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Thailands Travellers Tales Tell us your stories about your Thailand vacation. Where did you travel in Thailand? Is Pattaya more fun than Bangkok? Did you visit Phuket or any of the other Thai Islands? Did you go on a tour to visit the Hill Tribes in Northern Thailand? Share your Thailand pictures and Thailand video stuff on this forum and tell us about your holiday.

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Old 07-02-2013, 12:01 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Trip Report - Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and Return

Hello All,

This is my first installment about my recent trip to a couple of islands in Thailand.


Day one - My Thai nephew dropped me off at Don Mueang Airport for my NOK Air flight to Koh Tao (via Chumphon).

The flight was really nice, with a "NOK Kanom" (NOK Air Snack) that was prepared by the fast-food place "Auntie Ann's" (or something like that). The snack was first rate.

Landed at Chumpon (actually the airport is quite a ways from town). After I collected my luggage, I went into the terminal and immediately spotted a Thai lady holding a sign stating that NOK Air passengers transferring to Lompraya ferry needed to board a mini-bus that was right outside the exit.

Being a cautious sort, I stopped and showed the Lady my NOK air itinerary that showed the transfer and ferry ride were included in my pre-paid flight.

She assured me that the mini-bus was the correct bus. I got on board, but I did notice two other mini-buses that had Lompraya Express on their sides. They were parked way back from the exit.

At any rate, more NOK Air to Koh Tao passengers climbed on board with me and away we went.

The ride was pleasant until we were about 10 minutes from Chumpon (it was about a 30-40 minute drive). Then the Lady came over to me and tried to hand me a ticket saying that the transfer was 150 baht. I quietly, but firmly refused, stating that the transfer was included in the pre-paid airplane ticket. She insisted, saying that this was a different company. I kept repeating that I had alread paid for the transfer and would not pay again. I then asked her why she told me to get on this mini-bus, if it wasn't the one that was included in the fare?

Rather than risk losing all the "NOK passengers", she quietly tore up my "150 baht ticket" and then went around to all the other passengers. Other then me, all the other tourists paid the extra 150 baht.

Finally, the bus let everyone off at the Chumpon Train Station were there was a Lompraya ticket office. Once again, I had to keep firmly repeating that the ticket was already paid for before the girl had the ticket counter finally gave in and wrote "NOK" on her clipboard and gave me a ticket voucher.

The other passengers went through something similiar, but I don't know if they "repurchased" their tickets or not.

I was told that a bus would show up around noon, that would take us to the ferry.

I hung out at the Chumpon Train station for a bit, managed to buy a Pepsi (after some negotiation in Thai) for 25 baht (down from 40 baht).

I went to the bathroom, and the lady said 5 baht. I pointed to the sign in Thai that said 3 baht and told the lady (in Thai) 3 baht not 5 baht. She refused to give in and after arguing some more (where she held up a little white board that indicated 5 baht), I finally just shook my head sadly, and said "My pen rai" while walking away. I hoped I made her feel a little bad (although I doubt it) or at least caused her to lose the commission.

Finally, noon rolls around and we all load onto a large local bus. On the bus I met a delightful, elderly Thai lady who spoke English really well. She looked really old, but as a young girl had went to a major University in Bangkok where she learned to speak English. She really was a delight.

At the Lompraya ferry, I had to go through the same hassle to get my actual ferry ticket. The girl had the counter kept trying to get me to pay (again) for the ticket. I kept showing her the NOK paperwork that stated the ferry ticket was inclusive. Finally, (there where long lines waiting and people were getting impatient), she asked me if I had to pay a transfer fee from the airport. I answered truthfully, "NO" (although it wasn't for lack of the transfer people trying) and she wrote NOK on her clipboard and handed me my ticket (nothing is simple in Thailand, everyone you work tries to figure out how to get some extra money out of the falongs).

Finally, almost an hour late, we boarded the ferry. We then waited almost another hour as the departure kept getting delayed as they waited for more passengers.

Once the ferry was totally (Standing Room Only) full, the ferry backed out and started its high speed run to Koh Tao, almost 75km out to sea.

The trip was okay, except for the people who had their luggage on the top of the stack that was loaded on the bow. The spray from the ocean was non-stop and the top luggae was litterally soaked.

Also, the people who elected to go topside and sit in the open, no doubt suffered as the water was rough and cold for the entire trip. My advice, when taking a ferry, is always get an inside seat. You stay dry and are less subject to getting sea sick when the sea is rolling terribly.

I finally got to Koh Tao about 2 hours late, but the Big Blue Driver was waiting for me.

He had a nice song tao with seats a roof, while some of the other would-be divers had to set in the back of open pickups perched a top their luggage.

End Part One.
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Old 07-02-2013, 01:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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This thread needs pictures Rick.
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Old 07-02-2013, 01:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickThai
I quietly, but firmly refused, stating that the transfer was included in the pre-paid airplane ticket.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickThai
Once again, I had to keep firmly repeating that the ticket was already paid for before the girl had the ticket counter finally gave in and wrote "NOK" on her clipboard and gave me a ticket voucher.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickThai
At the Lompraya ferry, I had to go through the same hassle to get my actual ferry ticket. The girl had the counter kept trying to get me to pay (again) for the ticket.
Lots of hassles there, hope you had a good time at your final destination.

I try never to pay in advance for anything in Thailand. Best policy is to pay after service is rendered or they can go fuck themselves.

