We arranged a transfer direct from our hotel to the island, as this was the easiest way to get there. Pick up was at 7:40 and after waiting half an hour (and panicking because we thought we’d picked a dodgy travel agent!) our mini bus finally arrived. We jumped aboard and our journey began. We were given a sticker each that said Pha-ngan (just in case we forgot where we were going?) The driver was an old Thai man and for some reason he just couldn’t keep his foot on the accelerator so we felt like we were bunny hopping the whole way. The journey to the ferry port was about 4 hours so we really weren’t looking forward to jumping all the way there and I could see Barry getting more and more angry. After half an hour of hopping, the mini bus pulled into a coach station and we were told to get off. Feeling slightly baffled we did as we were told and made ourselves comfy on a much bigger coach with lots of party revellers heading to the island. As we boarded we were given another sticker that said joint ticket. We waited 20mins for the coach to leave by which time it was now 9:30; 2 hours after we had meant to set off and we were only half an hour away from our hotel. Finally the coach leaves but this time instead of bunny hopping, we have a small child singing ‘wheels on the bus go round and round’ over and over again and a guy and his wife asleep, snoring very loudly next to us – not sure how we’re going to survive this for another 4 hours!
We finally made it to Surat Thani; the town where the boat was going to leave from, at 1:15 BUT instead of being dropped at the pier as we had thought, we were dropped at some restaurant come shop come bus station with some crazy Thai women yelling ‘you wait for one hour, buy egg fried rice, drink!’ Personally I think it was just some scam for her to make some money as she as also charging 10TB for the toilet. Here we were given yet another sticker, this time just a pink square. With an hour to wait, Barry and I decided to draw pictures of each other – not sure whose is worse! The woman calls Barry over to give him the tickets for the boat and somehow manages to persuade him into buying a return ticket from her. This also included yet another sticker, just some random Thai writing on this one. I was not convinced about this return journey, as this had seem like a ridiculously long way to get to where we going and she was charging slightly more to get home then we had paid to get there, but I went along with it as I didn’t want to be stranded!
Finally our bus arrived and it is just a small bus, much like an American school bus. God knows how we are all going to fit on it along with everyone’s luggage! Wait a minute – the luggage goes on the roof, of course! Luckily Barry and I had only bought our small rucksacks as we were only here for 3 nights but most people had all their worldly goods with them and were looking slightly apprehensive about piling it on top of the bus. Then came the problem of seats, there just weren’t enough so people were practically sitting on each others laps and hanging out the door way. Packed in like sardines, the next part of journey was underway. It was another hour before we made it to the pier. Which was too long to wait for one man, who shouted at the bus driver to stop, as he couldn’t hold his pee any longer! The driver did as asked – our side of the bus quickly closed their windows for fear of back spray!
Finally at the pier we had just 5 minutes to wait to board our boat. Our Pha-ngan sticker and the weird Thai writing one were taken away and we were stuck with another joint ticket sticker. As we made our way down to the dock, I have never seen so many backpackers, there were hoards of them and we were all heading for the same boat. With no luggage to check in we found our seats quickly, paying about 80p each to sit in the VIP section! It was either that or sit outside or down in the bottom. The sea was really rough so for us this wasn’t really an option. We then had to wait an hour for the boat to leave as more and more backpackers just kept making their way on to the boat.
After just over 2 hours at sea, we finally made it to Ko Pha-ngan. It was now 7pm. We’d been travelling nearly 12 hours and still needed to get to our Island View Cabana Resort. We found a tuk tuk and off we went. Within 20 minutes we arrived. It was pitch black as we made our way to the little beach hut that would be our home for the next 3 days and we weren’t prepared for the view that would hit us in the morning!