In travel, as in life, there are a few crucial decisions that have a dramatic ripple effect on subsequent events. In our case, it was not selecting the transportation offered to Chumpon from window 10 at the Phuket Bus Terminal 2. Instead, we chose to purchase a ticket from window 15 that offered a slightly cheaper option that departed at 1:30, an hour earlier than the window 10 bus. So what if all of the company signs are handwritten, they have official-looking ticket books and we’d get to Chumpon in time for dinner. The degree of twenty-twenty hindsight we have now is staggering.
The double-decker bus did leave an hour earlier, but our route hugged the west coast of the peninsula most of the time. We stopped in so many tiny towns, I lost count. An hour into the trip, the conductor conducted a strange and wonderful tweaker-status inspection of the upper cabin. He peered into every overhead compartment, under the seats, behind the tray tables and even ran his hand between Tiffanie’s thigh and the window. Finally, he pulled a small object wrapped in toilet paper out of the light fixture above my head and scurried back downstairs. Apparently, we bought a one-way ticket on the drug bus to Bangkok.
According to our guidebook, the drive from Phuket to Chumpon takes five hours. At around 6 pm, we checked google maps and realized that we still had another three hours to go. The journey did have it’s high points–pun intended–including a unique view of rural Thailand that we would have missed otherwise. At a government checkpoint, a lady carrying plastic bags filled with hard-boiled eggs and fresh sliced mangoes came onto the bus to sell her wares. In the daylight, we saw acres of date palm trees planted in neat little rows and at night we were able to see people sitting on raised platforms inside their small houses illuminated by dim lights in the darkness.
Adding one last insult to injury, the drug bus dropped us off at a station 11 km away from downtown Chumpon at 9:30 pm. Thankfully, we were swooped up by a friendly cab driver named Minh who ferried us to Salsa Hostel and gave us a bunch of tiny bananas. After a day filled to the brim with Type II Fun, things were finally looking up. We procured tickets to Koh Tao leaving the following morning at 5:30 and hit the hay.