Little under a month since my medical emergency in Thailand and it was time to resume travel again. This is, of course, what I love about travel in the first place. The new sights, smells and sounds that repeatedly hit you in a way only Asia can. This was going to be post Op backpacking at its best. Wait this was also going to be the first time as well truth be told. We made sure it wasn’t a mad rush and that we didn’t have to travel too far. As such we were only catching the ferry and bus to Surat Thani the main town which was about 102km to the southwest, 2/3rds of that on water. Boring stuff such as paying final bills at Haad Salad Villas was finalised and due to the extreme length of stay, we were offered free transfers to Thong Sala the main town and ferry port on Koh Phangan.
Picking a noon high-speed ferry meant that we didn’t have to make a mad scramble in the morning to get to the ferry but also didn’t arrive late and in the dark. See it pays to check and compare both price and times. Also, the kind man didn’t take the commission from the ferry tickets which made it actually 1/5th cheaper than if we had booked directly with the ferry company. Soon enough the time had arrived and we were to see if I could actually do this post Op backpacking business? Nope. No, it wasn’t that I couldn’t do it but didn’t get the chance as my beautiful bestie took my pack and headed up to the car.
Arriving at the wharf we swap the receipt for the tickets and we wait for the ferry. Shooting off to grab a few sandwiches for all while we wait we find the town alive with a market that we know nothing about. Still, the kids loved seeing the squirrels and hedgehogs at the pet stall. Back at the dock, the ferry arrives as does my moment of truth.
Can’t go back so fingers crossed we can go forward. Alyson takes my day pack as well as her packs. Putting my pack on I leave the waist strap off and gingerly stand up. No dramas at all. I can’t feel anything around the whole area and start walking. Of course, at only 15kg I doubt it was ever going to give me much grief but there you go we had successful post Op backpacking at its finest. Even if it lasted for all of 6 minutes as we dumped the packs once inside the ferry.
For unknown reasons ( I suspect the river isn’t big enough for all the traffic) most of the ferries from the islands land at the peninsula called Donsak which is nearly 50km from Surat Thani town. All the companies have buses though and you can actually go anywhere you want from the airport to Bangkok.
Again the bus was about 10m from the ferry so no problems there and we rode into town. A massive coach and all 8 passengers… Still, room for all and the journey was uneventful. The sun was shining and we were making good time. We hadn’t booked a hotel as there just didn’t seem to be any good ones on the internet that were charging a reasonable rate. No matter we would find somewhere we always did.
About 10 minutes out from our stop the heavens opened. Now not a drizzle but a torrential downpour that left the road covered in about 15cm of water everywhere. It was still chucking it down as we arrived at the side of the road and were suddenly out into the weather backpacks and all.
As is the norm in Asia we were surrounded by touts and asked where we were going. As usual, we played it straight and said we had to find a hotel. As long as you have done your research and stick to your guns you can make sure that the touts work for you, not the other way around.
Experience over time also helps as does not being in rush of course. Alyson went off with Ollie to look at a hotel around the corner and despite being wet came back happy with what she had found. Result and now after waiting all day I was to see how I would go walking the 500m or so to the hotel. Backpack on and I started my post Op backpacking shuffle. Smaller deliberate steps had me moving at a steady rate. I arrived and took off the pack and Vola there was no pain and I was fine.
Did the usual such as passports and paying and then we headed up to the room and to relax after what had really been a pretty relaxing day already. All settled in and without any pain in sight there was a knock at the door and a pot of tea was being served. A perfect way to cap off the first day back.