Crazy Taxis in the City of Strays

otherriverkwai

(11th July)

By a nice little coincidence, the hotel we were staying at in Bangkok offered a minivan service to Kanchanaburi, our destination for the long weekend. Whilst this was slightly more expensive than getting a bus from Bangkok’s station, it was much simpler, which as it turns out would not be a recurring theme in our day of travelling.

We shared the minivan with several other tourists from different hotels, but there was still a comfortable amount of space and, crucially, there was air conditioning. Kerry appears to have lucked out with her school accommodation which is not only fully air-conditioned but apparently came with a fully stocked fridge and pet geckos, but with my schoolhouse lacking in such luxuries anywhere that I can find an air-con breeze feels lie a real treat. In that sense, it was probably a benefit that our journey got delayed by Thailand’s infamous traffic – although we were supposed to get to Kanchanaburi at 12, we arrived closer to 2pm and were dropped off on the main street. Whilst the driver tried to sell the other tourists one of the street hotels, the three of us snuck off to find our already booked accommodation.

We were all adamant that we weren’t going to get a taxi as we were fed up of their consistent pestering, plus most of the taxis in Kanchanaburi look like this:

I swear everywhere in Thailand has a bet on to see who can provide the least safe transport.

I swear everywhere in Thailand has a bet on to see who can provide the least safe public transport.

This led us to ask for directions to our hotel’s address, which was apparently “down the road and the first left after the second 7/11 you see”, according to one of the first english speaking people we found. We followed this and, of course, it wasn’t there. Exhausted, we sat on a bridge over the River Kwai (no, not THAT bridge, another one) after an hour of trying to figure out the directions we had been given, to no avail. At least we got to see the tourist sites from a distance.

Whatever, actual bridge over the river kwai. We didn't even want to see you today anyway.

Whatever, actual bridge over the river kwai. We didn’t even want to see you today anyway.

After a couple of hours of aimless, frustrated wandering, interspersed with going to a lunch at a restaurant where we had to wake the manager up from sleeping on the sofa in order to get served, we cut our losses and got a taxi. It turned out that we would have never found the hotel from where we were, as it was tucked away in a field off the side of Kanchanaburi’s market place. Still, we got a trek out this all, at the very least.

The restaurant had some glorious puns, though.

The restaurant had some glorious puns as well.

Jess and Kerry got a free hotel room upgrade due to a booking problem, but I didn’t receive such luck. Instead, I walked into a tiny living space consisting of a bed, a fan, and little else, meaning that once again I was deprived of the life of air-conditioned luxury that the others were having.

room2room1

When a hotel advertises it’s rooms as ‘cozy’, this is what they mean.

But whatever, Thailand wouldn’t be Thailand without me having to live inside a massive container of heat, and once again we spent little of the evening in the hotel as we ventured out into the local night markets. After mulling over trying to find somewhere to drink we settled on an outdoor bar that had furniture made out of converted bicycle wheels, meaning that they doubled as both a table and a fully working adventure play-area roundabout. So that led to dizziness and some fancy photo attempts at capturing motion blur.

notebookroundabout

roundabouttable

We sat around for a while before buying a hoard of Asian junk food and heading back to the hotel just after midnight. Confident of our route back, we eventually found the hotel on the other side of a small field, and were about to cross when the sharp sound of barking pierced the night and we all shrieked as a not-very-friendly-looking stray dog emerged from the shadows (well, the girls shrieked. I played it cool, and anyone telling you otherwise is lying.) On a closer look at the field we then realised that it was swarming with dogs, all of whom had become very aware to us and started to trot in our direction. With the stray dog security team I had gained back at Watphachi School nowhere to be found I wasn’t taking any chances, and we all quickly legged it back the way we came before being turned into a walking advertisement for rabies. Taking a different route only led us to another pack of strays barking and appearing out of shadows/windows/bursting through brick walls like the Kool-Aid man for all I care, as we were all more preoccupied with trying to find a way out. Eventually we caved for the second time in a day and got a taxi for the embarrassingly short journey back to the hotel’s gate, agreeing that the 60 baht it cost was worth it to avoid the lair of never-ending savage dogs, and I slept easily at least with the knowledge that they couldn’t get to me inside.

Although I’m sure they were planning a way to strike.

PS

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