What a day… I have been active all day and really testing my patience. Today started well and then went wrong, and then went right, then wrong, then right so yeah today has been a real bag of mixed emotions. I started today on a train, I got on the train last night in Surat Thani. Trains in Thailand are generally always an experience, in this one in particular I went to the restaurant cart and ate good food and a drink for 300 THB, slightly above average price but the food was actually quite good. I cannot ever remember having good food on a train in the UK or even Europe. Once food was done I retired to my bunk, yeah they even have bunk beds on trains. It was actually quite comfy and to my surprise I sort of fit in the space. The only major bad thing is that they never turn off the main lights and for some people the fact that they don’t turn off the air-con is a problem, I heard the Australians near me complaining that it was like the arctic, of course for me was not quite cold enough. We got into Bangkok just after 07:00 having travelled through the night and I picked up my gear and exited the train.
Walking out to the nearest coffee shop which is actually still in the station I try to find a wifi signal to book some accommodation for the next few days, I was unsuccessful at this due to no signal so I walked outside to see if I could get something in a local café. The minute I stepped outside I was accosted by tuc-tuc drivers all trying to take me to Khao San Road, it is my quest in Thailand to never visit this road at night or get accommodation on it. If you have never been then you should go once during the day just to experience it for yourself but for me it is one of the most hideous places on earth. Full of bad food, overpriced drink and entertainment aimed specifically at tourists, worst of all it does a fairly roaring trade. Damn we are gullible as humans are we not? I was up…. After refusing lots I walked a little and then I realised.. hat. Oh my god… hat. I realise quickly I may of left it in one of three places (this is two places too many), the cafe, the tourist office I popped into or the train. I checked all three…. no hat… arse (replace arse with a bunch of expletives) I became down…..
I know what you might be thinking, it’s only a hat? Well I get attached to my hat’s very quickly because they often keep the sun off my head so that I can actually enjoy places and I can only wear certain types of hat (usually cowboy style wide brimmed), anything else I look sort of ridiculous in. Angry at myself for loosing the one thing I was trying not toy loose I walked again away from the train station in a different direction. Relegated to the fact it was gone I found another different nearby coffee place and holed up there, booked a room for the next few nights and then researched to see if I could buy the same hat in Thailand, I can’t… but at least I had a place to sleep. I started to come back up.
After ducking into a shopping mall to use the loo i walked out and again was accosted by tuc-tuc drivers and this time I knew where I needed to go and how much I was prepared to pay to get there.
“Where you going?” they asked
“Chakrapong Street” I tell them, “I have a map”
Believe it or not most of the tuc-tuc and taxi drivers in Thailand have no clue where they are going unless you go to a certain landmark and of course there is the inevitability that they will try and rip you off. I showed them the directions and they discussed amongst themselves for a while and asked me how much I want to pay. “50 Baht” I say boldly. The look on the drivers face looked like I just offered to brand him with a hot iron, I am sure they have practiced this, okay his turn.
“300 Baht” he states
This is a bit of a standard response with the drivers in Thailand, they seem to like the number 300. “No way” I tell him, “100, no more”. (does this sound familiar?).
“It’s a long way, 100 Baht not enough, 150” he states looking like a puppy who has lost his ball
The fact is that 100 Baht is a generous offer, it might cost him 20-30 Baht in petrol and the rest is his. 50 was closer to the mark and I am not moving above 100. Eventually he crumbles and gives me what I want, I jump in the tuc-tuc and off I go to my hostel. I am once again up (although still upset about my hat). I get to the hostel, check in and all is well then head out after a quick rest and recharge of my battery I head back out to tackle the Cambodian visa. I start to walk, determined to get the bus, I have not done busses yet in Bangkok and there is a good reason for this. You have no idea when the bus will come, where it stops or even where to ask for so I ended up walking further than I had expected, arriving close to the Golden Monument, then the heavens open…. arse.
After arguing with more tuc-tuc drivers that wanted to charge me 250 Baht to get to where I wanted I managed to walk in the right direction and after a bit of help from a random Thai person who pointed me at the canal ferry. I got on, paid 25 Baht to head in the direction I wanted, you see what I mean about perseverance? I am still up as I get out the ferry, the rain stopped and I start to walk in what I thought was the right direction for the Cambodian Embassy. After walking for maybe 30 minutes I feel that I should of seen something by now and stop at a police box to ask questions. Turns out I am going in the wrong direction… my mood once again turns a little sour.
There really is nothing worse than walking in the wrong direction for an elongated period of time, this is because of the fact that you have to walk all the way back, either that or again have a conversation with a taxi/tuc-tuc driver and I really could not be bothered. Of course I should of checked earlier that I was going in the right direction but I was pretty sure I was how wrong was I. So I walk the thirty minutes back to the river where I caught the boat, then maybe another twenty or more minutes in the opposite direction, this time I know I am going the right way. I reach a park which is very significant, it may not sound it but it is. This park is after where the embassy should be. I turn around and walk back a little way and get to a hotel, I duck in to take advantage of their air-con and ask them do they know where the embassy is. Turns out the embassy is not where the map (or google) depict…. arse. At this point I am tired, hot, sweaty and distinctly deflated, having come all this way just to know that the place that I am looking for is somewhere completely different should of been the final nail in the preverbal coffin, however I am determined to get what I want after all this time.
The really nice people in the hotel give me directions and instructions printed out in Thai and english so I can get there, it’s going to involve a short walk past the park, a ride on the metro and then a short trip in a taxi. With no more spring left in my step I start the new journey and head out on the MRtT to the Thai Cultural Centre and there I flag down a cab, no arguments no negotiation he just takes me there. I walk into the embassy, fill in a form, pay 1000 Baht to process it quickly and within 30 minutes I have my visa for Cambodia. I flag down a cab and head back to the same station that I got off at, again no arguments, no bartering . I am once again up.
From the train station I manage to work out that I can get 2 trains and a boat and then a short walk back to my hostel on the other side of town, yeah Bangkok public transport is NOT simple at times. I get back to my hostel after maybe another hour, in total I have been out about 5 hours for this whole entire journey. I am tired, in desperate need of a shower and a beer, I have earned the beer. So ends my journey… or does it?
It’s currently Friday night and I am considering heading out to experience the Bangkok nightlife, the words glutton and punishment come to mind but I think I deserve some sort of fun after that?