I visited Bangkok for the second time in 3 weeks between June and July, 2018 as I am chasing a big project in Thailand. It has been very difficult for me to get the appointments of the Customer. The second trip was executed at 4 days intimation from the Customer. Though our Lobbyist in Thailand is trying his best to get confirmed schedules in advance, I am unsure about what the Customer may ask for next. So, for the last 2 visits to Thailand, I kept one extra day in hand after the scheduled meeting date. Also, I needed to be in Bangkok one day prior to the meeting as the only direct flight from Bangalore to Bangkok is by Thai Airways and the flight arrives in Bangkok at around 6:00 AM. This means that by the time I can reach my hotel in Bangkok, it is about 10:00 AM. The meeting are scheduled for 9:30 AM to 12:00 Noon. On both occasions, the meeting was followed by a lunch sponsored by our Customer.
For the second visit, we departed from Bangalore on 11-July-2018 at 12:30 AM. We reached Bangkok at 6:00 AM. We got our Visa on Arrival. We reached our Hotel – Hilton, Sukhumvit Soi 24 – by around 10:00 AM. I say “WE” as I took Deepshree along with me as our 26th Marriage Anniversary was on 12-July-2018. My meeting with the Customer was scheduled for 12-July-2018. The meeting with the Customer went off exceptionally for us. The next agenda was to provide the results of the Performance Tests of our system and we had 10 days time for that. So, we had the day of 13-July-2018 completely free.
Now, 13-July-2018 was a FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH. Nevertheless, I contacted our Concierge at Hilton to book a self-drive car for me. Hilton Concierge told me that they had made a booking for us with Avis. As per appointment stated by the Concierge, we started for Avis office in Sathon Soi 1 at around 7:00 AM after having our breakfast. We took a taxi from our hotel. The Taxi Driver drove us through some narrow gullies as he said that this was the fastest route.
We were in the Taxi for nearly 30 minutes with Sathon nowhere in sight. Normally, we should have reached in 15-20 minutes. Then, we were stuck at a traffic signal for nearly 15 minutes. Then the Taxi Driver advised us take a Motor Cycle Taxi, rather than wait for our Taxi to reach the destination. We paid 90 Bahts to the Taxi Driver and got off.
Then we stood in the queue to catch a Motor Cycle Taxi. It took about 10 minutes for us to get 2 Motor Cycle Taxis and both of us sat on one each. The Motor Cycle Taxi waded through the traffic and soon we were at Avis Office. We paid 80 Bahts to each of the Motor Cycle Taxi Drivers.
On reaching Avis Office, the attendant told us that we do not have any reservation. I was very upset at that. So, I called up Hilton Concierge. The Concierge service spoke to the Avis attendant in Thai Language and at the end of their conversation the attendant informed me that he had one spare Toyota Saloon and he would allot it to us. I was relieved.
I provided my International Driving License and my Passport. The attendant took photo copies of these documents. Then he took my credit card and swiped 898 Bahts as the rental fee for 1 day for the car. He also swiped the credit card for 8,000 Bahts as security deposit. The 8,000 Bahts was only blocked and not actually deducted from the card. We signed the agreement. The attendant explained the process to follow in case we meet with an accident. Then I inspected the car and the attendant gave the final report on which I signed. So, we had the car at our disposal by about 9:30 AM.
Adjoining the Avis office was 7Eleven store. We bought 2 water bottles from there. And then we started on our journey to Kanchanaburi. As soon as I started the car, I realised that the moment I pressed the brakes, the car would come to sudden stop. I was confused. However, we continued.
We switched on the Google Map and started following the instructions. Soon we were on the main road. However, I was having extreme difficulty in driving. As soon as I pressed the brakes, the car would come to a sudden stop. On the main road, I saw the signal turning red and tried to stop the car and it came to a sudden stop. The taxi behind us just about missed hitting us from behind. The Taxi Driver gave us a dirty glare and drove on. Now, I became extremely cautious. So, I was driving the car very slowly. In the panic, we missed the route and drive into Silom Road, which was taking us inside the Bangkok City. Soon, we got to the correct turn and were on the right track. Driving extremely cautiously, I managed to get back to Sathon. However, by this time I was sweating. I was thinking of returning the car to Avis and abandoning the trip. However, something made me press on. Soon, we were on the highway. As the road was clear, I drove slightly faster and when I needed to stop, I pressed the brakes very lightly. However, the car would still come to a sudden stop.
We drove on and soon Deepshree told me that we had missed a diversion to the left. So, I took the car slightly ahead and stopped at the lay bye lane to check the map. When I stopped the car, I suddenly remembered that when I drove my Automatic Honda Civic in Cyprus, I did not need to use my left leg. I only needed to use my right leg to control the accelerator and the brake. So, the mystery why the car was coming to a sudden stop was solved. I rechecked the map and took the next available U-turn and soon we were back on our track to Kanchanaburi. Also, the car was functioning very smoothly. Now, I was totally relaxed. However, I needed a break and some freshening. Soon, we found a Motel on the way. We stopped our car and relaxed for about 20 minutes. I also had an Ice Cream.
