Monday, 3 March 2014

Sisaket 22.-24.02.2014

Sisaket 22.-24.02.2014

A Thai friend M is with his farang boyfriend G in his home village in Sisaket province, amphoe Kanthararom, and invites me to join them. He writes three SMS and we speak on the phone, and I speak with G (whom I have met before) on the phone, so he really means it. We would stay in his parent’s house and go sightseeing in Sisaket province for some days (at least that’s what I understood – I was wrong).

Overnight train 141 rapid schedule Lak Si 22.02.2014 23:04 - Kanthararom 25.02. 9:39, reality 23:19 – 9:53. No sleeper, second class reclining seat 314 THB.

I am awake in Sisaket and call my friend that I will arrive in Kanthararom station in half an hour and ask for pick-up on arrival. Arrive in Kanthararom, nobody to be seen. Call again: his brother will come to pick me up in half an hour. (I am not the only one to whom this happens, see the retard thread.) His brother arrives in 15 minutes and we drive to the house mocy. Leave my luggage there and another mocy trip to a river where M and G are on a raft and other Thais are fishing. We spend the rest of the afternoon there and then go back to his house and to a local market to buy food for dinner.

On our return, first part walking through forest, I see pits in the sand which are made by ant eating insects (antlion). Details see separate post.

We stop on the way back to chat with locals and M shows me which plants they grow. But the most interesting part is making charcoal, I always wanted to see how wood is converted to charcoal, and one day I hope I can observe the entire process.

----- Thai food at the market

At the market, I see some things I haven’t seen before (or just forgot): ant eggs (or rather white ant embryos in different sizes, with adult ants running around, 20 Baht per pile, I have tried these once elsewhere and found it a bit to vinegar acidic to my taste)

Live scorpions

Live lizards

Pink eggs for gays

Beef skin (or pork skin?)

G said the day before they had dog meat and fried dog puppies, unfortunately nothing to be seen this day.

I saw family members and people at the market eat Betel nut (so far I have only seen the nuts being sold on the market, but no people eating them, resulting in red lips and teeth). I saw only older people eating Betel nut (or having red lips and teeth).

Back in his house, the food is prepared for cooking. We make Tom Kha Gai and watermelon fruit shake, I am sorry to say those I have at the moonhouse (see separate post, coming soon) taste much better.

I ask about their (M and G) plans for the following day. M tells me that he will send me to the bus station so I can go to Wat Lan Kuad. That’s his way to tell me he can’t go with me (we discussed the trip several times on phone and in person) because he has to take care of his ailing mother. G doesn’t know yet if he will join me.

This proves once again that I am better off traveling alone. I wanted to see his home and meet his family, but apart from that there was little benefit in staying with them. Traveling alone I can plan better and don’t have to adjust to others' plans and availabilities.

Monday, 24.02.2014

Get up and have breakfast together. Then we (M, G and ChristianPFC) wait and chat for one hour before a neighbor comes with a motorbike to take me to the bus station (I assume buses between Ubon and Sisaket are more frequent than trains). M tells me to give the lady 50 Baht upon arrival. The ride is 10:20-30 and she first refuses to take the 50 THB. There is no bus stop, I am left on highway 226 without shade or seat. I stand there 10:30 to 50, two vans Ubon – Sisaket (Thai sign on the front window) don’t stop. It’s 17 km to Sisaket, I can as well walk into that direction (I find walking more comfortable than standing).

Imagine being left here,  in the midday sun, without seat, not knowing when the next bus will come and if it will stop for you. What would you do?

----- Hitchhiking in Thailand

I have data connection, so I search internet for “hitchhike Thailand” and find some promising information (my major concern was how to indicate that you are hitchhiking, stretching your arm and pointing your thumb up might have a different meaning in Thailand; internet didn’t answer this question). So I walk there along highway 226 towards Sisaket and stretch my arm and point my thumb up, and indeed after 10 minutes a car stops. I ask if he goes to Sisaket and join the driver. My first hitchhike in Thailand (in fact first hitchhike at all). The ride is 11:02 – 23 and he even takes me to the bus station, all for free!

I have been in similar situations (waiting for public transport without seat or shade on a busy road), but didn’t have to resort to hitchhiking so far. But after this experience, I will try again next time.

From Sisaket bus station, take bus to Khun Han to visit Wat Lan Khuat (separate post).

Back in Sisaket bus tation, walk to train station and buy ticket to Bangkok. Second class is sold out, only third class available (even third class has upholstery, but no reclining backs).

Schedule train 142 rapid Sisaket 24.02.2014 17:57 - Lak Si 25.02. 03:37, reality 17:58 – 04:00.

The Thai railway network has only one track, that means trains in opposite directions can pass only at railway stations (which have two or more tracks), this means frequent waits at railway stations to allow other trains to pass. After leaving on time, we had already 20 min delay after just one hour of traveling, but two hours later the train had caught up and was on time. (Compare to Germany: if a train is 3 min late, it will still be 3 min late after traveling 100 km.) Altogether, I now had several train rides in a row that had acceptable delays (unlike my 3 trips to Chiang Mai, which were several hours late).

The train was about 90% occupied. It is very entertaining to walk through the train and watch people there, in this train I was the only Farang and there were several cute boys, I chatted with three of them (but no exchange of phone numbers or names). You can see Thais sleeping in all positions you can imagine, and even more than that. There is a sign that says “no sitting or standing in this area”, but it doesn’t say anything about sleeping:

Plenty of plant parts, dust, soot (from fires to burn dry leaves) and insects (some mosquitoes tried to bite me) are blown into the train, don’t wear white clothes. Most windows are open, in addition ceiling fans are on. (ChristianPFC does not like air draughts in closed rooms, trains count as closed rooms.) So I closed the window next to my seat (nobody cared) and switched off the ceiling fan (someone switched it on). Finally I found an empty seat in 2nd class, and windows were closed and fans off, so I went there (I gave myself a free upgrade). Various kinds of food and drink were sold until about 1 am, then it became quit and most were sleeping, light are left on throughout the night.

Some wagons did not have running water (empty) in toilet, so I had to do some "water tourism" in the train. Compare "sex tourism" – if you can’t get sex where you live; or "hand luggage tourism" – happened to me once, I was late on a plane and there was no space in hand luggage lockers over my seat, I had to walk through half the plane to store my hand luggage.

Arrive in Bangkok without any incidents.

This once more confirms that I cannot only travel alone in Thailand, it is even more convenient to travel alone (once you can read and speak Thai and don’t mind travelling like the locals do).

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