Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Slow Boat to Trot

If you have read the past few chapters you know how hard we worked to get to Koh Maak. I recommend it to anyone who wants a place to truly decompress. Even the dogs wag their tails slowly. We knew about the island's reputation and that is why we worked so hard to get there. We also knew the island has about eight miles of roads but we were committed to ride round and round until we had our daily mileage logged. What we didn't know is that the road system is shot. Rough, slow and narrow. We found getting around was like a walker race at the old folks home. We decided to leave the island and go some where we could ride. 

We arrived on Koh Maak on a Tuesday and the return boat left on Wednesday and Friday. To stay until Friday meant not riding on four consecutive days. So Wednesday at Oh Rooster Thirty we were packed and on the way to the pier. 

We were told the boat we wanted was the slow boat. Two boats were moored, one a shiny catamaran and the other was being loaded with cans and plastic bottles to be recycled but no signs saying which was going to Trat. This is the one we did not want to be our ride. We were confident it wasn't because we saw no seats. 

There were two women waiting as well and one spoke English. They were mother and daughter (Eva and Eva) on vacation from Slavakia. Since none of us knew what was going on we quickly bonded out of our search for information. We realized we had no food or water for a four hour trip and Eva the daughter volunteered to go the 200 yards to a little store. We gave her money and promised to hold the boat until she returned. We soon learned the trash boat was our ride. 

All of the luggage had been lined up at the edge of the pier. After a second look at the accommodations Eva and Eva decided they would go on a different boat. Just as they started to fish their bags out of the scramble the guy doing the loading reached them first and threw them into the boat. Eva began protesting in all the languages she knew but none of them was one he understood.  With all their bags loaded Eva the daughter looked at me and said, "I guess we will go on this boat." 

Our trikes were passed by hand across the gap between pier and deck as Steven and I nervously watched, expecting the worst.  Despite our misgivings the handoff's were successful and the trikes got nestled next to the recyclables. 

Actually there were seats but we needed to rearrange cargo. The seats were wood with two iron rails for back rests. There were no flotation devices. At this point gallows humor set in and we decided that if the worst happened we would use the bags with plastic bottles as flotation devices because they would float. You will not hear me complain about the little safety chat airlines give. 

It turns out that Eva the daughter anticipated it might be an interesting trip so one of her purchases was a can of beer for each of us. It had been decades since I had beer for breakfast but it tasted great. The seats were hard, the seas were high and rough, the wind cool and unrelenting, the toilet a dangerous ladder climb to get to but the conversation was filled with laughter. We chatted all the way to Trat which made a long trip go quickly. 

Once safely on land we shared one last laugh about the other worldly experience and parted ways.  Steven and I needed to get to a bus station for a bus to Chon Buri so Steven could connect with a friend and avid cyclist. We rode 20 miles to a guest house with the best value we had on the trip. Clean and inexpensive at $18 a night. 

The lady turned the TV on to El Jezerra for us. 

In the map below Koh Maak is the tiny little speck of an island in the lower right corner. The larger is Koh Chang (steep hills) and right above it is where the slow boat off loaded us and the trash. Trat is just to the right and Chon Buri is below Bangkok. 

After a good night's rest we rode a short distance to the bus depot. As we rode the last hundred feet a taxi passed us with Eva and Eva waving at us. Steven and I folded our trikes, supervised loading in the bus cargo space and bid our new friends one last goodbye reflecting that the next leg of our trip could not possibly have as much character as the previous. 

1 comment:

  1. Myron, I love reading your blog. It is fun to follow your adventure!!!
    Shelley Roth