The Sting…

Yesterday was an OkayDay. Not perfect. It had a bit of a sting in the tail, but satisfying nonetheless.

I suspect not too many people look forward to a 900km road trip, but I think I must suffer from OCDD. Obsessive Compulsive Driving Disorder.

I like the planning. I like the challenge. And I like the achievement of arriving someplace more or less on schedule. No two journeys are the same, even when on a well-travelled route. Often the weather throws in some uncertainties, as it did yesterday.

I was up and about at 5:15am, well before sunrise. That wasn’t planned. I woke, and thought “Let’s get the day underway.” So I was well into my obligatory cup of freshly-brewed coffee and a hastily-prepared jam sandwich when the sun put in an appearance over the sea. It was quite a sight.

Soon after I was on the road, only to discover the hot sun was causing the overnight rain to rise back up out of the ground. The fog was quite thick in places. And then, just as I thought the sun was going to put in another appearance the skies darkened and torrential rain began … for four hours.

I’d read warnings of a tropical storm approaching from Vietnam, but had hoped to be well North of it before it reached my part of Thailand. I failed.

Buy hey, I was born in England. Fog and rain are part of my life … for 364 days of the year. 365 in leap years. The other day the sun shines for an hour and everyone complains it’s too hot.

I don’t think the weather slowed me. I was averaging over 100kms per hour. You don’t need to know how much “over” 🙂 and I kept that pace for more than six hours. It’s not often I do more than 600kms before lunch.

Then I hit TheJam. I must have been 100kms from Bangkok but the traffic chaos seems to spread that far out. I was only about 20kms from making a left turn to skirt around the city, but those 20kms took one whole hour. Five lanes tapered into one, as an army of workers attempted to build an elevated expressway. Except they didn’t seem to have any tools. At least fifty men were flattening a piece of land using bits of wood, and even bare hands. At least another fifty sat on the ground watching. I don’t think the road will be finished this century.

So finally I’m out of the jam, and Ms. Chuckles announces “Make a U-turn if possible.” “Sadistic little b*tch” I thought. Does she seriously expect me to go back into that mess of traffic?

And this is where the technology bites back. Basically it’s so good that you don’t have to think about where you are or where you are going. Your job, as the driver, is to obey instructions, shut up and drive. Until the technology fails, and you are left not knowing where you are or where to go.

I figured Chuckles was lost. Yes, we’re on more familiar terms now, so I’ve dropped the “Ms.” I needed to look at a map, but who uses maps these days. Rhetorical. I grabbed the iPad and opened-up Google Maps … Which decided it would a be a huge laugh if it showed me full-screen ads instead of a map! Seriously; how did it know I really really really needed to read a map? I’ve never seen ads on Google Maps before, or since!

So in the end I decided if Chuckles really had gotten her knickers in a twist, I needed to reprogram her. It seems we had missed the left turn, which was somewhere in the middle of the jam, so once again we went closer to Bangkok than I would have liked. But I have say, it wasn’t so bad. I stopped briefly to add some caffeine to my blood stream, and that raised the spirits somewhat.

I arrived in Lopburi pretty-much at the time I had predicted. 900kms in 11 hours is quite satisfying, especially when that included TheJam, three potty breaks and a top-up of Diesel. Bert seems to be living up to his reputation, and 900kms on a tankful is quite realistic. Except the tank wasn’t full when I started.

So, I’m in Lopburi just as the sun is setting … Chuckles tells me to turn left into the tiniest lane imaginable and announces “You have reached your destination.” Words beginning with F were abundant.

Again the technology bites back. I thought she knew where she was going, so the only thing I have is the address, and Google Maps which only wants to display Google Ads. I figured the woman’s not totally nuts so the hotel must be around here somewhere, and having stayed in the same place a couple of years ago I recognized the area.

So of course, you’ve probably figured what happened next. Real men don’t ask for directions, so I drove around for a good thirty minutes getting lost, losterer and lostest. Until I had to stop being a real man.

The young couple I chose as my victims were running a tiny restaurant. They seemed genuinely concerned that the elderly farang could not find his bed. They figured they knew where the hotel was, and luckily I have learned enough Thai to understand basic directions. But when the instructions went beyond basic, the man kindly decided to jump on his bike so I could follow him.

Now, what he didn’t know, but I did, is that there are two hotels. The Lopburi Inn Resort, where I was staying, and the Lopburi Inn. How daft is that? And you can guess where we stopped. At this point the man is pointing to my iPhone on the dash, and I’m wondering to to explain that it was Chuckles who’d gotten me into this mess in the first place. Anyhoo, with combination of his phone and the Lopburi Inn staff, we eventually arrive at the Lopburi Inn Resort, a good hour later than intended.

I really must make a note not to rely 100% on technology, which I will then 100% ignore.

Paul

...has been travelling the world for more than fifty years; having lived and worked in five countries and travelled to many many more. He likes to write about his travels - present and past - along with his other main interests of Information Technology and Motorsport, and he adds a few general twitterings along the way. More info than you could possibly need is available by clicking the ABOUT tab in the top menu line.

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