View from the back. I cut from the bottom of the bag up to where my shoulder straps started and then taped the sides together. I wrapped front of the bag (which went around the front of my backpack) underneath my pack and taped it up as well.
My plan was to change into dry clothes at the bus stop, so I made sure to put my towel (which is small) and a change of dry clothes as well as my sleep stuff (inflatable pillow, earplugs, and eye mask) into the top pouch, which I can access without opening the main part of my backpack.
I then headed out to meet the gang at their guesthouse, where I would leave my backpack until I had to go to the bus stop. I hailed a songteow, which would only take me somewhere close to Tha Pae gate, since that entire street was basically in gridlock and soaked. Most people who noticed I had a backpack showed some mercy and didn't splash me, but there were a few who couldn't care less, so my Songkran-resistant preparations proved to be extremely useful.
After dropping off my stuff, we went for some lunch, which consisted of roast duck and pork with rice and for dessert, coconut milk inside fried balls of dough. I don't have pictures, because I left my camer as well, for fear of it getting soaked even inside my little waterproof pouch. (One of the girls had her phone soaked, even though her pouch was sealed up.)
We headed off for the moat directly after lunch and basically just got wet and attacked people for the next couple hours. You don't have to worry about a water supply, because there are tubs of it along the moat that people keep refilling (with water from the moat, so it's not the cleanest, but nobody cares). If you're along the street (as opposed to the moat), people will fill up the tubs there using these enormous hoses that look like they ought to be on a firetruck. I can't even imagine how much water the city must go through during this week. It's more or less the biggest water fight you will ever see, because the whole city is involved. Not a single person is even slightly dry. There are also people who will come up to you and put this white paste all over your face, because it's for good luck for the new year. Unfortunately, it will drip and stain your clothes, and I have yet to see if it will come out or not.
It was the perfect weather for Songkran, unlike Wednesday, because it was pretty hot, and you wanted to get wet. Whenever someone attacked you with ice water, it was certainly a surprise, but it didn't make you see a floating image of "Angela has died of typhoid fever."
After exhausting ourselves, we went back to the walking street for some food and drinks.
Then it was about time for me to head to the bus stop. Mike had to take me on his motorbike, because the traffic getting out of the city was absolutely ridiculous. The roads were essentially a slightly shifting parking lot, so if I had taken a songteow, it would have taken me ages to get there. After arriving, I ripped off the outer layer of my Songkran-resistance, which allowed me access to the top pouch and changed into dry clothing. I stuffed my wet clothes in a plastic bag and back into the top pouch.
This bus ticket is the first one I've had that also covers a midnight snack at a pit stop in between Chiang Mai and Bangkok. They also gave us a bottle of water and a milky drink as well as providing a blanket and pillow (although I found my inflatable one to be much more comfortable, since I can control how poofy I want it to be). They played Harry Potter 6, Part I, though it was dubbed in Thai and the volume was extremely low, which was nice if you wanted to sleep.
You pick one and get a small bowl of porridge (zhou) as well. They take a stub from your bus ticket as payment.
We arrived at 4 in the morning (I was told 5), and I went to the taxi "by meter only" stand to get a taxi, but the line was insanely long. It was also divided by signs that presumably split up destinations by region, but they're in Thai, so I can't read them. I asked a guy in a reflective vest which line I should stand in, thinking he worked for the bus stop, but instead he offered to take me on a motorbike to get a taxi outside. Seeing as the line was so long and I'd probably have to wait a very long time to get a taxi, I went with him. After he made sure I got a taxi driver who knew my destination, he asked me for 60 baht. I said 20, and we settled on 40.
The cab driver, as it turns out, did not know exactly where I was headed, but dropped me off nearby at Novohotel. I asked a guy in the lobby, who said the place I was looking for was about 300 meters away on the other side of this huge convention center. I had a hard time finding my way around it, since the hotel was basically directly across, so I had to walk very far to the side before I could turn to the direction I actually needed to be going in, and I cut through a park that was gated off at the end. So just after I climbed through this hole in the gate, a guy on a motorbike comes along to ask me where I'm going. He's in a suit and has a walkie-talkie, so I'm assuming that he's security for some building in the area. I tell him the building that I'm looking for, and he takes me on his motorbike.
After finding the building (which actually would have been quite a far walk), we discover that all the doors downstairs are locked unless you have a keycard, and the room service people who would normally be able to let me in are not there. So the security guy talks to these people who work at a small restaurant downstairs that is just opening, and they let me in through their back door, which leads into the building.
So finally, I arrive upstairs, and the key, as my host has told me, is hidden on top of the door frame. The place is a small classroom with a digital piano, a TV with one channel in Thai, and a large whiteboard, on which my host has left me a diagram of where things are (like the food court, 7-11, internet cafe, etc.). It's significantly nicer and bigger than my host made it out to be, as from his description, I was expecting a shoebox of questionable sanitation.
I slept until around 3 in the afternoon, and came downstairs to see if I could do laundry, since my Songkran-drenched clothes were not smelling so great. The laundry room was closed because of the holiday, so I just got some food and went upstairs to see if I could find a way to do it by hand.
There wasn't anything to clog the sink with, so I just washed the bowl I used to eat from and used it for my laundry. This is the color of the water that I could wring out of my clothes:
And my shirt is still yellowish where the face paint stuff dripped. My host in Chiang Mai says she couldn't get it out either. I think I'm going to try using some seltzer water, and we'll see what happens.
Tomorrow is the ceremony of my friend's friend becoming a monk, so assuming it isn't disrespectful to take pictures, there should be an interesting post up tomorrow. Unless it ends really late and the internet cafe is closed by then. In which case it will be the day after tomorrow. I also need to figure out my Cambodia visa, because I stupidly did not start the e-visa application while I was in Chiang Mai, so I think I need to go to the embassy here in Bangkok to make sure I get it on time. According to an online forum, I should be able to get it in 30 minutes. We'll see.