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GETTING THERE



The reason I have time to write this is that I am in bed. Sick. Yes, after only a week in Thailand I have already made the acquaintance of a few classic travel hazards, some of them specialities of Thailand. Slight food poisoning and a Bangkok Bus scam are neck on neck in my book.
The true beauty of the thing is that both occured at the same time and
together they created the wonderfully intense experience that is the backpackers nightmare.

But before I get into dirty details about the intimate relationship I developed with a thai bus toilet, I want to tell you about my week in Ton Sai and first and foremost about getting there.


DECEMBER  4th, 17:30

I´ve been on the road for 3 days straight.
Plane. Plane. Bus. Train. Bus. Taxi. Longtail.

Vienna - Dubai
Dubai - Bangkok
Bangkok - Surathani
Surathani - Krabi
Krabi - Ton Sai

I cannot count going to the airport as my starting point because I still had my home with me. All the way to the gate.

VIENNA - DUBAI

Small children on planes. Who said they don´t have class conscience? The little boy in economy, two rows in front of me, just wouldn´t be outdone by the child in first class.
Friendly rivalry turned into a full blown fight around midnight. Wedged between a giant paramilitary american and darkhaired lady with a face splitting grin, I had missed the chance to reach for my earplugs.

DUBAI - BANGKOK


Bliss. First row in economy. Meaning you can stretch your legs without intense yoga beforehand. Conveniently close to the toilet for those who are not disgusted by it. After two meals of airplane food you won´t be. *

BANGKOK - SURAT THANI


Once you arrive in Thailand the first thing you notice is how your face seems to slowly melt off of your head. That´s what humidity is. All the people that live in the crammed compressor cooker that is Bangkok have left something of themselves behind in the air. A definite sense of "personality" hits you as you take a breath.
It´s quite easy getting from Suvarnabhumi airport to Hua Lamphong trainstation by public transport. My train is late.
The second class on a thai train is realtively comfortable. There is even a kind of "board service". Consisting of a bored looking thai girl with bleached hair pushing a airplane-style trolley down the aisle while texting with her other hand. The illegitimate child of a towel and a blanket is distributed. Sleep ensues until a child starts to complain with a disgruntled wail.

SURAT THANI - KRABI
As I step off the train and pull out my wallet I notice that I have (probably) left my debit card in the ATM at Bangkok airport. I expect a short hot-cold flash from my body, but it is too tired.  Oh well, still have the credit card left, so no reason to panic, right?
A short bus ride takes me to the main bus station of Surat Thani. The humidity combined with the fumes that enter through the constantly open bus door make me queasy.
Now I am moving without a distinct plan or booked ticket. Get to Krabi. Somehow.
As I get off the bus it becomes painfully clear to me that being a bleached blonde westerner girl in a thai city definitely...sucks. Insecurity starts to seep into my worldly wise travel act. Contraditictive information, lack of sleep, the lewd grin of the bus driver that pats the place beside him as an invitation to sit for me. The bus ticket that is nothing more than a dodgy sticker sporting KRABI in shaky handwritting. All that finally gets to me. I feel the glasshards of panic seep through my system.
The The only westener on the bus I have barricaded myself behind my backpack towards the back of the bus.
Condensed water drips from the cracked ceiling of the bus. 
Aircondition is on full blast as much as the radio that I can still hear clearly through my earlplugs. Stories of Thai bus scams run through my head and I try my best not to fall asleep. Of course I fail miserably and soon my open mouthed head is lolling against the window.
I am woken by the feeling of someone looking at me. Sure enough as I open my eyes I am confronted with two black eyes further up the bus. A little boy gives me a mischievous smile. He turns in his seat every few minutes as if to check that I am still there.



KRABI - AO NANG



Shortly before the last stop a thai lady in the seat in front of me hands me back some deeps fried banana (or whatever it was) with a motherly smile. I probably look a bit pale right now, even for a farang.
Finally I arrive at Krabi, completely exhausted.
I call Laura.

- Hey! Where are you.
- At the bus station.
- Which bus station?
- I don´t know. The one they dropped me off at. Where are you?
- At the bus station.
- Which bus station.
- The main bus station.
- Where is that?
- I don´t know.

After half an hour of fruitless phone calls and wandering we realize that the main busstation is a five minute walk away from the place I have been dropped off. Oh well,
shit happens but we wipe our asses and move on, as Laura likes to say.
The only really annoying thing about that was the thai taxi drivers laughing in my face not telling me where the bus station was.
My annoyance soon melts away as I sit in the back of a thai taxi together with Laura and Ramon, catching my first glimpse of the indian ocean.
I drift around while my two travelbuddies organize a longtailboat to Ton Sai.

AO NANG - TON SAI


As I step off the boat on Ton Sai beach, soaking my shoes, I have lost count of the hours I spent travelling to get here. Autopilot. Not really noticing the incredible landscape around me. Movie set. Travel props. It´s all still a dream. I remind myself that this is why I did it the hard way. Taking the train and the bus from Bangkok to Krabi instead of a cheap and comfortable flight I easily could have booked.
Backpacker romanticism. Inconvenience as adventure. After one week of travelling I am duly cured of this notion.
People who know me will probably chalk that up to my late twenties cynicsim. BUT.
Anyone who, after constantly throwing up on a, horribly air conditioned, fourteen hour bus ride, will have their priorities readjusted.
Not that I am complaining after I have hugged my first real palm tree.



*SIDENOTE - airplane food

It keeps you immobile! Not only because it sinks into your digestive system with an inevitable stonelike quality, but because it literally keeps you in place, quite literally.

Sitting in your small seat (economy) your seatbelt is fastened. Your elbows and legs are slightly drawn in to minimize the chance of touching your plane neighbors. A cushion is pushed behind your head and a blanket draped over your lap and legs. Now the headphones that limit your motion range to cautios jerks. Now the food arrives. Little lego portions of a meal that require constant rearrangement of a fragile balance. A miniature culinary puzzle. There´s always chicken and ...something else. Every time you move something threatens to fall. While these layers gently but firmly hold you in place suddenly a very natural urge comes over you. How the hell will you get up and out of your seat to use the toilet?