Denver to Tokyo

Not to start the tale of my journey off on a somber note. but goodbyes are always difficult for me, and I knew this one would be particularly difficult considering I was leaving Fletch behind for a whole three months and my newly single mom who was in the process of moving. I actually managed to keep composure until the airport, at which point I completely lost it. The prospect of being alone for three months in a foreign place on the opposite side of the world, three days journey away can be quite terrifying. Exhilarating yes, but mostly terrifying when saying goodbyes.

The flight from Denver to Tokyo was twelve hours, once again aboard a United Airlines Dreamliner, only this time the entertainment systems didn’t cut out thank goodness. But, in exchange for the luxury of entertainment, there was no free alcohol. The beverage cart rolled around for the first time and I tried to order a red wine only to be told I would have to pay. Nice international flight. Luckily I had stocked up on Fireball shooters beforehand. FYI, 100 ml = 3.4 oz. So those little 100 ml bottles of alcohol are exactly what you need in your liquids bag. After watching Cool Running, some Swedish movie called Once Upon A Time in Phuket, Frozen, twelve episodes of the ninth season of How I Met Your Mother season 9, and sleeping for about an hour, we arrived in Tokyo.

For twelve hours I had been looking forward to the free sushi in the United Club at Narita Airport. Once off the airplane I practically ran to the fancy lounge area, only to be told that the actual United Club member card holder had to be present to enter. It wasn’t enough that my ticket had been bought with his account. Thanks United. Message to Fletch, please bring me some airport sushi in June. The rest of you may laugh, but know that in Japan, even the airport sushi is better than our nicest sushi restaurants back home.

Tokyo to Bangkok

I showed up to my gate for Thai Airways and sat and stared out the window in a complete daze for a while, until it was about time to board. I got up from my spot only to find a line that went as far as I could see and around the corner and down the terminal. Every time I tried to find a place in line it was only to have hurried Japanese travelers push their way in front of me. I had forgotten that Japanese don’t really believe in end of the line, just shove your way in wherever there’s a gap. I followed suit and twenty minutes later I walked onto an Airbus A380, with all the chairs upholstered in bright pink and purple, and the floors a faux dark hardwood. The stewardesses were all dressed in beautiful brightly colored traditional satin dresses and greeted everyone with a polite sawadee ka. I was ushered all the way to the back of the plane and then up a flight of stairs. Two stories! How exciting. It’s the little things in life.

Several more episodes of How I Met Your Mother, a hot meal, a two hour nap, several glasses of wine, a green tea ice cream, and seven hours later, we landed in Bangkok.

Off the plane in Bangkok at 10 PM I had two items on my to do list before finding a quiet place to crash. One, get a Thai sim card, and two, book a ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Tao for the next morning. The first phone counter I found told me they wouldn’t be able to unlock my phone, but to try such and such place farther down. The place they sent me to was filled with a dozen Thai people busily converting foreign phones over to Thai plans and so I got a little more hopeful. I handed my phone over and the girl easily popped open my life proof case, threw in a sim card and set about setting it up. So far so good. Then the news that my phone was not unlockable. I was afraid of that but it was worth a shot. So plan B, there’s a Thai Sim card in the iPad. Can’t call off of it but at least I have data wherever I go. I set off in search for the tourist desks.
     Hello I’d like to book a ferry. 
     Ok I know very nice place, show you pictures first?
At which point he started showing me pictures of different hotels. Ok this guy doesn’t actually speak English, just the phrases he needs to know to get people to hotels. So I tried the next tourist counter.
     Hello I’d like to book a ferry.
Quizzical look.
     I need to get from Koh Samui to Koh Tao.
     Oh you go to Koh Samui? Fourth floor.
She thought I was asking for the checkin desk. No one here spoke any English. I’d just have to get of the plane in the morning and wing it.

I found a place on the first floor with nothing but rows and rows of chairs, five chairs per row, each row claimed by a backpacker camping out and sound asleep. I walked all the way to the end before finally finding one last empty row and claimed it as my own. I also found a sign on the wall that said “Please No Sleeping in Chairs.” Despite the jet lag and exhaustion, it was surprisingly difficult to sleep. Being alone I had to worry about people stealing my bags, as well as not waking up in time for my 6am flight to Koh Samui. I finally fell asleep only to wake up an hour later. So much for worrying about oversleeping.

Bangkok to Koh Samui

The next morning I climbed aboard my Bangkok Airways flight to Koh Samui, flight time: one hour. Somehow I had accidentally booked a business class ticket. I walked on the plane to find a light spray of mist overhead to cool everyone down. Upon sitting down I was immediately offered an orange juice. Then, before takeoff, menus were brought around that listed everything that would be served for breakfast along with beverage options. Half of them I didn’t understand, organic rice grass tea (their recommendation), butterfly pea drink with lemon, ceylon silver tips white tea, and a dozen more recognizable selections. After takeoff our steward came around with damp towelettes, then our meals, which consisted of omelets, fresh papaya, yogurt, biscuits, coffee, whichever beverage we had ordered, and even little miniature salt and pepper shakers. I wasn’t even halfway finished eating before the announcement came on for flight attendants to prepare for arrival. By the time I was done, We were landing, and damp towelettes were brought around again. As we were taxiing into our gate, or not an actual gate, but our place on the tarmac, a stewardess came around and passed out little watertight bags for Songkran. So that’s what you get for a $200 plane ticket with Bangkok Airways.

The Koh Samui airport was more of a botanical gardens then an airport. We were transported via golf cart to the little open hut that housed the baggage carousel, and our ride was through beautiful luscious gardens. My bags were the first out, and I approached the exit, no idea what my plan from here would be.

Koh Samui to Koh Tao

Right near the exit there was a tourist counter, I approached the lady and told her I wanted to go to Koh Tao, to which she replied 700 Baht. I handed over the money, and she wrote me out a ticket for the 8:00 Lomprayah. It was already 7:00 and the Lomprayah was a shuttle ride away (included in the 700 Baht). I waited about half an hour for the shuttle, which picked up a group of us heading to various ferries, the Lomprayah it turned out was the last stop on our route. Looking at my watch frequently as every minute brought us closer and closer to my ferry departure time, I wondered weather or not we would actually make it, only to realize I didn’t really care. I had no place to be anytime soon, so what if I had to take a later ferry? As I was enjoying this wonderful feeling of not having a care in the world, one of the last two people on the shuttle with me started yelling at the driver to stop and pull over as he dialed up his travel agent. He had a good yell at the poor other person on the line that the ferry they had booked for him was going to be bringing him to the wrong beach in Koh Pha Ngan. Then when his girlfriend asked him what the big fuss was, he started yelling at her that he had been doing this for thirteen years and so knew more about it than she did. Poor girl. We finally started driving again and continued on our way, five minutes til 8. We got dropped off and I still had to exchange my voucher for a ticket, by which time I literally had to run all the way down the dock with my backs as the ferry was pulling away. I just made it, action movie style, jumping aboard as the Thai guys on board reached out to help me.

Two hours later I debarked the ferry, once again in Koh Tao, back to my new home sweet home. Kyle was there at the ferry station waiting to pick me up, his sun bleached white hair hard to miss even in the crowd. We walked over to the area where the taxi drivers hang out and then sat on the curb and drank a couple wine coolers. We lazily negotiated a price for a taxi to transport me and my baggage to Kyle and Shawna’s place, then let the driver know we weren’t actually going to leave just yet and just sat there on the curb drinking and catching up. Welcome to island life.