The journey was nowhere near as long as I was expecting. Myself and my new German companion (Gunther, I think – we never really introduced properly) arrived at around 13:30. Three hours earlier than we were told by the staff at the bus station! I slept for virtually all of it anyway, so I didn’t need the munchies and drinks I’ve bought at the shop. They won’t go to waste.
The bus station in Trat is a kilometre or two outside of the town so you’ll need to get a truck into the centre. We were charged 30 Baht each for the journey which may or may not be fair. Either way, it’s not a lot of cash. Of course, we were taken to one guesthouse (“Pop” in this case) which I scoped. It was OK, but the mattresses looked a little caved-in so I followed my German companion to “Jame’s” on the other side of the block. That’s not a mis-type, by the way. There is a “Jane’s” a couple of doors up.
This was a little nicer and run by a delightful “little old lady” who speaks halting but useful English. Typical of somewhere with the “Old Lady” touch, the shared shower and bathroom are always clean. I picked the smaller of the available rooms for 100 baht. It had all I needed – fan, electrics, light and a lockable door.
A quick walk around town was in order and we strolled and chatted. Gunther is retired – I was astounded to find he is 70, personally putting him nearer his late 50’s – and is basically happily frittering away his pension on the understanding that “you can’t take it with you”. Sensible man.
I have to say that just walking about gave me goosebumps. I love being in Asia. The people, the sights, the attitude. Just how everything is. You can walk up to anyone and just talk to them, haggle, argue and you always leave with a smile on your face.
We discussed prices for taxis and shuttles and I argued with two guys in the back of a truck I saw with Celtic shirts on their heads to keep the sun off. I wasn’t that bothered until I found out they were Liverpool supporters. As soon as they mentioned “Newcastle 1… Liverpool 5” I waved my hands and walked away. Bad men.
There is very little to see in Trat, but that’s not why I am here. The aim is to chill and relax after a long journey and this place is spot on for it. Most working people speak English and it’s just a nice little town. It is, in fact, an idea introduction to Thailand. Much as I love Bangkok, it’s just too built up to be Thai. Trat is smaller and easier to get around.
After a swift siesta while Gunther sorted some accommodation for himself on one of the nearby islands, we met back up for dinner. The night market is superb with a huge variety of food. We settled on a small stall doing chicken and noodle soup. Two servings plus a large bottle of beer between us came to 110 baht. Around Â£2. Can’t complain.
We walked a little longer and I indulged in a carb-fest of a pancake for 20 baht. Gunther then retired for the evening and I headed for the Sea House bar which has free wi-fi for customers. Courtesy of the collapsing Sterling, a large beer is now around Â£1.80 but that’s still not bad for a pint. And far cheaper than paying for 3 hours’ internet separately…
My plan tomorrow is a fairly early rise then rental of a 2-wheel deathtrap to get down to the ferry and onto Ko Chang for an explore. It’s a small-ish island roughly 30km in length with some gorgeous beaches. Diving’s not that cheap so I’ll leave that till I get to Sihanoukville.
Right now, I’m going to relax in the mild but warm temperature and cool breeze… and sup my Singah. Aaaaah.