TJ and I knew we would miss our Thailand "home" once we headed back to Bangkok. So before we even left, we made plans to return. We had to go to Bangkok to meet Jamie, but then we would bring her back to Singburi with us where she could meet Peetim and some of our friends.
The plan: Pick Jamie up at the airport Tuesday night. Wake up the next morning and meet our tour guide, like we did the last time we were in Bangkok, who takes us on a canal tour of "Hidden Bangkok". Finish the tour around 1 pm and head to the northern bus terminal, where we begin our two-hour bus ride to Singburi. Get off at the stop right around the corner from Peetim's house and wait for a ride or walk to her house. Then spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Singburi with local friends.
You've realized how this works by now, right?
The reality: We did, in fact, pick up Jamie from the airport on Tuesday. It wasn't exactly the glitch-free evening I hoped for, but we found her, packed her into a taxi, and got all of us to the hotel safely. First step, check!
The second step was lining up the tour guide. We have been working with the tour company for the last two or three weeks trying to confirm our tour dates. The owner seems like a very sweet lady, but for some reason, she only receives about half the emails we send. That means when we think we have confirmed days in advance, she's still wondering what our plan is. Oh, boy. When we went to bed at 2 am on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, we had a short email from her saying that confirming at 11 pm the night before does not give her enough time to find a tour guide for us! We sent back a quick email telling her it was ok, nevermind about the guide, maybe next time. Then we went to sleep.
Six short hours later, we all woke up to incessant knocking on our door. Jamie called out "Come back later!" I assumed it was a drunk tourist confused about their room number. TJ was the lucky one who got up to answer it (after I poked him in the ribs a few times). After a short conference outside the door, he stepped back inside and told us it was our tour guide. Her boss had called her at 2 am and told her to meet us at 8 am. What do we do? I sleepily muttered "Can you tell her to go away?" TJ won my heart yet again when he simply answered, "Yes." and left to deal with it.
Instead of spending the day with a tour guide, we gave Jamie our own tour of Bangkok's public transportation. We slept late and then walked through Khao San Road to the riverside. We picked up a local boat headed down the river and paid our 15 Baht to ride all the way to the far end. Then we caught the skytrain back up to the main train station.
Train tickets to the beach were solidly booked, even though we were buying a few days in advance. We decided to deal with that later and took it as our sign to get out of Bangkok. So we headed north, to the northern bus terminal at Mo Chit.
Here is where we found ourselves unprepared. We had a note (in Thai) from Peetim describing where we were going, and we had a brief description from Tom and Jess that the bus station was on the other side of a park from the sky train station. We left the sky train station, found the park, and then turned right and started walking. The park was completely walled in, and as far as we walked, we couldn't find a way in. Jess had also warned us that it was a long walk, so we might want to take a tuk tuk. Except there were no tuk tuks in sight, and the only transportation we could find was a line of taxi drivers who wanted to charge us 200 baht for the ride. When we said No, they heckled us about how far we would be walking without them.
The situation lightened up once we got past the line of taxi drivers. We realized that we did need a taxi, so we flagged down a moving one as we walked. We got a great guy who spoke almost no English, but he immediately reached for his meter when we climbed in, and he seemed to understand "bus station". Yay! (The whole trip cost us 65 baht, by the way. Far from 200.)
He dropped us off at the bus station, someone pointed us toward the "building white", and we set about finding the bus we needed. After showing Peetim's note to a couple off-duty bus drivers, one got up and led us around to a desk where we could buy our tickets. He told us "Ban Mi" several times, and we nodded along, not exactly sure what Peetim's note said, but appreciative that this man was taking the time to help us.
Soon, we found ourselves sitting on a mini bus, tickets in hand, with faith that this bus would get us where we needed to go. We settled in for the two-hour ride.
Three hours later, we finally admitted to ourselves that we were not going to Singburi. We showed Peetim's note to the driver for the second time (he had already given us an "OK!" before), and he scratched his head while he re-read it. Finally, TJ called up Peetim and handed the phone to the driver. We were officially lost.
After a much-too-long conversation between Peetim and our driver, we were told to get off the bus at Ban Mi (so that's what the first guy kept repeating to us!) and wait. Peetim and Tom both called us along the way to make sure we were ok, but by that time, we at least knew where we were going. After sitting around at the bus station for a little while, a pick-up truck with a now familiar face pulled up. Peetim's neighbor!
In safe hands once again, we settled in for the long ride back to Peetim's house. We were greeted with friendly faces, a steak dinner they had kept out for us, and more pancakes! It was exactly what we were looking forward to; we only wish the evening had begun a few hours earlier!