Also never hand over my passport, they can have a copy or fuck themselves.

If you happen to see some farang telling a thai to go fuck himself it is probably me
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Old 07-02-2013, 06:17 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by RickThai
Also, the people who elected to go topside and sit in the open, no doubt suffered as the water was rough and cold for the entire trip. My advice, when taking a ferry, is always get an inside seat. You stay dry and are less subject to getting sea sick when the sea is rolling terribly.
\

Bit of an issue when the ferry sinks though.

I'd rather be wet and alive than dry and risking death inside a ferry.
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Old 07-02-2013, 07:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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sounds like a complete nightmare from start to finish.

a typical thai clusterfuck, where tourists are misled, gouged, intimidated and delayed by tour companies who refuse to co ordinate their operations for the benefit of the tourist, instead taking advantage of the lack of enforcement of regulations to retain hold of their illegal little fiefdoms in order to bully, cheat and scam.

the whole tourist industry, from the saccharine advertisements put out by the t.a.t. enticing people to visit "paradise", to the grubby taxi and jet ski gangs, is based on deception and intimidation of the customer, who for the sake of a peaceful life, pays up.

surely someone will have complained previously to nok air about the vans stealing their passengers and asking for money and lompraya staff trying to charge them, but of course local interests and a bought and disinterested police force will have shrugged their shoulders and said "they are only tourists, they are foreigners not thai, they will be back home soon, why should we give a fuck, the important thing is we are making money from them"

in this silly country deception rules, and it is hard to have any respect for these immoral and greedy people.
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Old 07-02-2013, 07:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickThai
I hung out at the Chumpon Train station for a bit, managed to buy a Pepsi (after some negotiation in Thai) for 25 baht (down from 40 baht).
Yep. Robbing fuckers at Chumphon train station.
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Old 07-02-2013, 11:17 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Good thread start, Rick. What a nightmare getting to Koh Tao. As some other posters have mentioned, pics would be great.
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Old 07-02-2013, 12:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for your story Rick....lessons or re enforcement of already held beliefs in how the Thai works and thinks abound in your post. still love the place but it certainly pays to be on ya toes
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Old 07-02-2013, 01:12 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Taking the cheap flight to Chumphon and all the hassle to get to Koh tao is a total pain in the arse.

Much rather train it from Bangkok to Chumphon and spend the day and night in Chumphon then next day out to Tao Or bite the bullet on cost and fly direct to Samui then Ferry to Tao.

Anyway, in high season whatever way you go its hard work simply because of the numbers of tourists hitting that Island these days.

Better to go in off season. Less muppets running around.
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Old 08-02-2013, 01:06 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks to all the posters. As far as pics, I've got hours of video, but I haven't had time to sort them out into stills. I'll try and get some pics in eventually.

As to all the hassles with the transfers and tickets, I've learned to pretty much accept that sort of thing. The key, I believe, is never get loud and agrumentative, just quietly stand your ground. An expat that was on the boat, told me that in 7 years with dealing with Thais, he said you always had to ask the same question at least 3 different times with different people. Otherwise, you will get the run-around and bad information.

Koh Tao Part 2.

Arriving two hours late, I went ahead and checked in with Big Blue Diving. Originally, I was scheduled to have an hour or so of video classes that evening, but due to the lateness, it was put off until 5:00pm the next day. No problem with me, because I really wanted to check into my AC room, shower, and get something to eat.

The manager (a knob named Luke), insisted that I leave my US Passport or a credit card with the office as a deposit against any room damages. I had copies of both my credit card and my passport, but he was pretty adament and insisted they had to be the actual things. I wound up leaving my credit card, but I was not a happy camper.

The room was in a section called Pra Wai (or something), the room was sparse, but clean and the AC worked perfectly. Likewise there was an old anlaog TV, but once it warmed up, it worked okay.

After showering and changing, I went downside and wondered around Koh Tao for a while. It was kind of a neat place (I was situated right in Sarriee Village), but it was way too overcrowded. Almost all of the tourists were young 20 and 30 somethings (I'm a few days away from turning 60), screaming around on rental motorbikes, drinking heavy, and partying loud.

I found a restaurant (across from Davey Jones Locker dive resort) where the food wasn't too bad and the prices reasonable.

I later found out that most of the Thais who lived and worked there where from Issan, so the Thai food definitely had an Issan bent.

I then went and had a Thai massage (300 baht) from a very young and strong Thai girl. I was talking to the owner (a very nice looking and well-dressed older lady) who told me the girl was just 15 and (of course) from Isaan.

I felt kind of bad that a girl that young had to leave her education and work that hard, so I wound up giving her a 500 baht tip.

Went back to my room and slept through to morning. I then got up and explored Koh Tao (at least Sarriee Village) some more. Basically just a couple of sois that were very crowded, the streets were reasonably clean, but jammed with young foreigners, restaurants and bars, and little stores selling clothing and brick bracks.

As far as the bars, most of them were big open places that served food and drink with music of some sort. Just the thing for young partiers, but not much to offer for sex tourists. That was probably the best thing about Koh Tao, was that there were no old men running around with young Thai hookers.

The bad thing was that there was way, way too many of the yound stud muffins running around bare chested, full of testoterone, and way too few girls (foreigners). However, there was quite a few foreign girls, plenty to keep things interesting for that age set.

