Day Twenty Three

Up at 9-ish to take our fill of breakfast. We forgot yesterday, so wanted to eat loads today to save on food bills, but when we got there there were only six rounds of bread left and a bit of jam and butter. Better than nothing.

We got a red taxi to the station. Took us a few cars before someone agreed to take us for the proper price of ฿30 each. The others were wanting ฿50, so we just walked off. Wasn’t in the mood for any of this today, plus we needed to save dollars for the train as it was probably gonna be an expensive day. There’s a board with all the times and prices on which is great. They also have a print-out for you so you know what options you have.

We’d thought yesterday about getting the early-morning train, but that would get us in for nine at night if it was on time, so we’d have trouble finding places open to stay in. Our reasonable options were on the 15:30 train that got in at 05:30 and there was third class seats for ฿271 each or fan sleeper for ฿571 or something. We went third class all the way and boy did we wish we hadn’t. Saved some money, yeah, but you can see where the money goes. If it’s a short journey then go for it, but on a looooong haul like this (14 hours) it’s not a good idea. At first I’d said I remembered that you had a seat each and we’d be facing each other. The seats are a maximum of three feet wide, so a modest size for someone of average size like myself—except that we realised that they were actually two seats not one, and you’re allocated a seat so you don’t have a choice where to sit. Me and Lauren when sat shoulder to shoulder were sticking out into the aisle by about six inches. We’re not even big people. Add this to the fact that there could be two randomers facing you about two feet away and it’s not a great prospect. No one was in the opposite seat so we were sat opposite each other or about six hours looking out the window at the weird trees and the misty hills for a while and read a bit. It was impossible to get comfortable due to the seats, and I’d been trying to get a little nap in but there was nowhere for my legs to go that felt remotely like I could get a few winks so I just spent an hour or so wriggling around.

A few stops had gone by and no one had got in the seat until this lumbering hulk of a woman got on with a little girl and made us pay for our hours of [relative] luxury. She was insane. She just kinda stood by my (her) seat with a vacant look on her flat pug-like face. I say “pug-like” ‘cos it was like a pug that had been repeatedly smashed in the face with an industrial shovel and then developed a bad case of acne as a result. The girl was alright. She kept staring at us, but we didn’t mind as she was only about five. Anyway, I moved and she immediately opened the windows all the way down letting in all kinds of horrid insects, chucked her stuff everywhere and started fidgeting and fanning herself like a mad thing. It wasn’t even warm, and if me and Lauren thought it was cold then surely a Thai must be freezing cold. Maybe it was just ‘cos she was so fat. Trying to sleep when it was two to a chair and having nowhere to put my legs was like a kind of torment and I quickly found myself staring absently at an advert on the wall of a bowl of noodles with two tiny eggs on top. the novelty of this kept my spirits raised, and although I kept wishing that the woman would get locked in the toilet or fall out the window, I kept my cool.

After a while of the girl singing to herself and faffing about by the window the woman decided it was time for her to go to sleep. Whipping out a beach mat and a little backpack she made up a crude bed not fit for a dog and lay it underneath the chairs across the aisle. The people there were laying one to a seat and asleep. Who knows what they must have thought when they woke up to a small child’s abdomen laying on a straw mat in the middle of their seats, her head and legs slid neatly away from sight. There was also the issue that the woman had perched herself on the edge on one of their seats and put her feet up right near the face of the sleeping woman who occupied the position opposite. I felt bad on her when she opened her eyes to that mess of a scenario.

I somehow nodded off as I could now stretch my legs a bit and when I woke up the girl was on the chair opposite me and the fat woman had assumed a sitting position with her legs underneath the seat where the kid had been laying and had her face about 20cm away from that poor sleeping woman. Weird. The next time I woke up I’m not messing, Lauren had moved to an empty seat down the way, my legs were tucked up on my chair, the girl was still kipping opposite me only now the woman had moved the mat and was sat on the floor right in front of me. She was so wide that there was definitely no room for my legs there now. I just sat in disbelief as that shameless human was just lurking about down there just seeming to fill the entire space. What she was thinking no one will ever know. I would put my last dime on it that she doesn’t have a husband and that kid wasn’t hers as it didn’t look anything like its Jabba guardian. I took a photo for proof ‘cos I didn’t think anyone would believe my tale. What a freaking night.

