Saturday, 27 July 2013

Ayutthaya to Koh Samui

In Koh Samui I will spend 2 weeks obtaining a TEFL/TESOL certificate. I have already done several hours of online training. The next 2 weeks are the practical side.
To get to Koh Samui at reasonable cost was a small challenge. A direct flight from Bangkok was more than I wanted to pay.
I packed and left my Hotel first thing in the morning. After a quick breakfast with PeaPa, consisting once more of Pork Noodle Soup, we walked to the ferry to cross the river to the train station. PeaPa had to work so we parted company there. The next available train was at 8:27am and the trip cost 11 baht, not even 50 cents. The timing was well within my schedule and I had a good buffer for possible delays.
The train arrived on time and I found a seat, sharing a booth of 4 with a Thai couple.
Images of Thailand: The ticket collector came by and punched my ticket. He then moved on, stopped, came back and spoke with the couple in the other seats. I could tell by the actions that he was telling them that I was heading for Don Muang airport and asking them to make sure that I got off at the right station.
I love those small unexpected acts of kindness.

As it happened the train was delayed one stop short of Don Muang and it was after 10am when I arrived at the Station. The airport was a short walk, basically on an overhead walkway across the tracks and main road to the terminal.
Checkin was quick and easy. My water bottle was removed at the security screening and I made my way to the departure lounge.
I was having flashbacks to a previous visit to Thailand. I have only used Don Muang airport once before on my first visit, all other entries have been through the new airport. But I had these strong flashbacks of a restaurant that I had eaten in and I am pretty sure that I ended up in the same departure lounge at gate 73.
It is spooky the way memory works. I could not have described these areas at all immediately prior to visiting them again.
My destination was Surat Thani. Surat Thani is on the coast of southern Thailand with nearby ferries to Koh Samui. The short flight was smooth and without incident. I scored a set of 3 seats to my self in the emergency exit row. I wished that I was 3 foot taller so that I could have used all that space.
The next part of the journey was to get to a ferry terminal. There are several. I did this with a bus/ferry combined ticket and I was led like a sheep to the terminal. All up that took about 2 hours from the airport to the ferry and cost 350 baht.
The ferry trip was nice. I love being on the ocean. Safety was a concern however. It was a car and passenger ferry a "roro" i.e. "roll on roll off" or "roll on roll over" as they got renamed after the Herald of Free Enterprise (google it). I could not see any life jackets, nor lifeboats and only a small number of life rafts that were so degraded I doubted their ability to stay afloat.
And I have to trust my life to that in an emergency?

Still the seas were calm and I was seated on the open deck with the better chance of survival.
For the record this was a 4 beer trip, was tempted to make it 5.
At Koh Samui I walked through the barrage of people offering taxis and hotels and called for a minibus driver who would share the van. By the time he had rounded up more passengers it was the overloaded ark with 13 passengers, driver and a pile of luggage. Never the less for only 200 baht I was delivered safely to my hotel.
Note for future TEFL participants: The Holiday Park Hotel is lovely, based in the heart of the party district of Lamai beach. Even though we are in budget rooms they are comfortable, clean and roomy. They are air conditioned, have a small safe and a bar fridge. All that you need for your stay. The staff are lovely, warm, friendly and helpful also.
First item on my agenda was to fill the fridge with fruit juice and beer. Job done, there is a 7/11 across the road (technically a Family Mart, but you know what I mean). Then it was into the pool. A minor concern there - insufficient sun beds.
And that means that this post will have to be finished later as I am just having a quiet beer in the hotel communal area and getting ready for dinner.
Dinner was at the Bikini Bar, on the beach. According to the advertising it is famed for "jerked" chicken and ribs. I have no idea. I had some spring rolls that transmogrified into Onion Rings as they had run out of Spring Rolls and a Tom Yum Goong, hot and spicy prawn soup.
Images of Thailand: Two young boys were having a rough and tumble in the sand. Their mother moved to another table and shared "a fag" (her words that I overheard) with another couple. The boys stopped playing and one sat near to meet. I was disgusted to see him spitting in the sand. He moved away and then started to spew. I have done similar after eating a meal and then exercising so I didn't think it too out of the ordinary. His mother was still "fagging on" totally oblivious. Eventually I decided that she should be told so I attracted her attention. There ensued about 30 seconds of motherly concern, the boy was pronounced OK and mother went back to her fags. Daughter took a photo, no doubt for facebook.
I am  honestly not sure whether this was good parenting or not.

The Bludger ate too much and has left no room for beer so has retired for the evening.

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