In a way, the six days we spent on the island of Koh Tao felt like six weeks. Some daily events became a ritual and we were sad at the thought of leaving. However, the rest of Thailand was waiting!
Initially, the idea was to catch an early ferry and take a northbound train, hopefully reaching Damnoen Suduak by evening. An early morning visit to the well known floating market there followed by a journey by train towards Kanchanaburi seemed like a good plan. Sadly there was no way to get onto the last northerly train on time after disembarking the ferry from Tao. We thus opted to book a joint ticket to Hua Hin, travelling by “VIP Bus”. At first, we figured that the front row seats were great (added legroom etc) but soon discovered the horror of being able to see the road ahead from the drivers perspective. A proverbial gauntlet as obstacles appeared from all sides. Scooters loaded with Thai families happily hogged both sides of the narrow road all the while other buses and trucks competed for the little tarmac spread out between potholes. Our driver seemed particularly adventurous as he overtook on blind hills and sent children and all types of animals scurrying.
Apparently decades ago Hua Hin became a popular destination for affluent Thais due to its close proximity to Bangkok. (Even the royal family still has a summer palace there). Big hotels and resorts line the beautiful 15km beach (the main attraction) and potbellied American retirees are everywhere. It was immediately apparent how different the average visitor to Hua Hin was compared to Koh Tao. Where in Toa the average age was probably 22, in Hua Hin, it was closer to 55!