One evening, I actually saw two 20 something girls heading towards the town center. One of them was crying and very upset, and the other was supporting her and taking her somewhere. I didn't ask, but it looked like one of the girls must have had something very traumatic happen to her (rape, perhaps?).

As for myself, I felt quite comfortable out and about, and never felt like I was in danger of being mugged (Unlike some places in Thailand, where you definitely have to be on your toes).

Of course, I never really got into the night scene, being much older than most of the other tourists, and a non-drinker to boot.

At 5:00 pm, I went to the designated class room and met my instructor ( a delightful Welshman name ANT), and the rest of the class; a couple of 20 somethings from California, a college-age guy from the Netherlands, and another guy, an Austrian who had worked in London as an investment broker (or something) for a few years before quitting his job and heading to Koh Tao. He was a really nice guy and a few years older than the others.

The evening's class consisted of filling out some paperwork about our health, signing some waivers, and then watching a couple of hours worth of video.

The thing a little off putting about the class, was the Instructor said we could either do PADI or SSI. He was very much biased towards SSI. We took a vote, and although myself and the Dutchman prefered PADI, the majority was for SSI and so SSI it was.

After the videos, we were to meet back at the same place tomorrow morning at 9:00 for some more videos. We were also given our SSI books (loaned out, not for keeps) and several pages of fill-in-the-blanks for homework.

Being a boring old man, I went back to my room and did most of my homework, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and promptly went to bed.

I hope this is not too boring, but Scuba Training is, after all, training.


I take up on days 3 and 4 tomorrow.

Regards,

Rick
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Old 08-02-2013, 08:18 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks for the TR. I find it very interesting as I may do the same when I retire here in the next couple of years.
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Old 08-02-2013, 08:25 AM   #12 (permalink)
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The manager (a knob named Luke), insisted that I leave my US Passport or a credit card with the office as a deposit against any room damages. I had copies of both my credit card and my passport, but he was pretty adament and insisted they had to be the actual things
what happens if you need to use your card for purchases whilst there, are you supposed to return to the hotel and ask to borrow your own credit card.
they can take an imprint for mini bar usage etc., but ive never heard of a hotel or guest house actually taking possession of a credit card or passport.

what is the name of this place? i think we should be told.


Quote:
I felt kind of bad that a girl that young had to leave her education and work that hard, so I wound up giving her a 500 baht tip.
very generous, but ultimately counter productive.
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Old 08-02-2013, 08:44 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Sounds interesting. This is why I drive everywhere and never use tour companies.

If I ever drop dead of a stroke or heart attack, I really, really, really hope my last moments on earth weren't spent with a full bladder whilst trying to get a 6 cent discount of the price of a trip to the pisser..
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Old 09-02-2013, 01:02 AM   #14 (permalink)
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One thing I left out on my 2d day on Koh Tao, was that as a Buddhist, I very much like to visit the local temples and so I walked to Koh Tao Temple which was a few klicks down the road from Sairee Village. It was in the early afternoon and quite hot, but I managed to get there after about an hour and a half walk (I generally walk at about 15 minuetes per mile, so you can figure out how far I walked).

Inside the Wat, was a monk setting on a couch inside the main hall. I waied him, and was surprised when he spoke in very clear English. It turns out he is a missionary monk and was scheduled to travel to Austria in a few weeks. He asked me if I would like to set and talk with him after I payed my respects to Buddha.

Of course I was thrilled to have the opportunity. I then went and prostrated myself to the statue of the Lord Buddha, paid homage, meditated for about 10 minutes or so, and then repeated the prostrating.

I went and sat at the feet of the monk, and after paying homage, we sat and talked. He was very much interested in giving a dhammatalk in English but unfortunately my Scuba training schedule precluded us from setting it up.

Still, after finishing up paying my respects to the Buddha and the ajarn, I felt very good about my trip.

Going back was much hotter (late afternoon), and without any more water (I had used up the two bottles I had started out with), I was really starting to suffer.

I kept plowing on, and after only a klick or so, I caught up with a song tao that had stopped to let some people off.

I asked him how much to ride to the 7-eleven in Sairee village and he replied, "How much you pay?". Being no stranger to Thai negotiating, I replied "Thirty baht". He countered with 100 baht and eventually we agreed on 50 baht, but I got to ride in front with him in the air conditioned cab.

Within a short time, we arrived at the destination, and I pulled out 3 20 baht notes to pay him. To my surprise, he said, "40 baht okay". I thanked him in Thai and told him he was a good person. This was not the first time, I have had a Thai actually turn down money or give me a surprise discount on an already agreed upon price.

Although, many foreigners are scammed and cheated regularly by Thais, occasionally, I get a glimpse into the generosity, warmth, and hospitality that does exist in the Thai culture.

It makes me wonder just how much of a negative impact, the Western influence has been on the Thai people. The lure of "easy money" and lucrative, but sometimes demeaning jobs, has cost, I believe, the Thai people dearly.

Got some errands to run, so I'll have to continue my trip report on another day.

Regards to all,

Rick
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:37 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Rick, I use to think that way on my first few trips to LOS. Rose colored glasses are a beautiful thing.

Enjoy!
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:44 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Regards the age thing.

Tis true that Koh Tao is inhabited by 20-30 somethings and an older punter can feel slightly out of place there these days.

