The second leg of the train trip from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Surat Thani was interesting to say the least. After I finished the previous blog entry in the waiting area of the Bangkok train station, my train to Surat Thani pulled into the station. I put my bike into the cargo car at the front of the train and made my way to my car in the back. I plopped into my chair with my 7-11 peanuts and prepared myself for the 14 hr train journey ahead of me.
I spent the first few hours reading Vagabonding. Once the sun went down I checked my email and opened one from the Indian Visa department. They asked for a photo of my passport and a selfie, so I prettied myself up and sent some pics to the Indian government for my visa. They were very pleased and approved me almost immediately.
And now I’m cleared for India!
I fell asleep in the best position I could get in the 2nd class seating car of the train.
I woke up at 1am to the train stopping at a station a few hundred kilometers from my stop. All of the sudden the train was flooded with vendors trying to sell food and yelling at the top of their lungs about it. No regard for the sleeping people. But I can’t complain because I was hungry and the rice, pork and basil hit the spot for a midnight snack.
The train pulled into Surat Thani at 3am. I ran to the end of the train to pick up my bike and made it just before the train left.
Now I had two options since it was 3am and I still had to get to the ferry port. I could either fall asleep for a few hours at the train station and get rid of my sleep deprivation a bit or I could ride 90km to the ferry.
The ride was terrifying.
I’ve done a few night rides. They’re really peaceful when the sun is setting behind you then you get a chill ride for a few hours in the cold night air. It’s not as peaceful coming off the train at 3am. Especially where I was.
Coming out of Surat Thani was nice. I took highways because they were the most direct and no one was on the road so early. Once I left the city I was riding in forests and my light was slowly dying.
About an hour in, I’m riding in pitch black with a sim light and dogs barking in the distance and all of the sudden I hear an electronic click and a line of speakers starts playing what sounds like a very old audio recording of a Thai man for a few, then it switches to what sounds like traditional Indian instrumental music for a few minutes, then just radio static for a good ten minutes.
I’ll tell ya, riding in pitch black with a dying light and not much sleep is pretty scary. Riding with all those factors plus radio static coming from mystery forest speakers makes it so much worse.
I finally made it to a little convenience store on the side of the road where I got to stop for some coffee. When I got back on the road I had made it mostly out of the forest and the sun was starting to come up.
I got to the ferry port at 9:30 in the morning right as it started raining with 90 kilometers under my belt. I took shelter in a cafe near the pier until 11 when I got on my ferry.
I decided to sit outside on the ferry and as we were leaving I saw maybe five dolphins jumping out of the water 20 meters from the ferry. I tried to catch it on camera but I could only catch their fins coming out of the water.
I sat on the deck of the ferry in my rain jacket for the duration of the boat ride and I finished my book. When I got off the boat it was very cloudy but not raining. Five minutes into my ride however, it started down-pouring. I pulled into an alley under an awning to stay dry and a man named Jeremy invited me into their building. I got to talking with Jeremy and the staff and found out it was the first secondary school on Koh Phangan. They invited me to join them on Monday to give a presentation to the 7-9 graders about my trip.
I mentioned in the last post, but for a reminder, I met Tai and Kaili in Pai and they invited me to join them on Phangan for the Full Moon Party.
I met up with Tai and Kaili again after hiding from the rain at the school. They were staying at a bungalow right on the water on the south side of the island. I set up my sleeping pad and bag on their floor and we went out to dinner to catch up.
The next day was the Full Moon Party so we moved to another place near the beach. The reviews on the place made it sound horrid but it was cheap so we booked it. The place ended up being really nice and it even had two beds in the room so I had one too.
We had a great time at the party that night dancing on the beach and doing some fire jump roping.
The next day we took advantage of my camp stove and went to the Makro grocery store for ingredients to make a good meal.
Kaili volunteered as Head Chef because she used to be a chef at home while Tai and I were here sous chefs.
We had tons of ideas for a meal, but not a lot of money so we bought some cheap pasta at the store and veggies at the street market. Kaili made her famous sauce recipe and Tai and I made the appetizers.
I was the only one with dishes so we all shared out of one pot with my silverware and ate on the beds. The meal was delicious.
I had my presentation at the school in the morning before we left for Koh Tao. I set up a presentation for it and rode my bike over to the school. I was only supposed to present to the 9th graders and be there for an hour but I ended up staying for four hours and presenting to the 7-9th graders and joining them for lunch. I had such a good time presenting. I was kind of nervous about it before, but then I remembered I love talking about the trip so it kind of just flowed naturally as I went. The kids had tons of questions for me. Especially the 7th graders who were doing a project on leaving legacies for their literature class and they all had to interview me for their projects.
