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The Adventurer’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 10 Sep 2005

Location: Korea (South)

MapAfter surviving a summer of ubearable humidity in Seoul, I headed out for more of the same kind of heat--in Thailand and Malaysia. I made sure to pack light, having everything I needed in my hiker's backpack. I can't explain what I was feeling that day because it was my first time to really go out in the world, without much of a plan. Most of you know that I like to fly by the seat of my pants, and that's exactly what I did. However, I'm sure you could notice the excitement on my face, so I will sum up my feeling to excitement and a whole lot more.

The weather in Seoul that day was very warm. On the plane, I wore shorts, a t-shirt, and my very durable hiking boots (really could have worn my sandals but my boots wouldn't fit in my bag that I had to check, so it was for the sake of convenience). I flew Thai air. It was a good flight and the service was better than any North American airline that I've ever been on.

I arrived in Bangkok at 1:30 pm local time. After I got my bag I thought, "Ok, now what do I do?" My objective was to get down to Koh Samui by the next morning. I started with a bite to eat and thought about what I should do: take the train or the bus. I opted for the bus on the way down and the train on the way back. Finished a nice hearty meal and then decided it was time to figure out where the bus station was and how to get there. It turns out I could buy my bus ticket from the airport, so that's what I did. Went outside to look for a taxi. I was a little nervous here because I was worried about being ripped off. He charged me 400 baht. I later found out this was a reasonable price from the airport (cabbies tend to be a bit more expensive from the airport). At the time, this was about $10 US. Now hear this: I bought a second class bus/ferry combo for 391 baht, just under $10 US! This was for a 12 hour ride to the island. What a steal! Compare that to the taxi. For the record though, transportation around Bangkok is not that expensive, you just may have to bargain.

Wow was it hot that day! I enjoyed the taxi ride as I got to see a bit of Bangkok. It's an interesting city, but quite dirty. I was not used to this. Buildings were rundown. The area at the bus station was quite dirty, and I had to wait for 3.5 hours for the next bus, so I decided to explore the area a bit. Found a little residential area with some shops. There were dogs everywhere!! Some just lying around, looking exhausted from the heat. Others were drinking water. Found a little convenience store and sat outside and had a beer (called Leo). Not bad! And cold too! I suddenly felt like a stranger in a strange land.

I was a bit tired, so I tried to catch a nap on the bus bench. I slept on my backpack and held onto my pack on my waist (where I kept my passport and wallet) such that no one would be able to take it. I was still a bit too worried about someone trying to steal something from me, so I didn't sleep. Finally my bus was ready to go.

I must say I was quite pleased with the bus. I was expecting something rundown, with no a/c and crowded. It was clean, plenty of a/c and not at all crowded. And the seats were comfortable. I realized that I was not going to see the countryside because I would be riding overnight. I was ok with that though as I did need to sleep. In the beginning, they played this really funky Thai music to liven things up. Didn't expect to hear this kind of thing on a bus, but I really didn't mind it. All part of the adventure.

We had these little pitstops where they had tons and tons of snacks and cooked food (I do believe these are the kinds of places that people get sick from, so I was a bit leary of trying anything cooked yet). Again, dogs everywhere, just lying in the middle of the floor. Not very active dogs, must be all that heat! One thing I noticed is that they have little Buddha shrines in shops and restaurants and pubs--they are everywhere! And they are not souvenirs, you can't buy them. And the temples that I saw from the outside were very decorative, different from what you see in Korea. It really is a shame that I didn't take the time to go inside the temples. Recommendation for anyone going to Thailand--take the time to go and see at least one temple. They are a big part of Thailand.

It had certainly been a long day, and I was able to sleep quite comfortable all the way to the city of Surat Thani, where I would transfer to a ferry.