AsiaRound The World TripThailand

Thailand: Koh Tao to Singapore

Travel Day!  We left Ban’s at 9:00AM this morning in the back of a pick-up to catch our ride to Koh Samui.  The speed boat ferry we took to Koh Tao a few weeks ago was a large, cushy, air-conditioned ferry.  The speed boat we took today was just that: a speed boat.  There were about 25 people on it, including a Thai woman taking her feverish baby to the hospital.  The little girl was adorable, but definitely not well.  The mother had brought a bamboo fan and some wet towels along for the ride to keep her cool.

The weather was sunny and clear, which is nice because riding across the ocean in a small speedboat gets a bit bumpy.  If the weather had been bad we would have had a hell of a ride.  There’s a typhoon off the coast of Vietnam right now and we were wondering if we’d actually be able to leave today.  But all looks well on the east coast of Thailand.

Koh Samui

We arrived in Koh Samui around 11:00 and caught a taxi-thing (pickup with seats in the back) to the airport.  We shared the ride with about 7 other people, one of whom was a brain surgeon from Ontario.  I’m not kidding.  He had a digital camera like our former Canon and was showing us some of his pictures.  It was all I could do not to whine about the Canon.  We’ll see how much they cost when we get to Singapore, but it’s pretty likely that we just can’t afford it.

We got to the airport after taking some 45-minute circuitous route through the island.  The ride should have taken us about 20 minutes, but we didn’t mind because our flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 3:00.  So when we got there, we went to our “terminal” and they said they couldn’t check us in until 1:30.  So we went to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

Koh Samui Airport – for those of you who missed it when we arrived – really doesn’t have any walls.  It’s a number of thatched-roof areas called “terminals” and some pretty snack bar and restaurant areas.  It’s very well maintained and obviously caters to the high-class Koh Samui tourist crowd.  The grass and gardens are manicured and is just the type of thing you want to see when you fly into this tropical paradise.  Jon and I sat in the restaurant and watched a flight come in.  A group of Japanese tourists exited the “Arrival Terminal” and immediately took pictures next to some flowers.  I can’t help but wonder what the caption of the picture will be in a photo album.. “Here we are at the airport!”.

Don’t mind me.  I’m still bitter about the camera.

Flight to Singapore

The two and a half hour flight to Singapore was uneventful, save for the guy with the smelly feet sitting behind me.  Singapore is an hour ahead of Thailand so we set our watches accordingly.  I think we’re 13 hours ahead of New York, but I’ve sort of lost track of these things by now.  I’ve also lost track of the days of the week.  If it weren’t for my watch, I would never know what day it was.  We arrived at 7:30PM.

Hanging Out at the Singapore Airport

The airport in Singapore is beautiful, which is good because we ended up spending a few hours there.  No problems, just some things we needed to sort out.  Jon went to find an ATM for money and went to the airport map to figure out where we were.  There was a hotel reservations desk in our terminal (Terminal 1) which we knew didn’t charge commission, so we went to see what kind of deals they had.  The list she gave us was pretty extensive, except that it didn’t really include the back-packer hotels in the city center.  So we pointed to the cheapest hotel on the list and said, “We’ll stay here.”  She needed a $10 deposit, but didn’t have change so we went to Burger King to get some dinner and change.

After getting the hotel sorted out, we went to the Departures floor to catch the skytrain to Terminal 2.  Air New Zealand is located there and we wanted to see about flying to New Zealand earlier than Nov 16.  Singapore is quite an expensive city, and spending 6 days here doesn’t really thrill us right now.  We have a friend who lives in the city, but he hasn’t really responded to our emails so we’re not counting on seeing him.  (Sorry to the Marstalls and Meeks).  But it may all work out in the end.

As it turns out, the Air New Zealand desks were closed but there was an office in the basement.  So we took our trolley of backpacks down two levels.  In the lovely basement were the main offices of each airline and – get this – a GROCERY STORE!  So I went to Air New Zealand and Jon went to the store.  The woman at Air New Zealand couldn’t give me the info I needed, but she was very nice and told me where the offices are in the city.

Then I went to the grocery store to meet Jon.  We bought bread, jelly, water, toothpaste, and Snickers.  What a brilliant idea – putting a grocery store in an airport!  It’s almost as brilliant as creating an Airport Internet Cafe, which no one has had the brains to do yet.  An airport grocery store allows airport employees to do their shopping, but also allows long-term travelers (i.e. US) to stock up on food and snacks for a long plane ride.  So smart!

After the groceries, we were done with our airport errands.  So we went outside to catch a taxi to our hotel.

The Fragrance Hotel

The cheap hotel we selected is outside the city, but we didn’t care because we’re all about saving money right now.  It took us about 20 minutes to get there.  There was a group of girls in short skirts running down the street in their high heels.  Our taxi driver chuckled and said, “Ahhh.. the Red Light district.  You know that phrase – ‘Red Light’?”  Yeah.  We know it.

We looked around.  The area was clean and nice, and except for the large population of men roaming around we would never have thought it was the Red Light District.  But no worries because we’d only arranged for 2 nights in the hotel.  If we don’t like it, we’ll find some other place or leave the city all together.

The hotel was relatively nice and very clean.  The rooms are small and not carpeted, so it’s a bit loud.  But we were happy with it, despite the slight cigarette smell.  More than anything, I just wanted to take a hot shower.  It was 9:30 before we got settled into the room, and we unpacked things wherever we could (which isn’t saying much because there wasn’t a lot of room).  But oh – that hot shower felt SO GOOD!

After showering and relaxing, Jon and I got sucked into the movie “Bicentennial Man” which is a REALLY BAD movie in case you’re ever tempted to waste two hours watching it.  We quickly fell asleep.