Friday, March 7, 2014

Island memories, a night without much sleep and an awesome market...

After my scuba diving adventures in Koh Tao it was finally time to move on, despite the fun I had of course. During my stay at the Diving School I also made the acquaintance of Dirk and Simon, two other diving students and magnicifent discussion partners! Simon actually wanted to leave Koh Tao on the very same day, so I decided to join him on the «Express Boat» to Chumphoon on the mainland, and from there the train back to Bangkok.

So first of all the «Express Boat» wasn't that «Express» at all. It was more like a cozy cutter that arrived in Koh Tao with a delay of about 1 hour (not bad at all for Thai circumstances, read further).  But the view from the boat was actually spectacular, you could see swarms of flying fishes dodging the course of ship! And of course there still was the sunset to look at, something you can't witness so easily in the alpine parts of Western Europe...

On the boat from Koh Tao to Chumphoon...
Chumphoon itself was quite an average Thai city with nothing groundbreaking to see, but there were still plenty of things to do for bridging the waiting time. So Simon and I went to eat an excellent dish at a local food stall (for a lousy 30 Baht) and later on emptied some trusty Changs in a Thai Rock Bar, followed by some rounds of billiard.

A few hours later in the Train Station we encountered our second hurdle so far - the train seemed to have a delay of 2 hours. Great, we're getting really good at waiting. To my big surprise the train station was still very active and crowded, even after midnight. At 1 AM there still were old ladies wandering around and selling fruits. Then at 2 AM more bad news struck us like a lightning - the train was delayed for another 2 hours. It's needless to say that all bars and venues were already closed at that time, so there was nothing left to us than sitting on a chair and listening to the jabbering of some drunken/stoned Israeli backpackers. Great.

We backpackers almost fell asleep when the train finally arrived at 4 AM, and besides of us and some funny stray dogs, the station was almost deserted. After I installed myself on my bunkbed I immediately fell asleep, and about 9 hours later I already woke up in Bangkok. That went fast!

The train station in Chumphoon
The awesome sleeper car...


In Bangkok it was time split ways with Simon who already was leaving for home. And to get a few more hours of sleep I decided to stay another night in Bangkok (as I still was literally destroyed due to that night in the train station)...  (-, – )…zzzZZZ

The day after I decided to do a day trip to Maeklong and Amphawa, about 70 km South West of Bangkok. Maeklong is a really small town with countless small shops and otherwise nothing much to see, but there was still the world famous Maeklong Market.

Some green stuff, anyone?
These guys will fulfill their purpose in a frying pan...

From fruits to eels there was literally everything to buy.
Not mantas, but Horseshoe crabs.

An excellent addition to any Thai Curry!

That's fine and good, but now what's so extraordinary about this market? Well see for yourself.

Well, at least that train wasn't late. :) After that inspiring spectacle I took a Songthaew to Amphawa, a town nearby. Songthaews are in fact the most preferred public transport option in Thailand, as it's cheap, fast and uncomplicated. A Songthaew is basically a covered pick up truck that drives a predefined route between several towns. As a bystanding pedestrian you can simply flag down a Songthaew and just hop on it. If you want the Songthaew to stop, you just signalize the driver to do so by pushing a button on the roof. After hopping off you simply pay the amount to the driver, and it usually costs near to nothing. That's how I like it!

The best way to get around - taking a Songthaew!
As for Amphawa, I was unfortunately one day too early to witness the famous Floating Market, so I missed quite an opportunity here. But still the town with its canal was a nice place to stay at and there were lots of other market stalls too. The highlight was by far a Night Cruise with a boat through the outskirts of Amphawa. The riversides and the nearby bushes are quite famous for being inhabited by lots of fireflies, and as we cruised by it almost looked like if some Thais installed thousands of christmas lights on these trees and bushes. Unfortunately it was too dark to take photos, but it was still nice to look at.

Amphawa, famous for its...
... floating market, which I unfortuantely missed.


After getting back to Bangkok I immediately caught the next train to Kanchanaburi, the location of the popular Bridge over the River Kwai...

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