Hitchhiking to Chiangmai

Jan 9th, 2015
After getting robbed and praying helplessly to “God of Travelling” for a while, it’s time to move on. The sunshine was still at a pleasant strength and the road, the capricious and exciting road was waiting afar! Within about 20 minutes, I walked across the whole town. When I was finally outside the city and crossed a bridge, by whose side there was a monastery with a huge Buddha statue, I held out my sign and let the road itself take in charge.
I liked the weather there. In Bangkok it was way too humid and hot. Even if one did not move at all, just by staying in the air of Bangkok, one would sweat like a dirty pig in a couple of minutes. I was breathing greedily the fresh and cool air out of Bangkok, although there was the scent of fermenting garbage stealing in the air from time to time and the dust did fly up every time when a vehicle passed…… It was not easy. For half an hour nobody stopped, except taxis. I walked on and tried to find a better spot, a gas station the best. It was quite a while later when I finally walked in a well-located gas station. Then things evidently eased up. I asked a few cars but most of them politely refused. It was not hard to take. If they refused in a very rude way, or simply totally ignored me, that would be hard to take and my mood would probably turn sour and even bitter. Eventually I found a driver who agreed to take me but he said he had to stop by several places for business and instead of Chiangmai, he was going to Bangkok. At least he could take me to the entrance of the highway connecting Bangkok and Chiangmai, which would be tens of kilometers away from that gas station. I thanked “Goddess of Hitchhiking” for blessing me with a big smile. When I stepped inside his car, I saw his mother sitting at the co-pilot seat, smiling to me and said something in Thai. They were very friendly people. I could feel it. Although they did not speak much English, they had their smiles to me all the time and gave me food and water. He was making a lot of detours for his business and I fell into sleep on the way. When he finally woke me up, we were already on the highway to Chiangmai. He showed me the direction and tried to ask for prices of taxi for me. I told him not to bother as I was not going to take any organized transport. He said goodbye and I landed on the road, calmly handing my fate to the Goddess of Hitchhiking again. Chiangmai was not too far and since it was the second biggest city of Thailand, it should be rather easy to hitchhike there. There should be a lot of people going from Bangkok directly to Chiangmai, I supposed. “I just need one ride.” I thought. However, this one ride did not come, even after half an hour, after I had already started sweating in the already spicy and even malicious sunshine. God…… It was approaching midday. I was thirsty, hungry and tired also. I felt I was about to be burnt alive by this shameless sunshine,no, flame which did not know what modesty meant…… I walked on and on and saw a big shopping mall, inside which I found SHADE and a big super market and bought some tomatoes and packages of instant noodles. I took a break. The air there was so cool. There was so much space and so few people and the chairs there were so comfortable that I almost did not want to move my ass anymore. Eventually rationality and the curiosity for the rough road took over my mood and I threw my ass under the fearsome sunshine again.
I walked to another gas station, where I started asking around again. I showed my sign to a car, inside which two young women were sitting. They simply laughed and drove away, even without saying a “no” by waving hand. That was the rudest “no” I got there. Just after that, I decided to leave this gas station. No sooner I walked out of the gas station than a car, big and shinning one caught me up from behind and the driver asked me:”Where do you want to go?” I showed him my sign. He signed me to come on in.
He was an about 50 years old thin guy and did not speak a word of English, but he seemed to be very open-minded and absolutely friendly. He tried to talk to me in Thai and body language and I tried my best to understand and to keep the conversation going. He turned out to be the owner of several big factories, some of which were still under construction. His destination was half way from Bangkok to Chiangmai. We stopped in several factories and construction sites of him. He introduced me to his workers and friends and they asked me to take photos of them. πŸ˜€ When for the last time we set off from a factory, he bought a lot of grilled bananas and gave them to me. There were all together about 15 grilled bananas and he ate only 2, the rest being all mine.
