Saturday, January 19, 2008

To Nai Phlao

We'd gotten along quite well with Bridget and Thomas, and the next day they decided to continue travelling with us. They had been debating whether to go to Ko Lok or Ko Tao, both of which had some positives, but also some pretty big negatives. (Ko Lok, previously devastated by the tsunami, has become expensive and touristy. Ko Tao, sounding like the perfect Thai island, has become very busy and overrun by tourists. Plus, the weather there at this time of year can be dodgy, making departure challenging.) Now, instead, they decided to join us to Nai Phlao, which we'd only settled on the day before.

We had breakfast at Art's, then got a ride to the highway. We were going to grab a government bus, but a mini-van bus pulled up and offered to take us to Surat Thani for 150 baht each. This seemed like a good deal, particularly for tall Thomas, since the van was empty. Stupid us. It filled up quickly along the way and took much longer than the bus. We've learned this lesson several times before, but we don't learn.

Eventually we got to Surat Thani. We negotiated with several travel agencies before deciding on which one to let rip us off. We had a lunch of Pringles and Coke and were picked up around 1:30. This mini-van was actually pretty decent, and we had a nice ride to the beach area of Nai Phlao, near the small town of Khanom.

Nai Phlao is describe in Lonely Planet at having "Ko Samui's beauty without its crowds... Here the mountains meet the aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Thailand and the sand is pristine white. Coconut palms blow gently in the wind, and you'll be left with the impression that a chunk of Ko Samui somehow cut loose and drifted ashore." Clearly, this place had a lot to live up to.

It didn't live up to that billing, but it was still quite nice. Upon arrival Bridget and Colleen stayed with our bags at one of the big hotels on the beach while Thomas and I looked around a place to stay. Unfortunately, when we got to these less popular places there are less options. We walked around in the late afternoon heat for hours. We found one place that was perfect, but it only had one room, with another opening up the next day. We tossed a coin to see who got the room, and Colleen and I won. When we went back to claim our prize the room was no longer available, due to some earlier miscommunication. I could go on at length about finding a room that night, but it doesn't make particularly interesting reading. Suffice to say that we rented a motor bike, drove around and got a room in the end that was great, but we ended up being able to take two of the rooms that we'd originally wanted the next morning.

We had dinner at the Supar Villa Hotel dining room, where T&B had ended up for the evening. Colleen ordered prawn spring rolls. When they arrived she took a big bite, quickly realizing that they'd left the heads on and she'd bitten that end. Rather nasty. The rest of the meal was not much better. We were glad we weren't staying there.

We rode back to our hotel. I can't remember what it was called, but it had the best beds we'd been in on our travels, very cool sinks made out of the trunks of trees, and terrible plumbing that ran across the floor and caused showers to stop after 5 minutes.

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