Surat Thani

We were awake around 6.30am today and got up early to have our breakfast. We repacked all our gear and collected our laundry. Although we didn’t ask for it we obviously got the super cheap service as our stuff wasn’t even folded and looks almost as dirty as when we sent it!

Simon spends ages cutting bits of wool off our clothes, when stuff goes for washing they mark it by stitching on tiny bits of coloured wool. Presumably to stop it getting mixed up with other peoples stuff, anyway the system doesn’t work as I find a pair of porn Speedo’s and a t-shirt that isn’t mine!

At 10.30 the van arrives to take us to the bus station, after a long wait we are herded onto our favourite mode of transport, the minibus. The driver has to be the rudest, horriblest person I have met since we started travelling and shouts at everyone to get on the bus. He drives safely enough though and when we stop half way and he gets out and gets himself a drink without letting us off I’m not surprised. I look out of the window on the way and listen to my MP3 player. The road is excellent very wide and not too busy and the landscape is industrial, with lots of trees, cream painted buildings with red roof tiles and run down looking shacks.

The drive takes just over 2 hours and eventually he dumps us 5km out of town. Simon starts to argue with him but it’s not worth it as he just ignores him and tells 2 girls who ask him what we should now do “that he doesn’t know, doesn’t care and they should just get out”- friendly!!

I’m not surprised really as we have read terrible reports of “service” in these really touristy areas, including lots of warnings to watch your stuff as unscrupulous bus drivers steal whatever they can to make extra money. It is impossible to watch our big packs but they only have things in that can be easily replaced anyway. Anything of value stays with us at all times. We arrange a pick up to take us to our hotel and when we arrive I’m pleased to see it’s really clean, with air con. The rooms can be paid for by the hour but I don’t care about that as it is quiet enough at the end of the corridor where we are.

We have been thinking about where to go next. Our original plan to visit the larger islands has changed as we have realised we don’t want to go to the busy places, rammed with tourists and travellers. The busier a place is the less Thai culture we experience and of course we end up paying more for everything. Although there were about 100 people where we arrived in Surat Thani only us and one other fella headed off to town. Everyone else is bound for Ko Samui or Ko Pha- Ngan.

We have discovered that the Khao Sok National Park is only an hour’s drive from here and sounds a bit like Taman Negara in Malaysia. We decide that this will be a better option for us and plan to find out a bit more information about it.

We have some decent Chinese food at the restaurant downstairs and go for a wander round. There’s nothing to do here and Simons hopes of watching the rugby disappear as everything starts pack up around 8pm. Although Thailand is considered to be very easy to get around, in our experience it is actually more difficult than India if you are travelling truly independently as very few people speak any English and it can be hard to make yourself understood.

We go back to our rooms and decide to watch a film. Wee have unfortunately realised today that we have lost our 8 discs that contained over 70 films. This leaves a choice of 5 that are stored on the hard drive and include Creep, Madagascar, Titantic and Alien Versus Predator which is what we settle on. As usual I see about half an hour of it before I’m asleep.