We had an early start on Long Beach, Koh Phi Phi to catch the ferry from Koh Phi Phi town to Krabi. As there are no cars on the island getting from one place to the next involves a water taxi called a longtail, because of the type of motor they use which has a propellor on a long shaft that they can lift up and down like a lever so the prop doesn’t get snagged in the coral or on a reef. This was not the usual chaotic bag scramble we normally have which involves either taxi’s or trains but one involving wheelie bags and beaches and boats bobbing up and down on the surf, not very easy to get our massive amounts of luggage on to these moving object’s, but we made it on board and made it off board to the pier and on to the ferry to Krabi. It was a lovely morning and the trip was pleasant and uneventful. We bought tickets for a bus transfer from the ferry to the bus station in Krabi but when we arrived for the bus it was full, I was’nt too happy about it but what could we do, not much.
The guy driving suggested we get into the front with him and he would get our luggage put on the roof, that was cool so we all piled into the front of the truck much to Axel’s delight and we were sorted. After a few stop off’s and drops we arrived at the local bus station and bought our tickets for the port of Pakbara in the province of Satun in the very south of Thailand. We had to wait about 2 hours for the bus to arrive and when it did it was also full. As I was loading the luggage on to the bus Lisa was sticking her head out of the door shouting to me that it was full, what could I do, not much. I asked one of the official looking guys at the station what was going on, he couldn’t help me as the bus hadn’t started there. They eventually showed us this space under the bus half full with luggage and a long padded bench over the drive-shaft and suggested that this was where we should park ourselves, even though we had numbered tickets. We were told that a lot of people would get off in Trang and we could then move upstairs to the seats.
We acqueiessed and settled in for a long haul, Me, Lisa, Axel, and Elka and a couple of other farangs (non Thai’s). I later found out Trang was about three and a half hours into the trip, I kept this quiet. Axel was quite happy initially, there was some air con blowers and they were working weakly, he said, ‘Dad, this is like a submarine, isn’t this fun’, I thought no not really and it wasn’t, it was very hot, very cramped, and not much to do and absolutely nothing to see, very much what I thought a sub would be like. The initial thrill wore off for Axel rather quickly and he was less enamoured by his surroundings, especially when the weak air con packed in completely. He asked me at one stage ‘is this what a roast chicken feels like’, I said ‘Probably’.I went upstairs to inquire as to what had happened to our one little comfort, through the air con seating area to the front of the bus where the driver and his three assistants were sitting in their closed off cabin with the super air con, they all just shrugged and looked at me like what did I expect. I mulled it over for about a minute and thought yeah their probably right, what should I expect for 650Bht for the four of us, and headed off down to the now sweltering subteranean level of the bus now known as Das Boot.
Lisa had had enough and headed off upstairs to find somewhere to sit with Elka and they ended up sitting on the stairs that lead to the drivers cabin, at least they were in the air con. I stayed below decks with Axel, I was reading he was asking questions, lots of questions. Trang rolled around three and a half hours later and like I imagined a lot of seamen on submarines thought about their station in life I couldn’t have given a shit about either moving or stopping, I had become inert and listless, probably diesal engine fumes plus the smell of the jax, it all became one in our poxy hot box. Ocassionally the bus would stop and a door near us would open and you would get a tantalizing gust of 32 degrees freshish air but that’s all it was, no sooner had you perked up and the door would close again, hermetically sealing us into our bus/sub.
After Trang we finally did get to move away from the toilets and out of Das Boot up into the exhalted air of the top deck. If you are going to travel anywhere in Thailand by bus I now know the most important thing is to start your journey where the bus starts it journey, it is the only way to make sure you get a seat or any chance of getting one, otherwise you will end up suffering and sweltering in the sub.
Upstairs on the bus it was the usual scene, with people offering bits of food, us included and everyone touching and talking to Elka, who was none too happy with the attention. About 85% of the population of this part of Thailand would be Muslims observing Rhamadan at the moment, so the ones eating were either none too strict or budhist. I had a few brief words with a girl beside me who was very taken with Elka and when we were getting off the bus at the same town she offered to give us a lift with her friend who was picking her up, I think they changed their minds when they saw me off-loading the luggage but had made the offer and felt obliged to get us to the port, so she called her brother to help with a bigger vehichle. It turns out they both are working in the hospitality industry and only too glad to get the chance to extract a taxi ride or a ferry ticket out of us. We didn’t mind, we would have needed them anyway. Mind you the brother didn’t want to accept any money but we insisted and he dropped us off at the only show in town called “ The Best Hotel “ incorrectly named , overpriced , damp smelling , but otherwise clean enough and neccessary as we had to overnight here in order to catch the 9am ferry in the morning to Kho Lippe. We got a family room with four matresses in a row. I think this is the first night in a couple of months, definitely since we lost the second cot, that we have all had our own bed to sleep in. We will be going to Koh Lippe in the morning by a two hour speed boat trip , no submarine’s, thank you.