My Pride, My Thai part 12: The long drive to see the King

Ideally, I had to get going early in the morning: it would have been much earlier but I was after all on vacation and it didn’t really matter at all. All in it’s own time, after breakfast and some goodbyes. By the time I started on the long drive south, I knew I would have to come back here again another time this summer. There was still so much more to do and see, and talk about. I really enjoyed my time in Sakon Nakhon and it was not easy leaving. 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 1: The Preparation (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 2: The flight (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 3: The arrival (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 4: The first morning (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 5: Big C (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 6: Bangkok (opens in a new tab).  

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 7: 200 THB to heaven (opens in a new tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 8: Bangkok - Ubon Ratchathani (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 9: Being a celebrity in Thailand (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 10: From Sisakhet to Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 11: Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new  tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 11-B: Coffee Love at Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new tab).

The drive this day would be one of the really longest drives I have ever done in my entire life. From Sakhon Nakon to Bangkok, to Chumpon and onwards to Ranong. I had an appointment the following day and there was no time to loose. Naturally, it would have been much faster to fly, but then again, I would never get to experience the Thai country side from a car, and I would have to stress through airports with baggage and time limits. This way, I could really do it all in my own time, despite it taking a lot more time. For me, there is something special about driving in Thailand. Yes, it’s one of the absolutely most dangerous places in the world to drive, and being a foreigner, whatever happens, you will be the one to blame if you are even remotely involved in anything. But then again, it’s also a wonderful feeling to be free with the road ahead, and it’s also the absolutely perfect way to see the kingdom. Everywhere you stop to take a break, you will meet people eager to chat a little, even though you most likely will never see them ever again in your life. It’s these encounters with the random local people which makes the trip so rewarding. 

The drive went quite fine, stopping only to get coffee, discharge processed coffee, and refill more coffee. Oh, yes, there was also some eating and snacking in between also. That is a story for another future post. 

When I approached the northern border of Bangkok, it was already just after midnight. I had planned my route through Bangkok in my head earlier that day, to drive a ring road on the western side of the city ending up eventually somewhere near Samut Sakhon. As tired as I was, it didn’t go quite as planned. At the intersection where I choose between eastern and western ring roads, I was in the wrong lane for a fraction of a minute and before I knew it, I was heading south around Bangkok on the eastern side. For a moment I thought about finding a way to make a u-turn but being on a 6 lane highway, that wasn’t easy. Never mind I thought, I knew the roads on the eastern side like reading an open map, I figured that I could continue south, and then cross towards west at the southern side of Bangkok. The extra distance would perhaps make an hour wasted, but making a u-turn driving north again, now well passed midnight, wasn’t too tempting either. 

By 2 o’clock in the morning, I started feeling the eyes closing on me and I really needed a beauty nap. I tried a couple of overly sugar-filled energy drinks but they made no difference whatsoever. Finding a hotel or even a motel at 2 in the morning, isn't an option either.

By 3 o’clock I was passing southwards on Highway 4 just north of Hua Hin. A large, flood lit petrol station would probably be the best choice that time, I thought, and suffice for a couple hours of sleep in the drivers seat, even though that is never recommended. I fell asleep immediately, and was sound asleep when I woke up some two hours later to a tremendous noise from a nearby pick-up filled with drunk teenagers, battling to get to the rest rooms at the station. I thought it would be smart to just make myself disappear and head back on my way, and get a little further south. I still had a long way to go to get to my meeting. I just could not be late. 

When the sun rose above the sea to the east, and threw fantastic shades onto the rice fields on my left side, as I headed south, it was literally like a magical painting. In a small village somewhere between Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chumpon, I lined up along the road to offer food for some local monks on alms round. They were completely flabbergasted to see a shining white (slightly pink-ish) individual offering food. It was a pretty awesome experience, not only for me, but also for the monks and the locals there with me, I guess. People whom I had never seen before in my life, and probably would never see again in my life. 

By 10 o’clock in the morning, just five short minutes before my appointment, I was finally at my destination in Ranong town. I met up with my contact, and headed on to do what I came for. Time was of the essence. An hour and half later, the job had been done, and I was once again back on the road, heading northwards. I was planning on making it up to Kanchanaburi by evening, but would be more than happy if I made it just to Hua Hin as well. 

This is the story of that important appointment I had to reach: The end of a King. 

Passing the wonderful seaside resort town of Prachuap Khiri Khan on the way north, I had to stop by the beach to feed the monkeys and find somewhere to eat some seafood. Prachuap Khiri Khan has since what feels like forever been one of my favourite places in Thailand. I have seen this place grow through several decades, and even though it can’t be compared to what it was like before, I think it’s still a great place to relax and eat great seafood, without hoards of tourists. After an amazing seafood-dinner and the bill was paid, I decided that I would not go any further than to Hua Hin. I had by now been in that car, mostly driving for almost continuously for something like 32 hours. I was tired, and really needed a good night sleep. A little more than 1.500 kilometers had been swallowed since leaving Sakon Nakhon, and I still had a handful more to go before arriving at Hua Hin. 

With the help of some great friends on the phone, a fantastic place was arranged for my arrival in Hua Hin about 90 minutes later. By the time I arrived, it was already dark and late, and how I ended up finding this place, is beyond my comprehension. Why this accomondation would be so great, is a story you better come back reading about, in my next blog entry. 

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