Two full days in Bangkok, and Cambodia next?…nope, wrong train station!
If I was going to stick to my plan of arriving in Vietnam in a week, my initial stay in Bangkok was going to have to be a short one. I decided to spend my second full day checking out as many places as I could, and then depart for Cambodia and Siem Reap in the morning.
It definitely turned out to be an awesome day, as I roamed around the area with a friend of mine, Scott. We met near the Central Pier on the Chao Phraya River. The pier is just below the Sathorn/Saphan Taksin BTS station on the Silom Line. We decided we were going to go temple hunting, and not knowing our itinerary, Scott suggested taking the TOUR Boat. If I were to do it over again, MY suggestion would be to take one of the Chao Phraya express boats, UNLESS your plan is to embark and disembark several times in one day.
There are four different express line boats (no flag, yellow flag, orange flag, and green flag), but the line that runs all day and the most often, is the Orange Flag. It’s hours are from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm. The Orange Flag is 15 baht for a one way trip. As I mentioned above, the TOUR Boat does give you the option of getting on and off an unlimited amount of times, but it’s cost is 150 baht. Ferries to cross the Chao Phraya river are just two baht, so you can cover a lot of ground using only 50 baht. Think about it this way, the more you save on the little things like transportation, the more money you can spend on important things like Chang Beer!
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my second day in Bangkok. Visiting the Wat Pho Temple, and eating some of the local street food was amazing. That’s one of the things I love so much about places like Bangkok, the food you can get along a random road or an alley way. It’s everywhere, and it’s delicious!
I have to say, Wat Pho is a must see, and I am sure that typically so is Wat Arun, but at the time I was visiting Bangkok, Wat Arun was under reconstruction so it was surrounded by scaffolding, and we skipped it. Please click on my links on any of my blog posts indicated in BLUE so you can get some history, some directions, or some information on how to get here or there, things to do, etc., etc. When you do take one of the boats down the river to Wat Pho, make sure to get off at the Tha Tien stop, or N8 on the river.
Since it was getting a little hot, we decided to make our way back to one of the many malls that Bangkok has at just about every BTS station, and do a little R&R in a Starbucks. After we both finished a delicious smoothie with fresh strawberries from South Korea, Scott and I parted ways. I headed back to my favorite hostel that I raved about in my previous blog post, U-Baan, for what I thought would be my last night in Bangkok until my travels would bring me back in a few weeks.
Joy had suggested that a train would definitely be the most comfortable way to get me near the Cambodian border, and from there I’d have to catch a bus. She gave me a map of the local area, circled the train station I needed to go to, and told me to hand it to the taxi driver in the morning. She also informed me I better be out waiting for a taxi at the nearest 7/11 store about 4:30 am as the train leaves promptly at 5:55, and there might be a bit of a line for tickets. Oh how I HATE that time of the morning, but hey, I was going to Siem Reap, and getting to see Angkor Wat, how could I not be excited and wake up all inspired to hit the road.
So there I was, standing on the corner of Soi Rat Ruam Charoen with my enormously awkward duffel bag, my laptop/backpack, and my camera hanging from my right shoulder. I held the map Joy had given me in my left hand, and patiently waited for a taxi. It didn’t take long for a willing driver to come by and snatch me up. I handed the map to him, pointed to the train station Joy had circled, and muttered “train station.” Nodding ever so knowingly, he helped me throw my bags in the trunk, and we were on our way!
In all honesty, I can’t blame the driver…I usually do my research, and should have known there was a problem right away. I watched the meter run, and tried to look at my surroundings as we zoomed down the empty streets at a pretty fast clip. I believe Joy had mentioned it should run me about 100 baht for the fare, so I was really surprised when we got there and it was only 65. I had a 100 stashed in my shorts and handed it to the driver, smiling happily and waving off any change. I’d given him a pretty hefty tip, but I was thinking how he’d brought me there so fast that I wasn’t going to have any problem catching the train! I jumped out, grabbed my stuff, and headed to the sleepy, empty station in front of me! It was still pretty early so there were only a couple of people around. I thought nothing of the lack of a crowd, sat down, and giddily told myself, I AM heading to Cambodia, Siem Reap, and Angkor Wat!
Well, the minutes ticked by, and no one was showing up at the station! Oh how I wished I had paid more attention to details! I frantically began asking anyone and everyone around me, does this train go to Cambodia???? No one seemed to understand me, ummm why should they, I’m not in a place that gets a lot of tourists, I was thinking to myself… and I felt the time slipping away. I tried looking at all of the signs in the area to see if there was something I could understand, and unfortunately, I had missed the BIG sign written in English that I took a photo of later, and appears below. Yep, you guessed it, the taxi driver let me out RIGHT IN FRONT OF THAT SIGN!
Finally, one of the employees in the ticket booth showed up, and that was when I absolutely, positively, completely confirmed that I was indeed at the WRONG train station! Oh, wow, that sign, yeah, that sign right in front of me, the one I walked right by when I got out of the cab…yeah, the sign that should have tipped me off if I had taken the time to learn the name of the actual station I was supposed to go to! The station Joy had circled on the map that was still in my left hand, the map that said, uh, Hua Lamphong Station. Silly me, wow did I screw up or what! (So you don’t make the same mistake as me…please see the link I’ve provided, then you’ll know what the Hua Lamphong Station looks like, it’s HUGE, not tiny, like the Thonburi Station is)
Damn, double damn, shoot, what the heck was I gonna do now? Well, these are the times you make choices, you know, is the glass half empty or half full kind of choices. Do you use that bag of lemons and make lemonade, or do you just freak out, start crying and give up. Well, I thought about sobbing for a few seconds (not really, just kidding, kind of…lol), but then I decided I am on an adventure here boys, and girls, and I am going to pick myself up off the concrete, look at my surroundings, and uhhh, where the hell am I again? Okay, this isn’t going so great here! Soon I would have to call in some help, Joy, PLEASE HELP, how in the HELL do I get back to your hostel!
It was still pretty early, and I didn’t want to wake her up, so I grabbed that big old duffel bag, slung it over my shoulder, along with the backpack and camera, and starting walking away. Low and behold, the train station was next to a really large fresh market with a LOT of delicious Thai food! The glass was definitely half full and looking better and better! I shrugged off my mistake and told myself there’s always a next time, Cambodia and Angkor Wat aren’t going anywhere soon, those temples have been around for more than 1,200 years. They will still be there when I come back the next time.
Now what was I going to do…oh yeah, eat some awesome food, call Joy, and get my butt back to U-Baan and regroup for another day! In some ways I was disappointed, but putting a positive spin on the whole thing, I had at least one more day in Bangkok to drink some more Chang Beer and hang out with my new friends from around the world at the hostel! How can you beat that! Now what are the next few days going to bring? Well, keep following my blog, and you might find out, along with maybe gaining some helpful information from my silly mistakes, and sometimes from the things I do right!!!