23/1/2009 – Mozzies, Visa, and problems with transport
Last night I played cat and mouse with a mosquito for at least 10 minutes and it was excruciatingly annoying to be jumping around the room in my pj`s trying to spot the bugger and squish it. At first there was two of them but I squished the first one pretty quickly because it was a big one and they move more slowly. The second, however, was a sneaky little thing and managed to escape every time I slapped my hands together. I did have to chuckle to myself as I probably looked quite ridiculous standing legs slightly apart, knees bent, hands at shoulder height, readying myself as my eyes darted around the room looking for movement. But alas, the mozzie got the better of me and hid somewhere, so I sprayed myself in insect repellent, so much so I was choking. I then opened the jar of Tiger Balm and left it open next to my pillow as I wrapped myself in my covers and put the air con on full blast. Bloody mozzies.
This morning as I moved my rucksack up onto my bed the mozzie reappeared and I made a dash to squish the damn thing and blood spurted out of it onto my bed sheets. Blood sucking fiends. I`ve no idea if it was my blood or not but it was pretty gross.
I also woke up with half a cold, in that only my right nostril is bunged up. It was probably caused by having the air con all night. I do enjoy having the temperature at a cooler level so I can wrap myself up in a duvet. Something to do with the weight and the snuggliness of it.
I walked up to the main road outside of the village to hail a taxi to take me to Mo Chit BTS station. It`s about 30km and takes, with traffic, about 25 minutes to get to. From there I took the Skytrain to National Stadium where after disembarking I inquired about the cost to Ko San Road in a tuk tuk. The guy there quoted 100 baht which was too much. Bear in mind that in a metered taxi I paid 200 baht for 30 km and Ko San Road is but a few. I told him 50 baht, not wanting to be stingy and he nodded asking where in Ko San I was going. I told him that I was going to travel agents. He seemed friendly enough and was inquiring about where I was heading next as he lead me to one of the waiting tuk tuks. He told me to go to TNT and I thanked him for his advice as I climbed into the tuk tuk. Ten minutes or so later my tuk tuk pulled up outside said travel agents, but this was not Ko San Road. I asked the driver where we were and that I had asked to go to Ko San Road, he shook his head and demanded 100 baht to go to Ko San Road. I told him no, I had agreed 50 baht and we continued this debate, I offered an extra 10 baht as a peace-offering but really they were the ones scamming me. He was scowling at me and demanding 100 baht so I got out the tuk tuk and gave 40 walking off in the direction of where I thought Ko San Road would be. It was pretty hectic and hot, as usual, and after 5 minutes of walking I realised it was silly to not know exactly where to go so I asked a shopkeeper who confirmed that I was indeed going in the right direction but it was far. So I jumped in another tuk tuk for another 40 baht to go the extra kilometre or so.
At Ko San Road, I mildly enjoyed the backpacker buzz with the throngs of Westerners wandering the market stalls or lining the street at the bars with their bottles of Chang beer. I inquired at a few travel agents who quoted the same as the internet price, so I decided it was easier to book our own tickets. Towards the end of the street I bought some 30 baht Pad Thai noodles and sat in the steps outside a shop to eat them. I took a moment to enjoy the steaming hot, tasty goodness of the noodles entwined with beansprouts and egg and peanuts.
At the end of the road, I asked a tuk tuk driver to take me back to National Stadium BTS and he quoted 280 baht! I smiled and said no, it was too much, and I paid only 80 baht to get there less than an hour before. He dropped to 200 baht, claiming the traffic was bad, I smiled again and said that I could get a taxi for cheaper. He shook his head so I walked away and another tuk tuk driver asked for my business quoting a similar price, again I said no. Standing at the end of the street I saw that the traffic was indeed busy but there was no way I was being ripped off just because I was a farang on Ko San Road. A motorbike taxi driver offered me a ride but I wasn`t sure if I was brave enough to take it. So figuring I was going to be stuck in traffic for a while I jumped in an air conditioned taxi where at least on meter I knew I was paying a fair price. The traffic was mental, apparently due to Chinese New Year. But as it turned out my fare was just over 80 baht.
I was running later than I would have liked to pick up my visa from the Burmese Embassy – I don`t like the idea that my passport is in someone else`s possession. The queue was long in the austere, prison-like waiting room but it was only a 20 minute or so wait, and having the excellent ability to daydream quite deeply at any given time helped the time pass rapidly. I now have a visa for Burma lasting for the next month.
I made the long trek back, once again having problems with the taxi driver not knowing exactly it is where Adam and Lin live. I even have it written down in Thai on a piece of paper. The taxi drivers are somewhat hopeless here and don`t even own a map! So, after taking a wrong turning I called Adam, who speaks Thai, to get him to give directions to the driver. In the end we settled on being dropped off at Future Park where Adam picked me up.
We went for dinner with Dutch`s parents at a nearby restaurant. Dutch is one of the three boys who stay with Adam and Lin during the week as their parents live so far away from their schools. It was a lovely evening, although I was getting attacked by mozzies again as we were right by a pond. There are so many mozzies in Thailand!