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xml [LEMONS]


11.30.2002

I Get Around: 7" Remix

Yesterday (was it just yesterday?) we rode a "VIP" bus from Krabi to Bangkok. It's a 13 hour trip. Or at least it's supposed to be. There are two basic types of busses you can take in Thailand, government and private. The government busses are all big affairs: the aircons are like your Greyhounds and the non air-cons are like a school, or city bus. Private busses come in all shapes and sizes.

We'd read in the guidebook to be wary of these private busses, which are usually called "VIP" busses and filled with Farang (no Thais) on package tours. But we bought tickets on one anyway because it was so cheap, would drop us off directl in Baglamphu, and because we had already ridden on a ferry boat run by the same operator, P.P. Family.

When we got to the bus depot, there were two busses, and we were slated for the second. I asked repeatedly if the busses were the same, and was assured that they were. I noted that the first looked better. (I even said it in Thai to make sure I was understood). They told me again and again that it was. "Same same! No different! Same!"

Well, it wasn't.

First of all, it dropped us off in Surat Thani, and we had to climb onto another bus headed for Bangkok while the folks aboard bus number 1 just kept their seats. That was okay. Not too cool. But okay. The action movies they showed until midnight were a further annoyance. But also, whatever. Okay. Hey, I mean, some people actually enjoy Arnold Schwartzenigger movies. But then. Then. Then the damn thing kept breaking down (after the driver hit something when he pulled into a restaraunt).

They stopped a couple of times and banged on the engine below. They got it restarted. We crept along. I finally fell asleep at about 2 in the morning.

I woke up a little after five to find the bus stopped on the side of the road. (We were scheduled to arrive in Bangkok at 5:30AM, we'd left Krabi at 4:30 in the afternoon.) I asked Harper, who had not slept at all, where we were.

"Hua Hin."

"Hua Hin?!?"

"Hua Hin."

This was the same town we had been in when I fell asleep. I got off the bus to try to... to... well... I dunno what I thought I'd accomplish. But something, dammit! It would have to be better than sitting on the bus, which was starting to get pretty stuffy after a few hours of no a/c and fifty sleeping, snoring, Farang.

So, failing to see how I could be of assistance repairing a deisel engine, I asked the driver what time we'd leave for Bangkok. He told me six AM. We'd already been in the same spot for several hours.

About this time, a local bus pulls up, and I asked him where he was going. ("Bai nei?" "Bai Petchaburi.") But he also told me a Bangkok bus would be coming to the same stop soon.

By now, several other Farang had started to trickle off of the bus. Somehow or another, I had managed to keep my sense of humor about the whole situation, I kept remembering a line from an email that our friend Josh sent us: attitude is the only difference between an adventure and an ordeal. And in any case, I'd rather light a candle than curse the darkness, H.I.

But I'd describe the overall air as a cross between "surly" and "murderous." The Farang had seen me talking to the driver. I'm quizzed. They aren't happy with me either. Hey, I just work here, buddy.

Around 6:30, a bus pulls up to the stop and I notice Bangkok on the side.

"Bai Bangkok, mai?"

"Bai Bangkok."

Yes!

We jumped on with about 10 other farang. Not all of them were aware of the score. Some thought, apparantly, that this was a replacement bus and proceeded to yell at the poor bus attendent (who litereally did not speak one word of English) when he tried to collect the fares. Actually, there was only one woman who did that, but I felt like it made a bad impresion on all of us.

But 100 Baht and four hours later we rolled into Bangkok. We then took a city bus to Baglampu, and here we are now. We'd been in Baglampu for about an hour, wandering around looking for a place to stay, when we bumped into two other people from the broken-down bus who had just arrived. Perhaps we should have waited it out afterall. But I'm glad we did not.

We leave for Vietnam on the 4th. Wish us luck.

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