Lizard Bouncing - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

January 16, 2017

Lizard Bouncing

Rayong to Bangkok mostly by minivan

Lizard Bouncing

No two ways about it…our decision to head up north meant two things. First, we had to go to Bangkok by bus. Then, from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by bus. We decided we were not going to try to negotiate on two wheels a huge metropolitan area with anywhere from 15 to 18 million people. We had survived riding into and out of Hanoi but we try to not push our luck.

We had to find transport to Bangkok from Rayong. We heard conflicting stories about where to catch a bus to Bangkok. One really never knows so you just have to go seek and ask a lot of questions, mostly in Thai, and hope you get somewhere. It’s always an adventure.

First we tried the station near the central market. We didn’t see any buses there or indication that buses ever left there for Bangkok. There were only little trucks that went out to the real bus station 6.5 miles outside of town. We knew we could bike that but we didn’t know exactly where the station was.

Some Thai men were calling me to come over to them. They were near one of the little trucks so I figured they were seeking an inflated fare from the tourists with a lot of stuff including bikes. I therefore ignored them for quite some time but finally I did go over to them to ask them how to get to the bus station.

It was actually fun talking with them and they enjoyed talking to me because I knew enough Thai for them to jump in and really help by giving me detailed directions. They were so nice using simple language as if they were telling a little boy how to find his mother. For instance, I didn’t know the Thai word for stoplight but I do know colors. One man went down the line of colors, red, yellow and green in Thai. OK, I understood that. Then he told me to turn right at the fourth one of those. And so on. They never once suggested they take us there.

We found the bus station but there were no buses. Maybe they all leave in the early morning and since we had spent time shipping our box at the post office and then eaten breakfast, we were late. I asked several people inside ticket counters and they all said there were no buses to Bangkok. What! No buses at any time? Apparently Thailand has taken to using vans as the favored transport vehicles in a lot of areas now. A strange new phenomenon since only two years ago there were few.

There were lots of grey vans parked around the station and some drivers standing near them. I asked one of the drivers if his van was going to Bangkok and he just stared at me. I asked him again using the Thai word, Krung Thep for Bangkok and again he stared at me. For 43 years this has been one of the most frustrating things for me in Thailand. It’s always the same story.

Bus drivers, people at ticket counters, train people and now van drivers have no idea what I’m saying when I say either Krung Thep or Bangkok. I must be using the wrong tone in Thai but I would think that every person in the transportation business would understand the word ‘Bangkok’ by now. Tourists have been saying it for more than 50 years!

If the tone is wrong, a different word comes out. Tones are very tricky and largely unknown to me. Usually it’s the word in context that saves me. One would think that being at a bus station there would be a lot of context especially with Bangkok so close by. I bet the vast majority of people that go through that station want to go to Bangkok.

But it could be that when I say “Krung Thep" with the wrong tone I have said something that is so amazingly wrong that there is no context in the world that can bridge the gap and the person is left in stunned shocked silence. They just stare at me. When I then follow up with “Bangkok” they are still in so much shock that they can’t think. I mean, imagine if a foreigner with long hair walked over to you and said, “lizard bouncing”, and expected an answer. What would you think? You would be so shocked that a follow up of “Bangkok” wouldn’t mean a thing either. This has been my predicament for 43 years in Thailand. I don’t really get it.

I tried several ticket counter people and finally one man understood and he ushered me to a guy with a van but his van was parked a block from the station. That was weird and seemed like he was some guy willing to do something under the table. Or, maybe he was the only driver who was willing to mess with bikes in his van. He was nice and after some negotiation we settled on a price which seemed fair. The bikes and all of our bags took up three seats and we, another two. The price per seat was 160 Baht ($4.50) so we paid for five seats. We then drove around a bit trying to find more passengers. Finally we were off to Bangkok picking up more passengers along the way until every seat was filled.

In the minivan to Bangkok or Krung Thep whichever you understand.
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Jen GrumbySounds like 'lizard bouncing' to me ...
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1 year ago

The trip was longer than I expected on very busy roads. Andrea and I looked at each other knowing that we had made the right decision to not ride our bikes.

We didn’t get to Ekkamai Station on Sukhumvit Road until it was nearly dark. Then came the daunting task of riding the streets of Bangkok at dusk trying to find a hotel with a vacancy and cheap enough for us. It was tough but eventually we found a nice place Nantra Hotel $30 on Sukhumvit 63. It was the most expensive hotel room of our trip but it included breakfast.

I don't know why the movie Blade Runner always comes to mind when I'm in Bangkok.
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Once we were settled in our room we walked down busy Sukhumvit Rd. many blocks looking for street food. We had to first pass all the luxury condos and stores. High rises everywhere. Chauffeurs even. Super modern and expensive restaurants. Store window displays featuring state of the art kitchens for your newly purchased condo. Big time businessmen and women from all over the world live in this area of Bangkok and they were returning home after a long day at work. A young Japanese couple eating sushi in a fish bowl of a Japanese restaurant. Low lights. Romantic. Right out of Japan. There were scenes that made me wonder what it would be like to be rich or have a high salary, live on the 57th floor, eat sushi at 10PM. “Oh, Jeeves, could you please find me a bottle of cognac? I’d like a little nightcap before retiring.”

Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, Thailand
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Jen GrumbyI think that might be Jeeves behind the tinted windows.

He's probably on his way to fetch your cognac.
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1 year ago
Searching for dinner on Sukhumvit Road.
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Luxury apartments off Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok.
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Luxury condos on Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, Thailand.
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I'll take one of each of these SMEG appliances except I'd like the refrigerator in a different color. "We live on the 57th floor over there. Surely you have free delivery?"
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On the street.
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Yes, we had to walk quite far to find Thai street food but when we did it was excellent. I felt right at home, my kind of food when in Bangkok. As we ate at a little metal folding table on the sidewalk and the cook refilled our glasses with pandanus flavored water we congratulated each other on accomplishing the first hurdle in our quest for cool weather. Next up: riding right through busy Bangkok to the northern bus station, Mo Chit, in the morning. There we will get a night bus to Chiang Mai. Fortunately everyone at bus stations knows what I’m talking about when I say, “Chiang Mai”, and are not dumbfounded, stopped in their thoughts, stunned and shocked by the odd thing I just said. Chiang Mai is Chiang Mai.


There are wonderful places to eat on the sidewalk in Bangkok. I mean, the food is some of the best in Thailand.
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Today's ride: 8 miles (13 km)
Total: 1,564 miles (2,517 km)

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