I was very excited to see Bangkok for the first time. Then, there was this Auntie who sat beside me, talking in Thai language to the person who sleeps in the upper berth. I asked her if we are still far (though I know that we will arrive at 11:25AM as per the ticket arrival schedule). She told me in fluent English:
Auntie: We will arrive there at around 4PM.
Me: We will arrive there at 4PM? (Yes, I heard her but then I do parroting).
Auntie: Yes, 4PM, that’s seven hours from now.
Me: (with insisting voice.) But Auntie, my ticket time of arrival is 11:25AM. How can that be?
Auntie: (Patiently explained to me in a soft voice). Remember Hat Yai?
Me: (Nodded) Yes.
Auntie: (As if she’s teaching me a lesson with matching action of her hands). We should leave there at 8PM but the train was delayed in Butterworth.
Me: (Confused and don’t want to hear about the 30 minutes delayed in Butterworth versus the 5 hours delayed). But why we leave at 12 midnight in Hat Yai?
Auntie: Because they repair the other coach because the air-con is not working. We are so lucky that our air-conditioner is working.
Well, it’s as if that I’m complaining but well, yes, I am. That explains why the other coach is very hot. There are two train coaches. The other one which I am in is the second class sleeper and I’m not sure what class is the other coach (probably the first class).
Today is my 32nd birthday and I told my colleague that I will treat one passenger but the problem is, I don’t have a Baht yet but I have Malaysian Ringgit and Singapore dollar with me. The waiter approached me if I want a breakfast. I asked him if he accept Ringgit and of course, he said no. But he told me that one of the train staff can change for me. Sure, the rate was low but I only change my ringgit just to have a breakfast and a treat to Mr. Hang (the name of the person in the upper berth). I ordered my egg, toasted bread, coffee and pineapple for 104Baht (USD3.42). Mr. Hang refused to order because he is a Muslim so I told him just even coffee. I signalled him that I will be the one to pay and he smiled and nodded (wait, did he understand me?). Well, a cup of coffee save’s me my money. When the waiter asked for the payment, I took out my money as well as Mr. Hang. I told the waiter not to accept his money because I will be the one to pay and Mr. Hang talked to him in Thai (which I don’t understand, of course), and Mr. Hang give me a stop signal and the waiter told me not to worry because Mr. Hang is a rich man (well, he doesn’t looked like one. Lesson learned, don’t judge the book by its cover). I smiled by the joke of the waiter which I thought it was but I was ashamed inside.
Auntie sat beside us again and they talked in their own language and I busied myself looking outside the window. After they talked, Auntie touched my knee and started sharing me with their conversation:
Auntie: (touching my knee and speak in a soothing voice). “We talked about his life. He said he is not educated because his father doesn’t let him go to school. (That made my heart sink in shame for letting him pay my bill). He didn’t want to leave school so he sold some of the harvest in their farm so that he could buy food and have money for school. Then he graduated high school and his father gave him money to have his own business. He always wants to do buy and sell of used car but people cheated him. He paid the seller but didn’t receive any car. He went home again and broke. His father believed in him and again gave money. He was already smart, learned from his mistakes and now he has a shop in Bangkok and owns rubber and durian plantation.”
Well, I just met a down-to-earth millionaire in this journey.
At last we arrived in Bangkok. I took a taxi to Roof View Hotel which I will stay for a night. Taxi costs me 80Baht (USD2.63) and hotel costs me SGD28.10 (USD22.36). It was a good location. I just walked from the hotel to Kao San Road for twenty minutes. Kao San road is famous for after-dark shopping.
There are restaurants here, clothing, sidewalk vendors and everything you are looking for. Even pimps.
As I walked down the road, I saw a market vendor closing her display. She has a crocs-like sandal so I asked how much. She show me the placard of 159Baht (USD5.22). I asked her if there is a discount, she then showed me another placard of 139Baht (USD4.56). She’s always ready, hahaha. My mind was racing how many placards she will show me if I kept on asking for a discount. I asked again and now she said how much do I want. It gives me a good deal so I said 100Baht (USD3.28). She said no and give it to me at 120Baht. Keeping my bargain, I told her that I will take a walk first but suddenly she grabbed my arm and I closed the deal of 100Baht.
So, if you don’t want to get into trouble, don’t ask!