, wishing the google map would give us an actual destination to look for.  The locals pointed us in a variety of different directions, and we were finally successful, and found the Swiss Guesthouse.  It seems like a new building, and we could be the first to use the room we are staying in. There is still plastic covering light switches and when I turned on the AC it had the ‘I’ve never been used, plastic-y’ smell.  And, we’re back in shump-ville.  Though the entire bathroom floor becomes flooded, and you have to wipe down the seat later, this is a deluxe shump, and has some touches that make it work.  First of all, the bathroom is clean.  Then, there is a soap dish/shelf.  The hot water works and there is sufficient water pressure.  But, the item of noteworthiness is the cover for the toilet paper, which actually works.  I was quite impressed to find that the paper was completely dry after the two of us took showers.  Very nice…

There were a few reasons why we decided to stop in Khao Lak.  The biggest determinant was that it is about midway between Ranong and Phuket.  We needed to break up the bus ride.  It’s quite uncomfortable sitting on a bus for 3 hours, and 5-6 sounds unbearable.  Also, the driving is quite scary and that needs to be spread out as well.  We chose Khao Lak in particular, because it is said to be a good starting off point for a variety of day trips.  For tomorrow we have a tour of the Kao Sok National Forest where we will take a jaunt through the jungle and float down a river on a bamboo raft.  Sounds good.  It is, also, a good jumping off point for diving and kayak trips to some interesting land formations, but after weighing our options we decided against those, but don’t worry, they will happen in a different location of our trip.  We wanted to see if Khao Lak was a place we could enjoy aside from the day trips, so we made our way down to the beach.  Quite a walk from our hotel and quite touristy on the way.  We found a super touristy market area with more cheap souvenir shops than I could handle and the beach at the end of the road was not all that impressive.  So, this will be a jumping off point.  

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The next morning, after booking our day trip, we took a long walk to grab some lunch at a restaurant recommended by the guy at our hotel.  Ten Star had okay noodles, and really delicious Tom Ka Gai soup.  After lunch we went next-door to get foot massages at Phuping Beauty Salon.  We didn’t notice the name until we left, which is good, because we might not have been able to enter with a straight face if we had noticed the sign beforehand.  (for those who don’t know, ph is not like our F sound. PH is pronounced as a plain old P)

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Afterwards, we made our way over to a little mini market to grab an ice cream bar.  Seth is partial to the Magnum ice cream bars and decided on one of those.  I found a lychee flavored popsicle and it was delicious.  After a little more walking our cold treats were gone and there was another market right in front of us, so we went in to find another cold treat.  Once again, Seth decided on a Magnum ice cream bar, and I found a popsicle with a bit of an interesting flavor profile.  It was really tasty even though the pictures lead me to believe my popsicle was comprised of jackfruit, corn, and green beans.  I’ll be buying that one again!  I love finding odd things at the market.  

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