Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Trip: Thailand - Part Deux
Date: October 16, 2006
Place: Champhon to Bangkok

My journey to Bangladesh began on a trash boat. The boat is also known as the "Night Boat" to Champhon. In fairness, the trash was on the other side of the boat and they did put mats on the floor so that we could lay down... The night boat left Koh Tao at 10pm and arrived on a dark, deserted pier at 3:30am. I was told that the bus to Bangkok would pick me up at the pier, but the ticket they gave me said the bus left at 7am! I decided to take the night bus so that I could get one more day of snorkeling and relaxing on the lovely, quiet beach, but had I known that I would have had to fend for myself in the dark for 3 and a half hours, I might have made a different (and more comfortable!) decision.

Thankfully for me, a young British gentleman also took the night boat. (There were only two westerners, a handful of Thai crew, and of course, the garbage on the boat.) The Brit waited with me on the dark, abandoned pier for his visa run bus. (Foreigners who work in Thailand often do it on a tourist visa. Consequently, they need to make a "visa run" to the Burmese border every 30 days to leave the country and renew their Thai tourist visa.) Around 5:30am his visa run bus came and the driver (after a bit of negotiation) of his bus took me to the place where I was really supposed to catch the bus to Bangkok. As I was chatting with the British gent, he told me that after he bought his ticket he found out that there was another night bus that had beds that left at the same time as ours. Sure enough, the visa run bus picked them up at 6am from a different (and not so dark nor so deserted pier). If we had taken that boat we would have gotten beds and two and half more hours of sleep!

Anyway, I got on the local bus to Bangkok. I tried to sleep most of the way there, but unfortunately, unlike when I was a child, I now have difficulty sleeping in moving vessels-especially if I am sitting up (or lying on the rock hard floor!) My bus finally arrived in Bangkok at 3:30pm and then it was the usual hassle with the taxi drivers. I did eventually find a guy who was willing to give me meter rates though (which were about 1/5 the price of what the guys whose “meters were broken” tried to charge me…) We went to the Grand Hyatt to pick up my bags and then off to Bangkok’s new airport.

I repacked my bags at the airport, took a sponge bath in the ladies’ toilet and changed into a clean shirt. I then waited to check in. After several hours of waiting, I found out that my flight was delayed until tomorrow morning! I am not terribly upset about this particular turn of events, however, as it means that I will have a chance to sleep and shower before I meet the woman that I will be working with for the next year. Also, the airline has kindly put me up in a nice hotel with meals and transportation back to the airport included.

So tomorrow, hopefully my attempts to get to Bangladesh will go a bit more smoothly…

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