As amazing as traveling is, it can be stressful. You have to keep your cool, and you have to watch your back. Also, when you’re making baht, you’re thinking in baht. Unplanned expenses can throw your plans off.
Last weekend, I went to the Phantip office on Talad Mai to get a bus ticket to Aonang. It was easy, 350 baht, no problem. They speak English very well and it seems they have access to every travel destination, by air, land, or sea. The woman gave me a flyer with a picture of the bus I would be taking, and said it would pick me up in front of the Phantip office (where I was at the moment). She also wrote two phone numbers on the flyer, telling me to call them if I didn’t see a bus by 6AM, the pickup time.
When I arrived in front of Phantip at 5:55AM, a woman came over and asked, “Are you going to Phuket?” I said, “No, I’m going to Aonang.” She said, “Okay, follow me.” I figured this was the person who was “picking me up,” and that she was in charge of gathering people for other destinations, as well. I went along.
I got to the bus, which, at least at 5:55AM, looked like the one on the flyer. Before I could get on, however, I was told the ticket I had was a voucher, and that I would need to pay 150 more baht to get my ticket. I was confused and not readily willing to give more money. The woman at Phantip had said I was all set. The bus driver proceeded to scream at me, “TICKET! TICKET! TICKET!” Hey man, I get it. I gave up 150 baht and got my “ticket.”
I hadn’t bothered to ask at Phantip if the bus would take me to a bus station far from Aonang pier, or directly to the Long Tail Office on Aonang pier, where I needed to go. Turns out I wasn’t on the Phantip bus at all, so it wouldn’t have mattered. The bus I got on had sent a person on to Talad Mai, in front of Phantip, to look for travelers. Not that they were doing anything wrong, but I should have showed her my ticket, and asked “Are you picking up persons for this bus company?” Hopefully, she would have said no, and I would have stood my ground waiting for the bus I already paid for. It seems like something fishy is going on, though, if they would make up something about my ticket being a voucher, and needing then to get the ticket, when I had a ticket the whole time. He didn’t let me hold on to the voucher or the “ticket” once I got on that bus.
I went back to the Phantip office to find out why they charged me more, so that’s how I know what happened. She called the bus driver from that day and he said he came to Phantip looking for me that morning, but no one was there. I had already been pulled away towards the other bus.
Again with the drop off point, it is a very important piece of information. Just like when you fly, you know the plane isn’t going to land downtown. Do some research and find out where you will most likely be dropped off, or ask when you are purchasing a ticket. Be prepared for the fare from the airport, bus or train station into town, or if you are on a bus or mini bus, try to specify beforehand or to the driver where it is you would like to be dropped off. Some will, some will not, but it’s worth a try. When I got off the bus, it was at a bus station and not at the pier. I had to pay 300 baht to be brought to the Aonang Long Tail Office.
And again with the ticket, make sure you are accepting a service from the company you have already paid! If not, you’ll pay twice.
*Note: This happened to my boyfriend Charlie, but I wrote it in the first person to make it easier. I was there for most things, and on the phone for the rest.
**Phantip is a travel agency on Talad Mai, in the Talat Kaset “Downtown Transportation Hub” area. It is caddy corner to “King Math.”