Try Koh Chang out of Trad, much more older travelers there.
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Old 11-02-2013, 10:56 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry57 View Post
Regards the age thing.

Tis true that Koh Tao is inhabited by 20-30 somethings and an older punter can feel slightly out of place there these days.

Try Koh Chang out of Trad, much more older travelers there.
Actually,I have spent a couple of weeks on Koh Chang, and I agree there is a much more age diverse crowd, but I went to Koh Tao, especially to get my Open Water Scuba Certiffication (an old man playing a young person's game).
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Old 11-02-2013, 11:45 PM   #18 (permalink)
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nice detailed thread.
does not sound such a nightmare since you obviously anticipated the ticket scams, just annoying thats all.
the credit card thing so very weird though, once they have its details they can process any payment later anyway....
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Old 11-02-2013, 11:46 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Okay back to Koh Tao. The next morning (the 31st of Dec, it turns out), I showed up for the 9:00 class at Big Blue II (they have a pool at Big Blue II and not at Big Blue I).

Another morning was spent watching video's and filling in the blanks of our homework. Boring, but necessary training.

We broke for lunch and at 1:00 PM met at the pool do get some "hands on" training. We started out by having to swim 10 laps, any method. I had been practising swimming laps using a proper freestyle, so I had no problem knocking out 12 laps (although the pool water had a funny taste).

The other people in my class, eventually met the requirement using a combination of backstrokes, sidestrokes, dog paddles, or whatever. I estimate the pool was about 10 meters long, so I'm not sure if we did a full 200 meters or not.

We then had to tread water (or float on our backs) for 10 minutes or so. I had been training for this as well, so I had no problem treading the water (even doing 2 or 3 minues while holding my hands out of the water). The others did a combination of treading water and floating on their backs.

With the instructor satisfied, we all climbed out and then when to the gear room to get our BCD, snorkle and mask, fins, and tank.

We all gathered in a circular deck with our equipment. One of the local dogs had laid down in the center of the deck (no doubt because of the shade and cool breeze). Having bossed soi dogs around before, I order the dog to leave (in Thai). The dog got up and circled around, but really didn't want to leave. Using my best command voice, I yelled "Bai, Ma!). The dog then reluctantly left the deck.

The instructor and everyone was staring at me, so I joked, "For some reasons dogs understand my Thai perfectly, but people never do". That got a laugh and some smiles.

We then laid all our gear down in the spot where the dog had lain, and went through the instructions on how to attach everything together and then perform self-checks and buddy checks.

I usually wear hearing aids, so without my hearing aids I really had to struggle to follow all the directions. The instructor was really great though, and worked with me to ensure I eventually understood all the instructions.

I was paired up with the girl from California for the rest of the training, and into the pool we went. (One note: the instructor told us we would be in the pool for several hours, and if we needed to take a whiz we should do it now, since we wouldn't have time once we got in the pool).

So off into the water, with our scuba gear on. The instructor would then demo a certain skill and then we would have to deomonstrate to him, one at a time, underwater.

The skills were bascially, hand communications, clearing your mask of water underwater, removing and retrieving your regulator underewater (two methods), doing emergency surfacing using buddy breathing, manual inflation of your
BCD after surfacing, controlling your BCD to achieve neutral bouyancy, and a couple of other things (remembering to always breath, and never hold your breath underwater, controlling your ascent rate, etc).

If wasn't really difficult, provided you were comfortable underwater, and paid attention.

After a couple of hours, I had to pee pretty bad, so I just started letting it out a little at a time. An hour later, the girl was called to perform a task, and she stated that she had to pee. The instructor told her (and everyone else) to go ahead and pee in the pool as we didn't have enough time for people to get out of the pool, remove their gear, pee, gear back up.

She was embarrassed and didn't want to, but I told her she wasn't going to be the first to pee in the pool (now I know why the pool water tasted funny). The instructor then said, "Rick, you go ahead and demonstrate the task, while
finishes peeing."

The poor girl was really embarassed but went over to a corner of the pool and, I assumed, emptied her bladder. I'm sure all of the other guys (including the instructor) had been peeing in the pool all along.

After about 4 and 1/2 hours in the pool, we were finished with that phase of instruction. The instructor said we could swim around in the pool a while longer, keeping an eye on our remaining air supply. The girl got out immediately, but I swam around another 10 minutes or so, just so I could pee again.

Once everyone was out, we carried all our gear over to the equipment shack where we were taught how to rinse every thing out, and use the compressed air to dry out the rubber cap that is used to protect the air cylinder's connectors.

We were supposed to do our first dives on the following day, but the instructor asked us, if we were okay with taking a day off, due to New Year Eve. Everyone agreed to this, so I next training was scheduled for 2 Jan 2013.

I then grabbed a bite to eat at the Big Blue II restaurant (food was good and prices were not too bad) and returned to my room, where I showered off all the pee and then called my wife.

It was still early so I decided to go out and get another massage. This was the same place as before, but I got a different girl. This lady was older, married, and had a young son. She did a great job, and we talked a bit, as her English was much better than the 15 year old. I wound up giving her a 500 baht tip as well (I'm a sucker for a hardworking, attractive Thai lady). She kept inviting me to have dinner with her and the other massage girls, as the owner, had catered a nice Thai dinner for the employees. Despite her repeated requests I turned her down, as I felt the girls who worked so hard giving massages, deserved to be free of customers for a little while at least.

