This month was very intense in terms of visits and events. I went on the touristic road from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City, plus a week in Japan (I know, shame on me, right?)
Upon arriving in Bangkok, my plan was to get to Hua Lamphong Station and take the first train to Surat Thani and the ferry to Koh Samui, but as it was fully booked, I braced myself to a day of visit in Bangkok and a night in a bunk bed on the night train to Surat Thani. The night train was how I remembered, it didn't change one bit in 3 years.
FYI about the combo ticket Train+Bus+Ferry (compared to what's in seat61): the train departs a little after 5 PM, and the ticket says you arrive at Surat Thani at 4h24, while you actually arrive at 5 o'clock. No need to use an alarm to wake up, as the guy on the train will wake you up 40 min before arrival. At Surat Thani, all companies are in the same spot (Raja or Lomprayah), and the first bus is at 6 AM, for the Raja Ferry. The first Lomprayah bus is at 8 AM, with a speed boat departing from Don Sak around 9:30 arriving in Samui at 10h15. I took the 6 AM bus, we arrived at Don Sak around 8 (as the bus is also used as a king of public transportation by the locals), and at Samui at around 10.
On the bus, I had a very new feeling. Last time I was there, it was on holidays. Now, it seemed weird to go from somewhere which didn't look like my former every day life to somewhere which looked even less like it. It was like a holiday within holidays, except that it didn't really feel like how a holiday used to feel. I cannot describe it very well, but I felt closer to an explorer than to a tourist. Like I said, very new, I liked it. Arriving in Chaweng, I met with the group of friends I was to spend the next 3 days with. The first day, we walked in Chaweng, but the market wasn't really interesting, so after booking a private van for the next day and a tour around Angthong the day after that, we just relaxed on the beach, which was kind of disappointing. Rocks hidden in the sand, algae and garbage on the beach, really not my idea of a paradise (all the more after the beautiful beaches of Australia). Also disappointing: the service. While on my first trip in 2010, Thailand was truly up to its name "the Country of smiles", here, the service was abysmal. But when the night came, the city awoke and reanimated, and we spent some time at the Green Mango, a very interesting night club.
The next day, we went on a tour with a private van (we negotiated 1800 bahts for 11 people and 6 hours). We visited temples, waterfalls, it was nice but not really extraordinary. But I knew the main event was yet to come: Angthong. That was just amazing. Of course, there are a lot of tourist boats, but the Natural Park is simply beautiful. Reminded me of Ha Long more colorful.
The only thing new I wanted to do there was Ayutthaya, and I wasn't disappointed. Apparently Sukhothai is more impressive, but I could totally be satisfied with the first.