Friday, 16 March 2012

Bus Challenge Bangkok 14th March 2012

Traffic as far as the eye can see!
Nightmare on the buses..

The museum closes 4.30pm and  it's that now. They're waiting for me and the guard, who wasn't around earlier, slides open the iron gate, smiles and promptly makes his exit also. Crossing the 4 lane highway via the overpass to bus bus stand - its the only way since rush hour is in full swing with outbound traffic one endless stream of noise and fumes. Bus 503 got me here so 503 should get me back into Bangkok and onto the Khao San road, so the theory go's backed up with pictorial evidence provided by the map!

Plenty of buses streaming past, not the 503 though. 5pm, still no sign of the 503. I'm hopeful there will be one soon, they are supposed to be frequent, every 15 minutes according to the tourist office. Plenty of 34s and 39s, the odd 522 and numerous school minibuses emerging from the base living quarters. 5.15 and still no sign of the 503, no 503s in the opposite direction either, getting slightly anxious.  Plan b - get onto a 34 or 39 which should get me as far as the Sky Train at Mo Chit, then I can get the number 3 from there to Khao San. Flagging down a 34, a third class bus which means no air con, no fan. 15p and actually, it's not too bad sitting by a window getting a breeze, could do with some water though. Rather remiss of me not to have any and of course the more I think about not having any, the more I want a drink! 5.45' the bus pulls into a compound- oh no, it's another bus depot! Everyone gets off here, despite the map saying otherwise, and the bus has only travelled about 3 miles - looking on the bright side, I'm 3 miles closer to Bangkok.

Bangkok should be a universal word around here, and thankfully, the officials understand where I need to get to. I'm sticking with the plan to get the number 3 from Mo Chit, any variation now could worsen the situation, I mean I don't want to end up over night at some obscure location miles outside the city. I'm taken to bus 29, the same bus I used in the failed attempt a few days ago. So, now we have buses with the same route number leaving from different depots taking different routes - faced with this, surly there's no hope for the unwitting tourist whatsoever. According to this map, the 29 passes Mo Chit, so from now it should be plain sailing. 17p this time, the bus has fans so, must be second class. Bus pulls up after 20 minutes and they tell me I need to get off, despite being miles away from Mo Chit. OK, looking on the bright side, another 3 miles closer to Bangkok!

I'm still not resolved to taking a taxi, especially now since finding a metered taxi back end of the rush will be a challenge. Unmetered taxis will be by negotiation, and cost significantly more. Pulling out the map once again, it's now bus 54 that passes Mo Chit, in theory, and there it is. Another 15p, and 4 stops to Mo Chit as the bus pulls into the parking area just beside the station. Waiting for bus 3, with a host of 29s streaming past! 20 minutes for a bus 3 and it's an Air-con, so double the price, about 30p but I get all the way to Khao San, hopefully.

7.30 the bus pulls into the Khao San area, just before Soi Rambuttri, quite handy since that's the road I'm staying on. So, from leaving the Museum at 4.30 it's taken 4 buses, 3 hours to travel less than 15 miles! Looking positively, I only paid about £1.50 for the trip and looking back now, it's just another of those Bangkok life challenges, and I wasn't beaten this time. Quite clearly, the average western visitor will be somewhat challenged with this bus system, not tourist friendly at all.

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