BANGKOK’S traffic is infamous, so when my mother planned a trip up north to the holy province of Phitsanulok by car, I was not a happy camper. So was my sister. Why the car when we could have taken a plane? That would not only have saved us four hours of travel time, it would have taken away all the angst of sitting in stupid, mindless traffic. But my mother always has the last word.
Our car ride up north, our first, started from home at Sathorn at 7AM. Our driver was Auntie Muk, my mother’s good friend. Our car, Auntie Muk’s BMW, wove past the Siam Paragon, Em Quartier, the glamorous shopping district. Then it crawled along the streets of Bangkok amid the honks of cars, tuk-tuks, and the hoots of motorcycle taxis, weaving deftly in skillful zig zags.
After all the traffic, we finally get on the Rama VIII bridge, crossing the great Chao Phraya—a river so holy, but a woe to behold given its murky, muddy color. And if you think about the many people who have chosen to end their lives here on the bridge, diving down to their deaths, the Chao Phraya is no longer that magnificent or romantic.
Once we clear the bridge, we suddenly feel freer. We’re on a five-lane highway called the Din Dang, and Auntie Muk’s Beemer suddenly lurches forward, hungry for the long straight road ahead that promises no stops, but sheer speed. We see more sky now, even aeroplanes, because we’re driving past Suwanabhumi International Airport.
Then the journey continues northward toward Phitsanulok. We’ve been car-bound now for seven hours, having dozed and awakened a million times during this time, with the occasional drool smearing the sleeve of my T-shirt. Each time we awake, we’re greeted with a feeling of surprise, of seeing a new vista, mountains sometimes, tracts of grassy lands other times. Then, there are the temples that dot a dreamy landscape.
By the time we arrive at Phitsanulok, we are all too tired to be thrilled that we’ve finally arrived. The sky has taken on a golden orange hue, so mysterious and magical. It’s a nice gift from the gods—their way, I imagine, of saying “Welcome to Phitasanulok! And may your days ahead be blessed with many good things.”
Jiji Setavoraphan, Secondary Four
For more essays by Jiji, visit Jiji Writes.
This essay was written in response to the ‘O’ Levels May/June 2016 exam, Question #2: Describe a long journey by car or public transport that passes through different kinds of scenery.