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Day 10 – Getting on a Bus (Journey to Thailand’s West Coast)

March 13, 2010

Dateline: Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, March 13, 2010

I’m not proud of yesterday’s entry. I wrote it in a rush and reading it over in the light of day, I wish I could add a little here and cut a little there. For example, I said Matt Damon was “last decade’s Arnold/Stallone/Seagal.” That’s ridiculous. Damon may be Arnold and Stallone, but Jason Statham is last decade’s Seagal (i.e. B-movie action star).

Also, why was Anne so surprised that there was no traffic? Well, as you probably know, Bangkok is notoriously gridlocked, especially on Friday and Saturday nights when people come into town to walk the malls, visit the markets, and party. The reason that no one was on the street Friday night is because of Red Shirt demonstrations that started Friday. Everyone assumed the demonstrations to remove the current government would snarl traffic and might even turn violent. To be safe, many people stayed home. Thus, no traffic.

In other words, I forgot to mention the revolution.

I’d have liked to spend more time exploring some of Anne’s ideas. She’s a very interesting person, but I don’t feel I did her justice.

I am ashamed. I even pulled a Southwick in the original draft and dropped a verb (“writing”) in the first sentence of the third paragraph. I can only hope the editor saved me from that indignity.

I could go back and rewrite it, but then I’d have to go back and rewrite it. Eh. . . How ‘bout I just promise to do better next time?

—————

I’m sad to be checking out of Suk 11. It’s been my home for the last week. My private oasis. It has hot water, ample electrical outlets, a hot shower, and an air conditioner. I know that once I hit the islands, it’s going to be a crap shoot. I might be lucky to get a flush toilet.

My bus left for Krabi at 7:30 that night, so I spent the morning packing and reading about the Andaman coast.

I ended up meeting Franck, Becca, and Franck’s mom for lunch at a Japanese restaurant. I decided to be cheap and walk from the BTS station to the place. On the way, I passed soldiers guarding someone’s house. The revolution may or may not be on, but these guys with M-16s aren’t taking any chances.

I don’t regret walking, but the restaurant owners might. While I sat and waited for the others to arrive, my elbows accidentally sweated on the nice, clean table. The waitress promptly handed me a wet, cool towel to cleanse myself.

Franck filled me in a bit on where I should dive. Apparently, even the more remote places are seeing damage to the coral because of global warming as much as tourism. Good thing I’m checking it out now while it’s still fine.

The family dropped me off at the BTS. I promised to see them when I next came through Bangkok. I grabbed my stuff from Suk 11 and headed to the bus station.

Bangkok’s southern bus station is located far from the city center. It’s commonly referred to as sai dai ma, but no matter how you say it your cab driver will be confused. Then he will have a moment of realization and pronounce it just like did the third time you said it. He will laugh, then take you there as fast and as carefree as you’ve ever driven in Bangkok.

The bus station isn’t much to speak of. The main waiting area has the footprint of a U.S. supermarket and is 3 stories tall. In those three stories there are at least three 7-11s, two within sight of each other. I visited all three.

I bought water, snacks, and a phone card to “top up” my cell. All but the phone card turned out to be unnecessary. When I boarded the VIP bus, they’d provided water and some strange but edible snacks. As we pulled out of the station, the ticket taker flipped on a DVD of the unnecessarily colon-nated “In the Name of the King: A Dragon Siege Tale.” I think it was probably better that what I saw of it was in Thai.

Ray Liotta, the lead from Goodfellas, is in it. The first thing I thought when I saw him was, “Dear gawd, someone CGI’ed is face.” The last time I saw him in a movie, he looked old and pockmarked. Now he’s got the skin of newborn. I was horrified and fascinated, especially when he inexplicably made out with Leelee Sobieski. Isn’t she 20 or something?

The rest of the trip was a lot like my flight to Bangkok, except without the time change. It’s a blur of me intermittently reading and sleeping and snacking. The bus would stop to pick up people and, at midnight, gave everyone a break where we could walk around and use the bathroom.

The driver presumably announced in Thai how long we’d be stopped. I couldn’t tell, but since all the natives were getting off, I figured I wouldn’t be left behind if I was quick. I walked to the bathroom and realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Squat toilet, baby. I didn’t use it, but I reflected on the physics and physiology I’d have to use to get through one of those. All in due time.

As I slipped into sleep for the last time that night, I wondered what the islands had in store. First thing tomorrow, though, I’d first have to decide which island.

____________________

Stupid Travel Tip of the Day: Sai dai mai is not pronounced “Sigh Die My” or “Siyee Diyee Myee,” it’s pronounced, “sai dai mai.”

Not So Stupid Tip: If you’re going to be at the bus station for more than an hour or plan on getting something to eat, check your bag in at one of the check stands. It’s a tad pricey (60 baht where I went), but it will spare you the embarrassment of being the only person in the food court or waiting area wandering around with a gigantic pack on your back, bumping into people and sweating like a pig.

It will also be a lot less conspicuous when you realize that to pay for the plate of food in your hand, you should have bought food tickets at the central food court counter.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2010 4:11 pm

    Too bad Pillsbury didn’t teach you anything about the libel laws. I’ll be preparing a writ for your return.

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