Nightmare buses, language barriers, and long waits!
26.01.2010 - 26.01.2010 30 °C
After a fairly uneventful flight we arrive in Bangkok one hour early, to clear blue skies, and a more than satisfactory 27 degrees at 7 o'clock in the morning. I hoped this good luck would be a sign of things to come. Unfortunately I was wrong. After leaving the baggage hall I asked the lady at information how to get to the north bus station for buses going...erm, well... "north" (Chiang Mai, Sukhothai etc). With a wave of the hand she directs me to exit number 5 and tells me to get on the next bus that pulls up. I do what she says. A bus pulls up and it does indeed take me to a bus station, only not the bus station I'd been hoping for. I approach the ticket desk and ask for a ticket to Sukhothai.
"Ah Sukhothai, no bus to Sukhothai."
Typical! He then explains that I need to catch a seperate bus to "?????". The above conversation then replays in reverse and after four failed attempts I'm still no closer to understanding what he's trying to tell me. He senses my frustration and waves me over to some seats in front of his desk. "10 minutes" he says, "I show you in 10 minutes." So I take a seat. 10 minutes comes and goes, 20 minutes comes and goes, 30 minutes approaches and I finally go back up to the desk and find the man I spoke to before has conveniently disappeared. I ask another and not surprisingly he says "10 minutes"! I ask him which bus stop I should wait at (of the 30 or so available), but he refuses to tell me and says to sit back where I was sat and that he would let me know. This process then continues for quite a while.
Anyway, to cut a very long, and very boring, 4 and a half hour story short, I finally catch the right bus to Moo Chit (the "north" bus station) at 10.20 and arrive just after 11. The man at the desk still never told me clearly the name of the place I was going so I got on board hoping to ask the driver. Unfortunately for me he spoke no English whatsoever so wouldn't have been able to tell me anyway, but fortunately for me there was only one stop so I simply got off with everyone else.
Finally, 4 hours after landing in Bangkok, I finally get to where I want to be. So much for landing early and getting a head start!
The trip to Sukhothai took just over 6 hours, pulling up at the bus station at around 6pm. During the journery I was hoping to get some sleep, having now been up around 30 hours, but unfortunately was unable to do so as a very dodgy man came and sat right next to me for the entire journey. Worried that if I fell asleep he would somehow gain access to the large sum of cash tucked away in my pocket, I simply sat awake, ready and alert. Why didn't I just transfer the money to the other pocket I hear you ask. Well, I could easily have done so but for two reasons. Firstly, if the man saw me doing so and was an honest kind of guy after all, then I didn't want him thinking that all "us foreigners" automatically think that all "them foreigners" are thieving bastards. Secondly, if he was a thieving bastard I certainly didn't want him seeing just how much cash I had in that pocket as it would certainly have made him that much more likely to mug me the second I got off the bus.
I knew the hostel I was staying at was a very short distance from the station but unfortunately I didn't know in which direction. The second I got off the bus I was chased by a local taxi driver (I say taxi, but I mean a motorbike with a couple of seats attached to the front). The driver was a strange hunchbacked man, with a wonky arm, a dodgy leg, and a vocabulary of one word - "meeeaaah?". Not the most inspiring person to take a lift from, but then I didn't have much choice considering I had no idea where I was going. We haggled for a while on the price, him demanding 60 Baht, me offering 40. I knew I'd have to take the lift regardless but also knew that 40 Baht for the 2 minute drive to the hostel was a lot for him (certainly more than the 20 Baht was for me that I saved by arguing!). In the end he agreed to 40 Baht, which as it turned out was ok as he picked up a couple of strays along the way, who stupidly didn't ask for a price, so probably got stung with a hefty charge on arrival.
I checked in at the hostel, really regretting having booked a dorm room, as I was too tired and certainly not in much of a sociable mood to be sharing a room with anyone. Luckily the dorm I was in was empty (and would remain so for my entire stay), meaning I got a whole triple room to myself for less than 2 pounds a night. After a bag of crisps dinner and an old bottle of warm water to wash it down (sad I know, but far too tired to venture out) I finally crashed out for the night.
Shuttle bus from airport to airport bus station (exit 5) - Free
Bus from airport bus station to Moo Chit (infrequent) - 40 Baht
Bus from Moo Chit to Sukhothai (1st Class, air conditioned) - 326 Baht
Lift from Suhkothai bus station to hostel (dependent on haggling) - 40 Baht
Dorm room (per person, per night) - 100 Baht