Thailand
Khlong Pak Bara

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    • Dec29

      Day 20 - Utter Chaos & Confusion

      December 29, 2021 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

      At 8.05am, we got down to reception just as our minibus arrived to take us on the next leg of our journey. We were driven through town by our kamikaze driver who totally ignored all road signs & traffic lights. We picked up a Spanish girl, then headed out to Hat Yai International Airport where we filled the minibus with mainly westerners who had just flown in.

      We stopped just once at a 7-11 petrol station, where I treated Jackie to breakfast - a double pack of pocket sandwiches, one filled with crab sticks & the other tuna. Apparently they are really nice! I had a pineapple Danish pastry.

      We arrived at Pak Nam at 11am to discover it was heaving with Thai holidaymakers all waiting to take the speedboats out to the islands. Apparently, Thai residents have been offered huge discounts as a government incentive to keep their tourist industry afloat.

      Jackie & I were dropped off at a tour office where we were provided with some documentation & a laminated numbered card each. We were then instructed to join the queue at the terminal for pier 3.

      We joined a queue & a lady started waving a card with a QR code on it. We photographed it with our phones but nothing happened because I’m too tight to pay for a Roaming Data add-on to my phone! We tried to explain this to the lady, whilst others huddled around us trying to photograph her QR code, but it didn’t go very well so we continued in the queue.

      We then got to another checkpoint, where they wanted to see our passports, proof of Covid jabs & the completion of an online form after downloading that QR code. The lady at the checkpoint finally understanding that that we hadn’t completed the online form ushered us to one side to complete a written information form then we pushed our way back to her. She let Jackie straight through, but after examining my passports said something about me not having the right something or other. I called Jackie back, then without explanation she waved me through. I was perplexed!

      We then all huddled together in front of Pier 3 whilst our cases & rucksacks were loaded on to the speedboat. Everyone was ready to board when a young Thai girl started barking her orders. It transpired that we were supposed to be in a queue in the order of the numbers on our laminated cards. This caused further confusion & consternation.

      At midday (30 minutes late) we had all finally boarded the speedboat & were crammed in like sardines, when we finally left the dock. After 50 minutes we slowed down at an island & the crew shouted instructions in Thai. We had no idea what they were saying & could hardly hear them anyway because some annoying Spaniards next to us were singing & laughing too loudly.

      Anyway, most of the Thais disembarked when we docked, leaving all the westerners sat where we were. The speedboat then moved away from the dock & we moved seats for more space, because we assumed that the Thais were not returning. The speedboat then dropped anchor & we realised that this was just a 15 minute scheduled stop to Ko Tarutao island, the largest island of Tarutao National Marine Park, but now we had no means of getting off.

      Thirty minutes later all the Thais eventually returned to the boat & we set off. No sooner had we got back up to full speed, when we stopped again at a beach on Koh Khai island. This time we went ashore & took a photo of it’s ‘famous’ rock arch. A Thai from Bangkok offered to take a photo of Jackie & I on my phone, but then insisted on taking 10 of the damn things. I then felt obliged to offer to do the same for him & his wife on his camera which of course he was pleased to accept.

      These scheduled stops were a nice idea in theory, but in Covid times they just added to the potential risk of Covid being spread around the boat as people fought to squeeze past others with masks generally at half mast.

      Around 2.30pm, we docked at Koh Lipe on a wobbly floating pontoon. It was chaos, but we managed to reach terra firma with all our luggage without falling off. On land an official looking lad asked us where we going & when we told him he told us to wait where we were. We assumed our hotel was sending someone out to collect us.

      We waited & waited until we were the only persons from our boat still at the pontoon port, so Jackie went back to the man who just said “You’ll have to get a taxi). Brilliant, we could have done that half an hour ago!

      The taxi was a motorbike & sidecar combination, which struggled up the steep rutted hills, but it made it to our hotel at a cost of just 50 baht each. We checked in at reception at the Bayview Sunset Resort, where we discovered that they had sent us a message that morning to ring them for a free transfer. We didn’t receive it because I’m too tight to pay for a Roaming Data add-on to my phone!

      We were initially disappointed with our new room & checked the information on booking.com to make sure we had what we had booked. We had, so we popped to the beach bar for a spot of late lunch. The prices are dearer than we had previously being paid, so we had just a couple of small beers & shared a plate of fried ribs with garlic.

      We returned to our room much happier & unpacked. We showered & sat on our balcony for a quick beer, then locked ourselves out of the room. A cleaner who was eating her dinner managed to unlock us AND offer us some of her dinner.

      We walked to Walking Street on the other side of the island & discovered it to be bustling with tourists. It was a strange experience. We walked Walking Street twice, before finally settling on a Thai restaurant that wasn’t too busy. I had crispy garlic chicken & Jackie had a spicy green curry. All just nice & then we walked it off going home shattered.

      Song of the Day: Kamikaze by PJ Harvey.
      Chaos From the Top Down by The Stereophonics.
      Sound of Confusion by Secret Affair.
      Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Khlong Pak Bara, คลองปากบารา

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