Moments of Misery: Long, Frustrating Travel Days (Bangkok to Koh Lanta)

Most of our posts on this blog will be happy recollections of some moments of our trip. But life on the road won’t always be fun. We feel like we’d like to share some of these moments of misery too. (OK, and vent a little about them too…)

Sometimes travel is exhilarating and challenging… sometimes it is just frustrating. When you’re on the road, you have some relaxing days, some big adventurous days, and some just travel days. The travel days are the ones where you have to move between locations and if you’re lucky, it is a quick and comfortable trip. If you’re unlucky, it can be the opposite.

We had spent a long time deciding which Thai beach to visit and had ultimately picked Koh Lanta after reading some amazing reviews on other blogs and looking at some pictures. The only problem with Koh Lanta is that it is relatively far south of Bangkok, actually a bit closer to the Malaysia border. We had heard that it wasn’t really that hard to get to though – just a quick flight from Bangkok to Krabi and then grab a minibus from the airport that will drop you off at your accommodation on the island. Sounds easy right?

Our long day started in Bangkok where it was hot and sticky. We knew we could get to the airport via the metro/train and were intrigued by the challenge of getting there on our own. Even our hostel hadn’t known about this connection! Their first instinct had been to take a taxi! But, we thought we could do it more cheaply (and more adventurously) ourselves. This involved a 10 to 15 min walk to the metro and a quick trip (just one stop) to the Hua Lamphong stop which is also the main Bangkok train station. We bought our tickets quickly (and cheaply for only 20 baht… though for some reason they were more expensive than the train tickets we had bought a few days earlier that had taken us all the way from Ayutthaya to Bangkok), got on the train, and headed to the Dong Muang airport. It actually all went according to plan! We should have been pleased… except we didn’t take into account how horribly humid Bangkok is. We were leaving relatively early (about 7:15 am) in the morning so we had figured it wouldn’t be too hot yet. But we were wrong. By the time we arrived at the train station, we were already dripping (yes, actually literally dripping) with sweat. The train was unairconditioned. We got some seats (which was lucky) but they weren’t right under the fan which was unfortunate. So we sweated more. When the train was moving it wasn’t too bad as the windows were open, but for some reason the train stopped a lot! By the time we arrived at the airport, Della felt like she had just stepped out of the shower, except instead of being fresh and clean she was stinky and dirty.

The Bangkok train station

The Bangkok train station


Our flight actually went quite smoothly, no problems at all! But it was on a budget carrier (Thai Lion) that we hadn’t used prior and the space for your knees was the smallest we had ever seen!

The next part was what we were least sure about. Multiple sources had indicated to us that we could just grab a minivan from the Krabi airport straight to Koh Lanta. So, once we landed, we set out to do this. Unfortunately, information at the airport was unhelpful and told us we had to go into Krabi town. We found another desk selling minibus transfers to multiple islands. They had one to Koh Lanta, but it was 490 baht instead of the 350 baht we were expecting. They told us they could take us into Krabi town to the pier for just 90 baht. They also said that the only way to get any bus at all would be to go to Krabi town. We thought we might be able to find the cheaper transfers from there so we got the ticket.

We piled onto a crowded bus and headed into Krabi town which was unfortunately 30 min away (in the opposite direction from Koh Lanta). When we arrived in town, we definitely did not go to the pier, or even to downtown, or even where there were any businesses at all. They dumped us off the bus at their main office and we had one choice – to take their expensive minibus. Either that or to head off into town on a hot day with our bags, not really knowing where we were going or how far that might be. So, we bought the tickets.

They said they would drop us off at our accommodation at Klong Nin Beach in Koh Lanta. There was some confusion as they had never heard of our place and didn’t seem to be able to read the map we were showing them. But they threw up their hands and just shoved the tickets at us. We assumed that meant that the driver would know. After the exchange was made, it was 1:15 and we thought we were going to get on the 2 pm bus. They hadn’t bothered to tell us that the 2pm bus was full so we would have to wait for the 3pm bus. Ugh.

With nothing to do but wait, and having had no food since breakfast, we decided to eat (at their restaurant). We were a little frustrated to give this annoying company more of our money, but we were hungry so we did anyway.


At 3pm, our bus pulled up. We tried to talk with the driver to make sure he knew about our accommodation. He didn’t speak much English and walked away from us without ever communicating. Rude. But, we piled on with several other tourists. We were almost full to capacity when we left. Then we drove back to the airport!  Here we picked up about 5 more people… even though we had been told when we were at the airport 2 hours earlier that this was impossible. The new arrivals crowded into the bus that only had 2 seats left… Luckily for us, we weren’t squished so badly, but others in the bus had to sit 3 or 4 to 2 people seats. Then, finally we set out for the island.