I really didn't feel like doing a whole lot after the massage, so I went back to my room and watched TV and fell asleep fairly early. I was awakened several times in the night by fireworks, but since I don't drink, I never went down to the beach to join the throngs of partying (and drunken) reveler's.

I awoke early the next morning, to find that someone had stolen my "Do Not Disturb" sign and placed it on their door. (The signs are handcarved, wooden plaques, and I had been told that some people steal them for soveigneers). I promptly went down the hall and recovered mine (I had marked it the first night, and my marks were on it), and from then on, I never used it, I just kept it in my room.

This day was pretty slow (New Years, so many of the younger tourists were sleeping it off), and I didn't do much other than walk down the beach until I reached the village where the temple was located. I did stop at a little store, where the owner sold "Handmade condoms, gauranteed to last 10 years".

I didn't buy any, but I did buy some cheap (250 baht) pants, as I was in shorts and decided to go to the temple.

At the temple I paid my respects and made some donations. I then walked back to Sairee Village, where I had lunch.

Being a Buddhist, I felt like I needed to do something more in terms of earning merit (which is a big deal on New Year's), so I came up with a plan that involves; lack of attachment to self, compassion, and denial of desire. The plan of course, involved a bargirl.

I will tell you about this on my next installment.

Regards,

RickThai
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Old 11-02-2013, 11:49 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by draco888 View Post
nice detailed thread.
does not sound such a nightmare since you obviously anticipated the ticket scams, just annoying thats all.
the credit card thing so very weird though, once they have its details they can process any payment later anyway....
Yeah, I'll get my credit card statement in a couple of days, and I'll check carefully for any unauthorized charges. I really don't expect any, but I'll be sure and let everyone know.

RickThai
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Old 12-02-2013, 12:44 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by draco888 View Post
nice detailed thread.
does not sound such a nightmare since you obviously anticipated the ticket scams, just annoying thats all.
the credit card thing so very weird though, once they have its details they can process any payment later anyway....
Yeah, I'll get my credit card statement in a couple of days, and I'll check carefully for any unauthorized charges. I really don't expect any, but I'll be sure and let everyone know.

RickThai
I meant there was no reason for them to physically hold it rather than any sneaky charges later.
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Old 13-02-2013, 11:18 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Now for my "merit making". I was hesitant to include this information, but I decided to open myself up to criticism and go ahead with it.

As a young, single man serving in Taipei, Taiwan and Camp Samae San, Thailand, I made frequent use (abuse) of the local prostitutes. This is something that I am not proud of today, but is a fact of my life.

Having gotten married in the mid-70s, I have not availed myself of their services. However, as a Buddhist, I thought that maybe I could earn some merit by taking out one of these girls and trying to show her a good time, without taking anything in return. I figured at the worst the girl would be making some easy money with no action requested or performed on her part.

On Koh Tao there is not much of a "girly" bar scene. You have to look carefully to find the few working girls that are there. I did locate a bar that had a mixed crowd, including 3 or 4 "sexily dressed" Thai ladys, which I presumed, correctly, were in fact "bargirls".

I ordered a coke (since I don't drink) and a couple of the girls glided over and enquired if I wanted to buy them drinks. I said no, and one of them quickly glided off. I spoke with the other girl for just a few minutes. She was young, in her late 20's, very pretty, with that classic Isaan face of wide-set eyes, high cheeckbones, and a smile to die for.

I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. She was quite surprised at that question and asked if I wanted more. "No just a walk', I replied. She quoted me a price for an hour of her time, and I countered with a price for two hours. She agreed, and I suggested that she change into less revealing clothes for our walk. She called over the bar owner, and I paid for the coke and the two hours of the girl's time. She asked me if I wanted to go to her room with her while she changed, and I declined saying I would just wait at the bar.

She came back in about 10 minutes or so, dressed in more normal attire (flip-flops, etc), but still had on some short shorts that showed off her gorgeous legs.

With no firm plan in mind, we started out just walking through Sairee Village. I was drawing a lot of glances from the younger tourists, as I looked like a Sex Tourist, being an old man with a much younger, and very pretty Thai lady.

I found myself taking her to the edge of town toward Big Blue Diving II were I had been training and eating there regularly at the restaurant.

I was greeted with some unfavorable glances from an older Thai man that worked there (kind of like a guard), but him and I had become friendly so he let us pass without comment.

I wasn't hungary and the girl said she wasn't hungary either, so I wound up buying her "nam som" (orange juice). We set down close to the beach, listening to some soft music, while we got acquainted. It was much like a real date (something I had not experienced in almost 40 years). I found out that she was from the Northeast, had a two-year child that lived with her parents. She had been married at one time, but something happened (I didn't ask what), and she became a single-parent and wound up heading to the islands to work as a bargirl.

After a bit, the music at the place became somewhat irritating (by design maybe) and I suggested we walk down the beach.

After a bit, we came to a rather more upscale resort that had a really nice massage deck. I asked the girl if she wanted a massage, and she replied that she had never had one before.

So I took her up the stairs to the massage deck, where I drew quite a lot of evil looks from the massage staff. There were only a couple of foreigners (two ladies - one old and one hot) getting massages, so the girl talked with the massage lady and decided upon sitting in one of the chairs and getting a foot/leg massage instead of the full-body massage that most foreigner get.

