On Saturday, Nan apparently went to buy tickets for our return trip. She showed me the tickets and I think the fare was about 1,500 baht for the both of us, which was quite a bit higher than the trip to Phitsanulok. But she tried to explain to me that we had special seats and would be able to sleep – since we would depart at 4:30 pm and arrive in Hua Hin sometime after 1 am.
I thought that meant a sleeper on the train, which sounded cool. Wrong. We ended up at the bus station. With an hour and a half to wait, I walked around to find some food, settling on some pork knuckle noodle soup.With a bottle of water, 50 baht ($1.60)
The bus included a “first class” section with wider seats and much more legroom, accounting for the difference in fares from the train. This would change before we even started.
Almost immediately out of the bus terminal, you could hear the bus gears grinding. We came to a halt on the side of the road, a quarter mile from the station. And waited. With no explanation, not that it would have helped me anyway.
I soon guessed that we were waiting on another bus, which finally arrived an hour and a half after we broke down. The replacement bus was an older model, and our wide-body, mucho legroom seats had been downsized, but still fine. I was just happy that we didn’t break down three hours into the trip, as it would have taken three more hours for the replacement bus to reach us.
We brought along lots of snacks but our tickets also brought us some snacks, juice and dinner. About three hours into our bumpy and noisy journey, we stopped at what would becalled a truck stop in the U.S. There was a large open-air restaurant with a big crowd of bus trevelers queuing for dinner.
We had been given slips of paper to turn in for our free meal. I chose pork and rice. Within 30 minutes, we were back on the road, with the only stops to come for letting off and adding on passengers at towns along the way.
Despite our 1.5-hour breakdown, we arrived in Hua Hin only 30 minutes late, but it was 2 am in Hua Hin, and finding taxis at that hour is difficult. ne finally came along and we shared with an expat couple. And home at last.
I have now lived in Thailand for a year and this was the first really true Thai experience I’ve had. Everywhere I went, there were few accommodations for Westerners. Most signs were in Thai, very few people spoke any English at all, and I spent considerable time with an extended Thai family.
And, yet, with the help of a friend and many others, it was a truly enjoyable experience. I’ve made new friends and seen Thai life up close.