This is the story one of the more challenging travel days we’ve had so far. We have a flexible travel planning philosophy and so on days like this, it really is a case of, ‘if you’re going to talk the talk; then you’ve got to walk the walk.
However even on difficult days like these; I still maintain that my worst day traveling is far better than my best day at work.
I’ll set the scene for you before we left the hotel; we just booked and paid for a weeks worth of accommodation on Koh Tao and didn’t worry about breakfast, planning to just get something at the train station instead.
Check out of hotel > Taxi to ferry terminal Penang > Ferry to Butterworth > Walk to train station > Walk to bus station > Walk to ferry terminal Butterworth > Ferry back to Penang > Taxi to Penang airport > Flight from Penang to Bangkok > Train from DMK to central Bangkok train station > Overnight train from Bangkok to Chumphon > Minivan from train station to ferry terminal > Ferry to Koh Tao > Ute taxi to hotel
TOTAL TRAVEL TIME: 23 HOURS
Highlight (and lowlight) moments
Approaching the Butterworth train station I notice an A4 piece of paper sticky taped to the door. The top reads in Thai and the bottom in English. TRAIN IS CANCELLED TODAY – SORRY FOR AN INCONVENIENCE – TICKET REFUNDED INSIDE. My heart sinks. We look at each other in disbelief.
The Butterworth bus station debate. Given the unrest in the area in southern Thailand that the bus will drop us off in, we’re a little unsure what to. It’s unlikely something would have happened but as it’s listed as a ‘ do not travel zone,’ on the Australian governments website our travel insurance wouldn’t cover us (it’s in all policies read the fine print).
Following a semi breakdown and precious minutes wasted through ‘ what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ I take a stand and say (a bit like a dictator) “we just have to make a decision and commit to it”. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of food or carrying about our bags for a while but neither of us are sold on the bus idea.
Returning to Penang, almost defeated. Following another trip across the harbour we return to Penang some what defeated and in need of wifi to check flight options. However it seems to be peak hour for traffic at the moment and we can’t get a taxi. Tom and I drag our bags in the now, quite hot day to the tourist area in search of internet. Finally we find a place that will let us use their wifi; if we buy a drink. After ordering a beer each (naturally) I whip out the ipad and begin crazy googling to best way for us to get there by tomorrow.
Making a beeline for the Airasia sales desk at Penang airport. The answer is yes there is seats available to Bangkok however you’ll have to pay extra for your luggage. This may be the tipping point. Have we come too far to turn back? In a moment of craziness I ask “Where else are you flying today?” After a bit of discussion and a few unmentionable words I fork over my credit card.
The train from DMK airport to central train station Bangkok. It stops at every stop, has no airconditioning and takes us 1 hour and 20 minutes. It’s an interesting ride through the outer suburbs of Bangkok that we may not have seen otherwise.
Tom having problems with locks again on the overnight train ride to Chumphon. An unassuming Thai man got more than he bargained for when he opened the door to the ‘seemingly’ vacant toilet.
We finally make it to the ferry to Koh Tao. After no sleep on the overnight train I’m exhausted, I try my best but can’t keep my eyes open. At one point I awake to find my head out in the isle and that I’m pretty sure I’m drooling on myself.
All in all is was a long traveling day and it’s ridiculous that we did it. I hope it provided some insight and amusement for those playing along at home.
Stay tuned for the next adventure.