Published: June 10th 2012June 10th 2012
I booked an overnight bus to Chiang Mai. Leaving at six o'clock. So at 7.20pm the bus turns up, we duely board and get ready for a long, mainly sleepless journey up north. We spent thirty minutes getting a few hundred yards through the nightmare that is Bangkok's traffic, only for the driver to inexplicably pull over on the side of one of the flyovers and disappear for the next thirty minutes. Leaving us to sit on the bus with no option of getting out of the bus. Unless of course you wanted to play human frogger.
The driver finally gets back in and off we go. The first three hours going well, and we pull over around 11.30 for what I thought would be the first of a couple of stops, especially as the driver didn't fill up on this stop. Unfortunately the mossies knew we were coming, and with the deet safely stored away in the bus, my back became the evening snack of choice for the local ladies.
Bundled back on the the bus we head off, I managed to doze off every now and then. I thought that it was a bit strange after about 4 in the morning when we hadn't stopped again, but it's fine they must pull over soon. Well pull over they did, at around 5.20 in the morning, the bus again pulled over in the middle of the road right at the bottom of a big hill.
The driver and his mate, both got out leaving the bus running. I just thought the driver was slightly insane and picked possibly one of the oddest places to have a smoke. Unfortunately not. The engine suddenly cuts out, and the driver and his mate then spend the next ninety minutes out of the bus. The occassional bang from the back of the bus, and the odd shout the only indication that they hadn't just upped and left us.
They were a few times when the driver got back in the bus and tried to start it again with no luck. Finally they manage to get some life into the beast, and manage to crawl up the steep hill at about 2 kph. Every time he changed gear, it sounded like the bus was going to cut out again. It was at this time that I realsed that these buses have two motors, as whilst crawling along he kept trying to start the other one up. True to Thai logic he then continued to drive at a stupidly slow pace past several garages, until he got to one the was two Baht a gallon cheaper. At this point, he sent the skivvy off with a petrol can, across the dual carriageway to get us enough fuel to make it the rest of the way to Chiang Mai (We must have broken down about 20 km short).
We finally roll into the bus stop aroun 08.30 in the morning, two and a half hours late, eight hours since my last smoke... I really must give up smoking. The drivers mate just comes through saying that we had arrived in Chiang Mai. No mention of the slight delay.
Needless to say, my original plan of jumping on another bus for a four hour trip to Pai went straight out of the window. A quick 50 Baht Songthaew trip into the central of town. Breakfast, shower then bed for a quick kip was the order of the day.
The funny thing is, that this is just all part of the fun. Annoying at the time, but somehow expected and all part of the experience.
I have spent a few days in Chiang Mai, and am now in Pai. But that's for the next blog, as I don't have my camera with me to put any pictures up.