We follow the adventures of Martin, who is traveling in South East Asia for 6 months. Here is the summary of his first adventure after disembarking from his 20-hour flight to Bangkok.
B : Good morning, Martin (he says in a gravelly voice).
M : You’re early this morning. It was a full moon last night, which meant that it was a crazy party.
B : Can you tell me where you are?
M : I am in Ban Saphan. It’s the city where the ferry crosses to Koh Samui or in the direction of Phuket, if you prefer.
B : What have you done since your arrival?
M : When I arrived at the airport it was evening, and I had just enough time to take the Skytrain toward downtown. After, I took a room. It was late in the evening and I was excited, so I did not go to bed immediately. I went for a walk in the surroundings of my hotel. It was full of ladyboys and many parties.
B : You landed directly in the « red district,” probably near Soy Cowboy, which is the district of Bangkok known for gays and the ladyboys
M : It’s on Sukhumvit Road. I walked around where they left me. I said to myself, « I’ll stay on the main street so that I will not get lost. » Walking, I saw a sort of stand on the edge of the street where a girl took me by the arm to guide me in. They sold beer there! I sat there and I had a beer. There were two Canadians sitting at the counter next to me. We began to talk together. They told me go see what was street side. You should see it, because it is not hard to recognize. Those who are cheated by ladyboys are really stupid. They are big caricatures, aggressive enough to try and grab your genitals. They are « extremely sexy » but on the edge of good taste. Even the prostitutes of the « red district » are more reserved, and they keep a small $5 worth of class. It’s pretty ugly, but it’s still very isolated. We shouldn’t judge a whole country from this street, especially at two in the morning, as many Westerners do without ever going to see it themselves.
B : You took the bus to Koh Samet the next day?
M : Yes, the next morning. I asked the girl at hotel reception how I could get to Koh Samet. She told me to take the subway to the train station. Once there, I asked « how much does it cost for a ticket. » The answer was 300 baht ($10) for the roundtrip bus ticket (back and forth to Bangkok) and ferry to the island and back. It was definitely a real bargain.
Visit Koh Samet a small island close to Bangkok.
B : How did you find Koh Samet? I know that this is usually the place for backpackers, budget travelers, and Thais who go to the beach on the weekend. You say it has changed since 3 years ago?
M :It has become quite touristy, full of big resorts with many tourists, especially on the first beach near the ferry named White Sand. The further you move away from the beach, the less touristy it becomes.
B : Almost all the islands have their White Sands Beaches, which are synonymous with being avoided.
M : It’s always the beach side near the ferry.
B : Mass tourists are transported quickly into their ghetto in order to be sure they spend their money in one place.
B : Although you don’t like Koh Samet, it’s smaller and more focused on the beach.
M : It’s not that I did not like it. I rented a scooter and got into my first accident. Also, you need to be careful about the rocks in the water when you’re going to swim at the beach. If not, you will look stupid on the beach. I said « Hey this is cool. Look the sea. » I went walking on the edge of the water, and I fell and opened a wrist. I got out of there, and I saw a small first aid clinic where they helped me. They made me a bandage and I went to the hospital. It was nothing serious, but I could not swim for five days for fear of getting an infection.
B : Yes, when traveling we should try to not get too excited. As much as possible, don’t act like a headless chicken.
M : The nurse at the hospital told me that two weeks prior there was a guy who ran at full speed into the water, and he smashed his knee on a rock. He cut two tendons. They had to bring him to emergency in Bangkok.
B : He ruined all of his holidays for that silliness. Then, it probably cost him the other leg for ambulance and medical expenses.
Visit the Koh Chang Island in Thailand near the Cambodian border.
B : After, you decided to take my advice and go to the Koh Chang Island more toward the east.
M : It was a very good idea. It was beautiful. I spent 5 days on Koh Chang.
B : Koh Chang is the largest island after Phuket, and it has much more surface area and diversity. There is the jungle, diving, and elephant riding. Koh Chang offers a much better choice and variety of activities than Koh Samet does.
