On Thursday morning I woke up to the sound of rain in Siem Reap, Cambodia. After showering and packing my bags one last time, I waded through mud puddles and took a motorcycle taxi to the Hawaii Restaurant on Wat Bo Road to meet the Try Brothers for breakfast. After a leisurely meal, a few games of pool (I lost every time!), doling out money (mainly their school and travel expenses for the next six months), and gulping down several glasses of iced coffee, it was time for me to leave for the airport. It was starting to rain again, so I opted for a tuk-tuk to take me. From Siem Reap to Bangkok I obviously took the plane, Bangkok Air of course, since they still — even after all these years — hold the monopoly on that route. Yep, if you want to fly from Bangkok to Phnom Penh, you have your choice of three airlines, but to get to Siem Reap, Bangkok Air remains the sole aviation option. Does anyone else think that smells a bit peculiar?
Once the plane landed in Bangkok, I grabbed my bag and pondered how to get home: the Airport rail link or a taxi? After experimenting with this slightly confusing new rail system (you have your choice of “express” line or “city” line; the express is quicker in theory, but it doesn’t depart as often as the city line, so it can end up taking you longer), I found out that if I exited at the Ramkamhaeng station, I could walk home in about 15 minutes. But alas, it was raining again, so I opted for a taxi. Luckily, afternoon traffic was light and I arrived home in about 30 minutes. Back at my apartment, I unpacked and then debated on going back to the hospital for further treatment on my ailing leg or to take advantage of the CD sale at Central’s B2S shop. I was now able to stand for longer periods of time without excruciating pain radiating down my left leg (it had gotten so bad the week before that I made two visits to the hospital), so I decided “to hell with the doctor,” and headed for Central. I took a motorcycle taxi to the BTS Ekkamai station and then boarded the packed Skytrain to the Chitlom station. I had originally thought of going to the B2S at Central Chitlom, where I had bought some stuff the previous week, but instead I made a left and walked to the neighboring B2S at Central World, a store whose sale stock I had yet to peruse. Happily, I found some good stuff there on sale for 25% off. I reluctantly whittled my choices down to seven CDs, paid for them, and then hobbled outside and snaked my way through the congested lanes of traffic and across the street to the Pratunam boat pier. From there I took a water taxi to the Thonglor pier, and then walked the rest of the way home, stopping at Foodland to stock up on beer and carrots, the diet of champions. Once I got home, the rain was starting to fall once again. I realized that the only forms of transport I had not taken were the subway, a city bus, and a horse cart. Have to plan my routes better next time.
On the subject of Bangkok’s BTS rail system, commonly known as the Skytrain, I recently vowed to stop taking it during morning and afternoon rush hours, and pretty soon I may stop using it altogether. To put it bluntly; it’s just too damn packed for comfort. During those peak “rush” hours, commuters must often wait for two, three, or even four trains to arrive until there is room enough to board. Adding to the misery, the trains seem to be taking longer to arrive. Lately, even at non-peak times, the Skytrain is full to overflowing. It’s become beyond ridiculous. What is causing this overcrowding? One theory: since they extended the Skytrain’s routes across the river, and more recently east to Soi Baring, there appears to be a shortage of trains, and the ones that are in use are arriving at longer intervals. You would think that someone would have thought to order more trains to accommodate the extra influx of passengers on the new routes, but obviously that didn’t happen. Whatever the case, it’s become very annoying having to wait and wait and then hope there will be room enough to push and jostle your way into the carriage. About a month ago, I just said “Fuck it” and started taking motorcycle taxis all the way from home to work, or to other places. It’s much faster, not much more expensive, and less stressful, although the downside is that you smell like the underside of a bus when you arrive at your destination.