Three things amiss with this bus station: It’s not the same one I arrived at, it’s suspiciously small, and there’s nobody else here waiting for a bus.
Pip assures me that it’s the right station. “You early. Bus will be here at eight.”
He said it would be five dollars to take me from the beach to the station, but of course he doesn’t have full change for a ten. I surrender a three dollar tip and he putters away in the tuk tuk as I walk up to the ticket window. Behind is a man in his early forties with a round face and a rounder belly, both on full display. I’ve yet to figure out why they pull their shirts halfway up like that. Cooling mechanism? Worse still, this guy’s belt is a little loose and he’s not wearing any underwear. An inch lower and I’d be glimpsing his black forest.
I hand him my ticket. He gives it a curious glance and then immediately calls into an adjoining room for assistance. I ask if there is indeed a bus to Bangkok at eight. I’m told to wait. As I do so I look through the schedules posted around the window. I see nothing about a bus to Bangkok at eight.
I proceed to worry.
It was Pip who sold me the ticket. He works at Chez Paou on Otres beach, where I just stayed for two nights. “Direct bus to Bangkok,” he said. “Thirty dollars,” he said. “I’ll take you to the station,” he said.
Now I knew there was no such bus. He’d sold me a bogus ticket and then opted for extra asshole points by moving me halfway across town in his tuk tuk. Now I’d have to pay for a return ride so I could unleash a verbal assault at him and demand a free night at Chez Paou for the inconvenience.
The minutes pass. I remain standing at the ticket window, imagining the upcoming confrontation in great detail. My latest vision has Pip laughing and joking at the bar, telling his buddies about the easy money he just scammed from that really pale dude. Then he looks up and sees me standing in the doorway, a scowl on my face, clothes in tatters, blood on my lip. His eyes grow wide as I raise an arm and point right at him, delivering a single word in my best gravel-Batman voice.
I wait for him to make a move. After a tense second fear gets the best of him. He vaults over the bar and takes off running down the beach. I limp after him, grabbing a cue as I pass the pool table and snapping it in half against my good knee…
“Sir, your ticket. Bus here soon. Please sit.”
It’s Lowrider interrupting my fantasy. Confused, I collect the ticket from him and take a seat. It’s only half-seven, so I whip out my Kindle and read for a bit.
Forty-five minutes later, still no bus, still the only one waiting at the station. You’d think there’d be other passengers here for the trip to Bangkok. But no.
Lowrider starts closing up the office for the night. Lights go out, shutters come down. A rat scurries along by the wall, on his way to a dinner party.
My mind takes off and I finally figure it out. Pip… Lowrider… the rat… they’re all in it together! An elaborate scam. I’ll have to seek revenge on the lot. Lowrider will be the first to go, after I make him confess the whole scheme via extreme wedgie torture…
“Come with me, sir.”
I follow Lowrider to the front of the station, eyes up to avoid his abyss. There’s a young guy waiting on a scooter and I’m instructed to hop on the back. I’m told the bus is no longer coming to me, that I must go to it. This seems perfectly unreasonable, so I hop on and off we go.
My driver weaves through light traffic while answering and chatting on two different cell phones. We take a series of turns and creep up a steep hill. I notice the lights thinning out around us and sure enough we seem to have left the city.
Lightening flashes through storm clouds up ahead as I imagine myself and Twophones chasing down the bus to Bangkok on this 125cc rocket. He’ll flip a turbo switch and make good time. We’ll catch them on the final stretch to the Thai border and they’ll refuse to pull over. At sixty miles an hour while texting his girlfriend and avoiding lightening strikes, Twophones will fire a grappling hook out of a shotgun and rip the door off the bus. I’ll stand up like a surfer on the back of the rocket and hurl myself in, a clean entry except for my feet scraping the road, Keanu Reeves style. I’ll pick myself up and dust myself off, telling Sandra to drive on as I reassure passengers that I’m one of the good guys…
“Here it is, sir.”
We’re back in the city and Twophones is slowing to a stop alongside a bus parked roadside, a bus of the sleeper variety, a bus destined for Bangkok. Relieved, I thank him and climb aboard. It’s full of fellow travelers. I lean over and ask a chap across the aisle where everyone else got on.
“We got on at the beach,” he says.
P.S. Just posted a few photos from my Cambodia trip on the Disrupting the Rabblement Facebook page.