Jan 8th, 2015
After the most memorable meal in Thailand, I picked up my Nepali visa, 25 USD for 15 days. Not cheap, was it? On my way back to the monastery, I tried table diving again, but this time at a street food stall. I asked the owner’s son first and he went to consult his parents. They did pack the food in a plastic bag but they looked so clearly reluctant and unhappy. I went to the train station to check the trains to Chiang Mai, which would be my next destination. Just outside the train station, there was a very small KFC, with only 4 tables. I also tried table diving there. There was a Dutch couple eating there. I asked them if I could take what left over of their meals. They were cool people and said yes, but guess what? The KFC staff, especially one of them, a young girl said, no screamed NO! I first confirmed that she spoke English, then I tried to reason calmly.
–“Why not? The customers have already agreed!”
–“No! NO!!!!!!” She shouted without listening to any of my reasoning.
I got out of the door as fast as I could. She was for sure, without any doubt and 100% absolutely the MEANEST Thai person I had ever met in the whole WORLD. Frankly, I cursed “Fuck you!” and I was certain that nobody would ever like her and she would end up as a cranky Spinster! Her expressionless and frowning face, which was of an unpleasant dark colour, with her small eyes full of numbness has always stayed in my mind everytime I think of Bangkok…… However, it was interesting to see people’s different reactions. To be analytical, the major challenge in table diving, as I found out was the unpredictable waiting time. It took a while to find an almost-finished eater. Sometimes you found one who was almost leaving, but perhaps this one would finish all the food he ordered, then you would have to wait for another chance to come up. When will that chance come? You don’t know! 🙂 It’s quite like hitchhiking in this aspect. However, I must say that it is a totally awesome idea and yes, in most of the cases, especially if you are in the right place, like restaurants in a shopping mall, it is totally feasible and very thrilling!! 😀
I returned to the monastery and started packing. The plan was first to get out of Bangkok by blackriding the overnight train to Chiang Mai. They would probably kick me out at a certain point. That would not be a problem. Blackriding was much less interesting than hitchhiking! I just needed a short ride to get out of Bangkok! Once I am out, I would step out of the train even if they did not kick me out and continue the journey by hitchhiking. To be added, at that moment I did not have any Thai Butt with me anymore. I had some foreign currencies in hand, mainly Norwegian krone and a little Swiss Franc and a little Euro. The Euro and Swiss Franc were for absolute emergency. Norwegian krone was in a delicate situation because I could not exchange them everywhere. In the few places where they did exchange Norwegian krone, the rate was REALLY bad! I regreted that I did not exchange it into Euro when I was in Norway.
After packing, I took out a postcard from Laos and wrote some words to thank the young monk who helped me. I gave it to him and thanked him again and again. He was delighted with the card, perhaps partly because there was a big Buddha statue on it, and said very earnestly:”Will you come back? You can come back!” “Maybe” was the best answer I could give.
It’s dark now. The hot and restless evening of Bangkok had fallen. I walked through the China town of Bangkok for the last time and passed the busy streets filled with food stalls, eaters, hot vapour, busy steps, talking, laughter and the noise of chopsticks hitting bowls. When I arrived in the train station, there were already a lot of people waiting beside the track, most of them foreign tourists. I stepped in the train and found out that there were only beds there! That could be troublesome. I found a bed which was not occupied yet and stroke a conversation with some young passengers and tried to mingle with them so the conductor would not notice me.
–“Komst du aus Deutschland?” I asked one of the girls lying oppoiste of me on an upper bed. I overhead her talking in German, German German, not Austrian or Swiss German I meant.
–“Yes! Haha, you heard me speaking?”
–“Ja! Where in German are you from?” Before she could answer I immediately added, “Don’t tell me. I will try to guess. Is it a big city?”
–“Yes! It’s quite a big city I would say.”
–“Ok, give me some hints. Is it in the North or South of Germany?”
–“Bavaria? or Baden-Wutenburg?”
–“Let me see. You said ‘quite big’ instead of very big, so it was not Munch. Then…… Nurnberg?”
–“Yes! It’s Nurnberg!”
I saw light in her eyes and she was genuinely surprised.
–“You have been to Germany?”
–“Oh yes, countless times. All together I think I have been to about 40 cities in Germany.”
