Journey to the unknown : Thailand – Part 2
To read from the start check out: Part 1
As expected on a normal vacation I woke up late. This trip to Thailand had started to sink in. It was supposed to be a journey of self-discovery. Yet so far I was just trying to figure out myself. I think this is what I had to do. To look within to find what I wanted to do. IT will not come from the outside. To figure it out I had to reach a moment when the next thing would just come to me. For the moment I was just lazing on the bed. I had to check out today so I finished off the packing. Slowly a plan that was somewhere in my subconscious started crystallizing. I was thinking of heading south. Probably head to the beach, to an island called Koh Samui. I had no clue how to get there.
After checking out I was dropped off to BKK airport. Now this is one beautiful airport. Its not just a place where people take flights but also a nice hangout place. Spacious, clean and with good cafe’s. I got here around 1PM and sat down with a Starbucks coffee. This one, unusually, was not good. However I did my research on the journey to Koh Samui. The first thing was to catch a train, then take a bus, then a ferry and then a tuk-tuk. Around 3 hours later I went down to information counter to check how I can get to the station. I wondered if I would ever get a train ticket at the last moment. This was unheard of in India but hell I thought i would try it anyhow. The lady mentioned that I should head to Hua Lampong station. Out of concern, I asked if I might be able to get a train to Surat Thani today. She said perhaps but not for sure.
Next I took the BTS sky train to Makkasan and then changed to a local metro. I got off at Hua Lampong train station. At the information counter I asked them that I wanted to go to Koh Samui. Surprisingly and in good English she answered that all the trains seem to be full but she can try to take me to an agent within the station. The agent told me I can get a combined Train + Bus + Ferry ticket to Samui from them. Now I thought that it was supposed to be a budget backpacking trip. But I was just starting and was anxious. So I took the risk and paid 1560 THB for the combined ticket. Later I realized that the train ticket is about 770 THB and I probably overpaid in total.But anyhow it saved me the trouble of fixing all tickets later. I left my big bag with them and wandered around. I watched people sit, do their things, walk, take care of the kids, make out with their partners, laughing. It just felt like a motion picture playing that I was enjoying.
With 3 hours to kill I decided to try an authentic Thai massage. Of course with what all I had heard I wanted to safe and secure and just needed some relief from all this nervousness of traveling alone. I found a decent place and paid about 1000 THB for the massage. It really took away the stress and the masseuse in a motherly way told me to be safe since I was traveling alone. Though she didnt speak much English we had a small conversation and it was beautiful in its own way. She told me of her family of 7 sisters and her job here to take care of her father in a wheel chair.
I walked out of that place feeling relaxed but my mind thinking about lives of people and their own journeys. I got to station, ate a bit and then got on the train. At first it was confusing because I thought I had a sleeper ticket and the seats were seating. However soon I figured out that the upper berths opened up to become sleeper. Another thing was that upper berths were cheaper than lower berths. That was a new way of pricing tickets. On the way I met another guy who looked Thai but was apparently from Honduras. He worked for MS in Redmond before and was now moving to Google. I met another 18yo kid from England who looked like he was 30. We just chatted about random stuff and I never asked their name. That night I went to bed, on a train traveling from Bangkok to Surat Thani and a lot more relaxed and sure of the world.
The morning dawned only when I had to absolutely get out of the bed since we were close to the station of Surat Thani. But it was at least an hour before we got there around 8AM. Then I was escorted by the company to my bus. The bus journey to the ferry was another 1.5 hours. When I got to ferry I was surprised to see the size of it. It looked like a majestic king in the beautiful green water. It took my breath away. It was a joy to see the green waters of endless sea and yet an island standing in the middle of it. The sights were spectacular. I think I got to the port of Samui by 11.30 or 12PM.
From the port I first decided to go to famous Cha Weng beach since I hadnt booked a hotel and that was the major tourist hub. The tuk-tuk demanded 100 THB for chaweng beach which seemed expensive to me at first. But on realizing that it is 25KM away I paid and was on my way. As soon as we got there I realized this wasnt the place I want to stay. Too much crowd, too much entertainment. I wanted something more quieter. But I was hungry and having eaten only chicken in the last 2 days I craved for Indian. At first I withdrew some money from Credit Card and then had a fulfilling lunch at an Indian restaurant.
I tried walking around with my 20KG luggage and after seeing 2-3 places that didnt appeal at all, I was tired. It was burning hot and I was feeling dead. Finally I decided to take another tuk-tuk and went to Lamai beach further down. This cost me another 100 THB. I walked around here as well trying to find a $20 hotel but after another 2-3 places I was ready to give up. The next hotel I went to had this beautiful sea-facing spacious deluxe room for $50 a night. After much self-convincing I took it up for 2 nights. Turns out that just the next property had the $20 room that I was looking for. But well as luck would have it I took this place and dropped my stuff. The first matter of attention was a long hot shower and cold air-conditioning. Then i had a cup of steaming hot coffee looking at the sea.
I slept till the evening because I was just too hot and tired. The evening was hot and beautiful. I walked around the roads for a few Kilometers. I came across the strip area and saw the crowd increasing as we approached the main bars. I saw this open strip area with round bars with a pole in the middle with girls dancing. A wonderful sight and yet a sad sight. I wondered where these girls came from and why they did what they did. I roamed around scared at first to go close. But then I realized I was here to face my fears and so I confidently went and sat at one of the bars. The first thing was to order the beer. Then came a chirpy bubbly girl with a game of 4-in-1. We chatted whatever we could in broken English and drank and played various games. You can of course buy them a lady drink which is nothing but an expensive beer with the money going to the bar and beer to the women.
I talked to her about where she was from, how long she was here, whether she enjoyed what she did etc. She seemed fairly happy at what she did and at ease in life. I saw the mothers dancing on the pole for some time and then run around trying to find their kids who were all playing around nearby. This was something of a thought-provoking scene. Is it normal to bring your kids up in this environment? Was this environment wrong? Does pole-dancing have to be a degrading job? Lots of thoughts that would take some time to answer I guess.
The walk balk to the hotel was a long and lonely one. With the thoughts of who these people were, in a foreign country, doing things that seem unimaginable at home. To live with it, to live with your kids and boyfriends and continue working. To the world knowing what you do and yet be at peace. Was this the real civilized world? This world where people are looked upon as humans and nothing more. Where we accept people for who they are and what they do and not preach morality and religion to them every living moment. And I got a sense from my conversations that these girls who worked here were not atheist. They believed in family, they believed in Buddha, they believed in the king and they had their own principles to live by. This was a wonderful thing to know. I think this was the starting of my attachment with Thai land and Thai way of life.
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