The Dark Side of Travel: Thai Transportation

Thailand. Rich culture. Rising economy. Picturesque beaches. A travelers dream, right? Absolutely. But it’s not all rainbows and kittens. Today, I’m going to take you on a journey of our adventure from Khao Sok National Park to Ko Lanta. It’s a pretty long way’s away. To get there you have to take ground transportation to Krabi first.

That 2 hours 16 minutes is a lie.

Once you get to Krabi, you take ground transportation to the pier, take a ferry to another strip of land. Drive to another pier, and take a second ferry to finally arrive on the island. It’s super time consuming.

We booked all of our transfers through the T.A.T. in Chiang Mai.

Here is our transfer slip. Ready to go!

And then we waited. The van driver was supposed to pick us up at 8am, but in Thai Time, we didn’t know what that meant. Finally at 8:15 and at the encouragement of the concierge at Our Jungle House, we called Guita, the woman who booked the transfer at the T.A.T. She assured us that he was on his way.

Perfect. I’ll just grab a coffee then.

And I’ll wait some more. I guess I’ll wait until 10:00, because that’s when the van finally showed up. I had to try reaaaaally hard not to be that cranky American who gets annoyed when schedules aren’t followed. But 2 hours is kind of excessive.

My Resting Bitch Face was strong.

I should also mention that everything is moist in Khao Sok. It’s like you’re constantly in a steam room. Even the sugar packets at Our Jungle House were moist before you even opened them. Everything we owned was just… wet. Though I will give a shout out to Our Jungle House for having the most reliably hot shower I had in Thailand. In the middle of the damn jungle. In an open-air bungalow, thankyouverymuch.

10:00am: The van arrives. 

We are the only ones on this gigantic van. Okay. Great. We have no idea what’s going on because we don’t speak Thai. The guy takes our slip, which made us pretty uncomfortable because it had the transfers for the entire rest of the day on it. So I stole it back and took a picture when he picked up the next passengers. And yes. He picked up passengers. He picked up 12 other passengers.

Driving like a nut job.

Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia where you’re supposed to drive on the LEFT. So with 15 people crammed into a van, you can imagine what happens next.

10:45: The Aussie throws up.

All over everyone’s bags. Except ours. Luckily, since we were the first ones on the van, we were able to fit our bags in the tiny space in the way back. The driver refused to let us open the windows because he wanted to preserve the air conditioner in the van, but we were ALL about to get sick, so he finally pulled over. Thanks, brah.

Tragedy Strikes.

Here is a motley crew of angry people whose belongings have just been all but destroyed by vomit. Bags were left behind. People were pissed. I want to know where this girl was staying, because based on the sheer volume of what came out of her, they must have offered some sort of complimentary breakfast buffet.

11:00am: My husband cleans the van.

The driver couldn’t be bothered. He pretty much just started spraying the inside of the van with an air freshener. He was ready and willing to leave all the particulate matter exactly where it was, until my husband stepped in. He grabbed his first aid kit and we got to work. I didn’t do much. I helped dress a leech bite that another girl just kinda left there. It looked… horrific. And was actively bleeding. We gave the sick girl a liter of water, some Dramamine, and a disposable tooth brush. And then my husband cleaned all of the vomit out of the van.

How cheerful!

I think you kind of get to the point where you’re like, “Welp. I could be really pissed about this, or I could suck it up and call it an adventure.”

11:15: The bus driver drives backwards.

For about a half mile. On the side of the road. Looking for something. And not trying in any way to communicate with any of the 14 other people on the bus to tell us what’s going on. We think he was looking for his next pickup. Who the hell knows? At this point, the Three Angry Germans decided to GTFO and walk the remaining 2 miles to their accommodation. Lucky for us, this left room for the driver to pick up a screaming baby and two other people! Hurray!

Baby Cry
“Do you know what this bus really needs?”

To the baby’s credit, once the van driver started driving like maniac, he inexplicably went to sleep. (!!!)

1:00pm: We stop at a rest stop.

Now we can use the bathroom and get snacks. Finally. Having had NO idea I would be this starving, the weird bag of chips and some soda I bought seemed like the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Amazing chips. 10/10 would buy again.

Delicious. What I don’t have pictures of, however, is the bathroom. Another Aussie girl and I had to use the bathroom, but she wasn’t wearing shoes. And it’s an eastern style toilet. Where everything in there is just… wet. And I can never determine if it’s from urine, or the water hose and/or bucket you’re supposed to use to clean yourself. So. I lent her my shoes to go in, and then took them back. Nothing like an immediate bonding situation.

2:30: We arrive in Krabi.

Great. Only another van and two ferries to go… We are left at a random restaurant where there are a ton of other tourists waiting for vans. I guess it’s a sort of depot. I’m suddenly glad I took a picture of our slip, because I didn’t know what the heck was happening next.

The “depot.”

We finally got ushered onto a second van of the day. Again. Not super spacious or comfy.

You can make friends or enemies really fast traveling this way.

You can see my bag in the center. Kind of just crammed in there with everyone else. What I didn’t know is that I had another three hours ahead of me.

See the next leg of the journey was to get from Krabi to Ko Lanta. Well. Sounds easy. Except that whole van to a ferry to a ferry to a van thing.

It’s sooooo far.

The line to the pier to get on the ferry is crazy, too. But I guess they have several ferries running at the same time, so it could be much worse.

4:00pm: We finally get on the ferry. 

And then my husband had to use the bathroom. And I was suddenly glad I gave all of my water to the sick Aussie girl…


I don’t know exactly what was in there, because I would need a substantial sum of money to make entering that thing worth it to me. What I will say is that I saw a little girl go in there with her dad, walk out, and then pop a squat right on deck. Awkward. But that thing must’ve been awful. My husband went in. And didn’t want to talk about it. I have NO idea what was in there. He did say it was the worst shit experience of his life. That’s saying a lot coming from someone who once Andy Dufresne’d through a basement of liquid human waste with only some trash bags and duct tape for protection. So. There you have it.

5:30: We finally arrive at our resort.

Our Noble House resort. It was on the northern part of Ko Lanta, pretty close to the pier. If we were staying further south, I don’t think we would have gotten in until closer to 7. Our stop was first, so we lucked out.

So was it all worth it?

IMG_4169I think so. 🙂

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