Benny Hilling it in Thailand

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April 27th 2009
Published: April 29th 2009
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How to fuck up a day

First off, thanks for all the emails and comments I've received so far. You know who you are and it pleaseth my greatly.

Okay people so I’m leaving Bangkok today (for Laos) and that includes Thailand too, I’ve been here for an incredible seven weeks already. But I’ve mixed feelings about this fact, mainly because it was “unplanned” - the bad luck I had had an extended duration forced upon me’ I also was spending money when I didn’t want to. The other side of it, however, is the fact I’ve gotten to travel solo after such a long time and regain my independence. I’ve also gotten to visit places that I had dismissed as not possible but would not have done if I hadn’t lost my passport. Overall, I’m glad to be moving on again wards however, to restart my intended journey and to continue on through my itinerary through south east Asia. This is the control freak inside me showing itself.

So, when I left you last, I was in Ayyutiyya checking out the famous ruins of the former capital, oh and I was flashpacking it too. Anyway, flying straight back down to earth…next stop Kanchangaburi, the start of the Death Railway and the site of the famous Bridge over the River Kwai. Anyway, so the good old LP stated that to get over there I should catch a bus northwards to Lomburi and then a bus from there to Suphataburi and then onwards to Kanchangaburi. What a stupid idea that turned out to be. Half of me resisted this because it seemed simpler to just go south for a few hours into Bangkok and catch an expected flurry of buses heading to Kanchangaburi. But no, I went with the book partly because I just didn’t want to go back to heaving, humid, polluted Bangkok. So, onwards with the journey. In Ayuttiyya I got a motorbike taxi to the train station so as to find a train going north for the hour journey, but bollocks to it the 9.45am train was fully booked and the only seats available were for the first class air con which cost a lot of money for the short journey required. So, I passed on that, livid that there was no normal, third class seats left. I stormed off in a huff at the suggestion of a pricey ticket for an hour’s journey and jumped into a tuk tuk (#1) and got myself to the bus station instead. It was meant to be a similar time to get to Lomburi but it was a decrepit old ting and they kept stopping for passengers. Mind you I did get to see some provincial towns of Thailand; it can’t all be Phuket and Bangkok.

Once in Lomburi I walked about for a bit and got a motorbike taxi (#2) to the Lomburi train station, for some reason these buses never seem to stop at bus stations themselves but only at places within towns. So once in the train station I asked the information desk woman about buses to Kanchangaburi and Suphataburi, she said there was once immediately, but I declined as I wanted to check out some of the town. So, she insisted I be back by 1.30pm and putting my bags in with her at the office I got another motorbike taxi (#3) and sped off to the temples of Lomburi. They were a bit of a disappointment to be honest, famed for their delinquent bad-ass macaque monkeys, and less so for the cool Khymer style 12th Century temple. I took my pictures and didn’t dare pay and enter their domain, there were a lot of them and I only had to see the warning signs…

Off I go again on a motorbike taxi (#4) back to Lomburi bus station where the woman tells me the next bus is at 2pm. So, off I go and have a gander around the market, on foot this time, bought some fruit for the journey. Then begins the waiting around in the station and then I get on the bus and more waiting, what is going on? It was gone 2.30 for Pete’s sake. Anyway, I asked the woman again and the earlier bus was cancelled and that was why I was now on a later bus. So much for getting back for 1.30pm. So, we finally get moving at like 2.50 on this rickety old bus (#2) with 4 fans blowing in a circle above our heads. Then the music begins, not just any old music, but loud Thai pop music, and I mean loud, the speakers were at the front and back and he must have put it to the top, I half winced and chuckled at the driver’s attitude towards his passengers. Basically, sod you all who are paying passengers, I’m driving and I play what I like at my volume. No one really batted an eyelid but the older ladies who got on looked at me as if to say, “What’s with the loudness?” I actually got to like the music after a while, can’t understand a word, but it’s pop and has a melody to kill the boredom. Mind you the journey wasn’t boring really; we went through some pretty nice countryside, probably the first I’d seen so far in Thailand. Anyway, we got to Suphataburi at around 5.30pm and of course once inside all the buses for Kanchangaburi are finished for the day; I’ve missed the last one at 5pm. I was pretty fed up but I called the tourist information numbers advertised on a board but none of them answered. Indeed the tourism office that did answer and provided touch tone options, I kept having to call back because the option was indecipherable, “for English press *muffle*. Infuriated, stuck in a town that my guide didn’t even list, trying to get info on other buses and perhaps hotels in town and I’m just up against local tuk tuk drivers who don’t’ speak a modicum of English. Anyway, exasperated at the weight of my bags, the idiot woman who misled me in Lomburi, the lack of any help when needed and the long bus journey I’d had, I just put it down to bad luck and part of travelling. I did get on a bus out of there though (#3), one that was going south to Nakam Pathom, where I was assured I would get a connecting bus to Kanchanaburi. I was split whether to do this journey or stay on in the town until the following morning, but upon some thoughts, it wasn’t even evening yet and I didn’t know the city at all.

