I’ve briefly mentioned my worst day in London before but I’ve never told all y’all about my most challenging day on the road.
The story starts where all the good ones do…with tequila, more specifically, too much of it. The night before we had been having a send off for a particularly beloved Instructor on Koh Tao where I was doing my Divemaster training, naturally this involved drinking more than usual as a sign of respect. The next morning I was due to travel to Bangkok to meet my family who were coming to visit my island paradise. I awoke at 7am feeling a bit dusty as you might imagine, I didn’t have to be at the ferry terminal until 8:30 for the 9 o’clock departure so I rolled over and hit snooze and here began one of those adventures that was hellish at the time but makes for a good story on reflection.
I woke for a second time at 10 minutes to 9…SHIIIIIIIIT.
I jumped up and yelled at my friend Saul to meet me in the parking lot with his scooter in 1 minute. I threw a couple of random items into a bag and finished dressing as I dashed out of the apartment and made a flying leap onto the back of the bike. We then took the fastest trip to Mae Haad that I had ever experienced with the scooter doing it’s best to carry our sizeable bulk. Pulling up at the ferry terminal I could hear engines running, I tore up the jetty and jumped onto the boat just as the horn was being sounded for departure.
Thank god I had made it. I settled into my seat and then felt I could relax…that feeling was very short lived when it hit home that because my handbag had been stolen several days earlier I had no phone, no cards and only the 150 baht (3 quid) that I had finagled from Saul during our kamikaze scooter ride. I knew I would need this meagre ration to navigate my way into Bangkok so there was no way my poor dehydrated brain could have the bottle of water it desperately needed (drinking out of the tap is simply not an option unless you want more mentions of bum wees).
Luckily past Bella had done present Bella a solid and had booked her transfer from the ferry terminal to the airport, all I had to do was hang around for a few hours and try not to think about the fact that I was still without any sustenance or fluids. I passed the time reading Mr Nice, an autobiography of a drug baron from the 70s. Basically one of those books that makes you want to go and throw a massive party.
One mini-van trip later I was at the airport and went to check in for my TigerAir flight. It’s here I was told that without the card I had booked on I wouldn’t be allowed on the flight. Having had my card stolen this was problematic…helpfully they suggested I cancel the ticket, which they would refund, and book a new one. 150 baht doesn’t really stretch to paying for flights so that wasn’t an option. Almost in tears they relented and said they would let me on if I could recall my credit card number, thankfully I had a rain man moment and was allowed through.
I settled down to carry on with Mr Nice (to take my mind off the hunger, it was getting late!) and waited for the gate to open when I heard someone say ‘Bella is that you?!’. I turned around to see a girl I had never met before, although clearly I had because she knew my name and was coming over to sit next me. Her name was Lindsay and it transpired we had been dancing together the previous night before she went home and pashed up one of my friends. We were on the same flight to Bangkok and she suggested that we share a taxi from the airport, I would pay the road tolls and she would pay the fare, I was saved! She was headed for Khao San road so I joined her, hoping that I would then be able to navigate my way to the hotel (whose name and address I didn’t know), where my family would be waiting for me, having arrived a few hours earlier.
We were staying in a place with one of those generic names, that then has 10 different locations with variations of the same name so I couldn’t just tell a taxi driver to ‘take me to the Hilton’, as much as I would have loved to be able to do that. I used my last 20 baht to go to an internet cafe (no phone remember) and look up the hotel on Google Maps…my heart sank when I saw it was a 1 hour and 30 minute walk from my current location and it was 10:00 o’clock at night, the family were also incommunicado so I couldn’t tell them of my predicament. I went out to find a tuk tuk driver and agreed on 300 baht if he would take me to the hotel with the provision that someone would be able to pay him when we got there.
I could have cried as I walked into the foyer of the hotel, my journey was over. I went to the desk and explained that my family would have checked in under the name of McClymont and that I was joining them, only to be told that no one had checked in yet…WHERE WERE MY FAMILY!? They should have been there hours ago and I immediately had visions of them strewn across a road in a terrible tuk tuk accident.
The clerk gave me the cash to pay the driver and I went to wait for them in the bar where I drank gallons of water and ate the most disgusting cheeseburger of my life, but at 11pm after a whole day with nothing but a hangover it was pure heaven. As I was finishing my dinner I looked up to see two weary but familiar travellers enter the hotel and ran down to hug the stuffing out of them.
They had thought that they would wait at the airport for me so we could travel into Bangkok together, what they didn’t realise is that there is a separate airport for domestic flights so they had spent several hours at the wrong place waiting for someone who was already weaving their way through the city with just her insufficient funds and her wits.
Looking back it was a day of many near misses and quite the emotional rollercoaster. I could have missed my ferry, I could have been turned away from the flight, I could have not re-met Lindsay, I could have not found a tuk tuk driver prepared to take a passenger with no money BUT somehow it all came together. I learned that if you just persevere you can make anything happen (and that luck is a wonderful thing). You would think I would have learned not to drink so much tequila the night before a big day of traveling but hey, you know that ain’t me! Perhaps that lesson is still to come and will make for an even crazier adventure.
Featured Image by: Sven Scheuermeier