Tryst: Three Countries and Me

Well! How do we start? It was a tough day at work and the only silver lining was a flight at 11:45 PM, waiting in all its glory for me to onboard it and take me to Krabi. It would mark the beginning of my 17 days visit 10 places in 3 countries. I had worked on this itinerary for months and was waiting for the moment when I would finally be in the sky, and plonk on the beaches of Krabi.

How I wish if it was that straightforward! Bags were packed and I was already in my holiday attire, waiting in queue to get my documents verified by an Air Asia ground staff. News of the day was that I would not be allowed to on board. Reason? I had a stopover at KUL (Kuala Lumpur) for 5 hours before I catch my next one to Krabi, and I did not have a transit visa. One of those moments when fate had decided to pull the rug under my feet. Well! Somehow a valid US visa also could not get me through even though stated clearly in the transit policies. The truth was my tickets were not on the same PNR and Air Asia would not let me fly even if a stopover is in hours.

I lost all hope, numbed to my surroundings, I had two options:

 

First: Buy a ticket from Thai Airways.

Second: Go home.

 

Now I think, there was a third option, which was to go through the policies and confront the staff. oh boy! was I low. One of those moments when you are dumb and numb at the same time.

The first option was damn expensive, INR 25000. I heeded the second option was the best. Let’s book an Uber and go home. Maybe I would think better once I have some food in my gut. I had already spent a bomb on this itinerary. Did not want my credit card bill to explode and go beyond my monthly income.

I started figuring the cheapest and viable options to land in Krabi without losing much time. These options included flights from Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai. I figured that Chennai has cheapest flights but then the price for Hyderabad to Chennai flight was same as to Chennai to Bangkok flight. Bummer! There was one flight from Bangalore to Bangkok. cheap? No! If you are booking for next day, nothing is cheaper.

Figured, this might work: a bus from Hyderabad to Bangalore and a flight from Bangalore to Bangkok at 11 PM. The only thing which needed to work out was either a bus or a flight to Bangalore. Air tickets were skyrocketing. Option discarded. Voila! There is a bus from Hyderabad to Bangalore at 6:10 am and now it is just 1 am. I still have 5 hours. OK! Let us book. If it all works out fine, I should be in Bangkok early next morning.

I had zero faith in my abilities to get up at 5 am so I chose not to sleep. Shoedog was a good help. The adventures of Phil Knight kept me positive that I could make it.  Got an Uber and I was there at 6 am, waiting for the bus.

It’s 6:05 am, I seemed to be the only passenger. It was dark with minimal traffic. I persisted with my optimism though Paytm had mentioned that this bus had high cancellation rates.

It’s 6:15 am! I was nervous. Called customer care. I should just calmly wait, the bus would come as they said. There was a temple on the opposite side of the road, maybe it’s time to patch up with God, methinks!

It’s 6:30 am and I was restless. Called customer again, they assured me that bus has not been canceled. I got a call from the bus operator which said that the bus had started, I breathed!! Noted the bus number and patiently waited again.

After 10 minutes, I saw a bus coming from the opposite side of the road, but it didn’t stop. Noted the number, it was MY Bus and it did not stop!!

 

I ran to cross the road ignoring all the traffic, the driver did not take notice, stopped an auto rickshaw in the middle of the road and asked him to chase the bus. What was happening? Would I catch the bus? Would the bus stop? Why they did not stop at the stop? Bus operator said it would! Yes, he mentioned! While the auto was trying to chase down a bus which was still 400 meters ahead, I called and talked to the bus operator with my lungs out. It was a mixture of screaming, shouting, requesting, and everything it could be. He said he would ask the driver to stop the bus.

The bus did slow down, but then the only passenger of this auto had to get down, requested him if he could wait. Chase continued. Finally, the bus slowed down, with half of my body out of the window, I was waving hard, screaming on top of my lungs. you do not remember science, it was an AC bus with all doors closed, but I still screamed out.

Finally, we were neck to neck and they still did not see us, that is when one of a typical Bollywood movie scenes happened, auto driver while still driving the auto, got both of his hands disengaged from the handle and was thumping on the doors of the bus!

This was the moment we were waiting for!! They saw us and they stopped. Yes, they stopped!

I was in the bus, finally! There are two lessons!!

  1. Even if you have prepared everything from your side, there is a still a chance that ground staff might deny an entry.
  2. Murphy’s law is true!!

Finally, a day late and INR 15000 poorer, i was in Krabi to begin one of the most diverse travels that i had in a single vacation.

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