M :In the Lonely Planet there was a big part regarding Koh Samet, but they did not even speak of Koh Chang. It’s a wonderful place. There are plenty of activities, including monkeys. I went into the jungle to see the waterfalls, and you can also visit the small surrounding islands by boat.
B : The Lonely Planet covers the most popular activities for backpackers, but sometimes these are places where you do not want to go. My advice is that it’s good to follow a guide, but you need to adjust your trip to your own taste.
B : What did you do on Koh Chang?
M : The first night, I chose a room costing 300 baht ($10), because I did not want to spend time looking everywhere for a room in the dark. The next day I rented a scooter and toured the entire island. This is when I found a type of « Uncle Sam Bungalow, » which was located on the other side of the island, not where all the beaches such as White Sand are located. It’s toward Long Beach. The bungalow had the typical Thai owner who did not speak English. We communicated through gestures. This was probably a very good place.
M : The bungalow cost 250 baht and included a cooked meal as well. There was a computer in the small restaurant where Thai music played.
B : In general, there are ways to find typically affordable places.
M : You rent a motorcycle for 150 baht ($5) or a scooter for the day costing 50 baht, less than $10 for 24 hours of use. This is enough time to ride around the entire island. I spotted places that seemed interesting, and then I went back there later in my stay. When you walk around, this is the best way to find out.
B : You have to be careful around Koh Chang, as there are many steep slopes, especially after drinking a beer in the sun. Go quietly!
M : You don’t touch the Scooter after.
B : Yes, I did have a little accident, but I was lucky. There was someone who brought me back to my hotel. I took back the motorbike the next day.
M : One time I was going too fast. A scooter has 125cc, and it can travel at 120 KMH. I was really blessed. I was « Ow » wide open a bit like home. The cars arrive quickly, and you cannot always see them.
B : They say it is one of the main causes of mortality among the locals and tourists on the island. People rent bikes and do not wear a helmet or shirt. They drive fast and don’t respect road safety.
B :What did you do then?
M : I took the ferry and bus to Bangkok, heading south. In Bangkok, I went down to the neighborhood next to the Royal Palace. I took a taxi to the Hualonpong train station. I bought a ticket to Ban Saphan and boarded the night train. When I arrived with my backpack in Ban Saphan, it was 5 am in the small streets of the village. I took a tuk tuk (motorcycle taxi) and called out bungalow, bungalow! We went down to the beach. I rented a bungalow at 300 baht ($10). Here it is not touristy, but there are many French. Here in Ban Safan there is a hotel full of French people. Yes, it is annoying sometimes to my French readers (sorry), but when there is a place with one French person, all others who are less than 100 km will be attracted to him like a powerful magnet. You want to be lost in the world, so you don’t want to be in a town of French expatriates in Thailand
M : There are a few that are cool. One stayed here for 4 years. It was the one who gave me the contact regarding the Muyai Thai School. This is the school of Thai boxing. Thai is a teacher, but he speaks very good French. It will be easier for me to communicate. This is a good school.
Last night at the Full Moon Party, there was a guy who landed there. He was a big Swedish guy who was hyper annoying.
B : Yes there are a lot of Scandinavians in South East Asia
M : The Germans and Swedish appear to have a saying “he is an asshole bad they do it.” I understand that this is the kind of guy that you be careful about. There is a guy who comes to see me, telling me be careful with this guy, but he talks about hockey, and he knows Matt Sundins. I have not talked about hockey since I’ve been here, and then I told him that I’m going to school in Muay Thai. He then looks at me and says “you’re not going to that school, the teacher is a fool.” He told me that the teacher had broken a beer on the back of his head and had given him a great beating. However, seeing the kind of guy he was and the reaction of everyone to him in the bar, I can understand why. The guy was not friendly. He was attracted to shit, because I visited the school and it was cool. I spoke with the woman who takes care of the place, and she told me that the teacher is no longer there. It is good for boxers. There are two in Bangkok, two in Europe, and one in Montreal. They will fight to make it all professional.
Martin is now stationed at Ban Safan for month to month training at the school of Muay Thaï siangboxing We will learn more in the next summary regarding the adventures of Martin Asia. For those who want to know more about Koh Samet and Koh Chang you can visit his articles.