So, another bus and I’m pretty hacked off, two hours later we arrive in Nakahm Pathom, which is 40 minutes west of Bangkok. Of course I don’t get let off at any station in the town but at the city’s famous colossal statue of the Buddha. Anyway, staggering with my bags in a sticky evening at around 8pm, I get on another motorbike taxi (#5) and we actually travel moderately this time through the city to a shopping market/mall on a busy highway. The driver tells me to cross the footbridge and reach the other side where bus station is. I do this and arrive to a bunch of food stalls, no bus station. I’m standing around, scratching my head, and then buses do indeed stop by the side of the road, literally 10 seconds later and they’re off again. So, this is the bus station huh? So, I draw inquisitive looks from all these people eating and cooking food, and there’s me overloaded with baggage looking a bit lost, which clearly I was. Anyway, I soon got some assistance in the form of some Thai chick that came up to me. The first thing I noticed was that she was wearing a Canada t-shirt with the provinces all listed on them, pretty bizarre and it’s not British Corumbia. Anyway, she’s trying to help me, I explain but can’t seem to get a decent answer out of her as to buses, and she keeps saying last bus at 5 o’clock. It’s 8 o’clock, not sure what’s up but I vaguely recall Buddhist Thailand as using a clock that is based upon the rituals of monks and when they arise and fast etc. So, I’m disregarding this number and just resigned to the fact that I’m not getting anywhere. However, she invites me to sit with her and her friends at a table to which I don’t think is getting me any closer to finding out what the hell is going on. Anyway, I do eventually sit the hell down and then get introduced to everyone, then I got get something to eat, grilled pork on sticks and some sticky rice. So, we’re chatting away, using a bit of Thai and “Nana” speaks some English but not enough to bring this table to life with joie de vivre. So, I’m undecided about what to do, a hotel seems like a good option, but is it? Then, buses start going by and they have Bangkok - Kanchanaburi emblazoned upon them, but some stop, some don’t. Anyway, so Nana takes up my thoughts on staying in Nakom Pathom and points across the highway to Elephant Motel. It’s Thais only apparently, which does put me off a little, who knows what it could actually be, plus Nana is enthusiastic - an occasion to be the opposite in my mind. Anyway, very kindly Nana’s mate next to me offers to put me up at his place, but I decline as I’m used to having my own room and also I am still undecided. So, anyway, we establish that they’ll go get their motorbikes and they will ride me into the centre of town to get a hotel. Fine. Whilst they are gone and I’m getting chatted up by the utterly gorgeous waitress at the table behind us a bus suddenly stops. Yep, you’ve guessed it my final bus of the day (#4) and I run towards it and put my bags in the bottom. It was only about 9.30pm so I thought Kanchangaburi was only an hour and a half away. On the bus I get a phone call from Nana (God, this sounds like my grandma) and she’s wondering where I’ve got to as they’ve come back. I felt a bit bad to be honest for running out on them like that, but decisive action had to be taken.

So, I finally got to my destination using bus #4 and proceeded to get a sawngthaew (#1) literally a two bench job on a pick up to the Sugar Cane guest house, my room actually floating right on the river Kwai.
So, the final count for the day, was 4 buses, 5 motorbike taxis, 1 tuk tuk and 1 sawngthaew when really I could have got one bus to Bangkok and then another to Kanchangaburi.
Backpacking, huh?


30th April 2009

Stop yer whinging Murtagh!
Mate, I've spent the past three nights reading through your blog just before heading to bed (a nice, comfortable, normal bed in England by the way :) and all I can say is what a colossal debacle! Sounds like you've had some cracking times there, but your wallet/passport etc fiasco really does blow the mind. How can one man be so unlucky?! Seems like all is going well with Danielle though, despite your best efforts to appear to be the Golders Green version of a Nigerian money scam to her. So when do you get to Aus? Oh yeah, not to take the wind out of your sails or anything but there's a chance a lot of the hits you're getting are just automated search crawlers from google, yahoo etc. Well, I know they make up a good portion of the site I administer. Might not be the case just for a blog like this though. One thing I might suggest is that you get an online storage space where you save an encrypted word doc with your bank passwords etc. At the very least use it to write down your swift code etc. It's all such a pain in the arse - I've had to go through the same thing. Anyways, keep your head down and keep enjoying the sights, sounds and smells mate. It's been very entertaining reading your blog and you do have a pretty good style. I didn't expect anything less though from you. Trust me when I say that Australia will be like heaven for you now when you get there! If you need some accommodation at Sydney let me know. My old man lives a but south of the city.
30th April 2009

Bus Ride
Hey John, Sounds like a long journey of a day! I hate to be the burden of bad news, but Laos has worse transportation than Thailand. I would rate Thailand bus and train services a solid 6 compared to Laos which I would give a 3. I never Once rode on a bus that was on time during my travels in Laos. Once I bought my ticket with a travel agent, only to be dropped off at the bus station and had to wait in line for over an hour and pay additional "holiday" fee to board the bus. I was not happy, Anyways Im in Ko Samui for another day or two, I have a small bungalo by the beach. It relaxing and casual here. I did get too much sun today, so I might of gotten slightly burned. Did you and Kristen get to meet for drinks on the 26th floor of the bar that night? Eric
3rd May 2009

"the Golders Green version of a Nigerian money scam" hahaha bang on, Jamie, bang on.
4th May 2009

hey Jamie, thanks for the comments and glad (someone) is enjoying it. the readership for the blog is not in the hundreds, barely that, but it's consistent, and there are many readers of this blog as it gets listed under countries. i'v saved all my bank details in a word document in an email so I can see it whenever I want (when the right Word version is in an internet cafe!) Australia is defo looking like paradise from here and I may well look up your father for a sofa moment! Cheers J

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