After our two weeks in Phuket, Kao Sok was a welcome respite from touristville. Kao Sok National park nestles in the hills and therefore has a cooler climate than our previous destination. The majority of the accommodation in Kao Sok consists of simple wooden huts, many raised up on stilts set amongst lush gardens. Activities in the area included hill treks, elephant safaris and canoeing. As we were only in the area for two nights we chose to explore the area on foot and book ourselves onto the river canoe trip.
With a nice temperature, relaxed vibe and no fixed agenda apart from the canoe trip we were looking forward to feeling refreshed before embarking on our mammoth journey to Cambodia. What could possibly go wrong? Oh yes, it’s teething time again! ‘The boy’ having suffered with teething problems in Phuket was still not over the worst. Two nights of VERY broken sleep followed with my hubby and I barely getting three hours between us. Someone pass me the coffee.
Luckily, the canoe trip that we’d booked for our last morning was more relaxing than we had anticipated as each canoe came with an experienced canoeist. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy the scenery. The boy, strapped firmly to me in the ‘wriggle wrapper’, seemed very content and after thirty minutes drifted off into a deep sleep, missing our guides amazing spot of a tree frog, although the way I was feeling I would have traded the nature spot for a further two hours sleep.
With our eyes propped open with matchsticks we left Koa Sok in a minibus for the two-hour journey to Surat Thani where we had planned to book a place on the sleeper train to Bangkok. Unfortunately this was not meant to be. On arriving at Surat Thani train station at 17.00, and having not been able to book a sleeper carriage in advance, we were faced with a decision; book a sleeper carriage for the first available train leaving at midnight, or head to the coach station and try and get a night bus to Bangkok.
Normally this would have been an easy decision to make – head to the coach station, but we’d made one mistake when leaving Phuket. Knowing we only had a few days left in Thailand we’d left our guidebook with my hubby’s parents, so we had no information to hand on where the coach station was, how much the journey should cost and details on the regularity of coaches to Bangkok. This was a big error and for the first time in our four months of travelling we became the subjects of a ticket scam involving the tuk tuk driver at the train station, a travel company and the travel agent’s husband (also a tuk tuk driver). It’s actually very sad how quickly you can become a target for a scam if you’re not armed with local knowledge, and although we didn’t back down quietly we eventually had to get on the coach with our wallet a little lighter than it should have been.
This was my first experience of a night coach and it wasn’t quite as bad as I had expected. ‘The boy’, who was sitting on my lap, fell asleep within half an hour of the bus leaving the depot and didn’t wake up until we arrived at Bangkok coach station at 4.30am, 8 ½ hours after leaving surra Thani. We had planned to stay a night in Bangkok, but knowing that we wouldn’t be able to check into a guesthouse until lunchtime we made the decision to push on with our journey and take the 6am bus to Trat, a further five-hour journey north.
Trat old town was a pleasant surprise. Small wooden buildings nestle along the banks of the river and there are many quirky guesthouses and cafes lining the larger streets. We found a lovely wooden guesthouse with double rooms costing £4 a night. Bargain.
Tomorrow we’re heading to the Cambodian border where scamming is a regular occurrence. One scam is enough, thank you.
Top tip of the day:
Keep a small perfume pump spray (you can buy these for about £0.60 in Thailand) in your baby-changing bag. When you’re travelling long distances on public transport and need to make necessary nappy changes the perfume helps to omit odours.