Arriving in Thailand was an assault to the senses. Everything about it is the opposite to what I have left. It is sticky, hot, foreign; new. Full of backpacks, maps, sun hats and excitement. Mine was all still packed away. I felt outside of it all. I had a big, black suitcase, the remnants of Korea packed tightly around my shiny new olive-green and red backpack. I pushed forward. I had a plan for that first day, it went something like this: Arrive in Bangkok. Take a train to get another train. Wait in the train station with the big, black suitcase. Ride a train for 12 hours. Take a bus. Take a ferry. Meet my family. Be in paradise. Get rid of the big, black suitcase.
Everything went according to plan. I even ate padthai in the train station cafe that was absolutely delicious. It has set the standards very high. I have a feeling I will not be disappointed. The train was even on time, which surprised me. And it was bearable, I even managed to get a proper night’s sleep. If you are planning a trip to Thailand, and are trying to find a cheap way to get from Bangkok to either Koh Samui or Koh Phangan, take the train- second class sleeper. Refer to http://www.seat61.com/ for routes and prices.
I was surprised by the organisation that is Thai tourism. Seriously, they have absolutely everything figured out. They know what you want to do before you do. They mark you with stickers which indicate where you are going. Did I mention that the stickers are colour coded? It feels a bit like being herded. I was pleased to not have to think. It had been a long, emotional trip and, after all, I still had my big, black suitcase.
After a hug-filled reunion with my parents and aunt and uncle we jumped in a tuk tuk and wound our way along the one main road that connects all areas of the tiny, hilly island of Koh Phangan.
We had decided to stay away from the party beaches, so we chose Thong Nai Pan beach. It’s a quiet bay with a beautiful beach, a one street ‘town’ that has a 7eleven, a few restaurants and some curio shops. The perfect place to relax and acclimatize to life lived out of a backpack. And to get rid of that big, black suitcase.