The flights, the non-existent bus and the adventure
The flights were actually pretty regular. The first one from Prague to Abu Dhabi I tried to sleep most of the time. The second one from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok I DID sleep most of the time.
There was some kind of issue with booking the seats on the connecting flight from Prague so I, and half of our plane with me, was told to get the second boarding pass at Abu Dhabi airport. Strangely enough, that went quite well considering the bookings were done but didn't show up even in the system at Abu Dhabi. A little bit of nerves if I'd get stuck there but eventually it went ok. The funnier part came when getting to the security check and the gates.
Yes, even in Europe there are sometimes long lines at the security checks but that huge barely organized mass of people trying to get to the checks, that was something. And while the obvious European and North American travelers were quite nice, patience and organized (possibly also freaked out and scared), the uncontrolled movement of Arab and Hindu people made it quite the experience.
The other thing was that these exact Arab and Hindu people didn't seem to have any knowledge of what the security checks are actually about, so I ended up feeling sorry for the security people having to tell them over and over again to take all their bracelets and watches off. (Jenna Marbles would understand what I'm talking about – http://youtu.be/VzcBDXyJO_w).
When it was finally my turn, I didn't even have to take all my gear out and I accidentally managed to get a cup of yoghurt through. For whatever reason I beeped, so I had to go to the search booth (now that freaked me out because I had to leave all my bags at the check, not something I would do willingly), but the security lady was surprisingly nice and we even joked about the insanity going on there. Didn't see that coming, I guess I'm a racist xenophobe for expecting the worst :D She barely checked me, just agreed with me that it was probably the metal zippers on my pants and let me go as there was a group of angry Arab women waiting in front of the booth.
After collecting my stuff, I found the gate easily. The size of the crowd waiting and the number of my seat gave me an idea this plane will be „a bit“ larger than those I usually fly with in Europe. And yup, I was right. Cca five sections, each three rows of 3-4-3seats. I actually got a great seat, a lot of space in front of me so even the thing called stretching legs was possible to certain extent.
And of course the super nice and super handsome steward was totally gay the moment he started to speak. Oh well, the usual.
So these were the easy parts. Even the passport and Visa check, picking up of my bag(s) and getting cash turned out quite easy. That's were easy stopped.
I followed the bus sign and started looking for the AE2 bus that should take me directly to my hostel. It was on the airport web, it had to be true, right? No, not in here. So after a while of walking outside looking for the bus and „enjoying“ the sauna outside, I gave up and went back to ask someone. What a surprise when the lady at the tourist info told me „That bus doesn't go anymore.“ Well, f*ck.
So I had to take the airport rail link and from the Phaya Thai station get somehow to the hostel. After teaming up with a Hindu couple looking as lost as I was, we managed to get on the train. At the Phaya Thai station, I once again asked for a bus at the tourist info and got a pretty vague answer “Yes, go to the Exit 1” which turned out barely helpful as there was no bus stop there. So I started walking. Many other lost and confused tourists were walking around, trying to figure out how to even get a taxi if nothing else. The traffic was insane at that point (it was around 19:30). At that point I teamed up with a couple from Austria and as they were going to a hostel not far from mine, we agreed to take a taxi. Sounds easy, right? About fifteen taxis went by before we figured out what's the system – when they're taken and when empty. Somehow, it didn't seem to change the fact most of them just passed by without even slowing down. Thank you very much. The tuk-tuk driver was the icing on the cake. “Can you take us to Khao San Road?” - “No.” and drove away. Thank YOU even more.
After while, some elderly man took mercy on us and directed us to the right bus stop and told us the bus number. After some walking, we did find the bus stop, but the number we needed wasn't included. So we started asking again and got some proper directions from one lady. She even wrote us a piece of paper to give to the bus driver so he would know where we need to go. There was hope once again we may get to our final destinations for that day.
Then the adventure started. Kids, do NOT do this at home! (read: alone). The nice lady was soon picked up by a car and instead of driving off, they stopped in front of us and offered they would drive us to Khao San road. There were four people in the car already, but the truck/trunk part was fairly big and empty. After exchanging a few questioning looks with the Austrian couple, we decided to be extremely insane and hopped in. The A/C felt nice. And there we were, strangers going with strangers in a strange place. It was only the fact it was an Asian family with two little daughters that kept me from thinking I'm gonna end up sold to slavery or something like that.
They were just a nice Asian family because they did drive us exactly to Khao San road. We offered them some money, but they intensively refused, wished us a nice stay and left. Asians.
From where they dropped us off, I had it only a few meters to my hostel. The room was super ugly and the bed super hard, but there was a bathroom with a shower and I could lock myself in, so for those 250TBH sounded like a fair deal. I just went to get some water and the wi-fi password and that was it for the day. Chatted with mom on G+ for a while, watched TBBT and Arrow and then attempted sleep.
That turned out to be the final challenge of the day. Just by looking at the pillow, I refused to touch that. Even the bed cover didn't look exactly friendly, so I ended up with my towel as the bad cover and my large scarf as a pillow. Eventually, I also put the hood of my hoodie over my head to cover my ears because I was afraid what the fan blowing directly on my head and my ears might do. The noise from the streets lasting till 4-5 in the morning was a whole other story. I guess I fell into coma.
When I woke up to my alarm clock at 9 in the morning, I thought I would faint back into oblivion. I guess it was the lack of fresh air in the room. I packed as quickly as I was able, checked if there are still seats at the bus to Khao Sok and headed to search for yet another bus stop. Bus this time I actually knew where exactly the stop is and which bus I need to take. And getting out to 29degrees despite the 86,7% humidity was actually pretty nice and there was even a light cold breeze from time to time.
I found the stop easily, the bus came moments after, but I realized I had my purse somewhere deep down in my backpack so I let the bus go, deciding to get on the next one and getting my purse out in the meanwhile. After waiting for what felt and pretty well could have been a half an hour, another 511 bus came. In the meanwhile I realized I was an idiot to skip the first one. What I didn't know was that the driver simply just drives. There's another person at the bus collecting the money. But this I found out only after seeing five million other buses to pass by. Live and learn, right?
The good thing about the 511 bus was the A/C and the fact that the Sai Mai Tai – Southern Bus terminal was the last stop. No need to stress about when and where I need to get out. Also managing without English, even if it was just the three words “Sai Mai Tai”, was quite the “Eeeeeeeks” moment.
After asking around where I can buy tickets and then where I can buy the one exact ticket, I finally found it and got it. And I have a single seat! Nobody next to me! That was the good icing on the cake :)
And now, I'm just sitting here, waiting. 6h 45mins till my bus leaves. And I can't say I'll exactly mind the A/C. I have my warm clothes so bring it on.
(written at Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal, at 12:45)
(written at Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal, at 12:45)