Have you ever had a moment where you think, ‘oh my goodness, this is SO not fun right now, but it will make a great story later.’?
That was me last night. I was dragging my suitcase through the bus station in Bangkok. If you haven’t been keeping up with the news, Bangkok is pretty flooded. That means that dragging my suitcase meant far more than just over rutted sidewalks and bumpy streets. No, that means traversing sandbags and sketchy puddles and people gathered in the station trying to get out of town.
My friend and I had bought tickets to go visit Cambodia last November for a super cheap price – AirAsia has nice sales here and there, so we’ve taken advantage of those deals as much as we can (but probably won’t do too much of it anymore, cause a cheap vacation never is actually cheap). Anyway, to save money on the way home, we bought bus tickets for the overnight bus.
In a perfect world, the bus leaves at 930 pm, and arrives at our destination around 6 am. Not with flooding…
But that’s for later.
Anyway, we race through the station, and find someone who has tickets. She’s only got three left, and there are more people approaching. I hold those suckers like there is nothing else in the world that I need – cause I have got to get back to my city! I can’t delay that return. Also, I have heard stories of people who stood in line to fill buses and airplanes leaving the city. These cheap last second tickets are not leaving my fingers.
We buy those tickets, and follow a little man the seller points to. “Go with him,” she says.
We follow him out of the terminal area. He leads us to an overpass, and points at a few buses on the other side of the road. “Over there,” he says.
I carry my 19.6 kilo suitcase up 30 steps and down 30 more steps, dripping sweat the whole time.
This was the point where I started thinking, “Oh my goodness, this is not fun now, but it’s going to make a great story later.”
I didn’t think the story could get better, honestly. But wait – it totally did.
So I have no problems taking overnight buses. I think they are great cheap ways to get from point A to point B, and as long as you take some sleep inducing drugs, you are golden.
We get to our bus, which is parked on the other side of the highway. The buses are double decker, so I figured that we’d take seats on the top deck.
The porter motions for us to get in the bottom of the bus.
So we look in. There are four seats (all taken) and a bunch of people sitting around a table. There is a small amount of room – a corner seat, and a bit on the side next to it. The man gestures that we are to sit in those seats, me and my buddy.
We crawl over the others already there, and settle into the spots. It’s so tight that we can’t move without bumping into someone else – me into a Thai woman on my side, or my friend, and my friend would bump into me or the two Thai guys nearby who found it highly amusing to stare at us (though honestly, I would have stared too).
And have I mentioned we were right next to the bathroom, which smells like … well, a bathroom?
As soon as the bus rattled off the side street onto the highway, me and my friend did what any seasoned traveler would do in this situation – we took some tylenol pm and drugged ourselves to sleep.
However, that was not a simple solution (note: I don’t think there is such a thing).
Right after we left, someone turned on a tv program featuring a standup comedian. Remember, thai stand up comedians are not like American ones. The shows are riddled with sound effects, and are just loud. Also, this was turned up at max volume. Another not cool thing – I was wearing my sound canceling headphones, and could still hear every single word.
Finally, they turned it off, and we tried to sleep. My friend sat next to me, and tried to get comfortable. I tried (and failed miserably) to get comfortable. The thai woman next to me pretty much had her feet on me as she did get comfortable and feel asleep.
The two young men sitting in the chairs facing my friend and I were eager to talk, so I got to have a nice conversation with them, exchanging pleasantries and all that. They did a fair share of staring, which is normal. I mean, the thought must have been going through their heads why are these two white girls riding this cheap overnight bus? They should be spending money and flying back to their city. And they speak Thai; they must be crazy. I mean, had I been them, I would have stared too!
Ultimately, after 13 hours, we arrived at our destination – exhausted and travel worn – but the thing is, we arrived.
Plus, we had a great story to tell.
ps. I really did enjoy this trip – this post is SO not a whine and complain one. 🙂