Our final two days in Thailand involved a lot of travelling, much to Ash’s annoyance. The reason behind this was that a friend of mine from school is teaching in Thailand, and it seemed silly not to visit him. We had ended up arranging to meet at a beach party he was going to in Khanom – back up near Surat Thani.
It was going to be a pain in the arse, and after some horribly moody customer service at Krabi’s “travel office” (in the middle of nowhere), we were put into what seemed to be a slightly more VIP section of a coach. Not bad at all – but then as we reached the outskirts of Surat, we were stuffed into a minivan to the train station as we needed to book our train down to Malaysia (I know how to complicate things!) and finally got a bus into town.
Local buses in Thailand are an experience in themselves. This was taken before another 10 people got on, filling the aisles, any space in front of us, the open door next to us, and worryingly hanging off the step beyond the door.
We arrived in the city centre and set off in the direction of the other bus station to figure out how the hell to get to Khanom. We were stopped by a man asking where we were going. I told him but kept walking.
“Oh! You can buy ticket with us. 8am tomorrow morning.”
“No, we are going tonight.”
“Oh. No more bus today, last one at 4.30.”
I stopped in my tracks and looked at my phone. 4.35pm. You are f!&king kidding me.
By now, Ash was in a strop. I marched off, determined that the man was lying, Ash insistent that he wouldn’t be.
“Yes yes, minivan over there!” A woman pointed when I asked about buses to Khanom. Thank God.
Finally, we were headed to Khanom, where we were dropped in the middle of the town, 2km from the beach – and then God knows how long it would take to reach our guest house.
It was turning out to be a bit of a disaster, but I was determined to keep a smile on my face.
We had been walking for perhaps a mile, everyone we passed calling hello even from their bikes and smiling when we called ‘sawadee kaa!’ back, when a truck stopped beside us. Two girls flashed a smile and asked if we needed a ride. It turned out that they were going to the party later – they very kindly dropped us off at our accommodation and refused any money for it, but we said we’d buy them a drink later.
As it turns out, we never did see them at the party. I got covered in glitter, lots of people went skinny dipping, some people somehow ended up on a boat, and everyone danced and had a really good time. We even got to watch an apocalyptic storm over the mountains behind us. For what it was worth, I’m glad we went, and it was REALLY good to see my friend.
We went back to the bar briefly the next day to say goodbye, and I wanted to stay longer but our guesthouse owner had very kindly offered to give us a lift into town to catch the bus back to Surat Thani. She again refused money for it, and once we got to the bus station, she spoke to the guy at the desk in Thai and made sure we were sold the correct ticket at the correct price.
She couldn’t do enough for us, and I really, really hope that if Khanom becomes a real destination in Thailand (and we think it will) that she does well out of it. If you fancy a visit, look into staying at Ban Thanyanan – look how cute her bungalows are!
So that was Khanom. A place few people have heard of, but it’s being tipped as the next big thing in Thailand. And I think it’s fully deserved – the beach is fantastic, the scenery beautiful and the location, an hour from the ferry port to Koh Samui, is perfect for travellers. And the people are the friendliest we met in the whole of Thailand! What a way to say goodbye.
Our actual departure from Thailand was far from perfect, though.
Another interesting local bus ride later, we arrived at the train station at about 6pm for our train, which wouldn’t depart until 1.26am. This would be fine but Surat Thani train station is in the middle of nowhere with virtually nothing around. I have never been to 7-Eleven so many times in one evening, and when I decided to venture to a park, two packs of stray dogs started fighting and I had to flee.
And then, one by one, the trains started being delayed. One poor family we got talking to were on the train to Bangkok, and it was eventually delayed by five hours. FIVE. HOURS. They had two small children with them (pictured above), and their train wouldn’t turn up until 2 freaking am!! I felt horribly sorry for them.
Ours was around an hour late, and needless to say we were asleep within minutes. After the day we’d had, I was glad to get out of Thailand. Now, I’m longing to go back.
The people, the food, the smells, the scenery, the temples, the history, and everything we experienced in our six weeks there was out of this world. What a country – we’ll be back, Thailand!!