Along the way, the weather got more and more cloudy. I felt that together with fresh and unknown adventures, a rain was also on the horizon. The sky looked very dark for 3pm. 10 minutes after we said goodbye and he dropped me, when I was just repacking my backpack in front of a house on the roadside, the rain slowly started…… Shit…… I seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. There were no cities in view, but only some sporadic houses and sheds scattering along the road. I was in front of one of them. It seemed to be a restaurant but not exactly, more like some shop. When I just finished with repacking, from within this house came out an old man and he asked me cheerfully in fluent English:”Where are you from?” That’s how I met this former teacher who had travelled to many countries in the world and spoke fluent English. His mother was Chinese. He had retired years ago but now he was still doing some voluntary work for the local community. A cheerful and open-minded spirit indeed he was! Never married, he was living with his mom to take care of her. Although he was more than 65, he was still very energetic. The house I saw belonged to his brother and he was there to help and now he was heading home. He was more than happy to give me a ride for a few kilometers before he had to turn another direction to his home. We talked about the Netherlands and China. He was a really cool guy and experienced traveller! It was a genuine surprise to meet such an awesome individual in this in-the-middle of-nowhere spot. That was perhaps one of the best things of travelling — you NEVER know what the road has in store for you; you NEVER know who you are going to bump into the next second. It’s all unpredictable and you can not get yourself prepared for that. Even better, it’s not necessary to do any “preparation”, dear friends. Just bring your good humour. That’s the best “preparation”. πŸ˜‰
–“Are you hungry? I can arrange some food for you!” He asked joyfully.
–“No. I am not hungry and I am afraid I have to hurry up, otherwise I won’t be able to arrive in Chiangmai before it becomes dark.”
I felt it was absolutely a pity! God! Why the hell did I have such limited time?…… I really would like to talk more with him and hear about his adventures. God, sorry, I meant Buddha, in his younger years, it must have been much harder to travel than nowadays, especially for a person from a not-so-rich country like Thailand! He surely had so many adventures and his adventures would be so different from mine! The sky was growling like a hungry stomach and the analytical part of my brain called me to hurry up and find a ride before the raindrops would catch me. I took a photo of him and we said goodbye.
He dropped me at a perfect spot. Do you know the biggest problem about “perfect spots” for hitchhiking? The biggest problem is that they do not always work out as the “peferct spots”. For example, this spot I had, was just after a traffic light of the main road to Chiangmai and there was much space for cars to stop, so everybody could see my sign when waiting for the traffic light and once they drove near, they could easily stop if they wanted. I wasted 20 minutes at this spot, breathing dust and exhaust of all tastes. Every time when the red light was on, I would put up my sign and wave it, while those trucks, big cars were waiting there, motionless. In the first few minutes these big metals entities simply looked calm to me, then I felt that they were actually indifferent and eventually with time passing I had the feeling that their metalic expressionless faces looked so evil and narrow-minded…… πŸ˜› Above them I saw the detering sky, with dark clouds piling up in each corner. At a certain moment it got so dark that I had the illusion that it was already nightfall.
I was gloomy as the weather and decided to walk further and try my luck in another location. I walked for about half an hour and did not have better luck. In my mind came the voice from the Goddess of Hitchhiking:”Gas station, the last solution!”! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜› I saw a guy on a scooter, carrying his little son in front of him, just coming towards the main road from some small path. I waved to him and he stopped. After some hand waving, smiling, confusion and laughing, he gladly carried me on his scooter, with his little son between us. He was of the typical simple, smiling and kind-hearted local Thai people. He misunderstood me and drove me to a big hotel. Luckily just beside the hotel there was a gas station, where I went instantly to try my luck. I asked several people and none was going to Chiangmai. I kept walking around, asking everybody who stopped their cars there. I knew very well that I had limited time to get to Chiangmai……
Suddenly, a small pick-up truck stopped and out came an old man with glasses, who looked very Chinese. I walked up to him. Before I asked him anything, he pointed to my sign and said…… (to be continued tomorrow. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜› )

The Factory Owner Who Gave Me A Long Ride
The Factory Owner Who Gave Me A Long Ride
The Cool Driver Who Travelled Much in His Younger Years
The Cool Driver Who Travelled Much in His Younger Years

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