Our taxi dumped us (and our ever-increasing pile of luggage) unceremoniously in the middle of the busy road outside the train station and we bustled about trying to locate our cabins on the sleeper train which would be home for the next 14 hours.
As we'd paid in advance for a first-class cabin with bar and meals, we were somewhat surprised to be shown to a 5ft by 3ft cell which had already been gatecrashed by a family of cockroaches. There were ominous stains on the seats and decades-old dirt ingrained into every crevice. We refused to be deterred by our less-than-glamorous surroundings and cracked open the Chang (local beer) whilst we had a good chinwag.
Dinner turned out to be a surprisingly palatable Thai dish of chicken with cashew nuts, as long as you closed your eyes whilst you ate it and tried not to picture the squalid kitchen where it had been prepared, if the rest of the train was anything to go by.
At 9pm a Thai guard came into our cabins and transformed our stained seats into..stained bunkbeds. He had the cheek to wear a cotton facemask, presumably to prevent him from inhaling the dustmites who were greedily devouring the dead skin of hundreds of previous passengers. The paying customers on the other hand (ie us) had no such luxury, and were expected to bury our faces into the filthy cushions and drift off into a peacful slumber.The liberty! Those facemasks should have been standard issue, handed out with the tickets as we boarded.
We finally arrived at Surat Thani at 9am, 3 hours later than promised, with stiff necks from sleeping fitfully on breeze blocks disguised loosly as pillows.
We all filed off the train and onto a sweaty bus which would take us to the port to catch the ferry to Koh Phangan. After a few hours of waiting and 10 games of Blackjack it became apparent that something was amiss. As we were bundled onto another yet coach and taken to a different port we definitely began to smell a rat ( or it may have just been our armpits, given that we'd all been in transit for well over 16hrs at this point).
By 4pm there was still no sign of the boat, only a sea of angry passengers fuming at the Thais to get us to our destination.
We eventually made the ferry crossing, but not before we'd watched "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" 3 times on the (seriously overcrowded) boat, two of which were in Thai, which made it strangely more watchable.We arrived on Tuesday night, a whole 24hrs after we'd left Bangkok.
Luckily, our villa was the epitome of sleek, modern style and boasted luxuries such as hot running water and a western toilet. (Holes in the ground are commonplace in Thailand.)
Locating the beach bar next door to the villa, we finally began to chill out with a radioactive cocktail and the soothing tones of Bob Marley...