A random decision can sometimes lead to what turns out to be the best decision you could have taken. This statement is especially true when you’re travelling, and that is what happened to me in the provinces of Lopburi, a 2-hour ride away from the bustling city of Bangkok.
It was an early, humid morning in the City of Angels and my plan for the day was to try and make it, whatever it takes, to the ancient Prang Sam Yod Temple. I have heard from other travellers how different this temple would be, and for an odd reason too. Simply put, this temple’s grounds are infested with monkeys, and I mean overrun by 1000s of them. Naturally, this was not something you’d see on your typical day, so I decided to visit Lopburi and make a day out of it.
The first challenge was going to the bus station in Mo Chit. Bangkok’s traffic is ludicrous, and it was a wise decision to get there by a mixture of taxi bikes and BTS. After an enjoyable 45-minute commute across the metropolitan downtown of Bangkok, I’ve descended the BTS’ stairs, and there stood a hectic, busy bus station, mostly brimmed with locals and the occasional backpacker. Travelling with these minivans is the cheapest way to get around Bangkok, and it’s nearby provinces, with buses covering pretty much all of mainland Thailand.
After purchasing my ticket which only cost 170 baht, which compared to a taxi would’ve required me paying a minimum on 2,800 baht, off I went to my destination. Along a bus-full of Thai people, occasionally smiling at me and probably wondering what I’m doing on a bus to Lopburi. The ride was pretty smooth, as we raced past never-ending Thai sugar-cane fields and the odd fuel station there-and-then.
Just as I was starting to get cosy and fell asleep, I was woken up by a friendly Thai lady who in the best way she could explain to me that the bus stopped working. Buses breaking down along the Thai highways was a rather common occurrence, wish I knew that beforehand! So there we were, practically stranded somewhere in Saraburi, half-way to our destination. The driver had advised us that a replacement bus was on its way to pick us up and that it should pick us up within an hour. Since these buses have various stops, the people that were stopping in Saraburi were relatively close to their terminus. The same kind lady that earlier explained to me that the bus stopped working, invited me to join her if I wished to as her husband was picking her up. I was hesitant at first, not out of being cautious or dubious about her intention. Still, since language was quite a barrier, I didn’t want to end up incorrectly explaining where I wish to go and end up more stranded than I already am.
Life is all about adventures, so I accepted her offer, thankfully. In the next 20 minutes, her husband arrived with an Isuzu pickup truck that has passed the test of time. I was carrying my large backpack with me, and we weren’t going to fit at the front, so I volunteered to sit at the back of the truck. Although it’s illegal in Thailand and most of the other SEA countries, this is something which you still see daily, and now was my chance to experience it too! So on we drove, thankfully the weather was on our side, and although it was quite humid, the sun wasn’t as hot as it usually is and I have to say the breeze passing by was perfect.
With a few kilometres away, the lovely couple driving me insisted that we stop and try a famous road-side dish called—Khao Kha Moo, which is a slow-braised pork leg topped with rice. The detour was well worth it, and with a full stomach, we continued our way to the city of Lopburi. The ride was a pleasant one, and the beauty of the Thai countryside complimented it in the best way possible.
As soon as we’ve arrived, I couldn’t help but genuinely thank the sweet couple that went way out of their way to help me and treated me like a family member. Moments such as these genuinely exhibit the unique Thai hospitality that Thailand is so renowned for. Who would’ve thought, early morning leaving Bangkok, that I’d end up at the back of a pickup truck with strangers driving me to Lopburi and showing me some hidden gems along the way!