Sweating the Small Stuff: Prepping for Thailand

Thailand is right around the corner and I massively screwed up on a bit of the planning.  I bought my plane ticket in October. It was a rigorous search and the dam of relief came over me once that was completed. And in a really odd fashion, Misty and I booked our hotels a vast two months before I got my flight locked down. 

From there planning has been very speculative. “I want to go there and do this,” has been thrown around a lot. Most of the day in, day out details are being left until we are in country. For my part, I heard its cheaper that way. And I definitely know that to be true, I could walk into a Japanese travel agency looking to get things planned and come out wondering how I just gave up the rights of my first born for a sea kayaking trip. It really is that expensive.  

Because of this, the lazy kind of planning works for me. However, one thing we really needed to get were tickets to go from Bangkok to Koh Samui. There are a multitude of ways to get from the Capitol to the sort-of-remote island. It involved some combination of domestic flight, night bus, night train, and ferry. 

An airplane is a little more expensive than I really wanted and the bus is..well, a bus. On the train there are first-class sleeper-cars which would give us a bed and place to stretch out. I contacted thaifocus.com to book a train in early-October.  They messaged me back and told me that I could not a reserve a train ticket until 60 days before the date of travel. 

ImageFirst Class Sleeping Berth (with a door that you can lock. The back of the sofa flips up to make the top bunk.

I let a few too many days pass between contacting them again; by the time I email them to reserve my tickets, only second class is available for the ride there, but a first class bed is available for the return trip.  So, I go through the steps of paying to reserve.  Before they can finalize it, they send another email saying that in between this time the boat s booked, so I can get the train from them, but I need to find my own means of getting the boat. 

 ImageSecond Class Sleeping Berths

I can feel myself becoming a little bit peeved, because I have never had this much trouble booking something after I have already paid the money. They asked do I want to book the train ticket and here is our correspondence from this point.

Me:I’d like to reserve these seats, can I also reserve the ferry to Koh Samui too from you.

ThaiFocus: The trian is avialble as follow.

Bangkok-Suratthani 29 Dec 12 10:50p-08:05a 2nd air con SEAT

but this train we could not book the ferry connect to Koh Samui due to it is arrive at Suratthani is late.

Me: What changes does this make to the price of the ticket?

Me: I am attempting to buy my ferry tickets from another website, but I need some more information.  How far is the train station in Suratthani away from where the ferry leaves? As well, how long does it take to move from the train station to the port where the ferry leaves and how would you recommend we go.  Thank you for your help.

ThaiFocus: Thank you for your email. Normally after arrive at train staion. There are have staff to waiting customer at there then transfer to the port name Donsak take time around 1hour.  But we could arrange train with bus and boat combo only the train that arrive at Suratth ealry morning. In this case you would like to book only the train?

Me: I would like the train with bus to the port. How much will it cost and will I be receiving some discount since I can no longer get first class seats?

ThaiFocus: Thank you for your email. Due to train is avaialble as follow

Bangkok-Suratthani 29 Dec 12 10:50p-08:05a 2nd air con SEAT

This train arrive is late. We could not book bus and boat combo. We could book only the trian. 

With this I assumed they were booking the train. So later when I email them to ask them where my confirmation email is, and they tell me that I didn’t reply saying I wanted to book the tickets, they sent my payment back. (First off, the fact that they already had my money is pretty sure sign that I had signed off on the deal, but whatever). Then, they proceed to tell me that no seats are available on the train, and I am ready to go into a murderous rampage. So after some heavy duty searching, I find a bus that will take us.  


At this point I realize that beggars can’t be choosers and I go with it since my other option is… I don’t know, hitchhiking? I get ready to pay for the bus, but as I use my credit card, a security restriction blocks my card. So, I have to buy skype credit so that I can call my bank in America, verify the charges, ask the man at the bus company to send me a new link so that I can pay, since now, the actual credit card verification link has locked me out too. 

Now, I have a bus ticket booked to Surratthani, from there we take the public bus to the port and I have already purchased the ferry tickets, but it was most-assuredly a frustrating process to get here.  

Short reflection: Could I have been more clear when dealing with ThaiFocus, definitely. Could I have done a better job at conveying my wishes and intentions, certainly. Will I still bad mouth them to anyone that will listen, yup. Because as much as I could have handled it better, how many times in the length of that conversation did I say I wanted to reserve the damn seats.

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