Traveling Around Thailand

One of the most interesting experiences Squire and I have been having while we are going from place to place in Thailand is the getting from place to place. It’s actually one of the things that have excited me the most about being in a different country.

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I’ve had the longest flights I’ve ever had (it took us about 15 hours of flight time to get to Thailand). Our transit days have been the majority of this trip to be honest. First of all Thailand is ahead by 17 hours. Squire figured out an easier way for us to do the Hawaii math by thinking about the time now, minus five hours, and then flip the am/pm to get the Hawaii time, THEN remember that Thailand is ahead a day – believe me, it’s actually easier.

But back to the days:

  • Tuesday, Day 1 – Fly to Thailand.
  • Wednesday, Day 2 – Arrive in Thailand (p.m.) – although technically it’s early a.m. of Weds. (Hawaii time).
  • Thursday, Day 3 – Fly to Chiang Mai.
  • Friday, Day 4 – Taxi riding basically from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. at night.
  • Saturday, Day 5 – Taxi riding half the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Sunday, Day 6 – Early plane back to Bangkok, take the airport tram, to the city tram, to the evening train to Koh Samui.

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  • Monday, Day 7 – Arrive at Surat Thani, to take a bus (2 1/2 hours), to take a ferry (1 1/2 hours), to get to Koh Samui (taxi ride to hotel).
  • Tuesday, Day 8 – Take a shuttle into Chaweng to look around (laundry day!), take a taxi back.
  • Wednesday, Day 9 – Get laundry from Chaweng (shuttle back and forth).
  • Thursday, Day 10 – Take the taxi, to take a bus, to take a ferry, to take the same bus before the ferry, to take the train back to Hua Lamphong train station.
  • Friday, Day 11 – Arrive at Hua Lamphong, take an hour train to Don Muang station. Then drive all day – we got picked up at 10 a.m. and didn’t get to the house before 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, Day 12 – Drive into Bangkok (3 hour drive-back and forth).
  • Sunday, Day 13 – Drive into Ayutthaya (2 hour drive-back and forth).

And that brings me to the present time. This is probably way too much information, but for me, I think it’s been too interesting not to mention. Half of our trip has been traveling, just to get to our next major destination, and I’ve traveled in ways that I haven’t experienced before. I’ve never ridden on an airplane for the time period I did, never rode in a train before, either overnight or a short day trip, and I never rode on a ferry that actually took vehicles as well ( I missed the Super Ferry  experience in Hawaii).

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All of these things are very different. The train ride, especially. The shorter stints have had the better cultural appeal and because of that I found it held a special significance. When you just sit in the regular cars, they have people outside the windows that sell food to the passengers at each of the stops and some of them get on and ride for a while and sell some really interesting and yummy little meals. For the overnight train rides, we were able to splurge and get the first class tickets and because there were two of us, we were able to have a cabin all to ourselves. They were air conditioned, had a little sink, and two beds, with pillows, blankets and added cushioning. I highly recommend splurging because of the air conditioning, although bringing some extra padding to ward off the extra cold a/c (that you can’t control) is also smart. Oh, and don’t forget the earplugs for sleeptime.

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I have to admit that I half-hoped that my traveling around would end when we met up with my dad and was able to spend time with him, but nothing is ‘close’ here by car and everywhere the traffic is unbelievably complex. So complex, I feel like I’d be a very aggressive driver.

First of all, the wheel is to the right of the car and the left lanes are for my traffic. Also there are many types of vehicles that travel on the same roads here; tuk tuks, buses, little buses, motorscooters, motorscooters with side cars,mopeds, trains, bicycles, cars, and huge 18 wheelers.

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However, I feel like it’s the motorscooters that scare me the most because they drive around cars, in between cars, and if you’re at a stoplight and at the front, expect about 20 of them to find their way in front of you. And then there are the regular cars, that weave in and out of lanes, half way in lanes, and over the solid orange line of the on-coming traffic because they don’t want to be in the correct lane. All of which really makes you feel like the lines on the road are merely a suggestion versus an absolute.

The beauty of all of this is that people are still very nice and even if they’re irritated that you cut them off and nearly kill them, if you smile, look apologetic and nod, they will just wave you away and maybe even smile back.

I don’t quite get it and am very happy I don’t have to drive here, but it makes me smile wryly as I write about it.

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