Land and Sea Transportation in Thailand

Since arriving in Thailand, I was truly frequently pleasantly surprised by how put together it is. No offence meant, but I definitely over planned. Their pharmacies are well stacked, the stores have everything you need, and I definitely did not need to pack so much. But today, Thailand showed it’s rougher side: transportation.

It was a hot day on January 2nd, which compared to my friends that I’m sure are slowly starting to sink into another miserable winter, should not be a complaint. We bought tickets for the entire trip from Koh Phangan to Koh Samui from the hostel, which included taxi to the sea port, the boat, and taxi from the arrival port to our hostel (B400). The ticket was a single slip of paper that needed to be converted to an actual ticket, every step of the way. And so the confusion commenced.

Our boat was supposed to leave at 11:00 and we arrived with fifteen minutes to spare. The port in Koh Phangan had two docks one for each company operating from there. We chose the one with the most people and got in line to obtain a boat ticket using our hostel slip. Of course, once at the front of the line, we were told that we’re at the wrong dock. We crossed the parking lot with all our bags but couldn’t find the line to convert our tickets for this dock. Eventually we were told it was at the top of the parking lot. Great, at this point we only have about 2 minutes before our boat is scheduled to leave so I book it, praying we don’t miss it and have to spend another two hours in the blazing sun waiting for the next boat.

I get the tickets, run back down, and everyone is still crammed around the dock entrance. No boat yet, thank God. But one hour later, still no boat. Speaking to everyone around us, some were waiting since the 9 am for the 9:30 boat, which just didn’t show up. Will we even get on this boat when it finally comes?

Finally, it gets here, and sure enough they cram everyone on. To hell with safety regulations, they have catching up to do. Needless to say, both boarding and offboarding took forever but we were glad to get back to solid land. One more ticket conversion and we were in the taxi heading to the hostel.

The next land and sea adventure came when going from Koh Samui to Phuket. This time everything was more or less on time but once back on the mainland, the land transit consisted of about four different legs in four different buses, taxis or minibuses. Every stop consisted of locals yelling at us, asking who’s going where and pointing to groups of people and new vehicles as people were dropped off and new ones were picked up. I have no idea how they were able to keep this many people, going in so many directions, organized. It wasn’t comfortable or a straight shot, but it certainly seemed like everyone made it to where they were going. More importantly, we were finally in Oldtown Phuket!

Moral of the story: don’t make your plans with the assumption that transportation will be timely and never expect it to be comfortable.


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