A long and stressful journey.
Up at 6:30am the breakfast was served on the rooftop which was lovely, and a French guy asked if Leia and I were Spanish which gave us a good tan confidence boost!
We had to be at the tourist office at 7:30, we got there in time and were put in a minivan to take a 5 minute journey to then be put on a larger coach. It’s about a 3 hour journey to the border so we napped most of the way. Upon being dropped off in poipet we went straight through departure immigration before a guy found us and offered us a minibus for 500baht each to Koh Samet. Telling us it would take 4 hours and left at 12, this was perfect as we needed to get to the last ferry at 5pm.
We made it through Thai immigration no problem and he was there waiting for us. We were very wary as I had read that there’s a lot of dodgy cons going on at this border crossing. The guy led us to an office where they called the minivan and chatted away to us. Then the boss asked me for the money upfront while the others were in the toilet, when I checked how long it would take he said 6 hours!
No way would we get the ferry with that and if we missed it it could cost up to £40-50 for a speedboat over to the island. We told him we would get a taxi as we knew we could get one for 2500baht, however he said he would ring one for us but that it would cost 3000baht. I politely declined and we left to go to the atm, at this point he followed us and started betting annoyed saying we should pay and get in the minivan like we had agreed. It was a little confrontational for my liking but we just said no thank you, we need to get to the pier in time. At this he started saying it was very bad and no good, but we walked away and got a taxi easy. Although a random man in an orange hat tried to get us to tip him for helping when he hadn’t done anything! I found it hilarious and a bold move.
The taxi was great, air conditioned, playing a lot of beegees and fast! It took us around four hours with a couple of stops for coffee, toilet and for the others, ice cream!
Once we got to Ban Phe, where our ferry would depart our driver got lost! Having to ask a tour guy on a bike the way. The motorbike guy took us to a load of tour operators where they tried charging us three times the ferry price. We managed to get them down to a better amount with a bit of stressing, and the three of us were soon in a dodgy tuk tuk to the pier that could hardly steer, the whole thing shaking for the duration! The girl dropped us off at what we realised was the actual ferry point where tickets were the normal price. It was too late to argue!
The ferry was a medium sized fishing type boat which for the next hour crammed as many people and objects into it and on the roof as possible. We finally departed and within 5 minutes something was wrong, people were standing to see what was happening and a speed boat was waved over. Leia was not having a good time, worried the boat was going to sink as it slowed to halt.
As the suspense and terror mounted, we realised one of the crew wasn’t feeling well and just needed to go back to port. The boat continued on and we arrived in Koh Samet! We were using airbnb for the first time, staying at a house rented by Olly, who turned out to be from Newcastle and owned a hostel and bar on the main street up from the port.
We met him at the bar and he took us round to our new home, it was great, loads of space and comfy. We went for food by the pier, I enjoyed it loads, noodles with basil and chilli…yum!
We headed back to Olly’a bar, got a beer and Leia taught us some card games. Olly turned up and gave us some recommendations for the island. After a long day it was back to the house and bed time.