My journey started at 530 this morning. I grabbed a taxi to Southern Bus Station in Bangkok and bought my ticket for the first bus leaving at 07:05 and suddenly had an hour to kill. I assumed the station would be crowded. I assumed there would be a line. It wasn't and there wasn't and I was ticketed in less than a minute. And then an odd thing happened. Just as I put by backside to the seat in the station, the theme music to Forrest Gump came on. It was just the perfect timing in the most unexpected place that made me laugh. I got some funny looks and the rest of the people stayed at least two seats away from me in the waiting area.
Soon it was time to head to the platform and I was happy to see two rows of double-decker luxury air-conditioned busses waiting there. I wasn't so happy when I realized they were not the kind I would be taking. Mine was a bit more old school. I know that when people think of Thailand and busses, very specific images come to mind, images usually involving chickens and goats. This was not the case, but we weren't that far from it in this bus. It was old and being held together by paperclips and tape. There was only one foreigner on the bus and he wasn't on for long.
It turns out the bus from Bangkok to Prachuabkhirikhan is kind of like a city bus, making all kinds of stops with people getting on and off. That explained why it ran every 20 minutes, making the five-hour journey between the two places. At one stop a woman with an official looking badge boarded and she began selling small, individually wrapped roses. Everyone except me bought one. A few stops later a woman with a giant bowl boarded and everyone except me put money into it. She then reboarded with food and nobody except me bought anything. I have no idea what it was, but it sure was yummy.
Well, after five hours I arrived in Prachuabkhirikhan and I need to make a little bit of a correction to something I said in an earlier post. There are no pristine white beached here and the water is not clear blue. But it is a fantastic place away from it all. It is a fishing village with beautiful multicolored boats everywhere and islands just off the coast, a couple of which I will go kayaking too in the next couple of days to explore come caves. The reason there isn't really a beach is that the water comes right up to the sea wall, which makes for a great soundtrack while sitting here in my room just a few meters away. It has been a long time since I was lulled to sleep by the songs of the mermaids and even though it is not quite nine, I can already feel my bed begging for me. It is a bit of a culture shock being here, not so much because it is a fishing village, but because there is nothing to do. There are almost no people on the streets. No cars. No beggars. No horns. Every once in a while a car or motorbike passes. Everything here seems to be playing in slow-motion and it is a very surreal experience, one I am both enjoying and not really sure how to deal with. But this is what I wanted. This is one of the reasons I came to Thailand.
I rented a motorbike almost as soon as I got here and spent a few hours exploring the town. Tomorrow I will get up at sunrise as it rises over the sea from here and then I will go to the cave temple which contains a lying Buddha and afterwards venture up to the temple on top of a little mountain at the end of the beach and that will pretty much mean I have seen it all and will still have almost 2 full days left to fill with nothing but myself. It is strange for someone like me, someone who lives to talk, to be quiet all day. There is nothing to say. There is nobody who understands a word I say. Even a universal word like "beer" brings a short look of confusion while the translation occurs. I did meet one older German couple I ran into at the end of the one and only pier in the town. I asked them to snap a picture of me and they asked me what I thought of Obama. It seems they have been coming to this town for years, something I can see myself doing as well. Perhaps. Maybe.