17.08.2010 31 °C
Back to Ranong for ANOTHER visa run. Bugger, too late to do it today as just got here at 4.10 p.m and have been told the crossing closes at 4 p.m, so that's 5oo baht I'll be shelling out tomorrow for a 1 day overstay.
What a nightmare trying to get a bus to Hua Hin from Ranong. The lady at Kiwi Orchid said because Ranong is Thailand's smallest province and it's low season there weren't many. I missed the first one going to Bangkok, as some taxi man told me it wasn't the right one. So after waiting 2 hours for the next one to come, the same thing happened again! I put my hand out, which the driver didn't appear to see, so as I was about to set off and ask him to wait for me as he's stopped at some nearby traffic lights, a Thai man told me that no, this wasn;t the bus I needed. God knows why I listened, as I was then forced to wait another hour before boarding a bus bound for Chumpon, just from deperation to get out of Ranong!
Having been told there would be more buses going north from Chumpon than there was from Ranong, I found that again I couldn't travel straight to Hua Hin, but was assured that Pranburi nearby would have buses I could take to get there. So, as I was ushered off the bus in the middle of nowhere, I asked the bus driver's assisstant where I could get a bus to Hua Hin from. He waved his hand down the street and nodded. So I started walking. It became apparent that there was nowhere I could get a bus from. It was then that I started to need the toilet badly. I rushed into one of the 'open-style' Thai eating venues and asked for the toilet, offering to pay 20 baht (very desperate now) but was told no money was necessary. Squat toilet. One of the nastier number 2's I've had in the last 5 months - and no toilet paper. So some water swilling and bare hand had to suffice. At least they had soap so I could wash my hands afterwards.
Realising that I was in the shit, I asked the man who had kindly loaned me his toilet if there was anyway I could get a bus to Hua Hin, he spoke a little English and seemed to understand so I was horrified when he said 'no'. He recognised the look of horror on my face and asked me to sit down on one of the tables outside on the path, but not before telling me that his friend, who was eating there, would take me after he'd finished eating. Relieved I gratefully waited and the man bought over some fruit and a glass of water with ice in. Finally, I was feeling like I was truly experiencing some of the legendary Thai hospitality I'd heard so much about, but which is sometimes lacking in the 'ultra-touristy' spots I've often found myself in. Probably not a coincidence that I found it here. His friend took me to Hua Hin on the back of his car/truck with two other inside. What a ride, I felt like a new man! I didn't care whether they were going to Hua Hin or not anyway, as they had helped me enormously and having reached Hua Hin, wouldn't take any of the money I offered. He even enquired (in Thai) as to whether I had a hotel (I think!).What a fantastic and totally unexpected experience, such a small thing but maybe me being English, don't expect favours from people for nothing in return. I won't forget it, even though I'll never see them again.