The expert agreed to our plan; he didn’t have a choice since the 3 of us voted for it – we’d roam the city till noon and then check-in. There was a bathroom and toilet which was not connected to any room on the ground floor; we took turns to use that to get ready. For some reason the receptionist reduced our breakfast rate to 80 Bahts instead of the regular 100 Bahts; maybe it was sympathy created by the non-stop pestering by our veggie!
Our expert opted out of breakfast; he only wanted to have tea and asked a lady in the serving area.
“Meow,” she smiled a big smile.
Our expert thought that she understood and asked, “Hot milk?”
“Meow,” came the same reply.
What she pointed to was milk; but cold milk. Only later did I learn that in Thai, milk is ‘nm’ (like ‘num); and I think the ‘num’ she said sounded to us like meow!
The breakfast was simple; continental style to suit the foreigners staying in our hotel – fruits, egg, cornflakes, bread, some beef dish, fresh veggies and white rice; in Thailand people seem to have either rice or noodles as part of breakfast. Interestingly we never saw even one Indian in our hotel.
No English, again!
Off we went to our first destination, Grand Palace. We had 2 choices – call our friendly fatherly cab driver or take the bus. We knew the three bus numbers that went to Grand Palace, courtesy of a little map our receptionist provided.
Bus stops in Thailand are similar to India; and even the buses are kind of similar – the no frills seat and standing in the center. Fortunately bus numbers are written in English and we didn’t have to wait too long on the main road. We hopped in and observed the passengers; there didn’t seem to be any convention of men on one side and women on the other. On the right you have a row of single seaters and on the left it is two-seaters. Conductors don’t carry a bag – instead they have a long rectangular wooden box with coins and tickets. He keeps clapping the two halves of the box with one hand as he walked around. We got 4 tickets for Grand Palace from the conductor.
But we didn’t know where to get off. I was seated on a single seater and saw the conductor pass nearby.
I asked him, “Can you tell when Grand Palace come?”
And he curtly replied, “I no tell.”
It sounded quite rude but perhaps he didn’t know much English. We had no clue about the place and everyone around were local people.
In the next bus stop an elderly Western couple boarded. I gave up my seat to the old lady and examined the man – he seemed like an Englishman and I took my chance.
“Do you know the Grand Palace stop?”
Ah, and he spoke in fluent English. We chit chatted for a while and I learnt that he had been in Thailand for a few months. He told us where to get off.
Yipeee – local bus travel mission accomplished!