So. After strange, hectic, but beautiful Bali, I was a little bit worried about meeting the rest of South East Asia. Was it all going to be the same? What about all the street vendors, wanting my money? What about the in-your-face taxiguys that surround you as soon as you hop off the bus? Of course all the countries are different, but Thailand, Laos, Cambodia… It’s a well-trodden trail, with lots of people coming in all the time.
I love being proved wrong like this. First of all, the taxis at the airport are ridiculously well organized. You tell a counterlady where you want to go, and the first guy in the line of taxidrivers gets to take you there – on a meter. That’s just unheard of in Bali! So instead of hasseling tourists that are tired out of their flight, everybody gets a turn.
A few days before flying into Bangkok, I’d heard about the floodings coming down to the capital of Thailand. For months – after torrential seasonal monsoons – the country has been flooded, but never really affecting any tourists areas. By now, though, the center of Bangkok was threatened by the water. The people were very creative in keeping the water out. Sandbags, but also concrete walls. Whatever does the job (see pictures, a concrete wall doesn’t have to be ugly!)
So, after exploring the city for a mere three days, we decided to leave. That was quite an ordeal on its own. We had a bus booked – because there were no more trains going to or from Bangkok – but on the morning that we were supposed to leave, it got cancelled.
That’s not a good sign… In the end, Tom luckily found a guys who could help us get tickets for an public bus. We just needed to find our own way to the bus station (by taxi). The poor guy was working, but told Tom, his own house was flooded up to his waist and he wanted to run away with us! That night, at the bus station, it just looked like a refugee camp. People with their whole family and all of their possessions in boxes and bags. Sleeping and trying to get tickets to (family) elsewhere in the country. The whole capital had gotten an extra long holiday to move all their stuff and evacuate the city!
It made me feel so insignificant, trying to keep my feet dry, where others were already up so high in the water. But it also made me feel very lucky to get on this bus. There were lots extra going out of the city, so by the time I got on, most people had disappeared and the bus station just looked empty…
From Bangkok the bus took me to Chiang Mai. In only ten hours, of which two through high and higher water… But I was told to expect about 16 hours, so it was a big win anyway.
More about Chiang Mai next time, for now some Bangkok pictures.