Day 29: On our way from Georgetown to Hat Yai, we are due for another passport stamp. The fourth one on our adventure in Southeast Asia already. Collecting these stamps has been one of my favorite things on this trip as we are always curious about how the stamps will look like. We have been on a whirlwind trip so far but our journey suddenly comes to an unexpected halt at the border between Malaysia and Thailand. Sebastian encounters visa problems and is not allowed into Thailand. Although I pass without any problems with my European passport, he needs to provide certain sufficient funds (the equivalent of 10,000 baht) in order to be able to pass with his passport from Chile. But with little cash in both our pockets, they are being stubborn and do not let him pass. Sebastian has to return to Malaysia and get to the nearest ATM to get some cash. He asks one of the locals if he can hop on his motorbike to be dropped at the first ATM. The local guy nods and Sebastian jumps on. In the meantime, I have to convince the driver and the passengers to wait for us (and our luggage) until things get sorted. Every minute waiting next to the van feels like an hour and the looks of the other passengers become more and more sourly but luckily Sebastian finally shows up with the necessary cash and not much later we can continue our drive to Hat Yai.
Once we arrive in Hat Yai we wait for the connecting bus to Krabi, where we plan to spend our first night in Thailand. The entire journey takes us 10 hours instead of 6 hours but we make it and decide to rest our heads at the Pak-Up Hostel. This hostel has everything you need; good showers, clean rooms, nice beds,… There is also an enjoyable common area where we meet Mary and Luke, two love birds who met each other on their adventures through Asia. We share our travel plans and decide to expand our travel pack and set sail for Ko Phi Phi together in the morning. We celebrate our new-made friendship with some local food and drinks at the night market nearby.
Day 31: I wake up with the slamming of the dorm door and my head is pounding. I’ll never drink again. The 16-bed dorm at the Hostel in Ko Phi Phi is a big difference with our overnight experience in Krabi. I am trying to remember what happened last night. Something to do with beer pong, beer buckets, the UEFA Euro game between Belgium and Italy, and me walking home in the pouring rain around 3 AM. I wonder if I slammed the door as hard as they did this morning. I turn around and try to get some more sleep. Sebastian walks in a few moments later and tells me it is time for our day trip to Maya Beach, better known as the island from ‘The Beach’. The four of us meet at the docks where we have a little breakfast that is included in the tour. It is a great way to fill those stomachs after a night out and I am clearly not the only one who appreciates a banana pancake. Mary passes. Not much later we embark on our day trip and jump on the boat. It looks like the weather has not improved too much since last night. The dark clouds set while we sail towards Maya Beach and because the waves are too choppy the boat can’t sail into the bay itself. The only other way to reach the famous beach is by jumping off the boat and climbing over a fishing net onto the island. It literally looks like an opening scene of ‘Survivor’. Mary decides to stay behind and watch our belongings, poor thing didn’t feel well after last night. Once we arrive at the beach we see another hundred of us already frolicking in the water. It is no surprise that due to the many visitors that swarmed Maya Beach on a daily basis, the beach is now closed until June 2021. This hiatus will give the ecosystem some time to recover and this way they can put some extra measures in place.
Tomorrow we take the ferry back to Krabi and from there we take a bus to Surat Thani, which will be our launchpad for more Ko Fun; Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, and Ko Tao! Are you still keeping score?
Day 36: The sound of my alarm shows no remorse and sadly I face another pounding headache. I’ll never drink again… I quickly splash my face with some cold water and hurry to throw all my belongings in my backpack and meet the others in the lobby. The last couple of days have been fairly low key with snorkeling, drinking Chang beers (FYI – Chang means ‘elephant’ in Thai), and island hopping. And although we missed the infamous Half Moon Party on the neighboring island, Ko Pha Ngan, we had our own ‘Water Festival’ going on on Ko Tao. Ironically I did not taste much water that evening, which I regretted this morning. I must say I am truly ‘Ko’d out’ and ready to trade my party island hat for some culture on the mainland. We leave Ko Tao in the early morning by ferry towards Chumpon where we get on the bus to crazy and intriguing Bangkok!