To get there, we had to leave from the East bus terminal in Bangkok. This took half an hour by cab to get to, despite being only 5 miles from where we were. Bangkok gridlock is hell. We almost missed the 7am bus (turns out it wouldn’t have made a difference, more on that later). We would have been much better off getting the taxi to take us only as far as the nearest elevated train stop, since the bus station was right beside a stop.
The A/C bus was a pleasant 3 hour journey, with strange Thai TV shows being played in the bus (3 hours of some bizarre Thai variety show with singing, dancing, and comedy sketches involving a lot of making fun of dwarfs, with random super-heroes stopping in to make an appearance.. ) The scenery was pretty but not breathtaking. We got off in Ban Phe, where the ferries leave from to go to Ko Samet.
We were told that the ferry would leave only when full – we ended up waiting an hour and a half for it to fill up. We believe there may be ferry which runs on a more exact schedule which leaves from another pier, but unfortunately no one could tell us about it or how to get there. So maybe there isn’t another one? The lady selling the tickets kept on stringing us along saying "we leave in 15 minutes" for about an hour. At the end, we were only short two people to make the trip – we started organizing everyone who was waiting to split the cost of the last few tickets just so we could go NOW, but then they finally decided just to go anyways.
When we got there, a cab took us to our resort on the west side of the island. The whole ‘getting there’ process took about 7 hours from leaving our hotel in Bangkok to arriving at our hotel in Ko Samet. Our advice – seriously – fly to Phuket. It’ll be faster, and more enjoyable.We stayed on the West side of the island at Ao Prao beach, at Dome Bungalows. The west side of the island is the quieter side, away from the beach volleyball, happy hour, and disco environment of the much busier east side. Dome Bungalows is by far the cheapest of all the hotels on Ao Prao – the others being Le Vimarn and Ao Prao resort. The room was cold water only, and A/C only from 5pm to 7am, when we didn’t really need it anyways. The water was nice and warm, until we noticed things starting to pinch us. Not bad, just annoying. The beach on this bay isn’t very long. There is no snorkeling to do off the beach (that we could see). The rich-folk resort next door did run snorkeling trips, but only "when full". All three resorts were almost completely empty while we were there. We were mostly the only ones swimming in the bay at all. We also got a Thai massage on the beach, 1 hour for about $7.50 for the two of us. We ate a very nice meal at the Ao Prao resort, right on the water. Prices were high, but we expected that for an expensive resort. Of course, when I say high, I mean, relatively speaking. For two people to dine with appetizers, booze, and dessert cost about $30 US. Our hotel also had a very good restaurant (though not romantic) for much more ‘reasonable’ prices. (lunch cost us about $5).
There was a storm overnight, and when we tried to go swimming the next day we found there was a lot of garbage that had washed up on the beach. This is apparently a common problem with a lot of the islands that are closer to Bangkok. We waded around the garbage, and were trying to enjoy the water when we looked down and found ourselves surrounded by jellyfish. Before we could make it out, though, Wendy was pretty badly stung.We’d had enough, and we headed back to Bangkok. Fortunately, we made good connections all the way back and got back pretty quick – in only 4 hours. Getting back on to the main land from the boat was interesting, as the boats at the Ban Phe pier were triple parked, so we had to do some interesting scrambling (fear of heights, anyone?) from one boat to the next and finally onto the pier itself.
We got back in time to drop off our bags at the New Siam Guest House 2 (where we were staying again), and head to the mall. This time we tried the Siam Square shopping mall, since we’d had such a good time at the MBK Shopping Center, but it was disappointing – more of an American style mall.