Monday, November 24, 2008

last of Thailand... including THE bus ride....

My last day in Chiang Mai was really good. About 6 of us from green tulip did a cooking course at siam rice. The guy took us around the markets first and showed us where to buy each of the ingredients.... He kept handing them around all of us then putting them back on the stall, including the jelly mushroom he put on my face :S not very big on cleanliness at the markets.... 
I made Pad Thai, Spicy soup, noodle salad, curry paste (from scratch), curry, stir fry and banana coconut desert.... we were all sooooo full when we left! We bought some lanterns to release into the sky before Peter and i left but we were told back at the hostel that it's not allowed before 11pm :( instead Celine made us a mini one from a tea bag so we didn't completely miss out - she's sooo sweet.

So last night Peter (a guy from the Green tulip crew) and I took the night bus down from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. When we saw the bus Peter mentioned to me that this bus looked dodgy....a lot dodgier than the one he had caught up to Chiang Mai. But we figured we'd already paid for the bus and maybe it was just a bit old and hopped aboard without much thought.

The first bit was fine, watched part of the Hulk and fell asleep after a few hours - thanks to the use of ear plugs (the ones we got at Infected aaaaaages ago nita). At about 330 i woke up to the sound of a girl arguing with the driver (well one of 4 of them) - telling him to turn the light on. She kept yelling and yelling at him but he would not do it. Having being woken up by this i wasn't entirely amused but after it continued for ages the bus stopped for 2 minutes and then continued to drive still with all the inside lights off.

10 mins later the bus stopped again and one of the 'drivers' ran across the highway. 3 of the boys on the bus chased after him and eventually caught up with him. It was only then that the people on the back of the bus (like me) found out what was going on. A lot of the people in the front of the bus had had their passports and money stolen as well as other personal items. The closest being about 3 seats away from me. 

After arguing with the driver that ran away the boys managed to drag him back to the bus, however it turned out he had nothing on him. After much more arguing the first girl who had been arguing with the driver said she was calling the police. As soon as the word police was mentioned the remaining drivers ran from the bus. Leaving us there on the side of the highway - somewhere about an hour away from bangkok - in the bus wondering what to do next. 

The baggage compartment was open so we decided to check it out. Upon inspection (using the torch i was given -Thanks mum) we discovered that all of our bags had been gone though - yet still had the locks on them! I was very lucky and had nothing stolen (but i also really didn't leave anything valuable in my bag) though everything inside of it was moved. Other people had cameras, DS's, wallets, money and other items stolen. :S 5 large bags of white, flour like powder was also found by another girl in the drivers cabin.

About 1.5 hours later the police arrived and took some photos and said that they'd drive us to the police station. The first person that tried couldn't seem to get it to work, and they ended up having to call someone else in.... who also seemed to have a lot of trouble - but at least we were moving! 

At the police station we all double checked our bags to make sure nothing had been planted in them and people who had things stolen filed reports with the police. The police said they'd called a mini bus for us - but after an hour we asked again about them, and they said the bus company wasn't open yet but they'd left a message. Hearing this 12 of us decided we'd take taxis to the closest bus station, but after lots of negotiations with taxi drivers they'd figured out a deal that they'd drive us to Bangkok for 400 baht per taxi. 

After that everything went smoothly and we arrived in Bangkok around 10am - instead of 6am like we were supposed to. 

So that was that eventful ride. I got off very lightly indeed, with more of an inconvenience than anything else. But certainly a reminder to keep my wits (and belongings) about me. 

I'm staying in a dingy broom closet tonight (really was spoiled at the tulip) but it's cheap and i leave early in the morning so at least it is a place to sleep. I've had no luck trying to get my visa for vietnam so i'm trying to get it online (and hoping it's not a scam!).

I'm flying to Nepal tomorrow for a whole new adventure. Will be good to escape the heat for a while! 
That's all i can think of for now. Hope all is great back home :D

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