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Day Twenty One

Boring day today, really. Up to have the complimentary breakfast, which ended up being a complete joke of either dry toast or toast with some crappy old pineapple marmalade dregs on, or a slice of pineapple or watermelon. No thanks. Got ready and headed to the bus station to get back to Chiang Mai. We were gonna go to Koh Tao but thought it would be an idea to break up the travel by stopping for the night in Chiang Mai. The buses were full, so we had to wait around for a few hours before getting on. After spending a good few days in Pai, we felt it was more than enough. We’d wanted to chill for a few days but couldn’t really, ‘cos Tony’s was a bit of a let-down, so we hadn’t done that much apart from yesterday—which would have been fine except that it wasn’t as enjoyable as we thought. I reckon you’d need to go a couple of miles outta town for the peace, and travel in when you wanted some small-town vibes. If you just wanna see the place I’d stay for three days, but if you could get a scenic reading nook of a hotel in the hills you could stay until you got bored.

Anyway, we got to Chiang Mai and had a bit of a keruel. Went in McDonald’s to get some Wi-Fi and get our bearings as we didn’t know which bus station we were at, and through a series of events ended up having to pay ฿170 for two lots of fries, walked down a super highway, and got slightly ripped off by a racist taxi driver ( ฿40 when it says ฿30 clearly on the side) but we were too tired to argue at this point—well, with the driver, ‘cos we argued with each other later on. We found Lauren’s guesthouse of choice. It seemed a good option to be fair at ฿200 a night. Jay’s Guesthouse it was called. Found it without too
much trouble, dumped our stuff, had a moan at each other and then went out for a walk to the flip-flop shop Lauren had wanted to go to for ages. There was a pair of clueless Americans trying to barter or a price marked item. This is a no-no, in case you don’t know. You only barter for stuff without a price on it. They wanted ฿20 off and were being really rude all like “I know that they’re ฿70 and it’s the ones out there that are ฿50, but I like this pair and want them for ฿50”. Tough! You can’t have them, you spoilt twerp! I went over and offered to give him the ฿20 to prove a point and shut him up. It worked and they left. The woman gave Lauren ฿10 off her pair. We went the night market as it was close, but remembered how busy and stressful it was and left after about five minutes. That’s the thing about a lot of places here: they seem great on paper, but really there’s tons of people and it ends up being hassle.

Went back to the hotel and started to hunker down when Lauren screamed and made me jump. Good job, as there was a huge bed bug hurtling toward my face. We turned the pillow over and they were everywhere. THE HORROR!! After thirty seconds of hurried discussion we packed our stuff and just ran out. Didn’t want them buggers getting in our stuff and haunting us around our travels and maybe even bringing them home. Ew.

It was about 11pm and we didn’t have high hopes of finding anywhere to stay in our budget, so we were half ready to sit around on the kerb until sun-up. Thankfully, after traipsing around for a while, we found a place for ฿450—฿50 over budget but inside it was really nice. Na Inn, it’s called. I recommend it. In a good location, massive bed, AC, simple breakfast, clean, spacious, fridge, tv, balcony, the lot. Good stuff. It meant we had spent ฿225 each over budget for the day but it’s not like that was our fault, and at least we had somewhere nice to stay. We decided that it was so nice we’d linger in the Chiang
for another day and have a pamper day tomorrow in our lovely room. CRANK THAT AC TO 15 DEGREES BABY!

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Day Eighteen

Had a sweet ten hours last night. We just wanted a chill day today so I kinda pottered on the internet and said Hi to people on Messenger until Lauren got up. Eventually made our way into town and got an eggy rice thing from the dear restaurant and a can of Schweppes lime that Sam kept banging on about. He said they didn’t have lemon soda in France. It was like a nicer version of 7-Up.

Lauren wasn’t too happy today as she’s fed up with the insects in the guesthouse. They’re annoying me too but I have my doubts that there’s anywhere much better in our price range. It would be really nice to be able to not have to think about whether you’ve stuffed the gaps in the door with bog roll today or if you’ve forgotten. I was sat outside for a while earlier reading Sherlock Holmes and looking at the view while Lauren had a nap, and I couldn’t really relax cos I’m constantly on the lookout for insects that seem like they have a score to settle and nothing to lose. There was also a snake outside before so that’s another thing to watch out for.

I got tired of being outside and my bum was getting a bit sore off the stone bench so I went to join Lauren for a nap. We slept for hours for some reason. I have a tiny bit of sunburn on my shoulder even though it was cloudy today, I think from sitting outside. I’ll have to be more careful in future, as being in the sun too much can wear you out.

We went to check out a hotel that Lauren has her eye on. It’s ฿250 a night which is still ok but its down a dark road and there’s scary dogs at every turn. They come after you barking if you’re not quick. I don’t think it’ll be much better but you do get breakfast with it which might be good. Guess we’ll wander down tomorrow as it was closed tonight. If there are no bugs it will be worth it, but if there’s still some getting in then I’d rather stay and have the view, which is one of the few redeeming features of Tony’s.

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