Endowed with the spirit of an explorer, I decided to create an adventure for myself by taking the 12-hour overnight train from Bangkok to Krabi rather than the 2-hour flight. Adventure is exactly what I found.
I decided to visit Krabi on my trip to Thailand because I wanted to visit one of Thailand’s renowned beach areas, and the party scene at Phuket didn’t seem to fit my style. I heard wonderful things about the gorgeous beaches in Krabi, and that it was much more relaxed than Phuket.
I thought I’d have my adventure with a simple overnight train rather than visiting a party city.
Taking the Train from Bangkok to Krabi
When I boarded the train, I was relieved to find that I had a sleeper room all to myself. There were two beds in the room, so I did have a concern that I would be sharing with another passenger. Some may consider that a good way to make a new friend, but I prefer not to sleep with strangers.
Even using the Bathroom was an Adventure!
The first mini adventure on the train ride was my trip to the train’s restroom. I had been in South East Asia for a little over a week by this point, so I was familiar with squatting toilets. However, I didn’t realize that I’d need to use a squatting toilet while moving. A squatting port-a-potty would be a better description. It was an elevated platform with a hole in it. The outside of the platform had some grooves on it which I can only imagine was for traction. There was also a handle bar, to help keep your balance. As a person with a teeny, tiny bladder, I had no choice but to attempt this risky balancing act. Success! I triumphantly navigated the Squat-a-Potty!
The rest of the night went very smoothly. I fell asleep on the top bunk, and woke very well rested (although I did have to navigate the toilet once again). The train came to a stop in Surat Thani, and I had to transfer to a bus for the rest of my journey (or so I thought). I was prepared for the bus ride, I knew the train didn’t go all the way to Krabi and my train ticket included the bus transfer. Therefore, I boarded the bus with other travelers, thinking that the bus would stop near my hotel in Krabi. The ticket I purchased included hotel transfer, so in my head this was a valid assumption. Little did I know that my adventure was just beginning!!
The Real Adventure Begins!
The bus only took me as far as Phang-Nga, where I was forced to disembark (along with 5 other passengers en-route to Krabi). The bus left us on a corner and the driver instructed us to wait. I was with an extremely nice German couple and a 2 older women traveling together. We glanced at each other nervously and attempted some small talk while we waited for our unknown ride. A tattered tuk-tuk, carrying a bed that resembled a pick-up truck, pulled up to the curb next to us. The friendly driver jumped off and motioned for us all to get into the truck bed. I guess this was our ride. We loaded our bags and ourselves into the back of the tuk-tuk, and we were off once again.
The tuk-tuk took us as far as Krabi’s bus station. The driver helped us get our belongings out of the back and left us at the desolate looking depot. We finally found one employee in a back building, and I asked her how we would get to our hotels. As it turned out, only the German couple and I had tickets which included hotel drop off, so the older women were left to find a taxi on their own. The lady instructed the three of us to wait outside.
We waited for about a half hour, trying to make conversation despite the language barrier. They were wonderful people and I was happy to have companions to share in this adventure. Eventually, a black SUV drove up. The driver looked over our tickets and our hotel reservations and instructed us to get in the SUV. What choice did we have? At least we were together. So the three of us climbed into the SUV, and once again, we were off!
And Now a Boat???
The SUV was able to find the hotel that the German couple was staying at rather easily. It was about a ten minute drive. Unfortunately, my hotel wasn’t so easily accessible. You see, what I didn’t realize when I booked this hotel is that it is on Railay, a peninsula which can’t be reached via road. No cars, trucks, trains or buses could get there. It could only be reached by boat.
The SUV driver took me to the boat stop and gave me 500 Baht for the boat ride. He grabbed a young man (seemingly from off the street) and spoke to him in Thai, gesturing towards me. The young man seemed to understand, and he smiled at me. My driver left me there. The young man gestured to me to have a seat on the bench, so I did. We sat there waiting for about 5 minutes, and then I can only assume that he was trying to tell me to wait there for him, because after he gestured to me and said something in broken English, he took off. I was glad that he spoke even a little English, as I came to the country not knowing any Thai.
After waiting by myself for about ten minutes at the empty boat taxi stand, I started getting a little anxious. I could hear the rumbling of thunder in the distance, and the air felt a little heavier. I started looking around the taxi stand to find any sign of an employee, but there was none. It appeared to be closed. The beach surrounding the taxi stand was starting to empty. I was getting rather nervous.
No, First lets cram 3 people and some luggage onto a Moped!
Suddenly, a moped sped up to the boat taxi stand. On it was the young man who I had first met there, along with another older gentleman, who was driving. The young man jumped off and grabbed my bag, gesturing for me to get on the moped. Now I was left with a choice. Do I get on this moped with two men I don’t know, with their only qualifications being that an SUV driver I don’t know introduced me to one; or do I stand here with no idea where I am or how to get to my hotel, waiting for the downpour that is sure to come?
I decided to take my chances with the men on the moped. I sat on the back, the younger one was in the middle, and the older gentleman drove. My luggage was tucked between the legs of the driver (luckily I pack light) and I had a backpack on. As we zipped through the streets of Krabi, I considered my escape routes. What if we stop in some strange back alley? How could I protect myself against these two? My fears were all completely unfounded, as soon we came upon a small harbor with many small wooden long boats in it.
We disembarked from the moped and the gentlemen led me down a path to a long boat docked in the harbor. The older gentleman jumped in and started the motor, while the younger one helped me and my luggage board the boat. As we were boarding, I felt the first few drops of the storm I had heard brewing earlier.
Oh God, I’m Gonna Die!!
The boat sped out of the harbor and we reached the semi-open waters of the Andaman Sea. I could smell the heavy stench of rain in the air, and the waters started to churn faster. Suddenly, the clouds exploded and let forth a monsoon of heavy rain. The long boat had a tarp cover, so the younger man and I took shelter under the tarp, seated on the floor of the boat between the benches.
The older gentleman was amazing. He stood in the heavy rain, steering the boat, navigating the unforgiving waves of the sea. I cowered in my spot, hugging my knees, wondering if this was how I would die. At least I had lived! But soon, hope appeared. Through the torrential downpour, I saw the outline of land. The beach was getting closer. The sea was beginning to calm in the protected enclave of the small harbor. Miraculously the longboat pulled up into the sandy beach. It was still raining very heavily, but at least I was on land! I wouldn’t die in a capsized longboat!
The young man leaped out of the boat with my luggage and helped me to the shore. He motioned for me to follow, then lifted my bag over his head and began sprinting towards the lodges lining the beach. After a 100 meter dash on the wet beach, I finally arrived at my hotel. As he placed my luggage down, I offered him a 1000 Baht note, and told him to keep the change. He earned it. As I made my way to the front counter, the rain began to subside, and I was able to see the true beauty of the jungle beach resort in which I was staying.
I set out in search of adventure, and after a train, bus, tuk-tuk, SUV, moped, and boat ride, adventure is what I found.
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Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.