I sat down on the couch next to a twentysomething French girl who's friend (the younger lady) was getting an oil massage. We chatted with each other quite comfortably as my "date" started getting her massage.

At first the girl looked uncomfortable and the massage lady (and a couple other staff members) were giving me and the girl dirty looks.

I wondered if perhaps this was a mistake.

After about 15 minutes the girl's look changed as if she were about to cry. I think at this time, she was appreciating the fact that I had paid for the massage without getting anything (at least up front) in exchange.

I smiled at her reassuringly and kept chatting with the French girl. After a little while, the girl had closed her eyes and started enjoying the feel of the massage. This went on for about 20 minutes and after about the 40 minute mark (of a one hour massage), something wonderfull happened. The girl had relaxed enough to that she began talking to the massage lady, and gradually her personality started shining through. The massage lady had responded and now they were both talking and laughing like old friends.

By now the French girl and her friend had taken leave, and I was able to concentrate on the girl's interaction with the massage staff. Now both the massage lady and the massage lady at the table next to her were both beaming at me!

As I watched the massage lady lift and massage the girl's legs, I wondered what in the hell am I doing? I should be enjoying that girl up in my room!.

I thought of my original intentions and decided to remain true to my merit making. If I were to use this girl, my karma would certainly suffer, long after any enjoyment had fled.

The massage was finished, so I paid the 300 baht and tipped the massage lady another 100 baht. Everyone was happy and friendly as we left.

We walked back to the Big Blue II restaurant and talked a bit, but again the music turned irritating so we left and started walking back toward town.

She told me how "This was the first time anyone (her customers) had ever done something that nice for her." As we left the Big Blue II resort, she stopped at the exit from the hotel area, she looked at me and then looked at the rooms.

That was my queue to take her to my room (although my room was actually in a separate hotel down the road), but I just smiled at her and we resumed walking.

She kept telling me how happy she felt and started nuzzling my arm as we walked. She told me how she wanted to spend some time with me, and I told her that I knew that someday she would find someone her own age and that they would be happy. She told me that she preferred older men, and then asked me if I was married. I told her that I was married to a wonderful Thai lady, and had been for 38 years. That kind of caused an unseen barrier to drop between us, and we chatted about mundane things from then on (Do you have a motorbike? No, I'm too poor. , etc).

I had about 15 minutes left of the two hours and she asked me if I would see her tommorrow. I answered truthfully, "I'm not sure."

To be honest, I had become more attached to the girl in our two hours, than I would have ever thought possible. I asked her about the price for all night and she gave me a very reasonable price (hardly more than the two hour price).

At that point, I said goodbye (and had to resist the urge to give her a hug, or a peck on the cheek).

I went back to my room, and contemplated the emotions (desire, longing, etc) and then meditated for a bit. Remembering the Four Noble truths, the Five Precepts, and the Eightfold path, I realized the truth of the Dhamma, and quite contented I went to bed.

Although I was tempted to seek out the girl again and spend some time with her, I never did, as I knew no good would come of it.

Looking back, there is no doubt in my mind, that I made the right choices in not sleeping with her and not seeing her again.

Still, I can see why so many foreigners fall in love (and sometimes get ripped off) by those gorgeous bargirls.

RickThai
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Old 14-02-2013, 11:12 PM   #23 (permalink)
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The next day (2 Jan ) was cloudy and overcast. It had rained hard during the night and seas were still rough.

It was the first day for our training dives, so my class (along with about 30 other people) loaded up onto a longtail (from Big Blue I) for the short trip to the dive boat.

The seas were heaving fairly strong and I managed to skin my shin as I climbed from the longtail up onto the dive boat. One of the crew found some black electical tape which I used to halt the bleeding.

After everyone was on board, we had a rolling, ride through the swells to our dive location, about 30 minutes away. Once we had anchored, the different classes started gearing up, and stepping off into the sea.

Our turn came, and, due to my bouyancy, I was carrying over 9 kilos of weight. Walking about with all that weight was a little tricky, on the wet, rolling deck. Standing on the deck with all the weight, it was kind of difficult to put on the fins (which they made you carry until you were at the stern, ready to dive). I finally got them on, and off into the deep blue (gray actually).

Once in the water, we bobbed about for a bit, and then followed an anchor line down until we were near our dive depth. Once everyone was ready (ears equalized, etc.) we followed our instructor down and to a sandy spot (we were at Japanese Gardens). Underwater was much nicer than on the surface or on the dive boat.

I had a couple of minor issues at that time. I had a partially healed scrape on my left leg, and these tiny fish (about 3 or 4 inches) long, would dart in and take a bite. At first it only tickled, but as they ate away the scab and started in on the fresher tissue, it started feeling more like painful little bites. The little buggers kept at it the entire time I was on the bottom.

The other issue was that my regulator was constantly seeping seawater as I breathed in or out. It wasn't a whole lot of water, but unfortunately I had swallowed a fair amount of seawater, before I learned to just spit it out.

Still the training and dive went along quickly and was enjoyable. When we finally surfaced, it was about 150 meters or so from the dive boat and down current.

By that time I had some painful blisters on my heels from the fins, and was feeling a little queasy from the seawater I had swallowed. Along with the others, I started swimming on our backs slowly through the cold, heaving seas against the current.