It is a long drive (about 2 hours by any calculation) with 2 ferry crossings. The first one was fine. But, for some reason, the second ferry crossing took us about 45 min. The crossing itself is quite short, but it must have been rush hour on the island or something because we waited in a line of vehicles for about 35 min before we even got onto the ferry. By this point, everyone on the bus was hot, crowded, and grumpy.

Other cars getting loaded onto the ferry

Other cars getting loaded onto the ferry

After the long ferry crossing, we headed farther onto the island. The minibus stopped at the first main beach where some people got out either to stay there or to be transferred to a taxi to get to their accommodation. Here we tried to communicate again where we were staying. Our driver still didn’t understand us so got one of the taxi drivers to come and help. We said we needed to go to our place on Klong Nin Beach. He said, oh no, this minibus doesn’t go there, you will have to pay for a taxi. This seemed outrageous to us, so we absolutely refused. We had been told we would get to our accommodation and the minibus was going to take us there.

Ultimately, it was no problem, the minibus headed for Klong Nin, and we weren’t even the last ones off the bus. However, they did not take us to our accommodation and we did have to walk a ways. By that point, we were just happy to be off the bus.

We finally arrived at almost 6:30 pm. Luckily, our room was waiting for us. It was fan only, which we knew, but we could have really used some AC just then. We were also surprised that while having a toilet and a shower, our room did not have a sink. Strange?

But nothing really went wrong, and we made it safely and in one piece. Still, days like these can be so taxing. Heat, frustration, fear of getting ripped off, and delays can really take their toll.

Moments of Misery: The “VIP” bus from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang

Most of our posts on this blog will be happy recollections of some moments of our trip. But life on the road won’t always be fun. We feel like we’d like to share some of these moments of misery too. (OK, and vent a little about them too…)

Our knees were being crushed by the large recline of the seats in front of us, the large incline of our own seats meant we were leaning far back , our butts almost sliding off our seats, the air conditioning was blowing the tiniest wisp of air in 95 degree heat, and the curvy, steep road seemed to stretch on past the horizon. Thirty minutes into the eight hour bus ride, and we were wondering just exactly what we had gotten ourselves into.

We had heard that the stretch of road traveling from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, Laos was not easy. We had heard it was rough, and curvy, and that you might just get sick. We had even heard that there were zero good ways to avoid this and you had to be prepared. So, we were trying to psych ourselves up for a difficult trip. Even so, the reality was pretty miserable.

We booked the “VIP” bus, and even confirmed that it would have AC. We arrived at the bus station 20 minutes before departure and the bus was already mostly full. Our assigned seats were taken, and rather than argue with the German couple that already looked like they weren’t having a great day, we just took two nearby available seats. These seats were most likely available because of two major flaws: the two seats in front of them were stuck in a reclining position, so there wasn’t much legroom, and the seats themselves were also stuck in a reclining position, so you were forced to sit up straight with no neck support or lean far back the whole time. We apologized to the couple sitting behind us for crushing their knees, but they realized there was nothing we could do.

The temperature outside was hot but not unbearably so, but when we first boarded the bus it was 10 degrees warmer on there since the bus wasn’t on and there was no breeze. When the bus started up, we breathed a sigh of relief as it sounded like the AC kicked in…. but then we realized that there was barely any air blowing. You could see people up and down the aisles fiddling with the vents, but the effect was very minimal.

The road from Vang Vieng to Vientiane mostly went over narrow mountain roads, which meant that most of the trip was spent with the hulking bus swaying back and forth. This made it a bit hard to read for long stretches of time without getting car sick, especially since there wasn’t much airflow going.

We heard multiple people make the same remark we were thinking to ourselves: If this is the VIP bus, I’d hate to see what the regular bus is like! We haven’t been as upset about a bus ride since our adventures with the buses in the Peloponnese in Greece.

For all the complaining we have done in this post though, it could have been a lot worse. The bus made it without getting in an accident, and we didn’t actually get sick. The arrival was basically on time, and none of our possessions were lost. Still, we hope it’s a while before we have such a bus ride again!

Moments of Misery: Bed Bugs…?

