The Grabby Cabbies in Krabi

18th November, Krabi, Thailand

Ian writes:

After just two evenings on Koh Samui, we once again found ourselves packing our bags and lugging them to another port of call, this one being Nathon Pier, to board a ferry to a place called Donsak. Our 'barely-met-them' friends Alan and Ann had kindly offered to take us to the ferry, which saved us a few hundred baht and a whole lot of hassle. Actually, they seemed rather surprised that we were moving on so soon but we needed to keep the momentum going and make our way towards our next intended destination, Krabi.

The ferry from Koh Samui took just 1 and a half hours, and from Donsak we boarded a bus to Surat Thani. Then, after a 1-hour wait at a road-side café (where the owners know they can charge more than the going rate to for sub-standard egg rolls - I know, I was that hungry fool), we boarded another bus for the final leg of the journey to Krabi Town.

There is an old saying that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. This is very much the case with tickets and tours in Thailand. Our ticket from Koh Samui to Krabi was 250 baht, while others were charging 300-350 baht for what seemed to be the same journey. They have ways of making up that deficit, and here's how it worked with us:

When we got to Krabi Town, we were driven through the centre and were not dropped at the main bus station, or anything that resembled a government bus station of any kind. This was private property - a business in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. We all got off the bus and were asking the same question: "What now?" We had expected that we could flag down a songthaew (taxi) but none looked like passing through here. The choices seemed to be either:

  1. pay 50 baht each to get on a cramped, filled-to-capacity minibus that would take us (what turned out to be quite a short distance) to the town centre or
  2. succumb to the annoying, pressuring sales pitch of the tout who would not take no for an answer, and who took great pleasure in informing you that taking their minibus service would only mean that you'd end up paying the same, or even more, for a room in town.

We went for the first option. Sure, the taxi ride was over-priced but they had us by the short and curlies, and they knew it. That's how that scam works. Perhaps staying at the room suggested would have been cheaper, but it was the hard-sell tactics that ensured no sale; Manda was pushed too far, and had simply given up trying to reason with the man after a lengthy and escalating verbal rally, finally opting for a simple (and uncharacteristic) "Ah, shut up!" So, you do get what you pay for with travel tickets. (And for anyone interested in avoiding the same pitfall, don't go with P.P Family Tour).

We had told the driver to drop us at K Guest House, telling him that we'd phoned ahead. This was a blatant lie, but we just wanted to be dropped at a decent spot near to other guest houses. They had told us K Guest House was full, but we just didn't believe them. Turns out they were telling the truth, though, much to our surprise. So that meant a recce mission for me - find a decent place to crash for the night - while Manda stayed at K's restaurant guarding our bags and nursing a cool coke. We opted for a gleaming new hotel called 'A Mansion'. It was a little more expensive than we intended to pay - a 400 baht room with fan and cold shower, which we managed to knock down to 350 - but the room was spotless, and didn't smell of damp, like the others I had checked out. Besides, it was late and we were tired from transferring from vehicle to vehicle. Enough for one day.