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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Days off & Bangkok flashbacks


When Dayle and I first got into Melbourne we were sad and happy at the same time.
Happy because we were off on a new adventure in Australia but sad about leaving the awesome beaches (and mopeds) of Thailand.
C'est la vie, I suppose.
We don't often get days off in Echuca, but every Sunday (or when it rains) we're running through a huge list of errands that can only be completed on that single day. Like clock-work we find ourselves at the laundry mat with a bit of spare time to look back or forward on our adventures, our 'chill out' time.

We knew that Oz would be the same as Canada but different. Hence we've termed this difference 'Bizarro Canada'. At the moment, in this alternate version of Canuckistan, they're coming into the 'winter' season. Winter here is a lot like Vancouver during summer but warmer, a lot warmer - and sun. And instead of it raining all the time, it rains on the odd blue moon.

Australia is the middle of a 10 year drought, they need to import water from various places, and it's even a tradable commodity on the stock market. This was all explained to us by the owner of the tomato shed; Joy, whom politely explained the ins-and-outs of running your own tomato farm.
So when it rains you think that farmers would be delighted, nay orgasmic, at the slightest bit of moisture falling from the sky. Hardly, they quietly mutter and get a little fussy as though it were a great inconvenience and shut down all operations.
This is why I have day off.
And it's not just for tomatoes, but fruits and veggies too. It has something to do with the branches of trees or mud (I think), either they tend to snap due to the added weight of the rain or Ozzies don't like that sticky sock feeling when you've been treading through wet grass all morning.
They even have a cool name for the drought too: "The Big Dry". I think Canada should start naming our natural disasters.

So rather than kicking around the hostel watching "American History X" for the six thousandth time (there's a guy here who watches it daily, ugh), I'm up and about running errands (courtesy of Dayle, who left me an encyclopedia of things-to-do).
On my way down the street I saw the local bus whiz by and I was amazed that such a small town has a public transport system, then I remembered Bangkok.
Dayle and I have been dying to write about the bus system in Bangkok, and it's on my 'stuff-to-do-today' list.
At first is seems like there's no real system to the the Bangkok bus 'system'. All traffic in Thailand is chaotic and operates at a break-neck speed. But there is a method to the madness...
There we were at the bus stop outside our Bangkok hostel avidly waiting for the number 3 bus to come by. Key word: BUS STOP.
In Bangkok 'stopping' in inefficient and only for Westerners. Oh yes, the we saw several #3 buses, mostly as they flew by us at 60kph. To the other Thais at the 'stop' everything (it appeared) was running as usual. Then we figured out the trick...
As your bus approaches you need to flag it down by holding your arm out straight with your palm down, then in robot like fashion wave your arm up and down (but never above shoulder height). This gets the attention of the driver, who then cuts across 2 lanes of traffic without a second thought and opens the doors. This is your cue to start up a healthy trot in the direction of traffic, as the bus doesn't quite stop so much as slows down to 10kph.
This is just enough speed for you to grab hold of the (half attached) railing inside the doors and with the encouragement of the shouting fare collector, hop on quickly before either sucked under the wheels or left behind to dodge traffic.
After that it's like any other bus; hot, bumpy, and that 'weird/mumbly' guy that gets on at the next stop always picks the seat next to you.
On the upside it definitely makes the day more exciting, plus if the Bangkok bus system worked here you'd have more stories around the water cooler at work... "Yeah Bill, got my heart rate up today running next to the bus waiting for my turn to hop on. Poor Ms. Figgs got sucked under the wheels though."

Unfortunately we get to work by mini-vans that have leaking gas tanks or burnt-out interiors (really!), but that's another blog.

Love,
Adrian & Dayle "?"

34 comments:

Pops said...

Enjoying your travel experiences even if you're between adventures right now. Don't know if we could handle the rigours of Bangkok bus travel after hearing that. Budapest is sedate by comparison.

Fran said...

Hey There...sorry I had to yell and carry on (dang virtual space junk) but I am glad we did converse for a bit. So you are heading out soon...hope you land a good job...how about a sheep farm?
Love reading about your experiences. Hoppy Easter!
Love mom and guys and Anna

Grandma and Grandpa said...

Enjoyed your Bangkok bus adventures. Hope your new destination is Cairns. Maybe you will get interesting jobs. (not tomatoes) Will miss you at Easter. Happy Easter!

Love

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