KATE AND WENDY TRIP! as usual, i can't decide how to write this. go day by day so as not to forget everything, but risk boring the reader? group everything by subject--food, adventures, relaxation, mishaps--and maybe miss something hilarious?
i'm going with the daily approach.
day 1: sept 2--kate and wendy arrive
kate and wendy (from here on out to be referred to as k&w) arrived at 11:20 pm on thursday night. after tutoring The Man at 7 pm, i hopped on a van into bangkok. i got into the city, hopped on to the bts at victory monument, rode one stop to phaya thai, and walked to the airport rail link.
did you hear/read that? YOU CAN GET TO THE AIRPORT VIA PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION! i got all the way from suphan to bkk in under three hours and for less than 200 baht. only people who live here will fully appreciate this.
anyway, i kicked it at the airport for a while and went downstairs to wait for them at 11:10. i saw that their plane had already landed, which sent me into a minor frenzy--OHMYGODTHEYTOTALLYALREADYCAMEOUTANDIMISSEDTHEMANDTHEY'RELOSTINBANGKOKFOREVER--
which of course was unnecessary. they showed up after midnight. we hopped in a cab and made it to the stable lodge in bangkok, which does indeed have a western theme. the cab driver didn't know where he was going (typical bangkok), but once we finally found it the woman was still waiting at the front desk, just for us. love thailand.
day 2: sept 3: bangkok
maddy and i had to add pages to my passport and apply for an indian visa in bangkok, so i woke up early on friday morning to get those errands done. i left kate and wendy with my cell phone, lonely planet, and vague directions on what they could do. i didn't know when we'd be done with that passport stuff, but we ended up finishing way earlier than i thought, which meant i could spent most the day with kate and wendy.
after we said bye to maddy--she was off on a day of shopping for cold weather clothes, something we were woefully unprepared for-- the three of us went to the grand palace. i sat outside while k&w wandered the sparkly madness. a group of college girls came over to interview me in typical thai fashion. this seems to be a very popular assignment for english students in thailand: "find a foreigner and interview them!" it's what we did when i went to phuket for english camp, and i've seen it happen elsewhere in the country.
in fact, when we were in the train station just a few hours later, a group of students came up to us to ask if we had a minute for an interview. OH HELL YEAH we'll be your token foreigners.
after the grand palace, we sat down in an au bon pain for a while cooling off and chilling out. i think this is where i first realized k&w were really serious when they said they just wanted to hang out (least this is what kate said and i can only assume she spoke for both). we had a good time just sitting.
anyway, we eventually made our way back to the hotel to gather our stuff to get over to khao san road, where our overnight bus was set to leave from. i figured it'd be easiest to get in a taxi. it might take us a while (an hour from sukhumvit, i guessed) and be a little expensive, but whatever.
TWO HOURS. it took two hours. we were stuck in such bad traffic that our taxi driver fell asleep. i had to poke him to remind him to move.
whatever. we finally made it to stupid khaosan road and were so exhausted by a day in bangkok (what a terrible, unavoidable place to start a trip in thailand) that we just ate food and waited for the bus. kate thought she might throw up so i was worried for that.
day 3: sept 4: getting to koh tao
before the bus ride i had warned k&w that we'd probably stop in the middle of the night for seemingly no reason (peeing, eating, smoking, i guess...but those aren't really reasons, especially when there's a potty on the bus). so at 3 am, when the bus pulled in to a parking lot and the fluorescent lights blinked on, k&w weren't even surprised.
when i asked kate how she felt, she responded with an overly perky "GREAT! i love this bus ride!" she said it was rejuvenating. moving vehicles are kate's cure-all.
we got to the ferry place on chumporn around 5 am, right on time--two hours before the ferry was supposed to leave. i fell asleep on a chair. k&w did some other stuff while i was sleeping.
i had reassured them that this would be the hardest travel day. a big negative on koh tao is that it takes SO FRIGGIN LONG to get to. you could fly to koh samui, but it's expensive and you're still a long ferry ride away. you could fly to suratthani, but more buses/ferries...blah blah blah. it's hard to get to, but i figured k&w were tough travelers and could make it.
so after this already difficult journey, we walked on a long, not-so-sturdy pier to our ferry/catamaran. it was a solid ferry (even if the a/c was too cold), but nonetheless, it broke down--in the middle of the ocean. we could barely see land. we motored along at quarter speed. it seemed like our ferry was broken, but nobody was doing anything--not the foreigners, not the thai people running the boat, nobody. but we determined that yes the boat must be broken, because we all got off at the first of three stops to switch catamarans.
we were 10 minutes away from our stop on koh tao. we could see our beach from this broken catamaran spot. I JUST WANTED TO PUT MY STUFF DOWN SO BAD.
we got on a new boat and finally got to koh tao. by 11 am, we were checked in to our first bungalow. starved and just wanting the beach, we went to a restaurant overlooking the ocean and ordered lunch. our table was on the sand and about 40 feet up from the ocean. we all ordered sandwiches and fruit smoothies. then kate said something that was pretty true but also hilarious:
"i thought only people on the price is right got this kind of stuff."
i have no idea how we all got so lucky, but these few days in koh tao were definitely some of the most perfect days i could've conjured up in any dream. that sounds epically cheesy, but it's pretty true.
days 3-6: sept 4-sept 7: koh tao
the days on koh tao pretty much blend into each other (and, as usual, i'm getting tired of this chronological nonsense) so i'm just gonna group'em together. we spent the first two nights in this one bungalow that was kind of crappy. we swore we had fleas or bed bugs or something after the first night but when we asked the owner people about switching, this guy soe insisted they were just "tiny...tiny ants" that we picked up in the sand and brought to bed with us. so we tried showering and going to bed extra clean and all these other precautions, but there were still bugs so we moved to a bungalow down the road. big upgrade.
we laid around on the white sand, shopped, waited around for meal times to come, played card games, played in the ocean even when the monsoon rains came through, ate roti and 7-11 snacks, and got tons of sleep. we found our favorite eating place--chaba bar, right on the beach--and spent a lot of time sitting in their chairs, eating their breakfast and drinking their iced coffee. we listened to a lot of jack johnson. it was an awesome way to live. leaving sucked, but i think that's how you know you've found a phenomenal place.
i have more to tell you but it's 2 in the morning and even though i don't really feel like sleeping, i think maybe i should make an attempt at it. i've gotta give some finals tomorrow.