This past weekend I enjoyed a long holiday weekend in Chiang Mai. I departed KPP on Saturday morning on the bus so I could take advantage of the 4 days off and revisit one of my favorite spots. My agenda really only consisted of 2 things: SHOPPING for gifts and satisfying my Mexican Food Craving. Other than those things, I didn’t have a plan. I checked into my hostel in the early evening and quickly headed out for some dinner. My hostel was located near a Night Bazaar I had been to one other time, so I was glad that I would be in close proximity to some bargain shopping. By bargain I mean, less than $1 for hand-embroidered pillow covers, totes made from recycled vintage fabrics for about $8 bucks, clothing items for $2-3/pc and the list goes on and on. I did some preliminary scouting of goods from different vendors to get me best pricing and decided I would return on Sunday or Monday to purchase the items. Besides, I still had a couple of days of navigating new places, so I didn’t want to splurge right away.
Since mornings are calm in Chiang Mai (the city doesn’t really get going until 10:30 ish, or even noon) I wandered the quiet streets in search of new coffee shops or quaint cafes I hadn’t tried yet. Of course, I did have to revisit a couple of my favorites. I also had been battling a sore throat/cough since I arrived, so I didn’t want to overdo it with the adventuring. Basically, I had the perfect “excuse” to just relax in the mornings with my cappuccino and a good book. My afternoons and evenings were spent wandering the many stalls of the Night Bazaar, Sunday Walking Street and various boutique shops. After a while you do start to see the same things, but occasionally you find something new. By Monday evening I was able to check shopping off my list. I returned to my room with several bags and some treats for my Co-Thai teachers too. Tuesday I would make my way back home with many goodies and gifts for my pending departure in October.
Tuesday morning I got up, checked out of my hostel and grabbed a ride to the bus station. Now, I fully understood it was a holiday and many people would be traveling/returning home after their long weekend too. What I did not expect was the smirks and snickers I received from the many ticket agents. Agents hailing from their counter, “Bangkok”, “Bangkok, leaving now.” Well that was the right direction of travel and since my town is literally half way between CM and BKK, I requested a ticket. ” Kamphaeng Phet, please?” Quickly, I’m told “SOLD OUT” with a smirk and a wave of the hand to move on. On the couple of instances when I received a “Yes” I clarified where I would be dropped off. The response, “the highway”. Well, I had learned before that some companies will literally drop you off on the highway to avoid going to the actual Bus Station. Well, the so-called “drop off” spot is not anywhere near the Bus Station, so that was a definite NO. For bus companies, their objective is to get the largest chargeable fare with the least amount of inconvenience. In other words, if they can fill the bus with only passengers for a direct bus to Bangkok, they bi-pass all other passenger destinations and tell you it’s “SOLD OUT”.
So, my 4-day holiday turned into a 5-day since I couldn’t get a return ticket until the following day. The one thing you realize traveling is that you just deal with the change, smile and move on. I was able to locate an inexpensive hotel near the Bus Station so I could just walk over on Tuesday to catch my bus home. I awoke Tuesday morning to torrential rains and flooding. My first thought? All the textiles I purchased were going to get soaked! I had 3 shopping bags and my small pack with my clothes and toiletries. How was I going to get to the Bus Station and not get drenched? I walked downstairs to check-out and I looked out to a street flooded with about 16″ of water. The Bus Station is only about a 3 minute walk, but with the amount of rain coming down I knew I’d be a drowned rat upon arrival. I wrapped my textiles in plastic, covered my shopping bags, rolled up my pants to above my knees and set out for a wading adventure. I tried to quickly make my way, but almost lost my shoe a couple of times. Wading through water in flip-flops isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially when you aren’t able to see what you’re walking on or in. As I get closer to the station, I decided to take the quickest route. A straight shot through the parking lot and I’ll be to the front of the station and under cover. Well, apparently the parking lot must be at the lowest elevation point because at one point I was wading in knee-deep water with my bags held above my waist. I reached the entrance, rung out my pant legs and walked to board my bus.
I boarded my bus with soggy shopping bags in hand and wet hair. Luckily, I had a towel packed so I attempted to pat dry my hair, dry off my soaked legs & feet and remove my drenched hoodie. I then settled in for my damp 6 hour ride home.
Oh, and if you’re wondering… not a single drop made it to my treasured textiles.