We finally got up to the end of our dive boat. By that time, I wasn't really feeling that great and wasted a lot of time by overswimming my target. Finally the instructor swam over and asked if I wanted a tow. I was cold, tired, feeling a little nauseous, and each kick caused my heels to hurt, so I swallowed my pride and said sure. He towed and I kicked the last 20 feet to the stern.

Now this turned out to be the most difficult part for me, on this dive and the other three dives. The stern of the boat was heaving up and down several feet in the water. Grasping a hold of the ladder, I worked hard to remove my fins without dropping them into the water. I then handed these up to the waiting crew member.
Now for the painful part, firmly grasping the ladder, I carefully placed each foot on the round bars of the ladder. As I slowly climbed up, the weight on my feet, due to the dive gear and the extra weight (9.2 kgs) was fairly painful. Slowly and carefully I climbed without mishap, but is was still an unpleasant part of each dive (even when the ocean had calmed down a bit).

I suppose that a ladder with flat steps would be less painful, and if I didn't have to carry so much extra weight, it would also make that part less unpleasant.

I don't know, maybe that is just part of Scuba Diving. At any rate, I got back up on deck, and got my gear stored.

I really wasn't feeling too well at this point, and I noticed some of the other divers looked to be in even worse shape. One poor girl, (Japanese, I think) was extremely seasick (she had started becoming seasick on the trip out) and was really suffering.

I retreated to the dry cabin, ate a couple of protein bars and drank a liter or so of water. My instructor came in to check on me, and I told him I wasn't sure if I would be able to do the next dive, as I wasn't really feeling up to it.

He told me to rest, and if I didn't make the next dive, I could be rescheduled for later (apparently this happens fairly regularly - especially with rough seas).

I stretched out on the couch and rested while the dive boat lifted anchor and moved out to the next dive site. By the time we were ready to dive again (about an hour or a half), I felt much better and was ready to dive again.

The second dive was much easier as the seas had calmed somewhat, and I had little trouble the entire dive (I had taped up my partially-healed scrape as well).

The instructor had found me another regulator and although this one was really old-looking, it worked perfectly and I had no more trouble with seawater seeping in.

When we surfaced to exit, we were fairly close to our dive boat, and although the instructor swam over to see if I wanted a tow, I told him "Thanks, but I'm good."

Climbing back up the ladder was still a little unpleasant, but I knew what to expect and had no real difficulty.

The trip back to Koh Tao was really upbeat for everyone, except the Japanese lady, she was still extremely seasick, and everyone felt kind of sorry for her. Still, she was a real trooper and managed to complete her dives.

After I got back to shore, I went to my room and cleaned up, grabbed a quick bite to eat. I was really tempted to drop in on my "date" from the preceding night, but I realized that any further contact would not do her, or me any good, and in fact, might undo, whatever "good" that might have come from my attempt at "merit making".

I slept well that night and woke up to a beautiful and sunny morning for my next two dives.

I will go into that in my next installment.

Cheers,

RickThai
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Old 15-02-2013, 10:59 PM   #24 (permalink)
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This concludes my trip to Koh Tao.

On the 3rd of January, my class and I took our last two qualifying dives. The weather was perfect and the dives were very enjoyable (not like the first dive).
The only unpleasant part was still having to climb up on the round rungs of the ladder at the conclusion of the dives (I need to loose some weight so I don't have
to carry so much lead ballast to overcome my bouyancy.

Everyone sucessfully concluded their dives, including the Japanese lady who had been so seasick previously. I had to admire her determination.

After returning to Koh Tao, we met around 7:00 PM to watch a video that Big Blue Diving had made of our training sessions and dives. The video was made by a professional videographer and was quite good. Most of the people in my class purchased the DVD, but I didn't, primarily because I was still pissed that they didn't let me use my Hero3 while doing my dives.

Unfortunately the SSI certifation cards weren't available the next day when I was leaving the island. I stopped by in the morning and thanked the instructor and then it was off to the pier to catch the Lomprayah to Koh Samui. NOTE: The second morning I was on Koh Tao, I went to a travel agent and bought my ticket to Lomprayah. This was 6 days before my scheduled departure. It was a good thing, because by midweek, the Lomprayah was SOLD OUT. Always get your tickets immediately if you are going to island- hop, otherwise you might have to change your itinerary.

At the ferry, it was the same old thing. Wait in line to show your receipt to the person had the ticket window, get your ticket, and then wait in another line for an hour or so to board the ferry.

The trip to Koh Samui was relatively fast, even with a short stop to load/unload passengers at Koh Phangan.

Once I was at Koh Samui, there were mini-bus transfers available to Chaweng, and Lamie. The cost was only 150 baht, but there were hundreds of people quequed up to get on the buses.

I walked over toward the parking lot and was met halfway by a guy who said "Taxi to Chaweng, 400 baht." Since Chaweng was about 25 km or so away. I thought that seemed reasonable (besides I was tired and wanted to get to my resort).

Once we entered the parking lot, I discovered that the "Taxi" was a motorcycle taxi!

No way, I said, and immediately the motorcycle taxi started trying to negotiate. Even though I had two small bags (a 17" roll on, and sling-type gym bag), the motorcycle taxi driver (an older man) convinced me there would be no problem.

I finally agreed to the trip for 300 baht. So with the roll-on sitting between the driver's legs, and the other bag resting on my right thigh, away we went.

The ride was actually quite pleasant. The traffic wasn't too bad and we made pretty good time. Except for a few wet spots (I guess people hosed down parts of the road), the road was good and dry.