The school lunch at that school was so good too. We had Indian food that was cooked by the in-house chef’s. Way better than Saint Paul Public School meals. I hope Lunch Lady Henry is serving meals this good to his students at home right now.
We got on the boat to Koh Tao an hour later and I started a connect four tournament with some people on the boat while Tai and Kaili napped.
When we got off the boat we checked into our bungalow which was even fancier than the last. With a kind sized bed for Tai and Kaili, a twin for me and a big bathroom. I ended up sleeping in my hammock most nights there.
After dropping our stuff we made our way over to Tanote Bay where I went cliff jumping on christmas and Tai and I jumped off the rock. I inhaled a bit of water but it was still very fun. I ended up with random water leaks coming out of my nose for a few days, that was really weird.
We spent most of Koh Tao hanging out on the beaches and driving down the windy hilly roads around the island. We found one place that had happy hour pizzas for ฿100 ($3) so we had that a few times too.
We spent one day at a super fancy resort beach and hung out like rich people all day. We couldn’t buy anything though because all the prices for meals were so high. A Pad Thai is normally about $1.50 and there it was $5 since we were spoiled by Thai cheap prices $5 was super bougey expensive for us. The beach was amazing though. White sands and crystal clear waters.
Later that day we went up the the Koh Tao viewpoint and gazed over the ocean for a while until some kids started doing gymnastics by us. I transitioned from watching the sea to a gymnastics competition with these Thai kids. I won in the Bridge and Cartwheel competition and lost at everything else. But I wasn’t expecting to win anything with by very inflexible body so I was happy with why I got.
The next morning we went back to Tanote Bay for some snorkeling but the water was pretty rough and we couldn’t see anything. Instead, Kaili and I went climbing on some of the rocks around the bay. Tai was sick so he stayed back on the chairs on the beach. It was crazy watching all the blue waves crash into the rocks and sea walls and just shoot straight into the air. Very different from the lakes in the Twin Cities.
We spent the rest of the day obsessing over Himalayan trekking routes before Tai and Kaili had to leave the island to start their journey to Nepal. I stayed for one more night before I made my way back to Koh Phangan. I spent the day on Phangan waiting for the night ferry back to Surat Thani where I’d meet up with Ben in a few days.
Another piece of background on the trip for new readers: I met Ben while riding across Europe. We met at a hostel in Venice and we travelled together for a few weeks. He went home about a month later and I went to Thailand. Then I convinced him to come travel Thailand and to my surprise he actually flew out and landed in Phuket on March 2.
I biked around Phangan for a few hours just killing time until the ferry. I ended up on the end of a pier and hung out there watching the action on the sea for a few hours. I tested out my new tripod and took some photos including the new photo on the main page of the blog which got put on some biking Instagram pages which was pretty cool.
At 9 I got onto the night ferry back to Surat Thani which was fully outfitted with beds on the floor. After watching my bike get on the boat safely, I conked out on the bed and woke up at 4am arriving in Surat Thani.
Surat Thani is not the most entertaining place, so I spent the next day walking around the city just watching the action and a few hours taking my bike apart to get ready for the plane until Ben arrived.
The plan was to stay in Surat Thani for the week we had together, but I seriously couldn’t find anything to do in that city so we went back to Koh Tao instead and spent our week there.
We stayed at BlackWood Hostel and had the dorm room to ourselves for the first few days. I gave Ben a full tour of the island for the first two days then we explored new areas for the next two.
We spent a lot of time swimming in different parts of the island, we checked out the mountain top bars, I taught Ben how to drive the scooter and we ate lots of good food.
I had a great time seeing Ben again. It was a really good way to end my time in Thailand, passing the torch onto the next traveller.
I caught another night ferry back to Surat Thani on the 8th and woke up in town on the 9th at 4am. I walked a mile back to the hostel where I left my stuff and got all my packing finalized for my trip to India. I’m waiting my flight now. Excited to see a new country and even more excited to see my dad for the first time in seven months when he’ll meet me at the airport in Cochin, India.
WarmShowers released a podcast featuring me and named after the blog a few days ago. If you want to check it out here’s the link. Or go to the Bike Life Podcast wherever you get your podcasts and look for the episode called Two Wheels One World.
And if anyone is interested in starting their own bike trip be sure to use my links to get your best gear set up and help fund my trip at the same time!