Not a single activity went by this past weekend without a respective obstacle, setback, or screw-up. Normally, this would have been frustrating/infuriating/both, but the island of Ko Samet just gave us the attitude of mai pen rai: no problem!
For our first weekend trip out of Bangkok, the four of us (Chip, Allie, Becca, Me) decided that Ko Samet would be fabtastic: beaches, backpackers, parties, and not too far away (Distance. But in reality…). Ko Samet is an island in Rayong province, which is southeastern of Bangkok and borders the Gulf of Thailand. Apparently, it’s a hot spot for weekend getaways from the city, and attracts Thai, foreign backpackers from Europe/USA, and neon-clad, fake-Chanel-bedazzled clusters of Asian toursists. Little did we know (as often is the case) that a Thai/ Japanese music festival was scheduled for the weekend on Ko Samet. Usually, it is fine to go without reservations, so we put off booking a room until Thursday, when we thought it miiight be safe to do so. After countless desperate attempts: “Room for Saturday, please?” “NO! FULL! *click*”, we booked a bungalow in Wonderland. Not in any guide books or anywhere online, which made sense later.
We chose to go to Ko Samet because it seemed to be a the quickest, easiest island adventure due to its close proximity. WRONG. 3 hour trip, guidebook? More like 7. Our trek from Bangkok to Ko Samet required no less than 5 forms of transportation, and infinite doubts:
1. Taxi at 6 am (30 minutes of sleep last night= solid.)
2. Bus for 3+ hours (I hope we’re on the right one?)
3. Back of a pickup truck (I hope we’re not getting kidnapped?)
4. Motor-bike side cart (I hope I don’t fall off the back of this rust-pile as we’re heading into oncoming traffic. As usual.)
5. Ferry from pier in Ban Phe to Ko Samet (I hope we make it there this century.)
Moreover, our decision-making process was inhibited by lack of sleep, excess of heat, and our total cluelessness. Anyway, we made it there eventually. The stress of the morning fell away when we walked off the pier onto the perfectly white sand (“like flour” was the best description). However, when we checked into our room at the Wonderland Resort, that stress was back in full force. Or was it nausea?
Note to self: Don’t book a bungalow if it doesn’t have a website. It’s the 21st century and the whole world has gots that inter-web!! Precautionary pictures of “Wonderland” would have been helpful.
Considering the state of our accommodations, the game plan was instantly clear: Stash our bags under the bed in the hotel room, bring our valuables with, and don’t come back until we need to pass out. Then we just went swimming and exploring. It was impossible to not enjoy ourselves: we could actually breathe, the water was impossibly clear and perfectly warm, the restaurants/bars were all a few meters from the water, there were a ton of fun, English-spekaing Euro backpackers, and everything was cheaper than cheap. Except our room, which was about 6 times as much as it should have been, because of the stupid concert thing. Which seemed lame anyways.
1. Bus ticket: 120 Baht ($3.60)
2. Random transportation to actually get there: 200 B ($6)
3. Hotel room for four: 1900 B ($57)
4. Singha: 70 B ($2)
5. Candlelit, fresh-fish dinner on the beach for FOUR: 310 B ($9)
6. Banana and nutella crepes from a stand on the beach at 1 am: 25 B ($0.75)
7. 1 hour full-body massage on the sand + pedicure: 200 B ($6)
Left the room at 2 pm, came back around 4 am by rock climbing home in the dark, because apparently the beach where we were staying is only accessible in the daytime or by boat. Yes, I did stay out all night with my beach towel and book (embarrassing to carry Eat, Pray, Love in a 7-11 bag while out partying? I think not!)
When we returned, our bags were surprisingly still in the room. Not surprisingly, the mattress was made of cinder blocks. As soon my head hit the pillow, the rooster outside started going off… where’s the snooze button!?! Anyway, the next day consisted of kayaking, relaxing, and a 7 hour trek home. Complete with broken-down bus and taxi that took us in circles. There were definitely obstacles, but they almost comical in their ridiculousness. Definitely a solid weekend. MAI PEN RAI!!!