Published: October 5th 2011October 5th 2011
First, some cultural learnings. If you ever want to catch a bus in Bangkok, don't do what we did: go to the bus station, buy a ticket, get on a bus and wait. That's the fool's way. Fools wait for hours on hot buses - on the road to nowhere. No, the very best way to go about things is to simply mind your own business. Try to look as if catching a bus is absolutely the last thing on your mind. You love Bangkok. You couldn't care less about leaving. You won't hear of it. Give a little whistle, if you can. Look nonchalant. If you make a good enough show of it, you won't have to wait long. A small Thai man will jump off the very bus you were secretly hoping to catch - the one to Pattaya - and urge you on board. Just like that. Who knew?
After four long hours on the road, M did not want to take one of the waiting taxis in Pattaya. 'It's the principle of it,' he said, turning on his heel in the hot afternoon sun. He was right, the con was definately on. Fresh off the bus,
we hadn't a clue where we were going or how much it should cost. What self-respecting cabbie wouldn't take advanatge? 'Come on,' M said. 'We'll get a taxi along here.' Almost half an hour later, we still had not 'got' a taxi. I was tired, my feet hurt and I would've gladly swapped my bag and everything in it for a proper toilet. If M felt the same, he wasn't about to admit it.
When we finally arrived at the hotel, it was less than enchanting. And its location about as easy to negotiate as spagetti junction. We headed out in search of a restaurant and promptly got lost. For me, it was the last straw and M had a job on trying to keep me calm. Salvation came in the form of an okay-ish looking restaurant. I felt much better after a drink and some delicious thai curry - ready to venture some light dinner conversation.
'How much did they want for the taxi, then?' I asked.
'Oh,' M said breezily. 'About four quid!'
From Bangkok, we'd planned to go north to Chaing Mai, but the locals kept banging on about the floods so we travelled south
instead, to Pattaya. After dinner, we checked the weather. Big mistake. Depending on the forecast, we may need to go back up to Bangkok and get a flight somewhere dry. Anyone who's travelled these parts before, let us know if you have any tips.
Despite all that, it's nice to be by the sea.