So I think it's safe to say that Kav and I are having some problems. Sleeping problems that is. We've been away a week and we're still not settled into a normal sleep pattern. The problem started with the usual 7 hour time difference between the UK and Thailand but add a 5 hour airport delay and you lose a day in 'time travel', or is that travel time?, plus you get so little sleep on a plane, and not proper sleep at that. Next time Dad, can we fly Business Class please?!!!
Then of course, I got struck down with an awful cold which automatically means I can't sleep at night so end up napping during the day and poor Kav gets broken sleep because of my constant nose blowing and huffing and puffing. And then eventually, napping in the afternoon becomes sleeping in the afternoon and we end up only sleeping from 2 til 6 in the night.
But nothing could compare to what's happened over the last 24, no wait, 48 hours…
Due to my dislike of air travel, I've tried as hard as I can to find other travel options while we're away, and thought it would be fun to try traveling by overnight Thai train. Let's just say I'm pretty sure that's not going to have been the first mistake I've made this holiday!
For those of you who read my blogs when we went away a couple of years ago you'll remember the fun stories and fond memories of our penultimate journey from Miami to New York aboard an overnight train. To put it lightly, Thai overnight trains are nothing like American overnight trains. "Duh" I hear you say, but just to describe it in a way that you can all probably understand, American trains are like that 6 star hotel in Dubai compared to Thai trains, and that says a lot for a 2 person cabin that's smaller than most London restaurant toilet cubicles!
We got a taxi from our hotel to the train station, picked up our tickets from the information desk and took a seat with a thousand other Thai's all waiting for trains in rows and rows of seats on the main concourse. Due to our random sleep pattern so far, our eating timetable has also been slightly out of whack so when we arrived at the station at 5.30pm we were starving. Kav left me with all the bags on a row of seats and went off in search of something to eat, coming back 4 minutes later with 2 custard stuffed bread rolls to find me standing up with all the other Thai's to the Thai national anthem. It had just randomly started playing loudly in the station and everyone had stopped what they were doing and stood up in respect to their beloved King. I was confused (having not instantly recognized the tune) and panicked not knowing whether or not I had to stand or not and risk being flung in prison! Apparently Kav had encountered the same thing on Xmas morning when he was at the market and had reacted similarly to me!
The custard filled roll didn't quite satisfy our appetite and I was falling asleep on the plastic chairs from exhaustion so we popped upstairs to the 'food court' (and I use that term very loosely!) and had a quick, but very delicious, fried rice and lemon juice before jumping on our train with palpable anticipation. You'd think that we would have been prepared for what we were about to see, but somehow I still had something nicer in my head when I booked our 'cabin'. It couldn't have been more basic if it had been a prison cell. There was a 'sink', which was a rotting plastic and wood bowl with 1 tap and a lovely lump of 5 year old chewing gum attached, an air conditioning unit that didn't work, a bin which became invaluable later on, and a sofa which turned into 2 'berths' (beds). Luckily the journey was only 8 hours and not quite overnight due to the fact that we left the station at 7.30pm and were due to arrive in Chumpon at just after 3.30am. After that we would be picked up by a coach, transferred to the pier about 30 minutes away and then take a lovely high speed ferry ride over to Koh Tao island. It all sounded so lovely on the website, but what happened over the next 12 hours was near torture.
So we manage to just about fit all our bags in the cabin - Kav's huge backpack, my backpack on wheels, a day back pack and my Cath Kidston hold all (just because we are away for 7 weeks doesn't mean I have to look like a bohemian traveler!) - and sit down for a few minutes discussing how awful this was, not to worry it was only 8 hours and working out how we would sleep, when suddenly right in front of my eyes on the wall was a huge cochroach looking bug. Now, 3 years ago I would have screamed, run out the cabin, demanding to see the manager before insisting I couldn't possibly go back on board and insist that someone find me another way to get to paradise. But, having been to Thailand before and having cockroaches gatecrash our Florida motel, I'm used to horrible creepy crawlies so I calmly informed Kav of the nasty who simply crushed it with a tissue and placed it in the bin. A few seconds later there was a knock on the door and it was the on board 'steward' taking our orders for dinner and breakfast. Kav ordered something to eat, but I was still full from the fried rice earlier so passed, but ordered breakfast instead. Just after that, Kav saw another one of those cochroach like bugs on the floor, picked it up and crushed it in another tissue and threw it in the bin. After that we both had a nap for a few minutes, getting as comfy as you can do on a small, uncomfortable leather bed and woke to Kav's dinner being delivered and another couple of bugs - I told you the bin came in handy, as well as a pack of pocket tissues used to kill them all! Because unfortunately for Kav, during the 4 hours that I managed to sleep from around 10pm to 2am, Kav reckons he killed around 50 of the bugs and eventually gave up and just started swatting them back to where they were popping out from. In fact, there were so many that he couldn't go to sleep for fear that we would die a horrible bug eaten death and therefore spent the night defending me from these creepy nasties.
For some unexplained reason we arrived over an hour late at Chumpon, at around 5am. By this time, Kav has been awake for 24 hours and I've only had a few hours sleep so we're feeling very sleepy and just want to get to our resort. As we jump off the train (having never been delivered the breakfast we had ordered and paid for!!), we are met by a group of locals who run the coach service to the pier and are informed that we have to wait for an hour and who are selling all kinds of custard filled buns, which we had, again, other breakfast items, noodles you make with hot water and tea, coffee, hot chocolate etc. I'm convinced they have a deal with the train guys - the train guys take our orders and money, never deliver so pocket the cash and we're so hungry when we arrive at the station that the locals make tons of money!! So we eventually get on a coach with about 50 other people, and when we arrive 30 minutes later at the ferry pier it's daylight and 6.30am. We're tired, we're dirty and slightly fed up and walk aboard a high speed catamaran which is so rammed with people going to either Koh Toa or the other 2 islands that we have to sit outside on plastic chairs. We get chatting to a few people around us, set off for our 90 minute trip across the sea and very quickly realise that this isn't going to be an easy trip. Within a few minutes the boat has picked up so much speed that we are violently rocking from side to side, people are getting soaked from the splashing water and the flimsy plastic chair that I'm sat on is slowing sliding from side to side and I'm trying to wedge myself still for fear of sliding so far and falling over the edge of the boat! About 15 minutes in, still sliding around the deck, I look around to see a lot of people looking green and decide that I would be better off inside in the VIP section which was air conditioned, safe and playing a movie on a plasma screen and all for only 100baht which is around £2.50. Plus there were only a handful of people inside so I knew I'd get some peace and quiet. I was wrong, because as soon as I sat down I hear the glorious sounds of someone throwing into a plastic bag up from sea sickness and unfortunately it just got worse. People all around me were throwing up because it was that rough and eventually Kav wondered into the VIP section looking very green indeed having decided that he couldn't cope with all the people being sick outside and asking for a plastic bag "just in case"! I spent the next 30 minutes nursing Kav with Murray Mints and thigh strokes before we docked at Koh Tao. I honestly have never seen so many people being sick or looking sick on a boat before in my life and I'm dreading the trip back already!
After docking at Koh Tao at 8am we found our bags that had been thrown from the boat onto the pier and made our way to the awaiting resort transfer van and headed to the Koh Tao Resort, Paradise Zone and it really does live up to its name. It is paradise here. But that's another blog.