Jump on the train (when it arrives!)
Unodubtedly, as in most of Thailand, the bus is a faster option than the train, although I have, as I have stated in other tips, a great lover of train travel. I suppose I inherited this from my paternal grandfather, a railwayman for all his working life.
PKK stands on the main line between Bangkok and Surat Thani and the South. The Station is to the West of town, at the Western end of Th. Kong Kat and is an aesthetically pleasing place in itself. I was heading South to Chumpon (Chumporn) in order to catch a ferry to Ko Tao. Whilst I love Thai trains as a wonderful way to meet local people and see the countryside, be aware that the trains are somewhat sketchy in reapect of punctuality. Here is what happened.
I had previously checked the timetables and the 1331 looked like the best bet. Actually, it was about the only bet as the majority of trains seem to get here either late evening or in the dead of night, so not much chance of scoring accomodation at the far end.
I got to the station in good time, to find the ticket office shut and the seller sitting eating his meal looking at a few bemused Westerners and a much more relaxed and numerous group of Thai who obviously knew what was going on. A quick scan about gave a clue. There was a blackboard with some Thai script on it from which I deduced that the 1331 was delayed until 1400. That's OK, the journey is only about three hours still getting me there in good time. As the ticket seller seemed in no obvious hurry to finish lunch I retired to the buffet for a beer and an edition of Scooby Doo on the TV, still bizarrely in English. I know from experience, there is no way they would let a train go without giving you the opportunity to purchase a ticket. Eventually, the counter reopened amidst a mad scramble, which I let subside before buying my ticket for 34B. Imagine, a three hour journey for less than a pound sterling. The train duly arived about an hour late and off we set. This was not a problem as I was in no particular hurry.
I do recommend you take at least one train trip in Thailand and this is a pleasant journey to Chumpon and not too taxing.
Scoot about on a scooter.
The standard mode of transport over most of Asia and certainly in Southeast Asia is the humble scooter, and having ridden motorcycles as a young man, I am quite comfortable on them notwithstanding the often appalling driving standards road conditions. I have mentioned in a seperate tip that walking is a viable option, and a bicycle is good for visiting the nearby attractions. However, if you want to go a little further or if you just can't be bothered with exerting yourself, this is your option.
I was lucky as I had a Thai friend with me, so renting was easy. There are a few places about town that rent scooters but I was directed towards one which is directly opposite the main entrance (not the beachside entrance) of the large Hadthong Hotel on Th. Sooscuk. I rented an automatic Honda in good condition for 300B per day and it turned out to be very reliable although I did get a puncture although that is not the fault of the bike and was easily rectified.
One thing to be aware of though, and I am not sure if it was an attempt at a scam or a genuine oversight. The contract they give you to sign will have an amount of money you owe them in the event of the bike being stolen. This amount was left blank, so if I had lost the bike they could have filed in the most ridiculous figure imaginable on what is, after all, a legal document. With my friends assistance this was quickly sorted out.
Unlike neighbouring Lao where a rental tends to be for a period (normally 8 - 5) the rental is for a 24 hour period.
Get on your bike.
PKK is not a huge town, and walking is a perfectly viable option. If you don't feel like walking everywhere, however, a bicycle is a good option for exploring PKK itself and the nearby attractions such as Ao Noi and Ao Manao beaches. I hired my bike (pictured) for 80B per day from my hotel, the Suksant (see seperate tip). It was, as you see, a mountain bike and serviceable although it had been fixed so that it only had one gear. This was not a problem as it was adequate for the flat coastal roads in the area.
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