August 08, 2003

Tuk-Tuk day

I started wandering around the city early today as I was already in the streets by 7:30AM. I found a nice place where to get some solid breakfast as I expected a long day. After some trial & error I found one. It was expensive (B100) but the american breaksfast was looking good. On the menu at least. I was not disappointed, it was really way above average and well presented. I then went to the post office to send a parcel to Europe.

It cost me B1800 to send 2.5kg. The parcel itself cost me B22 ! Air was definitely better for this as I wanted it to really arrive (hey, it's my custom suit inside !). The cost for surface mail was B1000, so no hesitation.

Next mission: Finding a place where to buy a bus ticket back to Bangkok avoiding scams. I hang around the night bazaar and talk with a tuk-tuk driver. His english is surprisingly good and he does not bullshit me so I try to get some information about buses to do some cross-checking of information.

He tells me that there is more than the government run VIP bus and the Khao San bus. There are other buses VIP as well that are mostly used by Thai people. I'm curious and show my head in the ticketing office. I'm told a price of B403 for the ticket. Wow. I'm surprised ! What's that price ? 403 ? not even 405 ! Hu, it's weird enough to seem true and the table in Thai on the wall with all the prices for different destinations confirm that this is really it. I'm taking the risk as it sound some serious stuff, I can even book my seat on a sheet. So obviously that's more serious that some travel agency-barber shop.

The bus leaves from a place close to the night bazaar at 7PM and go to the bus station where it is leaving at 7:30PM. It arrives in Bangkok at 5AM at the Northern Bus station close to the Chatuchak market. I'm told that a meal is included at around 2AM when we will stop in some gas station somewhere on the road. Everything sounds good so far. I will see by myself tonight...

I'm told also that the Khao San bus is a complete scam (oh ? really ?) as it is totally illegal. They have no transport license and they leave from Khao San, which is in the middle of the city (it took us about 2 hours to get out from Bangkok due to the traffic) while it sounds perfectly normal to leave from a bus station... I'm told that they can do this because they are corrupting some police/officials to do their business.

I plan to spend the afternoon hanging around, going to the monkey centre, an elephant farm, orchid farm, etc... I deal with the tuk-tuk driver for B180. Sounds good as everything is far away from town. So here we go to Monkey Centre.

The Monkey Centre is a place where they train monkeys to do some tricks. In the South they are trained to get coconuts from trees. A man can do about 200-300 coconuts a day, a monkey itself can do about 3 times more and does not complain about wages... The entrance was B200 and that was terrible. I felt really bad to be part of this miserable thing.

We leave for the Elephants...not for long. The tuk-tuk breaks suddenly in the middle of nowhere. Pedal problem. We take a look into it and try to fix the broken pedal with what is available. That means nails, wire, etc... It does not change as the original piece is a nail. It took us about 15 mins to fix that damn thing and the real problem is obviouslly the gear parts that it is half-broken. We manage to go back in town slowly slowly. Ok obviouslly no elephants, orchids, etc...

I will leave in about 2 hours to Bangkok.

Posted by stephane at August 8, 2003 10:36 AM