The trouble with busses

I should have known there would be trouble when the van to take me to Krabi arrived right on time. Transport never goes on time in this part of the world. Anyway the van arrived I threw in my pack and clambered aboard where already four other travelers and some locals were sitting and then we continued the ride around town until the van licensed for nine passengers was crammed with twelve people and all their luggage most of it on a roof rack.

So far so good. About half an hour out of town we pulled into a petrol station for a fill up and continued on our way. After another thirty minutes or so the engine started stuttering while we were getting to the first hills on our journey and we were loosing power rapidly until just short of the crest of the first hill the engine died completely. So out we get put a big rock behind the rear wheel and asses the situation. The driver tries to ring hiss boss on a cellphone but we are well outside a reception area. OK plan B, after the engine has cooled down a little we push the van to the top of the hill jump in and coast down. Miraciously the engine starts again but not well enough to get us over the next hill so halfway up we come to a stop once more. Right this van is obviously not going to get us to Krabi in a hurry, if at all, so what to do next?

Well the driver flags down another van and a few of the people with destinations other then krabi pile in. There are about eight of us left on the roadside. Not a problem. The driver flags down a pickup truck and the remaining eight of climb in the back. Now eight people most of them with large backpacks makes for a very packed pickup truck. At this time it’s midday so I can feel some sunburn coming on while we are careening up and down the hills, nothing much I can do about it at this point in time though. In a sign that things are probably not going to improve a sudden surge of air while we are going down hill lifts my glasses clean of my face luckily they bounce of one of my fellow travelers and he manages to grab them before they go overboard.

Half an hour later and still hundred and forty kilometers short of our destination the pickup truck drops us off at a restaurant and tells us to wait for the van. We can’t quite make out from the Thai to English translations for how long or what this is going to achieve. So we sit and wait and then sit and wait some more and some more and after about an hour and a half the van turns up the engine still stuttering and grumbling. The driver talks to one of the Thai passengers gets in his van and drives of again. I find somebody in the restaurant who speaks both Thai and some English and finally find out what’s going on. Apparently when fuelling up this morning they put diesel rather then petrol in the tank hence the engine slowly dying on us when the petrol and diesel started mixing together. The driver has now gone off to get the tank emptied and then put the right fuel in.

Another forty five minutes passes before a triumphant driver returns with a van that runs as smooth as when it left the factory. Apart from seeing a cow aboard a regular bus being transported to the market nothing much happened in the remainder of the trip and eight hours after our departure from Hat Yai we rode into Krabi and sat down for a well deserved beer or two.

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