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January 24th 2010
Published: February 24th 2010
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My friend Eva was coming down to Hua Hin from the North Eastern part of Thailand. We decided to meet in Ch’aam. 4 hours North of me this is a popular Thai vacation point. I hop on the bus headed to Bangkok and let the bus driver know where I’m going. Like in most bus rides I also start trying pathetically to speak to my seat mate in Thai. At some point I think I’ve gotten across that I want to be dropped off at the beach at Cha’am and does he know where that will be. “Yes, yes, up ahead,” he says. By the time we are finished with our conversation he has asked for my phone number. I smile and refuse not knowing what else to do.

I am looking for signs and seeing a few pass by that look promising but the bus shows no sign of stopping. Eventually an employee walks by and my neighbor asks him in Thai about Cha’am for me. I get from my minimal Thai and a lot of waving and pointing that “No, no, Cha’am is way back that way!” Attempting to alleviate my obvious concern, he calms me down and says it’s ok, we’ll stop you can go back.

So at this point he stops the bus on the side of the rode and waves to a motorcycle taxi. Then the bus zooms off to Bangkok. “Pai Cha’am,” I say. “Ok, where?” he asks. I look at him blankly not expecting to have to give an exact location. “The beach?” I say in a hopeful tone. No luck. We pull over to the side of the rode and a family gets involved in the discussion. Eventually her son comes out who speaks some English. I am calling Eva and trying to get a location, but he doesn’t know the hotel. Finally, we settle on the post office and the motor taxi gets ready to pull away. “Wait, how much is it?” I ask. He tells me 300 baht. To this I flip out. It only cost me 200 to get here from Chumphon! Is there another way? They tell me yes, no problem there is a bus from Bangkok, they don’t know when but eventually it will go by. You just need to stand on the other side of the street and wave. It is dark, empty and the slightest bit scary. We finally settle on 200 and we are off. The bus has taken me 35 kilometers out of my way.

When we get there I am relieved and happy to see Eva and Karl who has come down from Bangkok. We ate giant pizzas and drank massive quantities of Hong Tong and Coke. We met a group of Thai college students on the beach and went swimming in the water at 2AM. I woke up with a slight headache and went to sit on the beach for most of the day.

Karl went home early and Eva and I ventured on to Hua Hin. In between Cha’am and Hua Hin is a palace. We caught a taxi and found ourselves the beautiful palace get away.

Leaving was the hard part. Taxi’s back to Hua Hin were quoted at 300 baht. We laughed and then decided to start walking and try to catch the bus. Hitch hiking experience #1, we hopped on the back of a pick up truck mostly filled with random odds and ends and a few Thai people to boot. When we got to the main road they let us out and we waited for a bus…. And waited.. .and waited. Hitch hiking #2. Finally, we flagged down another pickup truck and asked. “Pai hua hin mae kha” (are you going to Hua Hin?). Eva and I had dressed for the occasion. We were both wearing strapless dresses, makeup and for some reason, pearls. Sitting in the back of the pick up we got one or two funny looks.

Hua Hin was fun. We wandered, shopped, ate found a lovely market and bought some Chilean Red Wine. We were very excited. Our guesthouse was on a pier and we sat on the end of the pier drinking red wine and contemplating life.

The next day we tried to figure out transportation. Turns out, Eva’s going north was easier than my going South. After a couple tours of the city on foot we discovered that you could either stand at the bus station and wave the bus from Bangkok down, or go to the Southern Bus terminal. I opted for option two. Upon getting there sadly, they told me no buses to the south today. Tomorrow they said. “NOO!” I exclaimed. “Not tomorrow, today!” Finally, one lady said ok, ok. “Go stand there…” She points to the other side of the road and motions to wave. “Bus Bangkok, go Chumphon.” Back to square one I am still relieved.

Soooo, I waited. Of course then the people at the shop told me nooo go to the next town up and you can catch a bus from there. My guide book agreed. So, I catch the local bus. The bus driver refuses to speak with me till I get to the town and get his attention. “Excuse me, I’m going to Chumpon, bus Chumphon.” Oh here he says, as he skids to a stop. Good timing! The bus stop he drops me at is desolate. One old lady is selling snacks and pastries and I ask her where to go. She points and jibbers in Thai. I walk around a bit more and finally run into a young women who seems willing to help. After much conversing we get. Nooo, no buses today, tomorrow.

WHAT! I can’t believe my bad luck. Now close to tears I say that isn’t going to work for me and the nice girl leads me to her group of friends who are on vacation. I tell them I’m a teacher and need to get back for the following day. “TEACHERRRR” they all exclaim. Don’t worry teacher, never mind, never mind come with us, we go bus.

Hitch Hiking # 3 I hop in the front seat of their hired minivan and they take me to another bus station on the side of the road and say wait here 1:30 they say just wave and the bus will stop. Listening to my ipod with a half an hour to spare I hear yelling and waving. They motion me to run for the bus from Bangkok. Luckily someone else was paying attention.

Hitch Hiking #4 Finally back in Chumphon, I go to get my bike at my friends house. About halfway home I pull over and find I have a flat tire. Asking some locals if I can park my bike there I prepare to walk home. Kindly, they offer me a ride the rest of the way. Finally home, I am exhausted but feel that I have had some solid practice of the Thai language and Thai transportation systems.


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