TRIPS, TIPS & TOURS: A TRIP FROM HELL

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I thought my trip was going well, until I was left stranded, abandoned twice in the same night. Twice, my brain froze in stunned disbelief. I was supposed to be leaving the city of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand on an overnight bus. The buzz of the night market outside was a distraction and it must have muffled the noise of the diesel engine of my first bus when it had departed. I had returned to the bus office in good time, but when I saw the building in total darkness and no one inside, I blanched. No bus, no luggage, no lodgings and nightfall. What was I going to do? I had no idea in which part of the city I was in. A worker appeared. Grasping my dilemma and panic, he drove me speedily to the main bus terminal. I was so thankful for this Good Samaritan. I breathed my first sigh of relief. Now all I had to find out what had happened to my two lost bags.

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The buses were held up by police order but I found one of my bags. The second, a blue one, the manager of the bus company distinctly recalled it as being on a bus that had already left. She reassured me the bus hostess would help me find it at my eventual destination. I left on bus number two, destination Bangkok, feeling hopeful of being reunited with my other travel possessions. Two hours later into the night, this bus made a washroom stop at a cafe along the highway. Not wanting to lose this bus, I rushed in and out of the building. To my shock and disbelief, the parking lot was dark and empty! Not a person in sight and no bus! It was unbelievable! Panic punched me in the stomach. I felt like crying. Although it was a hot clammy night, I shook with an uncontrollable fear. Here I was in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere Thailand, alone, abandoned, and no luggage. I spotted a young man by the café doors and asked, “Is the bus gone?” “I think so” he responded, “but maybe it’s just gone around the block and will be coming back.” I was skeptical. This was a highway; there was no going around the block. I stepped onto the dark road, and spotted two headlight beams piercing the darkness from a distance. The headlights were bus number two. My legs turned to jelly. I was saved.

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All the passengers, like ghosts emerging from the darkness, reappeared and filed silently back onto the bus. The hostess approached me carrying my missing blue bag. Now all I wanted was to get to my destination by daylight. If the bus stopped one more time. I was determined not to get off. Being abandoned twice in one night was just too much.

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