The Bionic Salesman
A Journey around Thailand
So much for the rain. The newspapers were full of flood warnings as I set off on the second leg of my journey around Thailand, but it rained only three times on a three-week trip.
Those three rain storms all came on the first day as I drove down the east side to catch the ferry to Koh Samet. The rain came in blocks of sky, an aggravated shout that soon ran out of breath. For a while it was like driving through a liquidiser. Mostly, there was brilliant sun.
From Koh Samet, I drove back up the trousers of Thailand and down the other side, stopping off at Hua Hin, Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Krabi, and flying out from Phuket.
The map measures the journey at 1,500 kilometres, but I traveled much further once you include boat trips, diversions, missed turnings, Waboba deliveries, ill-advised short-cuts and general red herrings.Traveling alone, I found plenty of time to ponder the maddening inconsistency of Thai road signs. It says something of the national character that the motorways are lovingly named “Rama” or “Sukhumvit”, but the local map-makers are puritan souls, marking their roads sparsely with numbers. The mismatch sent me on more than a few colourful detours.
There were plenty of helpful signs like this one (see pic), pointing you off into some vague but promising distance until the signs just stopped pointing altogether.
But it was a fabulous trip. The fear of rain kept traffic to a minimum, and I repeatedly found myself on pretty much empty beaches.
The driving was lonely, but some of the landscapes were amazing – the brilliant white beach at Koh Samet, the network of old canals south of Bangkok, the swamps at Samut Songkhram, the silhouetted karst hills on the approach to Krabi.
Tired of the driving, I would often look up to see these amazing birds of prey, wings outstretched, riding the hot uplift from the motorway. And when I needed a break, I would pull over at a rubber plantation, admire the trees and listen to the wall of sound from the insects that live in them.
It was a productive trip as well. We found new Waboba retailers in all of the major locations on the journey, including Bangkok, Koh Samet, Jomtien, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Krabi and Phuket.
Ill be posting up more info on those retailers very soon.