Koh Samui to Bangkok

Saturday 14 July 2001 – Koh Samui to Bangkok, Thailand

Koh Samui, Thailand
Koh Samui, Thailand

The day dawned clear, sunny and idyllic – in a way I’m sorry not to have had another day to spend just relaxing here (and riding a bike!). I walked along the beach and had a last tropical swim then breakfast at Silver Sands. Decided to get another of the Fish T-shirts for Chris and also another massage (this time without whisperings in the ears and offers of optional extras).

Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand
Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand

I walked all the way back to the T-shirt shop to find that it was shut until after noon, so had a massage at an upscale resort opposite Silver Sands which was much better than the previous – the masseuse had to keep waking me up. After another hunt for the right place, I collected my laundry, quickly checked my email and went back to my room to pack up and check out. Caught a meter-taxi right outside and asked to stop at the T-shirt shop. Unfortunately it was still closed, but I was wearing the shirt and the driver knew of another outlet and took me there (it turned out to be not far from Silver Sands), and I bought two just to be sure.

Samui International Airport is a charming open-air arrangement of open-sided thatched huts. Small tram-like carts ferry passengers across the tarmac to the ATR72 twin engine prop 50 seat aircraft. The flight to Bangkok wasn’t fast at an hour and a quarter, but uneventful and comfortable.

Koh Samui International Airport
Koh Samui International Airport

On arrival and collecting my bags I ran the gamut of some smartly suited touts trying to ‘control’ the crowd flow to over-priced taxis by trying to give the impression they were airport security staff. I pushed past and went upstairs to the departure hall, as I’d read somewhere that that it was considerably cheaper to grab a taxi that has just made a drop-off and head straight out without paying the premium charged to park at the arrivals hall. (Chris later confirmed this, saying that a ‘voucher’ system operates, his fare had been around 260 baht, where as mine was 150 baht).

Koh Samui International Airport - my ride to Bangkok
Koh Samui International Airport – my ride to Bangkok

The driver spoke very little English but was cheery enough. The freeway from the airport was quite clear on a Saturday afternoon, apart from the driver making a couple of stops on the hard shoulder to pour water into his overheated radiator. Bangkok’s legendary traffic caught up with us near the centre of town and it took ¾ of the duration of the total trip time to travel the last ¼ of the distance. In the end the driver dropped me at an up-market hotel at the opposite end of Mah Boon Krung shopping centre, and I walked the few hundred metres to The White Lodge, but managed to find it OK thanks to See Tiek’s clear directions.

My room wasn’t ready so I filled in a couple of hours inside MBK, which was easy enough as it is huge. After I checked in, Chris called (he’d ended up staying in another hotel next door) and we met up at 7.30pm. We found a restaurant at Siam Square, just over the road which served tourists but also plenty of Thais, then went to Patpong, the notorious nightlife area to visit the huge night market. I began to buy some gifts for folks at home, then later worked out what else I needed.

Coming back from Patpong, where we’d practiced our bargaining skills, we had trouble getting a taxi that would use the meter – they were quoting 100 baht for the trip that had cost 40 baht the other way. We walked along the street and again grabbed a taxi that was dropping people off. This sort of behaviour went on constantly in Thailand, especially in Bangkok, where tourists are treated much like a resource by sections of the service industry. I found this to be a frustrating but interesting contradiction to the friendliness of Thais in general. It was very difficult to know when to trust anyone.

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