Hua Hin - Koh Samui

Sunday, May 12, 2013

We said we would never do it again, but we had no choice we had to spend another night in a seat. :-(

Having just spent a few weeks travelling around Laos and Northern Thailand by coach we have got used to the 'turn up, buy a ticket and go' style of travelling.

Now we only have ourselves to blame as we could have booked our overnighter train from Hua Hin to Surat Thani on either of the previous visits to Bangkok but we left it until we got back from Pattaya. As we are travelling in the green season and tourists are few and far between we didn't for a minute think there would be a problem but we were wrong. When we went to book our train we were surprised to be told that there were no air-con sleepers left on the train we wanted. We picked a specific overnight service as only a few have an interconnecting bus service direct from Surat Thani railway station. If you travel on a day train you have to make you own way from the railway station into the town to catch an onward bus to the ferry, this wouldn't normally be an issue but the railway station is loosely named after the town as it is 15km away!

As our chosen train had no sleepers left on our preferred date of travel or a couple of days either side we investigated other alternatives. Unfortunately there wasn't many but we were told 'there are 17 fan cooled sleepers on the earlier train' not ideal as this meant we would arrive in Surat Thani hours before the bus connection. We mulled it over and decided it was the best option available so went back to buy them only to be told 'there are no sleepers available'. How was that possible in only an hour every sleeper had been sold? D'oh!

So without any other option we had to take a soft seat and duly purchased the ticket along with the bus and ferry connection to Koh Samui, the only consolation being it was a just 610B each (approx. £14) pretty incredible for the distance and 3 transport modes.

So ticket in hand we thought nothing more of the journey ahead until we checked in at our hotel in Hua Hin, when we realised with the masses of trains and dates we checked we ended up buying a ticket for the right train but a day too early! So after dropping our bags we headed back to the station to see if we could sort the mess out. A very helpful lady (or so we thought) changed our tickets for just 20B per ticket. It was only when we were checking our carriage number before leaving the hotel to catch the train we noticed that although she had given us 2 seats together seat 21 and 22 they were inconveniently in different carriages! It was now 10pm and we couldn't change them as all the seats on the train had since been sold.

This is the first issue we have had with tickets on our trip which in itself is pretty impressive but nevertheless we have learnt a valuable lesson. Buy tickets as early as possible and double check them before leaving the counter!

The train arrived over an hour late so we didn't board until half past midnight. We will be doing a special transport blog soon and specifically talking about the train service in Thailand which in a word is 'shocking' We have yet to catch a train in the Kingdom that is anywhere near on-time, and when we talk about late we are not talking about minutes but hours.

TThe night in a soft seat was certainly better than the hard seat we had to endure back in China but still not a pleasant experience and neither of us managed to get more than a few hours of sleep. The train didn't have air-con so all the windows were left wide open which during the day is fine but at night isn't so great. Passing trains appear from nowhere like something out of a horror movie with lights blazing and horns blowing, we are sure the drivers get a kick out of scaring everyone to death.

An experience we hope not to have to repeat anytime soon but on the bright side we made our bus and ferry connection to Samui.

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