Most of our posts on this blog will be happy recollections of some moments of our trip. But life on the road won’t always be fun. We feel like we’d like to share some of these moments of misery too. (OK, and vent a little about them too…)

Good night, don’t let the bed bugs bite! Normally you think this is just a cute little rhyme. It’s a lot less cute when, suddenly, the bed bugs do bite. During our first stay in Greece, we woke up in the morning with some unexplained bites on our arms and heads. We weren’t really sure what they were. It seemed possible that they were mosquito bites… but they seemed to be a little bit too grouped for that. We didn’t see any evidence of bed bugs, so we didn’t worry too much… yet. We slept a second night at the same location. Eric woke up with bites again, this time it looked like some bug had marched up his back and around his neck… though Della had none. We met another couple who talked about their experience with bed bugs and it had some similarities to what we were experiencing. Again, we found no evidence of actual bugs though.


We moved to our second place in Greece, feeling incredibly guilty if we were bringing bugs along with us. Though, we took many precautions to keep the place safe. Another night and Eric had a few more bites, though now they seemed random and Della still had none. Bed bugs or not?!? We just couldn’t be sure. All of our research said we had to actually see the bugs! We took our bags apart and scoured everything. Della found nothing, but Eric found 2 things that might have maybe been bugs? Too small to tell. At this point we had a decision to make, continue our plans to head to the Peloponnese, staying in more small towns, or head to Athens where we could find a laundromat and try to kill the maybe bugs once and for all. We used some info from this site and our new travel friends who talked about how they got rid of them. Oh… did I mention that this was happening on our 10 year anniversary???

We decided to head to Athens where we found a laundromat and promptly washed and/or dried every piece of clothing or bags we have. This included all of our packing cubes, our toiletry kits, our day bags, and even our large bags themselves, as well as our clothes of course. This was not super easy as we had to take everything apart and somehow figure out how to get the bags in small dryers.


Holding the dryer shut… because our bags kept pushing it open…




Everything came out of our bags… Can you believe we carry that much stuff around? Most of it is in the washer or dryer even!

A couple hours and almost 15 euro later we were done. We headed to our AirBnB feeling pretty confident that it would be just us for the night.

Moments of Misery: Rain, Rain, and More Rain

There is almost nothing worse to dampen your spirits than rain when you are traveling. We have certainly had our fair share of rain during our time in Europe, but there is something especially miserable in knowing that it is going to rain the entire time that you are visiting a town. That is what happened to us in Eger, Hungary. The forecast was for rain for the entire time we were visiting. We had such high expectations for our time here! The first day wasn’t terrible. It rained lightly on and off all day, so we did most of the indoor things we had planned. We hoped to do the famous castle on our second day and return to the Valley of Beautiful Women (a 30 min walk from town). We woke up to steady rain. We had one more indoor activity we were interested in, so we headed out to do that hoping that the forecast of less rain in the afternoon would hold true. It did not.

Soaked and miserable, we headed back to our pension. Blargh.


*Update: later in the evening, the rain did stop and we were able to rush and walk through the castle after all!! 😁

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Moments of Misery: A Mighty Wind

Most of our posts on this blog will be happy recollections of some moments of our trip. But life on the road won’t always be fun. We feel like we’d like to share some of these moments of misery too. (OK, and vent a little about them too…)

Nineteen days into our safari, we were feeling so confident about the camping aspect of the trip. Sure, it had been a little cold, but we had figured out how to dress ourselves to deal with that. We were getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, if not more.

Then it got windy.

After the sun went down on our night in Solitaire, a strong wind started to blow. We manoeuvred the truck into place behind the ablutions block, but it still didn’t really block the wind very well. Our tent was pretty sturdy, so we were worried about it collapsing or blowing away, but the wind was gusting strongly enough to cause the sides to flap very loudly, and even the wooden floor to vibrate. We didn’t get much sleep until the wind died down around midnight.

Hiding our tent behind the ablutions building

Hiding our tent behind the ablutions building

The next morning we were pretty frustrated not to have gotten much sleep. But, it wasn’t windy anymore, so we hoped our next night in Sesriem would be better. All day it was nice and calm, and even by the time we went to bed, there was only a light breeze. We were looking forward to a nice night of sleep to make up for the previous night.

Around 11, the wind came.

It was just as bad as at Solitaire, and this time continued on through the morning, interrupting some of our plans for visiting Sossusvlei. By the afternoon, the wind had died down to a light breeze. OK, this night, we really were looking forward to some solid sleep.

Around 10, the wind came.

Again, the wind lasted until the morning. We left Sesriem pretty bitter about the lack of sleep and interruption of our plans.


The next night, in the Quivertree Forest, there was no wind, and we finally got some good sleep!