Hauling four backpacks and plenty of sweat,
we found ourselves at the Koh Samui bus station without seats to Bangkok.
We had planned to take the overnight bus from the island, typically a 12 hour ride. We failed to heed the good advice of buying our tickets a day in advance. And now we weren’t sure if we should stay another night on the island or try to find another way to Bangkok. So, just like taking the sting out of any problem in Thailand, we hiked to the nearest tea station.
After the tea shop owner cut the papaya and mango we had dragged with us, he offered to drive us to the ferry station where we could try and catch a bus in the port city.
We made it to the other side of the water and the ferry company connected us with a van that dropped us in the middle of Surat Thani, the port city. We were motioned into a transportation company office which proposed to help get us to Bangkok.
The lady called four different bus lines. It was dark by then and nearly 7:30pm. No spots were available. She placed another call.
“790 baht. No more regular buses ‘till tomorrow. Only VIP tonight,” she said pointing at her calculator, “Big bus. 790 baht.”
We didn’t have many options.
“What time does it leave?”
One of the workers hailed for a tuk tuk taxi and we climbed on. They ensured us with nods that we’d be taken to the “big bus.”
I gave Joe an uneasy look. “I don’t know if we’re going to get there.”
There was certainly a network at play on the dim streets of Surat Thani.
It was a transportation network built on filling the gap between big ferries, buses, and trains. The ferry company put us in a van, the van brought us to the middle man that sold us the “big bus” tickets, and the middle man escorted us on a tuk tuk, which would supposedly bring us to the Bangkok bus. They were all in communication, shuffling tourists and locals to the places they needed to go. Without speaking or understanding the Thai language, we had few indicators of what was actually happening.
Churning through the windy roads and tight curves, we determined our tuk tuk might be chasing the bus we needed. Our driver didn’t seem to know where to go. He would slow down, look around, and then keep going. He stopped once to ask someone, but left looking confused. I told Joe this would be the time for our driver to “phone a friend.”
I was doubtful we’d make it to Bangkok.
Eventually we were dropped at a small rest station near the airport where the people told us the “big bus” would come at 8:50pm. It seemed like an unusual time. As 8:55pm rolled around, the rest station worker received a phone call. We knew that “network” call was about us. Joe teased, “We’ll probably need to hop on another tuk tuk first.”
Sure enough, the man hung up the phone, and motioned for us to load our bags into his car. He’d be taking us. And he did his best to explain.
“Two airports. Airport here, airport here. Other stop. Buses.”
We pulled up to the other airport rest stop and saw a row of big buses, including one that read, “Surat Thani – Bangkok.” We nodded and thanked our driver.
We weren’t sure how each connected person was paid from our initial 790 baht, but they must have had their stake in it.
After purchasing mango sheets and fava beans as snacks for the overnight ride, we settled into our seats. I was placed in the front row and Joe was squished between four men, two on each side of him, in the very back row. It looked perfect for a good night’s rest.
Later Joe shared with me that one man sat on the steps of the bus so that Joe could sit down. We had truly found the final seats on the final bus to Bangkok that night.
I sat wide-eyed in the front row, gazing out of the enormous second level bus window. I pulled out the giant carrot I had stored away in my bag. Not daring to look at the faces of the other, more sophisticated riders, I chomped and took the first bite out of my big, orange carrot.
As I crunched on my over-sized rabbit’s treat, I began to trust that we would get to our destination that night.
That’s what I should have been doing the whole time.
I should have believed that we would make it, thanks to the tea shop owner, ferry crew, van driver, bus company, tuk tuk, rest stop workers, and big bus coordinators.
Sometimes we expel more energy worrying or wondering if and when we’ll get somewhere, than the energy we spend on the actual acts and operations of getting there. We build up doubt and questions in our minds.
This is evident in many journeys throughout my life. Will I meet my future husband? Will I get the job? Will I make a difference with my writing? Will I be a good mother? Will I ever stop being late?
I spend valuable time and emotion wondering if I will get there, how I will get there, and when I will get there. Certainly, I have to put effort into where I want to go. I have to make conscious decisions and take important steps.
But I also need to put more faith into trusting that I will get there, somehow and at some point.
I won’t get there alone. Other people, like the Thai transportation “network,” will bring me to the places I need to go. My good friends, family members, and influential acquaintances will take me by the hand and walk me closer to my destination. At some points, they will even help me leap a river or scale a mountain. In fact, we go very short distances by ourselves.
I’m working on a few projects right now, from writing to improving as a person and wife. Without question, the steps and the work are essential. But perhaps even more importantly, I have to trust in myself, in God, and in other people. I have to believe without a doubt that I will get where I am going. I have to press ‘pause’ on my wondering, take the ride, and just trust.
You and I will both get there.
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