Tales of Tragedy – Brokedown Bus

After a hurried trip to Laos that had me on the road for 3 days with precious little time to stretch out and recharge I returned home around midnight to find that I had to make a trip to a border crossing between Thailand and Myanmar near a town called Baan Rak Thai in the northwestern province of Chiang Mai. This meant exciting adventure into the unknown and seldom explored borderlands, but it also meant another brutal road trip as I would have to be back within 5 days and there was quite a bit to see while I was there. I had to leave in the morning.

Between Chiangmai and the border with Myanmar

Between Chiang Mai and the border with Myanmar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I took the bus – nearly 18 hours – to Mae Hong Son where I hired a driver, and after 2 frenzied but charming days I left Baan Rak Thai and returned to the bus station.

Tragedy struck me at the ticket counter; there were no buses to Bangkok for 3 days. After a few minutes and a bag of hot soy milk I regained my composure and booked the next overnight ticket to Chiang Mai City, where I could get a bus to Bangkok in the morning.

I found a restaurant and had a sandwich and a few drinks then I was on the road again. 14 winding hours through the mountains found me in the city early in the morning. The next bus to Bangkok was in 2 hours so I had some breakfast and fed 100 baht in 25 baht coins into a massage chair and tried to brace myself.

The bus took off and I was beginning to feel optimism rise up in my road weary heart. But then I noticed the rear suspension was shot, we were bouncing like we were sitting on a trampoline. We hadn’t been on the road for an hour before we hit a big bump and blew out the radiator. We spent 1 hour waiting for an air conditioner repairman to put fluid in something, and we drove for another 30 minutes or so. No one was telling us anything at any point during this ordeal.

Finally, after a few more hours of getting on and off the bus, the company sent another bus and we were back on the road to Bangkok. When I finally got home my body and spirit both felt crushed and I spent the next two days in bed with a cold rag on my head and a hot drink in my hand.

I swore two things after that day – that I would never travel with a low rate bus line again, and that I would always know the schedule like the back of my hand before I set sail.

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