Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
93Trip End May 08, 2007
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Where I stayed
The four of us left Kanchanburi for Erawon. We took a public bus which maxed out at 15mph because it was an old Mercedes deisel from the 1950s. But eventually we arrived at the Erawon market.
Our instructions were to get off the bus there and find transport to the farm by asking for "Mr. Hay". The driver would know where to go and take us to the farm. At the farm we would live like true rural Thais. We'd help work the farm and help cook all our own food. Lodging was cheaper than anywhere else we'd ever been (only 100 baht per night each) and each meal was 50 baht (kinda pricey but doable).
When we deboarded, a large man tottered up to us asking "Mr
"Fuck you!" my thoughts cried. But my mouth has more tact and voiced politely that it was too much money. It cost 200 baht to take a VIP luxury bus a long distance. This was riding in the back of a pickup to a local destination on a dirt road. He refused to come down in price, so we walked away. All four of us were hungry, so we ate at the market. I was craving a fruit shake, so I found a stand which made them. The girl there made me one from her freshest mandarin oranges. She delivered it to the table and I gulped it greedily. I then spat it out with the same urgency. This was when I learned that the Thais love to add salt to their fruit shakes. They have some of the best, freshest, most flavorful fruit of anywhere I've ever been, but when they turn it into a drink, they like to add heaps of sodium chloride. (Whenever I order a shake now, I make a point to say "no salt". They look at me like I'm the strangest creature they've ever seen. Some even question why I would want a shake without salt. Isn't it gross?). I didn't finish my briney mandarin shake. Thirty baht down the drain, and the only thing gained was a foul taste in my mouth.
After our meal, we looked around and realized that there were no other trucks; no taxis; no tuk tuks
We spotted a police station and asked the officer inside if he knew how to get to Mr. Hay's farm. All he could say was that it was very far, 32 kilometers or so. He said he'd call a ride for us. A different truck showed up. The driver also quoted 200 baht and also refused to negotiate the price. Just then the original driver and truck returned. We tried to play one against the other to get the price down, but it went nowhere. It dawned on us that they were working together. They were in cahoots. We begrudgingly got into one of the trucks and paid the outrageous price. The ride in the truck took about 15 minutes. We were less than 8km from the farm. The cop had lied. He was in cahoots too. But whatever, we were finally there at the farm.
Farm. It means something different in Thailand. Farms where I come from have animals, or they have crops. Agriculture and/or livestock of some sort, that's a farm. But not in Thailand. Mr. Hay's farm consisted of his house on one side of the road and three decrepid bungalowes on the other side. That's all except for the dirt. The plantless dirt.
I actually like tge building we stayed in. "Bungalow" might be too kind of a term for it, but I had been looking forward to rustic
Mrs. Hay called us down. She then informed us that the meal price we had been quoted would be doubled during our stay for no discernable reason. I was angry, not so much for my own wallet, but because I'd sold Matt and Sharon on the idea. We ate the meal with nothing to drink because drinks were extra. We paid 100 baht each for what would have amounted to 20 baht each back in Kanchanaburi.
We spent the night playing cards by the light of flickering candles. We burned every last one Mr. Hay had, even ones we didn't need to burn, just to feel like we'd gotten our money's worth. As we played Shithead, Presidents and Assholes, and Chinese Poker, the four of us discussed what we should do. We resolved to leave first thing in the morning, skip breakfast, and walk to Erawon. There we'd catch the bus to Kanchanaburi and the comfort of the Nita Rafthouse. My stomach grumbled as we debated because the grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Hay stole my spoon halfway through dinner and ate my portion of our 400 baht meal.
The next morning we woke, packed, paid off the Hays and walked towards town. Halfway down, a local in his pickup truck offered us a ride to Erawon. He drove us straight to the market. No charge. Finally we met someone who wasn't in cahoots with all the others. We boarded our bus and gratefully said goodbye to Erawon with our middle fingers raised high.