Our last trip of 2013 begin in the afternoon with a 225pm flight from Changi Terminal 2. In an attempt to save some money before the actual spending overseas, we have decided to take a bus 960 to Little India before changing to the MRT therefore avoiding the costs associated with taking a cab. On a sunny Friday afternoon, the bus arrived unexpectedly crowded. Guessed many people took the few days off from work till 2014 such as we did. We had a medium sized backpack with a 18″ luggage, though it was not to difficult to get onto the bus, we had to stand the entire 30 mins to Little India. Then it was a change to the NS line at Dhoby Ghaut to City Hall and EW to Tanah Merah and finally Changi Airport. Arrived at 1.5hrs since we boarded the bus, not too bad in our opinion.
Check in was relatively quick. Lunched at one of the food cafe and boarded the plane. An easy 40 winks in the Tiger flight piloted by a lady Captain, and a little bump ( my wife described it was like the plane was thrown onto the ground) during the landing, we landed safely 5mins before schedule, of 3pm. It was a good thing we got the front seats because the immigration was packed pretty quickly and the processing was kinda slow. Without the need for visa, we lined up at the queue quickly before it got busy. There were only 2 luggage lines in this small airport, so even when there weren’t any directions given, it was easy to find the right line.
Once past the declaration, everything happened really fast, bought the shuttle bus tickets from the counter for 150B/pax and there was already one staff near the exit enthusiastically taking our tickets and our alighting location. 10 mins later, we were already on the bus as everyone loaded up and luggage all stacked up in front behind the driver seat. Though almost everyone had a seat, those who boarded after all the seats were filled were semi sitting at back of the bus or even standing so it paid off to get to the front of the line as soon as possible. Another 10 mins and we were on the road driving through small towns and densely vegetated areas with a hilly backdrop. About 40mins later, the bus arrived at Ao Nang beach where the first of the few passengers were getting off, trying to rummage thru the mountain of stacked bags to pick out the ones that belonged to them. This bus also stopped at the the pier to Rai Leh beach where quite a few people got off. A little after 1hr, we finally arrived at our hotel Ao Nang Goodwill Hotel.
First look of the hotel gave us the impression of a small friendly establishment. There was no lifts and we were at the 3rd storey. It was a good thing we travelled light. The room was pretty spacious, clean but a little old. But I guessed it was of good value considering the other high prices. There was free wifi which we utilized immediately after we got the room but the signal was weak.
We were intending to visit Phi Phi island the next day and checked with the reception if there were any tours that would bring us there. There was one 1200B/pax but we were sure of the price. Went out and walked along the street and checked with another 3-4 places before finding out that we could get to Phi Phi at a cheaper rate, using ferry but that would mean slower arrival due its speed and probably a lot less time on the island in order to catch the return journey. In the end, we settled for a day trip by the same tour that was previously recommended by the recept.
We proceeded to walk further down to the beach area to search for dinner. There were quite a few restaurants that seemed to be serving Italian and Swedish food so we skipped those, looking for a Tom Yam restaurant to get Thai food. It was crowded and seemed to be understaffed and we had to self initiate to get our table, asked for menu and wait probably some 20 mins for the appetizers and 30mins for the mains in which one was even ordered wrongly, although the beer arrived shortly after ordering. The food wasn’t awesome definitely not worth the wait plus the mango juice was smaller than the other juices observed on the Caucasians tables, disappointing. While waiting, we put our time to good use by researching info online with the free wifi provided.
After the 600baht dinner, we went onto the streets and continued westwards to explore more. There were many stalls selling stuff alternated with cafés and bars, very typical of beach resort type of destinations. We weren’t really interested and didn’t really check out the goods, since it wasn’t really a good time to be shopping so early in the trip. Our other interest was to check out the rates to the Tiger cave that we intend to visit on Sunday. We tried a few of the “tourist information counter” and enquirer on the various tours and rates for our reference. Continued back to the hotel and stopped by MacD to buy some fries and Mcflurry. By the time we reached the hotel, it was already 10pm. Nothing much on the TV though there were MTV channels and a few other cable options. The hotel information booklet for guests had quite a bit of info and mind maps, which I thought was amusing. Went to bed with much anticipation of the trip the next day.