The train started. I managed to avoid the conductors’ attention. However, the train stopped almost everywhere and there were people stepping in all the time. Soon no bed was empty anymore. It was about one hour after the train started that it became totally full. Hiding in a toilet? No! I never liked that option for blackriding and worst of all, it was disgusting and the confining space would be much too depressive. I didn’t know about you guys, but for me, since I had been traveling mainly by hitchhiking, I was outdoor so much that I was not used to small and confining space anymore. Sometimes I had the choking feeling of being locked in jail in small compartments. That was a terrible feeling! Hiding in the toilet would not be convenient for other passengers either. I knew the excruciating feeling of needing a toilet but could not find one. Therefore, instead of the toilet, I went to the restaurant wagon. There were many people sitting there. I saw one empty table with 3 European looking young people and still one seat free. I went up to them and asked if I could sit with them. They said yes. Once I sat down with them. The attendant, a Thai guy came up to me, with a very severe face, said to me and ONLY to me:”You have to buy something here, otherwise you can not sit here.” Then, how about these three French people? They had been sitting there, buying nothing for much longer than I did!! He did that ONLY to me simply because I was not WHITE. This was not the first time that I noticed such things. In South East Asia racism widely exists and it is DISGUSTING. Now I really regret for not having vomited at his face. Blatant racism and how touristic this country was immediately reduced my good impression about it. I realized that I would NEVER come back to Thailand again. Once was enough. I made some excuses to get rid of him. You might say that “It’s just another cultural difference and one has to get used to it.” NO! If it was really part of the cultural heritage which had existed for hundreds of years, I would surely try to adapt, but NO! not to this! I was not going to get used to THIS. It was conspicuous discrimination and racism. It simply WAS and would always BE. To deem some members of our species LESS of a human being, of LESS value than others purely by looking is simply WRONG and even EVIL. So many evil deeds of our hisotry started from “deeming some people of less value than others”. Hitler started there and used this as a “justified” excuse for his genocide. The Japanese started there and slaughtered millions of innocent people simply those were considered to be of a “lower race”. The MOST scary thing for this matter was getting used to it, becoming numb about it and accepting it as normal, like back in the colonial days (although Thailand was the only country not totally colonized in the history by the West), in the days of Hitler and Second World War!
I did not want to order anything and was ready to leave. The restaurant wagon was going to close in about 10 minutes anyway and also I could not really talk with the French because of the enormous noise of the running train.
I walked around and around to find a place to sit but no hope…… Soon I was noticed by a conductor. He asked me if I had a ticket. I admited that I had none. He did not speak English so it was impossible for me to explain my exact situation. He was dressed like a policeman and I supposed that he was one. He looked very serious and asked me to follow him. I felt that I was in big trouble. It would help if I could find anybody who spoke both English and Thai to translate for us. My experience had taught me that no matter how big a trouble you were in when travelling abroad, as long as you could communicate, the trouble would be at least half solved. When we passed a guy who was sitting there talking to his friend, I asked him if he knew anybody who spoke both Thai and English. Nope, but his friendly face showed clear concern and the willingness to help me.
The conductor led me into the restaurant wagon, where the waiters and waitresses were already cleaning up the tables. He started to discuss my matter with other train staff. Guess what? None of the present spoke English…… The conductor got really tough on me. He was shouting and waving his hands violently. I could feel that the next moment he would throw me out of the window, which was wide open into the windy darkness. I was ready for that actually. 😉 I have to be honest with you, dear friends. I was not scared at all…… Not just because I had experienced worse situations and more scary things, but because I knew the Thai was a gentle folk and also the very knowledge that being scared or worried would NOT help A THING and often make things WORSE! I had learned to be calm and take on whatever might come. Eventually, whatever came, I would always find a way to get around. There was always a Way/Wei (my name, if you happen not to know). 😉 That was what travelling had taught me, among many other useful things of course. My purpose of blackriding (although not completely successful) this train was solely to get out of Bangkok. By that moment the train should have already exited the city. Finally another waitress came inside the restaurant cabin and she spoke a bit English! I was so glad and immediately went up to her and explained the annoying Norwegian krone problem. Also I knew in advance that this train and the next train were both fully booked, so I could not get a ticket even if I had enough Thai Butt. She translated to the policemen and their faces immediately became milder and the toughness was instantly gone! There lay the magical power of communication, dear all. Same situation, a guy without a ticket, before the waitress explained to the conductor he was angry like a devil but after the communication he immediately calmed down and even felt sorry for me that I could not get either Thai Butt or a ticket. They started to think about solutions for me. I must have looked very innocent and miserable I thought, but hey! I already achieved my goal of exiting Bangkok, so I did not want to abuse their sympathy to stay longer in the train. Therefore, I told them that I could get off the train any time they wanted, but “please drop me at a bigger train station!” I pleaded. It was approacing midnight and I did not want to end up in the middle of nowhere with no one but mosquietoes. In a bigger train station I could at least sleep on the bench with some security around me. The train was full and was becoming even fuller…… — soon the restaurant staff started to prepare beds on the tables, I was asked to move from this table to another and eventually to the last one in the corner. It was crowded, very crowded. One staff member put some sweet beans sort of thing on the table and invited me to eat. Things became calm now and I took out a book and started reading under the dim light. They said that I could take the next train, which would arrive one hour later but we all knew that that train was also full…… They simply needed to get rid of me. I did not mind at all since their manners were now gentler and we had come to a term of negotiation.
When I was just reading “The Fifth Business”, a Canadian novel and calmly waiting for my stop, which I did not know which one would be, a familiar face came up and sat down opposite of me……
Jan 8th, 2015