I’ve had better ideas
It was pretty late so I asked Jai to drop me back to my hostel, he obliged but he had one more stop to make.
“First we go karaoke, good place, many sexy girl, you like”. Jai assumed ‘I like’ everything, I eventually discovered this as that’s how he pretty much finished all his sentences.
After another death-bike ride through Bangkok, we pulled into another seedy joint in ANOTHER dark alley teeming with rats.
We walked in, at first glance I thought the bar was pretty busy, until my vision cleared up and I realised there was only the barman and a couple of bar girls. Jai lead me through the back door behind the bar, then through a labyrinth of walkways and alleys until we came to a small room, it must’ve been 2 x 3 metres, inside stood a solitary old school horse racing machine (arcade style) with 20 Thai men standing round it screaming at the top of their lungs at the pixelated screen, It was like Ascot races on acid!
Whiskey bottles lay on the floor, dogs ran round my feet while a single Thai man stood in the corner changing notes into 1 Baht coins. I felt like I was on an alien planet, never had I seen such excitement over something so simple.
Jai battled his way to the head of the machine and began throwing coin after coin into the slot and places bets on the virtual horses. Amidst the chaos of whiskey, stray dogs and endless sweaty Thai men with obvious gambling problems, I slowly came to terms with the fact that firstly I had no fucking idea where I was, secondly I was pissed out my mind and finally if anything were to happen to me right now, no one would ever be able to find me.
After a very nervous hour of this scarily awkward situation Jai had spent all his money and agreed to leave, he asked “what you do tomorrow?”, I explained I needed to book a train ticket and organise my visas, need I say what he answered with;
“I have friend, have travel shop, I pick you up and we go”.
I agreed, he’d been pretty decent so far, so I arranged to meet him at 1 o’clock at my hostel.
Finally arriving back at my hostel, I stumbled into my dorm room at god knows what time of the morning, but I recall one of my fellow room mates saying something along the lines of “Shut the fuck up and get in your bed!”.
I’ll have you know that it’s not the easiest thing manoeuvring yourself into a top bunk when you’ve been drinking solidly for nearly two days. After a struggle I settled into bed, confident that I wouldn’t piss off anymore sleeping backpackers the door bursts open and in walks drunk Venus, who begins to ’drunk whisper’ (which we’re all more familiar with as being referred to as SHOUTING);
“Lukey, Lukey baby, where you been? Joop joop” (‘joop joop’ being ’kiss kiss’ in Thai).
She clambered up to my bunk and straddled me, once the others in the dorm realised that the noisy drunken backpacker keeping them awake was also fucking the girl who ran the hostel, I never heard another peep out of them, and I’m certain they didn’t sleep the rest of the night….be a bit more empathetic for the drunk in future!
Waking up in a drunken daze, I walked downstairs to find Jai sitting in the reception area, it was way past the arranged time, so I jumped on his bike to go to the TAT (travel company), here I sat with a delightful old Thai woman named ‘Polla” with strange purple bulges on her arms, she explained she had some kind of liver problem.
We agreed on a price of 5000 Baht (100 pounds) for all my visas for Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, travel to Chiang Mai, accommodation, trekking, elephant safari, rafting and travel to Laos, which was a great deal in my eyes! Though on top of this she mentioned an extra 5000 Baht visa deposit fee…..to which I finally discovered, DOES NOT FUCKING EXIST!
A word for all budding travellers, DO IT ALL YOURSELF WHERE POSSIBLE!
Don’t trust half of the TAT’s in Bangkok, most of them prey on fresh backpackers like myself at the time, they’ll reel you in with a good price and start whacking on the extras once they have your passport. The best way to go about things is with your hostel or guesthouse, or research visas and do them yourself by going to the embassy, it may take a bit more effort but you won’t be left out of pocket.
The next day I returned to collect my passport before I got my train North, I left a few hours to spare just to be sure I made my train, and my body couldn’t physically handle anymore Bangkok abuse!
I waited in the TAT for a good forty five minutes waiting for my passport to arrive, but still no luck! Finally Polla the ‘lovely’ old woman appeared explaining there has been a problem at the embassies and my passport will meet me in Chiang Mai along with my 5000 Baht deposit!
What was I to do? Sit in Bangkok and wait for my passport to arrive if it hadn’t already left that is, on top of that I’d have to buy another ticket north and miss out on all the accommodation and excursions booked, or just go and hope for the fucking best….my half functioning mind chose the latter!
Before I got my train I sat at a street stall eating ‘Cao Pat Guy’ (Chicken fried rice), when a rat ran across my foot, at this point I forfeited my meal and left to catch my train 200 pound down and passportless.
After wandering aimlessly around Bangkok central train station trying to find my platform I finally swallowed my pride and asked, turned out I’d walked straight past my train a good few times. I had an hour or so before my train left so I set up camp on the cold tiled floor, cuddling my daypack like a koala bear and using my backpack as a pillow I laid there watching time drift away hoping I hadn’t forfeited my passport 72 hours into my trip.
I boarded the train and found my seat, the train was scheduled to take twelve hours, arriving in Chiang Mai roughly around 10am the next morning, so I set an alarm to wake up as of course I wouldn’t recognise the stop. At this point I desperately needed sleep after two days of alcohol fuelled madness.
Thai trains aren’t bad at all, I‘m not saying they are five star accommodation but they hold all the comforts necessary for overnight travel. At around 10pm the staff onboard the train came round and folded all the seats up like some sort of transformer which then became bunk beds with a separating curtain for privacy, they ask if you would like breakfast and of course failing to inform you it comes at an extra cost.
I was laying in my bunk for about an hour or so listening to music, failing to get some sleep of which I so desperately needed when my phone vibrated, it was a text from Emily.
The text message was more of an essay than a simple sms, it said a lot of things that she’d always wanted to say but never had, both good and bad.
It’s strange how a text message can open up a whole new world of emotion, I suppose I was on such a high my first few days and hadn’t yet been alone for more than half an hour, frankly I’d failed to think about what I’d left behind
Every traveller will have a breakdown or two, or ten throughout their travels but I’m sure everyone remembers their very first.
I laid there in my small compartment crying hysterically into my pillow for a good hour, all the mistakes I’d made in the past came flooding back and for once I felt some sort of regret for certain people I’d truly taken for granted. Then I started to think about things completely unrelated to the text message at hand, I was completely over powered with emotion, all in all I was in an absolute state and I’m not ashamed to say that I cried myself to sleep, the final thought in my head being;
“What the fuck am I doing the other side of the world, all alone, on train to a place I don’t know…with no passport”