Thai time is not Japan time. At Suvarnabhumi Airport, an unsmiling woman at the desk told me that the bus to Khao San Road would arrive in “half an hour.” After half an hour had passed and there was no bus, I asked another lady outside if the bus was late. “6:30,” she said. It was 6. I explained to her that the unsmiling woman inside had told me the bus would arrive at 6.
“She wrong,” said the lady. And that was, apparently, enough of an explanation.
Today, the Ko Phi Phi island tour was supposed to come at 8:30, but it arrived at around 8:45 – 15 minutes which had me panting and fretting until the open-backed metal truck arrived, half full with other tourists. Pepper, who had been in Thailand for 2 weeks before I arrived, has reported domestic flights departing around ten minutes before schedule. True to her experience, our own flight from Krabi to Bangkok left on a similar time frame.
In Japan, 6:30 means 6:30 and if there is no train or bus when you arrive, you obviously missed it. If the bus or train actually is late – something I’ve only encountered once in my nearly 10 months here – the conductor will personally hand each passenger a lateness ticket to help explain to one’s boss why they are late. Once a person who employed a rather Thai sense of time, I have been beaten into Japanese submission. After having to fill out several lateness reports at work when I was – literally – 2 minutes late I began to conform. The joy of having a train arrive when it’s supposed to arrive has been immense. Like a beggar suddenly treated to a night at the Plaza, I have become accustomed all too readily to the California king sized bed. When I’m shown the cot once again, I am an unhappy monkey.
Tuesday’s elephant trekking tour departed on time but arrived back at the bungalow 15 minutes late. Win some; lose some.