A journey through heavily flooded villages
03.11.2010 - 04.11.2010 30 °C
After driving through the rural countryside of Langkawi we reached the port where we officially exited Malaysia, then boarded our ferry to Satun. On our arrival, we were provided with Thailand visas for a period of 14 days. To extend them we either have to pay, or cross a border. We first made our way to Satun tourist information and purchased bus tickets to Krabi. We were informed that due to floods, buses had not run for the previous 48 hours and that our bus would be the first to attempt the journey. We were told that the bus would pick us up outside the port, however it turned out that the bus went from the centre of Satun and not the port so the bus operator was providing a 'connection'. The 'connection' turned out to be an open back van that had some 'home made' benches installed for us to perch on. We climbed in, along with a couple of Czech lads and we were all somewhat amused by our mode of transport. With the tour operator (who sold us our bus tickets) stood clinging on to the back of the van and with us clinging on to our backpacks and gripping the bench that we were sat on - we sped off. At the interchange, we were informed that the bus would be leaving half an hour later than scheduled. Further to a great deal of confusion from the operators, a group of us finally boarded a bus that was going to Trang - and once there we would need to change buses to get to Krabi.
Shortly into our journey our bus drove along severely flooded streets and towns, with murky floodwaters flowing fast along streets, through homes, shops - everything! Some locals were in boats floating outside of their homes, others sat on higher ground or raised platforms within buildings, but most were just stood in the deep floodwater. Mopeds were trying to get through some of the lower waters but the only vehicles getting through the 'waist deep' waters were trucks and buses. We saw Thai army deployments using sands bags to try and protect buildings, but for most it appeared too late. Thin walls had been washed away by the floods and we saw many damaged buildings. Despite the flood damage and dangers caused by the floodwater, locals were trying as much as possible to continue their daily business and waving to us tourists as our bus past by. After slowly passing through several different areas of flooding we finally reached Trang bus interchange which was free from floods. Learning that we had forty minutes before our connection would leave, we dashed to get some food from a street stall and enjoyed watching our orders being freshly cooked.
It was around 10pm when we arrived in Krabi and our first priority was to find a bed for the night. We jumped in a tuk tuk style taxi along with the two Czech lads and made our way to our chosen hostel, only to find it closed. Our Tuk Tuk driver insisted on taking us to a hostel that he knew - where we could see the room before deciding whether or not we wanted to stay and it turned out to be a good cheap base for the night. The owner was a real character and he was enjoying the local drink of ice chilled whisky.
The next morning we walked around Krabi in search of some supplies before our planned trip to the islands. Although Krabi was not what you would call overly commercialised, we did find a 'Boots the chemist' within a small department store, so clearly a lot of backpackers and tourists find their way here. In search of some breakfast, we enjoyed a Thai rice dish - it was a little early for chilli but it was all we could find on offer as we didn't find the local 'European cafe' until afterwards. At midday we boarded a boat from Krabi destined for Koh Phi Phi Don, an island that we had heard many times is one of outstanding natural beauty.