26-hour travel day
Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
129Trip End Ongoing
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A bus ride with a total wench, then a 14 hour train ride that turned into 18...today is one of those days I wish I was back in the comfort of my own bed snuggling with my pup.
Yesterday began with a 7.5 hour bus ride back to Bangkok. There was a male driver, and a female assistant/companion who collected tickets and money. There was supposed to be a bathroom on the bus but as 2 people tried to head to the back, they got yelled at by the woman (in reality I don't know if they were getting yelled at, but it sounded that way to me). They sat back down so I assumed that it meant we don't have a working bathroom on the bus. GREAT.
My bladder is about the size of a pea!
About an hour into the ride, the driver pulled over and he and the woman proceeded to a street restaurant and eat breakfast while the bus load of people waited
Are you serious?!
After they finished eating, we were on our way again. There were multiple immigration checkpoints along the way (I'm guessing its due to the proximity to Burma) but no bathroom break.
I had been holding for a couple of hours at this point and I needed to go. So at the last checkpoint, I asked "toilet?" to the woman and she ignored me. Ok.....
So I asked the driver. He pointed to a building so I ran and went right back.
We were on our way again.
After 4.5 hours, we reached Kanchanaburi and we pulled into a bus station. I figured I'd hit the bathroom again before hitting the road for another 3 hours.
When I tried to get off the bus, the woman said to me "no no no!!"
I said "toilet" and she looked at her watch, rolled her eyes, huffed and puffed and motioned me to go. I wanted to hit her.
We waited for YOU to sit down for a breakfast and I can't get a bathroom break?!
And no one else seemed to need to go
Once we arrived in Bangkok, I hailed a cab and headed straight to Hualampong train station to catch a 14-hr sleeper train to Chiang Mai. I waited 2 hours for the next departure in a stuffy station, sleepy and hungry. The thing that sucks about traveling solo is you can't just leave your bag with a companion to go look for food/drink. I have to take all 20kg of backpack and frontpack and carry them around in 38*C, sweat-drenching heat.
That is quite unpleasant, let me tell you.
Anyway we finally boarded the train and as I reached and looked at my seat, I got scared.
I was feeling exhausted from the long, sweaty day I had already. Then it dawned on me that I now have 14 hours on this train, no shower, on more plastic seating. UGH. Wasn't sure I was going to make it. I was hanging onto the only good thing, which is that this sleeper train seats turn into beds at night so I can actually lie down and sleep. The sleep turned out ok. They left the lights on the entire time, and my bed was tiny! I feared falling off the bed with one wrong turn. Oh well, I survived to tell the story
In the morning, I woke up around 7am, knowing that we were scheduled to arrive at 8:15am. After washing my face and brushing my teeth, I returned to my bed and an old lady motioned me to sit in front of her (the seats face each other). She didn't speak English, but she started offering me a corn on the cob, crackers, and an orange. I didn't want to insult her so I accepted an orange, smiled and bowed. In exchange, I offered her a piece of my packaged bread I had bought at 7-11 (she didn't take it). For breakfast, the woman ordered a platter from the dining car, and I just ordered coffee. When I saw that she was struggling to open the jam container, I opened it for her. She gave me the sweetest smile! When it came time to pay for our food she paid for my coffee and motioned me to put my wallet away. I said "oh no, no I pay" and she insisted. So again, I accepted, not wanting to insult her. I thanked her over and over. All we had were gestures, hand motions and smiles for communication. Not a word was exchanged and yet this woman was so warm and sweet, and I just wanted to hug her. That was the highlight of this never ending day.
By the time we pulled into Chiang Mai, it was nearly noon! We had been on the train for 18 hours. As I was getting off the train I met a Japanese man who is traveling alone without knowing any English or a place to sleep for the night
He was quite an interesting man. Turns out he's exactly my dads age at 62!! He looked so much younger around 50 maybe. Every year, he leaves his wife, kids and grandkids to travel abroad by himself. We had a great conversation about Japanese history and current state of the government and such. I was so happy to find someone I can speak Japanese with!
Mom, if you are reading this, he says "nihongo totemo jozudesu"! (You speak Japanese well).
I'm always concerned about my Japanese but it turned out I didn't embarrass myself today :-)
Off to bed now, good night!