Sunday, November 23, 2008

Making my way back to Chonburi (Tuesday, 10/28)

Tuesday morning I wake up a little before the crack of noon. There is another hash today, so we try and find a place that will do our laundry before 3:00pm. We find a place that has a sign out front saying “3 hour laundry.” Sweet! We give her our shoes and nasty clothing, and we are told that it will be ready at 6pm. We try to explain that we need it in three hours and we are again told 6pm. We point to the sign that says “3 hour laundry” and repeat “three hours,” and are again told 6pm. Seriously, WTF! We explain as best we can that we need it at 3pm, and are told that it is impossible to have the laundry done by then. Now I am no industry expert here, but keeping in mind that there was an empty washer next to her, I believe it is possible to do laundry in less than six hours, and I think whoever made the sign saying “3 hour laundry” probably would agree with me. Screw it. I guess we are doomed to having wet shoes for a while.

I catch a taxi to the train station while Alcoholiday heads off to find a room for the night. My plan is to take the late train from Chiang Mai, thereby allowing me to get to the hash and then sleep on the train, arriving in Bangkok the next day, refreshed and well rested. I get to the train station and try to buy a ticket, but I am told that none of the trains except for the 2:50 are running today. Seriously?! I think about taking a train the next day, but being tired, broke, and defeated, I decide to just take the train and say screw the Tuesday hash.

After a couple hours of killing time, I start walking back to the train station. I walk fast in hopes that I can get to the train station without catching a taxi, but fifteen minutes later I am still a long ways away, and I only have ten minutes before the train departs. I hail a taxi and negotiate a price. Of course the streets are all one way, so we have to go away from the station before we can go towards it, and traffic is less than fantastic. I finally get to the station right as the train blows its whistle. I pay the taxi driver and start running, getting to my seat moments before the train pulls out of the station. I have opted for the second-class sleeper cabin, which should be a vast improvement over third class. I realize I have not brought anything to eat or drink during this seventeen hour train ride, so I hop out at the next station and quickly buy some food, jumping back on the train only a couple seconds before it starts moving again. The ride down from Chiang Mai is spectacular, crossing trestles over vast ravines, passing through tunnels, and traversing mountainsides covered in teak forests. I get to watch the sunset from the train while passing through the Thai countryside, and life is good… and then they convert the cabin for sleeping. In so doing, they close all the windows and put up curtains in front of your bed for privacy. The effect is that there is no longer a breeze from the window (but somehow, the mosquitoes still have no problem getting in) and the fan is no longer blowing on you from the isle. Suddenly the cabin becomes balmy and unpleasant with bugs biting you every thirty seconds. Add to that the shrieking child in the berth across from me, and you have an utterly unpleasant ride.

I somehow manage a few hours sleep in between swatting mosquitoes. I eventually get so tired that I end up swatting mosquitoes in my sleep, as evidenced by the piles of insect corpses littering my bed. I eventually make it to Bangkok at 6:15 in the morning, sweaty and sleep deprived. A couple rides on the subway and sky train (Bangkok’s metro rail system is fantastic), and I reach the bus station. As I walk into the bus station at 7:00 am, someone waves me down and tells me to get on the bus. I tell him that I am going to Chonburi, to which he informs me that it is the correct bus. What I don’t find out until later is that this is anything but the express bus. Chonburi is only about a forty-five minute drive, but we don’t get there until 9:30, two and a half hours later. Fuck me. Time for some sleep.

Rolling through the teak forests in the mountains outside of Chiang Mai

The plains between Chiang Mai and Bangkok

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