It was mid-May and a couple of weeks before my boyfriend and I were due to leave for Thailand when a military coup was announced. We were flying with Ukrainian Airlines during the midst of an international crisis between Russia and Ukraine. All was not looking good.
Being the people we are, we decided we had already spent too much money on the trip to just give it up and so went ahead with our trip. The flight there was enjoyable and, despite not particularly liking the traditional Ukrainian food on the plane, we were very happy with the service given by the airline – just not so much with how people queued in Ukraine. Being British makes you funny about certain things, specifically, queuing.
We arrived safely and got a coach straight from the airport to Pattaya where we spent a few days before travelling back to Bangkok, which is where our travels started to not quite go to plan.
We had just booked a hostel, Sawasdee Welcome Inn (I will review this at a later point!), and we knew roughly what part of Bangkok it was, but not much more than that – we just knew we were heading for Khao San Road. The bus had three stops and we, on a whim, went for the Northern stop as it seemed like quite a simple route to take from there when we had google mapped it. When we arrived in the North Bangkok bus terminal, it was around 10pm and the curfew began at midnight. I had previously looked up the bus journey that we needed to take once we arrived but my phone died and we got totally lost. We followed directions through what seemed like some sort of slum or shanty town, we were walking through mobile phone shops and people’s front rooms where they were all sitting with their families.
Unfortunately, this part of Bangkok didn’t seem to speak much English so we were completely on our own and people that were trying to help us were actually sending us in the wrong direction. Even when we were at the bus stop, our English accents probably meant that no one knew what we were talking about when we were asking how to get to Khao San Road.
Eventually, around 11pm, someone tells us the bus we need to get on and we headed off. This particular bus was falling apart – the bottom was floor-boarded and looked very unsafe, the seats didn’t look particularly secure and the door on the bus flapped open the whole ride there. When we arrived in the vicinity of Khao San Road, helped by a lovely local man, we went off on the last leg of our journey. We were beginning to panic now because it was less than an hour until the curfew and we still had no idea where our hostel was.
We walked around the area for ages, asking various people, locals, taxis, tourists, anyone who would help, where the road we were looking for was and no-one knew. It was beginning to look hopeless when we finally found Khao San Road (we had already walked past it several times – whoops!) and everyone seemed very unconcerned by the looming curfew in ten minutes. We dashed back to the hostel when we realised where it was and ran inside, terrified of the Thai army, who we had already seen patrolling with their machine guns from inside the bus. After a little debacle with the reception where they couldn’t find our booking, I managed to charge my phone on and look on my facebook. Joyous news – the curfew had been lifted a few hours earlier as my phone was dying! Just our luck!
TL,DR; We seem to be very lucky at narrowly missing crises and nearly got caught in a curfew during the Thai military coup before finding out it was lifted that day.
Moral of the story: If you’re using a phone to direct around your travels, make sure it’s charged, and you should probably write down the directions on a piece of paper because pieces of paper don’t run out of battery!