We've finally made it to Thailand! Okay, so we arrived early Friday morning in Chumphon on the train from Malaysia (and kudos to the Thai/Malay train authorities for their very comfortable sleeper trains, highly recommended). Therefore my first moments wandering around in Thailand were at 4AM. We then got the bus for a couple of hours down to Ranong, had a lift on the back of some motorbike taxis to the jetty, and hopped on a long tail boat out to Koh Chang.
On arrival on the island we acquired a cute little bungalow down the end of the main beach. The name of the place where we stayed eludes me, but the food is AMAZING. Sometimes I have very vivid daydreams about food I wish I could eat. The food there I think will be fondly on my mind from now on.
The island is an idyllic quiet holiday place that seems to have a tourist population made up of mostly... you guessed it, Germans. One minimart we stopped by had two clocks behind the counter set on Thai and German times. I overheard someone on the boat mention a restaurant where the menu was written in German.
I stayed on Koh Chang for two days before I parted ways from my travel tour manager. Although not as acrimonious a split as say, Simon & Garfunkel's or The Beatles', history may record our separation as due to 'artistic differences'. Actually, I have made the journey up to Bangkok (where I am at the time of writing) in order to obtain a Burmese visa whilst young Tom does some much needed work on his tan. If you look at a map you'll see that Ranong and Koh Chang sit right on the Thai/Myanmar border and you can actually see Myanmar on the boat ride out, so it's slightly frustrating for me that I had to get the 10-hour bus ride up to Bangkok to even hope to enter the country*. Anyway, that's travel and politics for you.
*(You can cross the border here but it's limited to a day only, as far as I'm aware.)
I know a lot of friends and acquaintances have already been to Thailand, so I will share a few quick first time impressions for those of you that haven't yet made the journey:
- The people are very friendly and helpful.
- The number of English speakers compared to Malaysia is definitely not as prevalent.This has already made for interesting times.
- The food is awesome and cheap.
- The countryside is beautiful.
- It's not as hot as Malaysia and Singapore, thank goodness.
- They really revere their King here - I counted 118 roadside images of him on the bus ride from Ranong before I lost interest and fell asleep.