The overnight bus from Penang, Malaysia to Dong Sak, Thailand (where we took the ferry to Koh Phangan) goes through Hat Yai and Surat Thani and takes about 12 hours total. On the way to Hat Yai we crossed the border into Thailand. The first thing we noticed is that buildings around us were less sturdily constructed and people and villages generally looked poorer. There were much more women out, not nearly as many wore shawls, and many were riding motorcycles. Other than those differences in the cultural landscape things seemed very similar to Malaysia so far.

The bus from Hat Yai to Dong Sak took 9 hours. It was overbooked and the driver kept picking up more Thais along the way and charging them nothing or maybe 10% of what they charged us. These people stood in the aisle for the entire overnight drive.

Here’s breakfast at 4:45am at the Dong Sak pier on the mainland where we waited for the ferry to Koh Phangan:

Total cost: 55 Baht. That is less than $2. I think in the States each of those things costs close to two dollars. Score.

We waited at the dock for over three hours until our ferry came. Another three hours later we showed up at the port village on Koh Phangan and found a tuk tuk to take us to our hostel on the other side of the island, about 20km away. Rides from anywhere to anywhere else on the island cost 200 Baht per person but if there are a lot of people or the distance is short you can negotiate down. This is about 10x what they charge the locals but if you don’t speak any Thai you don’t really have a chance to bring the price down much. The tuk tuks are really cool to look at and ride in, but the whole time you are driving it’s hard to ignore the fact that in the event of an accident everyone in the back is pretty much guaranteed to be significantly maimed or killed. There is no alternative, so tuk tuk we rode.

Our hostel was cheap and relaxing. Here is the pool area which overlooks Salad Beach on the northwest shore.

As we came to the island right before the full moon the island and our hostel were packed with foreigners. I think the rest of our trip through Asia we will never see so many white people. We decided to walk up the beach to get away from it all for a bit. Here are pictures from our beach walk.

Crab traps

Cool home

Stray puppies