"You cannot get there by boat," the Concierge at the Le Bua at State Tower tells me.
She sees the skepticism on my face. I've been reading a lot about Koh Kred (say "Co-Ket," like "coquette"), and all my online sources say that a boat to Koh Kred is *the* way to visit the island. "Isn't there a boat that goes up there on Sundays? A special tour boat that goes up around nine and comes back around four?"
"No," she says. "One boat, very early. The only way to get to Koh Kred is by taxi." She checks her sources. "Yes, by taxi. I can hire a car for the day for you. Just 1000 baht for the entire day."
Now, to most people, a hired and dedicated car for the day (especially for about $32.00) would sound like a steal. But to me, it just sounds fishy, especially given that every guide book on the planet says a boat trip to Koh Kred is just the perfect pastime for a lazy Sunday morning.
So I thank the concierge, collect Clyde, and strike out for the Sawthorn Pier. At best, I figure, we'll find out that there really is a boat to Koh Kred. At worst ... we can still always call a taxi.
At the pier, we are greeted by a surly fellow who insists that the only way to get to Koh Kred is by means of a private boat. "Four hour trip," he says. "Private boat for two. One hour up, one hour back, two hours around the island. It is the only way."
I thank him, too -- and keep walking. Ultimately, we do what the locals do: we buy a ticket on the Express Boat to Nothaburri (for fifteen baht apiece!). And just like that -- we're off on a river cruise with a boat full of locals for less than a dollar.
The trip does take an hour, and, once in Nothaburri, we still need to find a way to complete the trip to Koh Kret (which does, indeed, lie farther north than the Express Boats go). But all we do is hop in a taxi ... and five minutes later, we're at the temple where everyone catches the ferry across to Koh Kred. Total investment so far? One hundred and five baht -- or just under $3.50.
We spend the morning walking the streets of Koh Kred, where cars are not allowed. The shopping here, frankly, is better than in Bangkok -- less mass-produced Chinese street junk and more handicrafts being made by local people. There are also *very* few foreigners here: a Sunday walking Koh Kret is a very Thai thing.
We sample Thai sweets, find a trinket or two for mom, and generally just enjoy the shady, sleepy avenues of this unique little village. When we're done, we make our way back to the ferry, where we pay 90 baht more to return to the Express Boat dock and 100 baht for a pair of tickets back to Bangkok.
So: instead of a 1000 baht car from the hotel or a 4000 baht boat trip from the crook on the pier, we wind up spending around ten dollars for an entire day of river cruising, shopping, and interacting with the locals.