Monday, 21 March 2011

On the Buses--how to make your next bus ride a total success.

Departing the Rangong terminal
at night, in the rain.
My life.
Bus travel
I will confess that I do not like flying, thus I am ready to take a 12 hour bus ride rather than spend an hour in a plane. There are advantages to this other than the avoiding of the flight itself. Have you taken a flight recently? Security! Multiple recursive hassles. Lots of high school educated goons in uniform wasting your time. Carrying a full compliment of gear, as I do, which includes pointy things, even a knife, leads to questions--and if you forget to stow something you should have, it is gone with the wind.

The thoughts and advice here are largely based upon my experiences in Thailand, but they do have an universal appicability.

My VIP Ranong to Bangkok bus.
Late at night, another lonely journey
from A to B.

Get your ticket. Pick a good seat if seats are allocated. Not too close to the toilet, which will be found at the back of the bus. Not to close to the tv (noisy). The middle is good.

Be early
On the bus,
VIP buses usually have a cute hostess.
Get there early. Leave for the bus early. Things go wrong. Delays occur. Factor some lead time into your planning.

Tag you bag
Put a tag on your bag(s). Certainly your big bag, which will go under the bus. Also your smaller shoulder bag. A tag with phone, email and a pic. Have all of these and the chances of retrieving your bags, from a rare occurence of trouble, will be maximized.
The Ranong province bus station.
On the eastern edge of the town.
A standard, functional design.

Local bus = 2 seats
Usually, in Thailand, there are 'VIP' buses cruising between provincial capitals. These buses have comfy seats, suspension which suspends, and even supplied food and water. As a rough guide a VIP bus will set you back 100 baht (~us$3) per 100 kms, so not pricy. A trip on a VIP is no great hardship.

This rosy picture changes when we move to 'local' buses. Local buses come in all shapes and sizes, but they are cheap, noisy and bumpy, and no aircon.

In this situation I invariably buy two tickets for two seats. This means I can carry my shoulder bag with me easily, and stretch out comfortably. Local buses are cheap. Maybe half that of VIPs.

my ticket.
VIP to Bangkok
Krung Thep: City of Angels,
the greatest city in the world
Check to see if your guest house sells bus tickets. Many hotels/guest houses do so, and this usually entitles you to a ride to the bus station. In small towns the bus might even come to your hotel. Talk about service!
VIP bus, a free freebies
snack, water, blankee.

Background to all this is standardized packing. Figure out the most efficient configuration for you and your stuff. Then stuck to that. This way you will know where your gear is and be able to quickly obtain the same. .

On the bus:
- Reading material, obviously.
- Neck rest, the inflatable kind.
The interior of the Rangon bus terminal
at night.
Cool pic ?
- Ear protectors. This might seem excessive but local buses are very noisy. Even VIPSs clock in at 70db.
 - Water. VIPs supply you with, but I always keep my canteen filled jic.
- packet of tissues.

When you arrive at your destination alight promptly and grab your bag. When you leave your seat always look behind just in case you left something behind. To err is human.

Written on my iphone in a bus traveling from Ranong to Bangkok.

Enjoy the ride.
The loneliness of the long
distance single bus traveller.

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