I left Koh Lanta on Tuesday afternoon and began the journey to Bangkok. I’d asked at travel agents how much it would cost and was given a few options. The boat from Koh Lanta to Krabi on the mainland was 300 baht, or a minivan from the guest house directly to the bus station in Krabi via a ferry was 600 baht. Then the bus from Krabi to Bangkok was either 400 or 600 baht depending on the travel agent.
Being the independent sort of lad I am, I headed off to the pier on my own. In my experience it’s always cheaper to get your ticket as close to the point of departure as possible, on buses or boats at least, probably not on planes. Anyway, off to the pier I go. I ask the girl for a ticket to Krabi. She doesn’t speak much English, but more than I speak Thai, so she explains it’s two boats and it costs 13 baht. Yes, thirteen baht. To start with I thought she was telling me it left at 1 o’clock!
So 13 baht later I’m on a ferry which I realise is actually taking me about 200m across the stretch of water to the other side. Somewhat puzzled I sit on the bench (it’s a flat decked car ferry with benches either side). I ask the guy next to me if this boat is going to Krabi. There’s a 10km road between this boat and the next one he tells me, but I can jump on the back of his motorbike if I want. Score!
So we get to the next boat, which was the 10 baht part of the initial 13 baht I’d paid, and then I’m on the mainland. However, at this point I’m some 76km from Krabi. Not to worry he explains, walk up the road a few metres and wait on the left hand side, you’ll get a bus to Krabi for 50 baht!
So I’m in Krabi having spent the grand total of 63 baht. I discover the bus station is 4km out of town, but I’ve got a couple of hours, so I ask for the general direction and head off on foot. Fairly soon I spot a 7-Eleven (convenience store), get an ice cream and then manage to hitch a lift right to the bus station.
I’m presented with two choices, the 426 baht second class, air conditioned bus with no toilet or the 850 baht, 24 seater VIP bus with toilet, in seat food service, air conditioning, entertainment, etc. Deciding the 424 baht saving will buy me about 7 beers, I head off on the earlier second class bus. I score the front seat, recline, and put my feet up on the acres of space in front.
Just my luck, the bus gets to Bangkok early. Not just early, but an hour and a half early. Great you’re thinking, but no, it’s supposed to arrive at 5am and instead drops us at the southern bus terminal at 3:30am. A quick check of my trusty Lonely Planet reveals most bus services operate between 5 or 6 am and 12 midnight.
Again, my independent streak kicks in and I ignore the taxi touts to head off on foot. Pretty soon I realise it’s a little difficult to follow a motorway on foot and reluctantly agree to take a taxi. Initial quotes came in around 100 baht and when I finally convince one so-called Meter Taxi to actually put the meter on, it works out around 55 baht!
Anyway, I land on Khoa San Road, find myself an air-conditioned, single room with a bathroom for 250 baht (remember my 200 baht tent on Koh Phi Phi?!) and get some kip before beginning my first day in Bangkok. Impression so far, I love it. It’s great to be back in the hustle and bustle of a major international city, and I love the Asian flair. The cross between utlra-modern subway and sky train and the street sellers offering noodles and rices for pocket change.
Here’s to a few great days in Bangkok…