Transportation in Thailand Part 2: Sea


To get to Rai Ley beach from Ao Nang, you need to take a longtail boat. These boats are the tuk-tuks of the sea. The stern of a longtail is smeared with motor-oil and mounted on top is an engine. From this engine protrudes a long shaft with a two-blade propeller on the end. The whole mechanical apparatus looks like a gas-powered weed-whacker. When the thing runs, it sounds as if someone is mowing the sea.

After we took a ride on one, I asked the driver where the boat’s motor came from.


The engine was ripped out of some old car and thrown on the back of the boat. He even starts it with a key.

Some Sea-going Boat

To get back to the mainland from the island of Ko Tao we took a trip on a boat. We crossed a good piece of the Gulf of Thailand and reached the port city of Surat Thani by six in the AM. Now, I’m fairly green when it comes to sea travel. I’ve never sailed and my experience on sea going vessels is pretty limited. On this trip, however, I traded one kind of green for the other. Out on the briny ocean toss, I felt my dinner being tossed around my insides. Within minutes of leaving the island at the port of Mae Haad, I was curled up in the foetal position in the sleeping room of the boat. This room housed about twenty-five of us for the trip. It had a low ceiling so you had to move around bent at the waist. But no one had any trouble with me. There was already too much movement going on–the boat going back and forth, up and down and sides to side, my stomach-slosh syncopated against this rhythm. If I looked out the window, I’d see nothing but water, then the horizon would swing by and then nothing but sky. And then down again. I couldn’t watch. I had to concentrate and keep my Phad Thai out of the Gulf of Thailand… which I did.

Bangkok River Boats

The Chao Phraya River, which cuts through Bangkok, has a network of boats which even the locals find confusing.

“I take the same as you. I miss my stop. I don’t know why the other not come. It should be here.”

There is a spot on each boat designated by a sign that reads “Space for Monks.”

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