|Cold Singha in hand, posng at the Chill-Out Cafe next door to my bungalows|
And let me tell you, getting there is much, much less than half the fun. Koh Samui is off the southwestern gulf coast of Thailand (the Gulf of Siam as it was in the geography books I grew up with); it is a beaultiful island with soft sand beaches, coconut palms and smiling locals, one of the premiere vacation spots in Asia, for good reason.
Getting there and back, however, is a tedious trek involving most forms of transportation ever devised, short of hot air ballooning and a unicycle. A five hour fifty minute flight via JinAir (KAL's price cut brand) from Incheon to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport was timely and pleasant. Arrival in Bangkok involved a one-hour queue for immigration in an impressive modern edifice that had everything but sufficient immigration officers and air conditioning.
By 3:30 local time I was damply but happily ensconced in an Airport Express (AE) bus headed for Hualamphong Train Station, in theory one hour distant. It actually took three hours, including forty minutes to travel--I am not kidding here--500 meters from one stop light to the next. When I was a boy, traffic in Bangkok was terrible because it was so fast and hurly-burly; now it's terrible because it's so slow. Despite the massive congestion, Krung Thep (as the Thai call it) has only one subway line.
|During the very, very long red lights, motorcycles weave their way to the front of the intersection|
|Hualamphong Train Station|
At least on paper.
The train is about 20 minutes late departing and over an hour late in arriving at Chumphon--not that that's a big deal, because the bus for the pier, and the next part of the journey, isn't scheduled until 6 AM. Traveling via Thai Railroad sleeper car was an experience: my upper berth seatmate was a bloke named Jens from Amersterdam who was after a holiday where he wouldn't smoke pot, so he chose Thailand; across the aisle were an international couple who were circling the globe on twenty thousand dollars; our porter Mae opened the beer bottles with a well-practised wrist action on the lip of our table, and almost insisted we buy her a beer; once the seats were converted into sleeping berths at 11 PM, conversation was quieter, but smoking (cigarettes) was still allowed in the restroom area.
And from the Seaview Restaurant, a three minute walk (good view of Koh Phangan, 15 km distant):
This is now the desktop photo on my laptop, the view from Sea One Restaurant, toes in the sand, fresh seafood on my fork: