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We boarded the ferry for

We boarded the ferry for Ko Samui & descended into the crowds of tourists again for the first time since Bangkok. It was a short crossing and the sea was flat. I began to wish that I was sailing again - but not in Asia, where there are more pirate attacks than in the rest of the world put together.

The ferry docked and disgorged a stream of backpackers - blonde girls whose arms were black with tattoos, following rasta boyfriends with bongos. We carried our bags under the hot sun and started our search to find somewhere to stay. Most of the accomodation on the island consisted of A-frame huts, but in comparison to the rest of Thailand they were quite overpriced. We looked at one place with a fantastic beach but the owner was an old, rude German who was too busy smoking and watching his Thai maids to really be bothered letting us see the rooms. After about 5 hours of looking around we settled on a hut just off the main street in town, dropped our bags off in the room, and sat by the beachside restaurant eating ice-cream.

Later we returned from Starbucks and were about to go to bed, tired from our day of room hunting, when we noticed the first cockroaches in the room. If there's one thing that I don't like then it's the thought of wakening up in the middle of the night with huge cockroaches crawling over me. If there's anything around, they'll eat it - right down to the dead skin off your feet, and when they run out of food, they'll eat each other. No, I don't like cockroaches.

We tried to ignore them and get some sleep, but soon I could hear them rustling through our plastic bags and crawling around the room. They were so big I could lie and listen to their feet tapping on the wood as they ran across the walls. Thankfully, there was a mosquito net over the bed, and we tucked it in and hoped that they wouldn't find the holes and come in to feast on our feet. At this point the nightclub, which sounded as if it was directly behind our hut, started up. The room shook with the bass and cockroaches fell from the ceiling. It was quite a night and needless to say I didn't sleep too much, but Nina snored obliviously through much of it. In the morning, when the music had stopped and the cockroaches slept, she woke me, excited about going snorkelling on the beach. A large gecko started screaming inside the hut, so I gave up any ideas of trying to sleep, took a shower and pulled my snorkelling gear out of my bag. Inside my fins I found three large cockroaches.

We marched into reception and complained about our cockroach infested hut, but they just looked at us as if to say, "So?" Eventually, they offered us another room, and we spent the morning emptying our backpacks of the remaining cockroaches. Then we cable-tied a mosquito net around our bags to stop them getting back in.

Later, we walked the 100m or so to the beach and did some snorkelling. The Lonely Planet guide to Thailand describes the beach as having 'crystal clear blue water with an interesting coral reef'. This proves that their writers use too many hallucinogenic substances. During our extensive exploration of the area we found the beach to consist of an entirely sand bottom with chicken soup coloured water. Although we didn't see any fish, we did manage to discover some tiny jellyfish, and finally we retreated to the shore to recover from their stings.

The beach itself was beautiful, and was fairly peaceful during the day as most of the backpackers slept off their hangovers. Many of the locals, however, were quite rude and unfriendly, but with an island invaded by tourists I don't suppose it's easy for them. That weekend, a couple of kilometres from the beach we were staying on, two British girls were raped and sexually assaulted by two Thai men and ended their holiday in hospital.

On Tuesday we caught the overnight train back to Bangkok. Glad to be away from the cockroaches, I slept soundly until 0615 when a mentally deranged steward began marching up and down the carriage screaming, "Wake up! Wake up!" I turned over and put my earplugs in, but nothing could block his rasping voice out. Suddenly, his head came through the curtain into my bed and he screamed, "Get up! We in Bangkok!" I looked out of my window as the sun rose over paddie fields - Bangkok had certainly changed! We weren't due to arrive for another two hours and it was unusual for Thai trains to arrive early. I told him I would get up when we were closer to Bangkok, but again he screamed, "Get up now!!" in true Gestapo fashion and threatened to return with the train's armed police. I dragged myself up, not wishing to spend time in a Bangkok prison under charges of refusing to get out of bed. I looked across the carriage at Nina who seemed equally confused by our apparent enrolement in the Thai army. She told him that she was closing her curtains so that she could change, but he yelled, "No, you get up now!!" as his face reddened even more. Two and a half hours later the train lazily rolled into Bangkok station and everyone staggered out suffering from sleep deprivation.

come to Asia
get a bag full of cockroaches
get ordered out of bed by armed police

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