After the break, we started once again. Now, I was cruising at 100 KMPH though there was quite a heavy traffic on the way. Our first destination was Nakhon Pathom. It took us about 1 hour to reach Nakhon Pathom. Here, we got lost though we were following the Google Map. Somehow, we landed inside Nakhon Pathom town and were going in circles. Soon, we found a way out and the road signs indicated the road to Kanchanburi. We soon found ourselves driving through narrow single road through villages. We kept driving. I had to be very careful here as this route had many plus crossing which did not have any signals. And the vehicles from the villages were crossing without any warnings. Anyway, after driving for about 45 minutes, we hit the highway once again.
Now, I found clear road signs indicating the way to Kanchanaburi. We drove for another 50 minutes and we were in Kanchanaburi. It was about 1:00 PM by this time. As we drove into Kanchanaburi town, we noticed a McDonalds. We both were quite hungry and also needed to freshen up. So, we parked at the McDonald. I smoked 2 cigarettes as I could not smoke while driving. Avis told me that if I smoked in the car, they would fine me 3,000 Bahts.
We had burger and nuggets and pineapple pies at McDonald. Then, we checked the road map to the Death Railways and found that we were about 20 minutes away. We started on our journey once again. Soon, we found that the traffic was moving very slowly. We realised that there was a Police Check Point that we were approaching. When we reached the barricade, the Police Man asked me whether I hold a Thai Driving License. I told him “NO”. He asked me to pull over at the side. I did so. Another Police Man came over and asked for my Driving License. I produced by International Driving License. He checked it thoroughly and then gave a smile and told me to carry on.
As we drove for about 3 minutes, we found the War Cemetery on our left hand side. We turned into the side lane and parked the car.
After spending about 20 minutes at the War Cemetery, we started once again trying to find our way to the Death Railways. We were following the Google Map. We drove through very narrow road through a cluster of houses to ultimately reach the Death Railways on the wrong side. Nevertheless, we were at the Death Railways.
At about 3:00 PM, we were done at Death Railways. Now, I checked the map and found that we could go to Erawan Waterfall which was about 135 KMs away. Alternately, we could go to the Elephant World which was about 45 KMs away and from the Elephant World we could go to Sai Yok Waterfall which was another 35 KM from Elephant World. So, we chose to go to Sai Yok.
Soon, we were driving on the highway. Somehow, we were not finding the Elephant World though we were following the map. After some searching, we saw a diversion to the right to go to Elephant Camp. We took that road and were soon in Chang Wangpo. We had a gala time at Chang Wangpo. You can read about our trip to Chang Wangpo by clicking this link.
All through our journey so far, it was drizzling lightly. However, by the time we were done at Chang Wangpo, the rain had picked up. So, Deepshree told that we must now return to Bangkok. So, we started on our way back to Bangkok. We were soon on the highway and the road sign indicated that Bangkok was 197 KMs away. We soon reached Kanchanburi. However, this time we did not enter the town. Driving on the highway, we found a nice restaurant. We stopped to have something to eat.
I ordered Khao Pai Je (Vegetable Fried Rice) for Deepshree and ordered Khao Pat Kung (Prawn Fried Rice) for myself. I also ordered Coke for myself. The food was very delicious.
The food was so nice that I also ordered a Fried Fish (In Thai Language, Fish is called “Pla”). The restaurant served me a massive Fish, crisply fried. The total bill was 425 Bahts.
After finishing our food, we started on our way back to Bangkok. We were 167 KMs away from Bangkok at this stage. We were cruising at around 120 KMPH though it was steadily raining at this stage. Soon, we reached Nakhon Pathom. This time we did not miss any road and continued on the highway. Driving slightly further, I realised that we needed to fill fuel in the car. We stopped at a Petrol Pump. But the problem was I was unsure whether to fill Petrol or Diesel. I thought of calling Avis. However, when I took out the copy of the agreement which had their number, I found that it was mentioned that the fuel for the car was number 91 (Kaw Sip Nung). So, I filled that fuel for 750 Bahts. The Petrol Pump gave us one 2-litre bottle of water as compliment.
Then we started once again. We were driving briskly with Deepshree providing the directions from Google Map. Suddenly, she said that we had missed a right turn. So, I travelled about 3 KMs to take a U-turn and then another 7 KM to find the opposite U-turn. However, this time took the right route and were on our way to Bangkok.
We reached the outskirts of Bangkok and soon found ourselves on a Tollway. We paid toll for 50 Bahts and drove for 15 minutes before we came across another Toll Gate. We again paid 50 Bahts and drove on. Soon, I could see road signs indicating way to Sukhumvit. We soon got out of the Toll way and were at Nana Metro Station. From this point, I was aware of the road and thus switched off the Google Map.
We reached our hotel at around 9:30 PM. We parked the car in the parking lot of Hilton.
The next morning, after breakfast, we took the car to Avis office following Google Map. We took only 15 minutes, most probably because it was Saturday. We returned the car. However, the Avis attendant told me that the tank was not full. The fuel indicator indicated that only one tick was missing. Nevertheless, I was unsure where I could find a Petrol Pump and how I would return back to Avis office. So, as per Avis terms, I paid 330 Bahts. Avis unblocked the 8,000 Bahts security deposit. However, it took 20 days for this amount to be released from my credit card account.
We took a taxi back to our hotel. We paid the Taxi 80 Bahts.