A friend of mine recently visited Thailand and while there shared this tragic yet hilarious experience.
After a 13 hour trip on the awakener (sleeper) train from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai the weary travellers made their way to the tourist information desk for advice on where to find a pharmacy. Despite covering herself and most of the train station in deet spray the night before, female traveller had received several large bites on her right foot and leg which had swollen to epic proportions. Before they knew it, female traveller had been scammed out of 200 baht for an unlicensed taxi journey from the train station to their four star hotel (costing nearly 3 times more than it should have done).
Arriving at their hotel the weary travellers, having had no sleep in 2 days (once from the awakener train and second from the air conditioning unit in the previous 4 star guesthouse, which sounded like scrap metal being spun in a tumble drier) jumped out of the back of the taxi (battered pick up truck) and attempted to check in. With clothes stuck to them from the previous days 35 degree heat, and having not showered in over 24 hours, they were told to their dismay that the rooms would not be available for another 6 hours… and that wash facilities would not be open to them until they checked in.
The travellers left their two oversized suitcases, that female traveller insisted they brought rather than more practical backpacks and set off for central Chiang Mai. After a 15 minute walk, involving hazardous zebra crossings, where it was unclear if the local drivers would stop or not, and traffic light controlled crossings, where stopping for a red light appears to be optional, the female traveller found a pharmacy.
While using Google translate to explain her issue, much to the bemusement of the pharmacist, male traveller felt a sudden jolt in his stomach. Could this have been from the effects of the Pad Thai he had eaten the night before from a food vendor in what could only be described as a shanty town? In a moment of panic, he whispered in his wife’s ear that he had to run for the loo and that he would find her outside McDonalds. There was no toilet. In a state of panic, he ran across the road, dodging traffic, to the first decent looking hotel he had seen since arriving in Thailand. Walking through the lobby, trying to look as confident as anyone can while being seconds from disaster, he walked past reception and darted through the door to the toilets.
20 minutes later, waiting outside the gate to the old town, the female traveller saw her husband walking towards her, somehow looking sweatier and paler than he had done earlier. “Are you alright?” She asked.
“Not really.” He replied.
The couple walked into the old town in search of a park, somewhere where their increasingly foul body odour wouldn’t be as offensive, and where there may be enough shade to keep the sunburn at bay. On at least two occasions during their half hour walk, the male traveller had to make several other desperate attempts to find a toilet. Finally, the couple found a park, and in it a public loo. Relieved, male traveller ran in and practically threw the 3 baht fee at the attendant (a somewhat grandiose term for the half-dressed man who appeared to be raising his young family in the space between the ladies and gents sections). Things had become so desperate that, upon walking through the cubicle door to find a hole in the ground and two grab rails, he didn’t think twice before letting nature take its course.
After a further hot walk and several other urgent loo breaks, the couple returned to their 4-star hotel to finally check in. Having received the room key they walked past reception, which was housed in a separate building, to find out they were actually staying somewhere that wouldn’t look out of place on a council estate in Croydon… West Croydon at that.
The couple walked into their room that did not appear to have been decorated since the 1980’s to find that it at least had an ensuite with a working shower… complete with a hole in the ceiling filled with toilet paper.
The exhausted female traveller asked male traveller if he wouldn’t mind opening the balcony window to look out at the view of beautiful Chiang Mai… only to find the view was of an Esso with a strong smell of petrol. “I see we booked the honeymoon suite then!” She said, as she heard groans from the ensuite as her husband continued to endure the effects of food poisoning.
“How did Princess Bola survive Thailand?!” He eventually replied.
I have read this story many times and I can’t stop laughing.
If you would like to share an experience you’ve had abroad, please reach out to me.