Saturday, December 02, 2006

More sun, more sand, more sea

That is, once we finally get out of the meeting at the university to process our work permits, health insurance (free, but compulsory, even though all of us have our own), bank account opening, teaching licence and pay cheques. It was supposed to be a quick process, but for no apparent reason it took us until nearly 2pm because of the entire lack of any form of organisation ability on the part of the university. And i-to-i. I want to know what the heck our hundreds of pounds worth of agency fees are supposed to go towards, if it's not to avoid tedious queues like this. The Filipinos were all being processed at the same time as us, and they didn't pay agency fees. I-to-i didn't even have a representative there. We were not impressed. We did manage to cut a little time out of the waiting by indulging in a spot of queue-jumping (Michael: “yeah, er, British... queueing... that's just our cover”)

But no matter – soon as we were done, we were out of there and straight to Ekkamai to get the bus. We didn't know where the bus station was in relation to the skytrain stop last time, and went striding confidently off in the wrong direction. We're not going to do that this time because I now know we have to go out of the left-hand exit, which takes us out onto the right side of the road, and then the bus station is just round the corner. So we arrive, I take us out of the left-hand exit, and off we go. In the wrong direction. Well how was I to know there were two exits to the skytrain?! Oh well, so much for not striding confidently off in the wrong direction.

It's dark by the time we get to the pier. And after a complicated conversation with the boat man – do we want to leave now for 150 baht, or wait for 20 people for 100 baht – he ends up giving us the wrong ticket and we have to wait for 20 people. But then the boat people get bored and take us even though there are only about 15.

And finally, we're on the island! Next step: find accommodation. A bunch of people are getting in a taxi, so we ask them where they're going – Ao Phai – and tag along (the taxis here are pick-ups with seats in the back, room for about 12 people). The Rough Guide recommends Naga, so we walk back up along the road and try them first. No room. Next one along, Tok's. Nothing. Jep's. No joy. So we finally end up back at Ao Phai (our backpacks are getting kind of heavy by now in the heat). They have a hut. 600 baht a night? We'll take it. It's a proper bamboo hut on stilts – much cooler than the ones at the other resort.

So we get changed, run down to the beach and jump in the sea.


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