Because I am a glutton for punishment, I had decided it was a good idea to take an overnight bus and ferry down to Koh Phangan. I have flown down and taken the train too many times to remember but I only ever took the overnight bus once and luckily it was so long ago I’d forgotten why I hadn’t done it since. It was actually one of my only options anyway, the flights were incredibly expensive, and the trains were fully booked.
I was actually looking forward to the trip as it was going to give me a chance to meet some backpackers and see things from the perspective of a new traveller. Over the years I’ve been back to Thailand so many times I’ve started to take certain things for granted and behave more like an expat than a tourist. So having a chance to be a backpacker again was fun and as soon as I got to the bus stop I was chatting away with people from all over the world and of all age groups , most of who were here for the first time and their excitement to get down to the islands was infectious.
The bus when it pulled up looked like something out of a sci-fi movie, covered in neon lighting and decked out in graffiti and a speaker system that was clearly designed for a stadium more than a mode of public transport. As we settled in for the long ride down to the ferry port in Chumphon the driver put on a terrible ultra-aggressive martial arts film in Thai and jacked the volume up to the point where no one could talk, so we resigned ourselves to a restless and violently noisy ride and I drifted off to the sounds of some guy getting ninja slapped from one side of a road to the other!!
I was so tired after all the travelling down from the Himalaya through Delhi and Bangkok and the many long bus rides that I managed to sleep fairly well, I think your body and mind just get used to the hard travelling . it helps when your final destination is one of the most incredible tropical islands on the planet.
At around 5am after an 8-hour bus ride you arrive at Chumphon town where you head to a small ferry terminal with a little café and bar and wait for a couple of hours to take the ferry to the islands, this is where the backpackers normally start to drink beer and get into the island party mode. Recently they have stopped serving alcohol on the ferry which although makes sense so they aren’t delivering hundreds of smashed western backpackers straight off the boat, I did used to enjoy a nice cold one from the front of the ferry as the islands come into view.
The ferry takes about 3-4 hours to reach Koh Tao, it’s first stop, a tiny Island most famous for its many dive shops. Thousands of people come here to take their diving qualifications every year and the place is beautiful but a little too busy for me having seen it many years ago before the diving boom took over. From there it’s a short 1-hour hop onto Koh Phangan my destination.
A place I have called home and a place that has had such an influence on my life. Koh Phangan is famous for a lot of things, for me it’s a place to relax, recharge and be with lifelong friends away from the worries of the world.