The only bad thing that happened, was about half-way through the trip my cell phone vibrated out of my pocket. I didn't notice this until later. The phone wasn't worth a lot, and only had a 200 baht worth of service left, but still it was a major inconvenience, since I had been using the cell phone to keep in touch with my wife, who was going to fly in to Koh Samui a little later in the afternoon.

Oh well, no use crying over spilt milk. The driver delivered me to my hotel (Baan Samui) safe and sound (minus my cell phone) and I went ahead and tipped him an extra 20 baht (I really do like to reward good, honest service).

I checked in at Baan Samui. The resort itself was fairly nice, and was located right in the heart of Chaweng Beach, making it easy to get around to restaurants, etc.

My wife got in an hour or two later and it was really nice to see her again. Our room was a little outdated, but had all the conveniences. The resort had a really nice swimming pool and a restaurant located right on the beach. There was plenty of beach towels and chairs/umbrellas to go around.

The only complaints I had, was that the air conditioner put out air that was a little musty (probably due to all the humidity on Koh Samui - which I didn't have on Koh Tao) and the prices at the restaurant were a little steep (900 baht for a dinner for two). All in all, a nice place, but in my opinion a little over-priced ($750.00 for 3 nights).

Still it included breakfast which was quite adequate (Thai and English food - including fruits, cheeses, and eggs to order).

We were a little disappointed in the ocean, as it was fairly featureless, with a constant tide. Not one of the better beaches that I have experienced.

We tried a few restaurants with mixed results. We found a place called "Chili" or "Chilis" that we really liked. The food was great and the prices were reasonable. We got to where we ate most of our meals there while in Chaweng.

After 4 days, we were set to go to Lamie Beach. We were booked at a place called "Lamie Wanta". My wife insisted we take a taxi as she didn't want to hassle with a song tao while carrying all our luggage.

The taxi driver wanted 500 baht to go to Lamie Beach. Since it is only 5 or 6 kms, I thought this was ridiculous and said "No Way".

I was ready to walk, but my wife really didn't want to go look for a song tao, so finally, I got the driver to agree to 400 baht. The drive to the resort was short and uneventful.

Once we got to the resort, we had to wait an hour or so before our room was ready, but the staff was very nice and kept our bags (locked thoroughly of course) while we roamed around the area.

After a while the room, was ready and we followed the guy to our room. The room was on the second floor and there apparently was no elevator, so we had to carry our bags up. Thankfully, both my wife and I had packed light so it wasn't really a problem.

The room itself was fairly new, and although there wasn't as many extra touches, it was comfortable and clean. The resort grounds were quite nice and the lobby had free DVDs and video games that could be checked out.

The beach area had plenty of chairs and towels available, but the pool was quite small and not very deep. Totally unsuitable for swimming laps. The beach itself was even less inviting than Chaweng beach. I'm convinced the people who go to Koh Samui have never spent any time on a really decent beach (one with palm trees for shade, a large reef, that was accessible from shore for snorkeling, etc.)

The restaurant food was good and not too bad as far as prices.

I believe the room rate was around $60.00 a night, so it was much cheaper than Baan Samui. All in all, we enjoyed the resort and found it to be a better value than Baan Samui.

Lamie itself, however, was a great disappointment. The place was extremely filthy (even for Thailand), overcrowded, and we could not find a decent restaurant.

McDonalds became our place of choice. I even got sick one night from eating some garlic fried chicken at one restaurant. Fortunately, I was able to upchuck everything within an hour or two of dining, and had no long term effects.

Other than tons of "girly bars", I have no idea why people spend their vacation dollars on such a rat's nest.

Just my opinion of course. We managed to get "grandfather and grandmother rock" via song tao, but some of the things we wanted to do (tiger zoo, etc) were ridiculously expensive (in terms of transportation and entry fees), so we didn't do much at Lamie. The 3 days passed (not quickly enough) and I can't tell you how glad my wife and I were to leave Lamie.

We had found a travel agent on our 2d day in Lamie, and we had bought our Lomprayah tickets and a transfer (only 150 baht) to the pier that would take us to Sarat Thani.

Even though, I had tried to prepare my wife on what to expect at the pier, she was still amazed at all of the hassle. Wait in line at the ticket office to get your tickets and the color-coded stamps for your luggage. Transport your luggale about a half mile down the pier to the Lomprayah boats. Wait out in the sun for another hour or so to get loaded on the boat.

Lomprayah is kind of a pain!

Still we both were so happy to leave Koh Samui. I never plan to go back there. The only decent parts of the island seem to be on the south end and southwest. The transfer from Lamie took us over that route, and those areas seemed much more "Thai" and less touristy. Perhaps they might make a nice place to live, but I really had a bad taste from my week at Chaweng and Lamie.

As far as I'm concerned, the Russians can have it!

Rick
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Old 16-02-2013, 01:12 PM   #25 (permalink)
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A great trip report Rick. Lamai village and the adjoining beach are very disappointing and don't have a very good atmosphere about them.We do like the south end of Chaweng beach as it is clean and gentle enough for the Dragon Lady to swim in.

As for losing weight to reduce your buoyancy,I'm not too sure that would work.I am only about 70kgs and I am very buoyant and carry 6-7 weights don't know why but it is a pain getting back on board as you say.Wait until you try some pier diving and have to get up one of those long ladders.Good luck.
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