I checked my room and padlocked my bag. I have this habit of leaving hotel rooms tidy. Lamphu House felt like an oasis in the heart of backpacking Banglamphu. I went to the restaurant and ordered breakfast. Around me, there were just 3 couples leisurely biding their time. I re-read Lonely Planet’s directions on getting to Samut Prakan – my agenda and destination for the day! I pulled out some postcards and wrote on them. It had become a habit visiting post offices. In fact, posting mails have added variety to my trips.
Omelette, toast dabbed with butter, and some tropical fruits later, I deposited my key at the counter, then headed to a “sari sari store” right around the corner. I always buy my 12 baht ($0.35) stamps there. It was one of those placess that I discovered myself so I enjoy the triteness of buying stamps in that little Thai store. I dropped my postcards at the red mailbox nearby. As an afterthought, before leaving the store, I decided to ask the lady how to get a ride to Samut Prakan, coz just maybe there was something I don’t know aside from the information that I got from Lonely Planet. It’s free information anyway.
True enough, the lady gave instructions different from what I got. Crossed the
I hopped in and saw a few people inside. It was almost empty, but 15 minutes later, we were filling up. “Samut Prakan?” I asked the driver. He just nodded and started the engine, as though I was prodding him to leave. I turned to my back where an old man was staring back at me. I asked but he couldn’t understand me. He just smiled and patted my back reassuring me I was somehow understood, and that he will direct me when it was time to get off the bus. There are modes of communication that work between strangers who don’t speak a similar language, but this leaves you a bit anxious. What if he misunderstood you?
The bus skirted and slid through popular tourist destinations, mainly the
Before I realized it, my bus made its final stop! It was a bus garage, riverside joint, lined by other empty green and red buses. This doesn’t look like a heritage park to me, I thought. Haha. I got off the bus and noticed the numerous yellow tables and chairs of a riverside restaurant. But no one was there! Who would be in 33 degree sun?! I asked around where “Ancient Siam” was but I was greeted with blank stares and embarrassed smiles. I was in
Right across the row of restaurants was the Paklat Post Office. I was at a borough called Paklat – interesting! I asked the people from the counter. Finally, someone seemed to have understood me. I was misenunciating Muang Boran. It should be pronounced as “Muyeng Bolan”!
I had several options. One was to get a boat to cross the river, which was a pretty interesting idea for me. But from there, what? I needed to get to Ancient Siam and I am losing a lot of time already. Two, look for a tuktuk somewhere and cross the bridge – which was a long way back! From the other side, it’s still a long way to Ancient Siam! Three, get a taxi straight to Muang Boran!
There are lessons to be learned here. There are places that experts like the Lonely Planet know about. They update their information on a yearly basis. In short, they know what they are talking about. They are in the business of knowing such things. If they say, take bus so-and-so, then they must have double-checked! Red Bus 82 is for the locals! They are meant to be free rides for the locals – not a farang like me! So – ambitious little me paid a hefty 200 baht, instead of the 3.50 baht I was to pay if I followed LP! Moreover, I lost more than 3 hours of my precious time!
Trams where you can hop-on and off. They navigate the park and you can find them every 10-15 minutes or so.