A proud moment

Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
Trip End Jan 22, 2013

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Flag of Thailand  , Kanchanaburi,
Friday, February 22, 2013

I am getting so much better with local transportation! Just 5 weeks ago I remember feeling so nervous about hopping on a tricycle and jeepney in the Philippines.
By now, I am learning that hailing a taxi/tricycle a couple of blocks away from the transportation hub will saver me 50%2525. Yesterday when I got off the bus at Kanchanaburi, I was charged 60baht ($2) for a ride to the guesthouse. As soon as I walked away from the station, a taxi pulled up and gave me a ride for 30baht ($1). I know it's only a dollar but that buys me a meal in Thailand!

Trying to get to Hellfire Pass this morning on a public bus proved a bit more challenging. Since I am carefully watching my budget, instead of spending $ on organized tours (which is always more expensive than doing it yourself), I've been researching online about using public transport so I can get to places on my own.
Hellfire Pass is a popular tourist attraction so I didn't think I'd have any problems getting there. As soon as I got to the bus station I looked for a ticket booth but nothing was in English. I asked some people for "hellfire pass" and nobody understood me.
Hmmmm. I thought everybody would know where I needed to go.
Finally a girl pointed me in the direction of a bus so I hopped on. I asked the driver "hellfire pass?" And he said "ok".
I took a seat but noticed that everybody around me were locals. Not one single tourist. I guess they all go on private tours or hire their own transport (which I also read was an option but this frugal traveler refused to pay $50 for it).
Then came the money collection boy and I said "hellfire pass". He smiled and spoke to me in Thai. I smiled back and said "I don't understand". I pulled out my iPhone and wrote down the words. He spoke to me in Thai again. Ummmm, we had a dilemma.
He took my iPhone to the driver and motioned me to go over. I told the driver again "hellfire pass" and he said "yes yes 65baht ($2)!"
I paid the boy and sat back down.

I was surprised how calm I was through these interactions. I wasn't worried or uncomfortable at all. I think I am becoming a better traveller :-)

2 hours later, the money collection boy kindly motioned me towards the door as we approached my destination and I arrived in one piece :)

On the way back, I attempted a transfer to a train. The online information described taking a 30-minute bus ride to a train station, where I can catch a scenic rail ride on the Death Railway. Feeling quite confident from the morning, I decided to give this a try.

As I walked out of the Hellfire Pass museum, I waited for a bus under a shade on the side of the road. I had no idea how long I would have to wait. I knew it would run once an hour. Luckily, I was able to flag down a bus 15 minutes later. Again, the bus was full of locals and I was the only foreigner. It's a good thing I'm used to getting stares.

About 30 minutes later, I saw a sign for a train station so I motioned the driver that I was getting off. I walked toward the Train sign but I started heading into a village with no sign of rail tracks. I approached some locals for direction but no one spoke English! (Not that it's their problem). I then thought, I may have better luck with younger people who may understand English. I was right!
A boy understood the word "train" and pointed me in the direction.
I finally found the tracks, and eventually the station. Whew.

The view on the train ride back was quite amazing.

As I reflect on this day, I realize how far I've come in just 5 weeks. In the past, I would have paid the extra money for convenience and comfort.
But today, I commuted on public transport for 5 hours in an unknown city, not only for $6 but for an experience that keeps making me a different person. I feel proud of myself today :)
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Shana on

Is your phone picking up internet with the local SIM card? Can you use Google translate in those types of situations?

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