Thai Party Part 1
I had been in Thailand for about 5 months and by this time I began spreading my wings. About 2 months earlier I was introduced to a woman (Lek) from Khorat and was invited to visit her for the weekend. We chatted over ICQ for a few weeks and I finally made plans to visit her.
I had never travelled by bus in Thailand other than the normal aircon from Salaya to Bangkok and assorted 5 baht buses. I was told that it was no problem…just catch the bus from the Northern (Chatuchak) Terminal…it leaves on the half hour for Khorat.
This was my first trip to the Northern Terminal, though I had been to the Chatuchak market many times. I left my school early on the Friday…Aircon 515 to Victory Monument, SkyTrain to Mo Chit. No Problem, I had made it there in record time – 2.0 hours – because of missing rush hour traffic. Now let's see where is the terminal…consulting my "Bus Routes and Map"…oh! Just on the other side of the park…I can walk that easily…NOT!
Luckily I had only a small bag with me but even then trying to thread my way along street with the street vendors occupying most of the sidewalk was a chore. This just doesn't look like what I see on the map, I thought…must be just a bit farther and over a block. I am in a more residential area now but no sign of a bus terminal. Alright, I'll take a cab…but where taxis used to be all over the place in this area there are none. After walking for 30 minutes and getting lost in the process I finally track down a taxi and he takes me about a kilometer in the other direction….Freaken maps!!
Now I am dropped off at the entrance to the terminal. It is a bit overwhelming when you first look at it. No English instructions here.
"Where you go?" assaults my ears. I look around and an older guy gestures to me. Hmmmm….alright I'll bite.
"Khorat" I reply, not knowing what to expect.
"You go second floor…come". He grabs my arm and proceeds to lead me into the terminal. Well at least he is taking me in the right direction. We step through the doors and thread our way through hundreds of travellers who know where they are going. We stop at an elevator and he repeats "Second floor!". Pleasantly surprised at this kindness, I smile back, "Khawp khun khrap".
I emerge from the elevator into a huge open area with a line of ticket booths as far as the eye can see…wow! Of course there are no English signs to guide me. I stumble along and finally find an information booth. With difficulty I explain my needs and I'm told to go to booth 52. I struggle through the masses and see two mini booths.
"I'd like a ticket on the bus for the new terminal, please." I am met with a blank stare from the young female ticket agent at the Khorat terminal 1 counter.
"You go Khorat?" she asks.
"Yes…to the new terminal please". Again a blank stare, she waves me to the Terminal 2 booth.
"I need a ticket to Khorat…the new terminal, please", I repeat. The ticket agent gives me the same blank stare…Christ, she is the twin of the other!
"You go Khorat?" Alright, Sherlock figure this out…There are 2 terminals in Khorat…what are the odds that Terminal 2 will be the newer terminal???
"Yes, I go Khorat" I reply. Hell! I have her phone number. If it is the wrong terminal I'll find her somehow. I pay my 157 baht, grab the ticket and go in the general direction of the bus gates. On the way I stop at the phones but do you think I can get one to work properly? No way! I promised I'd phone when I left so she would be waiting when I arrived…well there must be one near the bus and I have 15 minutes…I thought I did anyway. Little did I know I had been sold a bus ticket 5 minutes before it was to leave and my stop to try the phones wasted those minutes.
I stop at a food vendor for a quick snack as I am starved, then head to the bus….a quick glance shows no phones (sigh). I flash my ticket to the driver and take a seat. A few minutes later a pretty young hostess asks for my ticket…she frowns…oh,oh. Luckily the bus isn't 100% full and she leads me to a seat right in front of the video screen…It's a tight squeeze and a 3 hour journey but what the hell…I'm finally on my way….
(to be continued)
Same thing happened to me when I went to the bus terminal for the first time….the maps are horribly deceptive.