Can We Get to Chiang Mai?!?

The second day in Bangkok was a lot more chill.  We hung out by the river, wandered in some quieter areas, and found some really quiet, leafy streets with guesthouses where we’d stay if we had to stay in Bangkok again.  The city seemed a little more diverse than it did on first exposure.  And a lot more palatable.  Still, I was anxious to go north to Chiang Mai.  Not just to catch up with my brother (in-law) who lives there, but to see what all the hype is about.  Reports of Chiang Mai were just the opposite of Bangkok – cool, slower pace, artsy, great vibe…  And it was just a 12-hour bus ride away…

A bus ride that seemed for awhile like it might not happen.  Were we victims of one of the bus scams that were written about in the Lonely Planet?  We were waiting for the bus outside our guesthouse when a guy on a scooter raced in.  He asked if we were going to Chiang Mai and took our ticket.  He told me that we were taking a tuk-tuk to the bus and he hailed a tuk-tuk and explained the directions to him in Thai.

After waiting in an area where there was no bus or other passengers, Fahrin popped into a nearby travel agency to find out what’s the deal.  Had we been scammed, or did the tuk-tuk driver mess up the directions?  The travel agent sent us to another area where a bunch of people were waiting for the bus…to Krabbi.  A waiting passenger told us that the bus to Chiang Mai had already left, but to talk to the girl in charge.  The only problem was that the guy on the scooter had taken our bus ticket!

Luckily, I still had the envelope that the ticket came in, which had the address of the travel agency where we bought the ticket.  She made some calls and after what seemed to be an eternity, told us that they were coming to pick us up.

A short while later, the guy on the scooter flew in.  All would be okay! …or would it?  He told our extremely patient tuk-tuk driver to follow him to the location.  We got there to find a bunch of other travellers.  Relief!  But no bus.  We waited awhile and seeing as there was no progress, I went off in search of some water for the ride while Fahrin waited with the bags.

I couldn’t have been gone for more than 10 minutes when I was approaching the corner I had turned, to find Fahrin screaming for me.  Less than a minute after I’d left, the passengers were instructed to bring their stuff down the street (and out of view) to the bus.  Fahrin tried to call for me, but I was gone around the corner and couldn’t hear a thing over the loud music in the street – and she couldn’t leave the bags with all our valuables to come chase after me.

So I’m approaching the corner, Fahrin is screaming that everyone has left in the opposite direction.  There’s no one in sight.  We start running, grab the bags and run down the street.  As we get to the main intersection, we see two buses across the street and down a ways.  We run toward them as fast as we could with our bags in tow.  Ours is the first bus.  With everyone already on the bus, we load our gear and get on board.  We made it!!

Next stop, Chiang Mai!

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