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February 21, 2007

Traveling in Thailand

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I left Krabi a couple days ago planning on heading north about halfway to Bangkok.  The was a bus advertised at my hostel to the large town halfway to where I wanted to go so after my kayak trip I was picked up and taken to the bus station.  There were people going to all different cities and we were given colored stickers depending on where we were going.  About 30 minutes after I was supposed to leave the tell me to get in a van (which I was not expecting), but ok.  We drove up to some small shop in Sarat Tani where I payed for and where I wanted to get another bus from.

Let me explain these shops.  They are a independent company that setup your travel and arrange the buses.  They have basically no responsibility especially to the traveler and no plan on making things better for you.  I arrived and found out there is no bus to where I wanted to go, but I could take a ferry to and island, spend the night, and ferry to where I wanted to go.  Total cost maybe 1,400 Baht.  Five other people on my van had paid and were supposed to get on a ferry to a different island.  They were told there wouldn’t be another ferry that night, but I know where you can stay tonight.  I checked out the map and decided to get on the express bus to Bangkok leaving in 30 minutes for 400 Baht.

I got on the bus and found an empty seat until someone came up and said he was sitting there and had left his water bottle there.  It was a double decker bus and I found a couple empty seats at the top in the very back.  I went to sit down and the guys around there said the AC was leaking onto them, but one seat wasn’t too bad.  We piled up some blankets on the other seat and off we went.  Once we got going the seat next to me was like being in the “splash zone” at Sea World.  Luckily with the blankets properly arranged I was ok.  It was an overnight bus 10pm to 5am and I slept basically the whole way.

We got into Bangkok and I followed a few people to a hostel to check my bag in and figure out what to do.  Since it was so early no travel places or internet cafes were open.  We sat around for a while, nodding off.  I decided to head back south a couple of hours if I could make sure I had somewhere to stay.  About 7 I found an internet place and got the phone number I needed, called them and got a room.  While on the Internet I also saw something saying to take the blue bus to this town (Phetchuburi) not the blue and orange ones which make lots of stops.  I took the local bus to the station and immediately had 5 people trying to “help” me get where I was going.  They kept taking me to different blue and orange buses until I finally found the actual official ticket area and bought the ticket I wanted and arrived two hours later.

Its amazing how difficult they make travel here and how much everyone involved with it wants to take every last dime from you they can.  I have not had any troubles outside of actually getting place to place.  At least now I’m a bit more aware of it and know to start my travels early in the day, try to find the official bus station, or try to take the train.  The state run buses and train seem to be the most reliable and have set prices, what a concept.  Well I shouldn’t be taking quite as long of trips for a while so we’ll see how I do trying to go between smaller towns.

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