Memories of a tour-leader in Thailand (Part 2)

Bamboo rafting in North-Thailand
As part of living in Thailand I did work as tour-leader in South East Asia and being a tour-leader is not always easy ........

With a group of 30 people we were sitting in the night train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and I am used to the fact that the train is a bit moving, shaking and making noise. Until that early evening when the movements and noise were a bit too much. In a split second I realized that something was wrong and screamed to all "Keep seated" and within another split second I saw a movie in my head about train accidents. This is not good!

The train came to a stop in the middle of nowhere in the jungle about 50 km after Lampang. One of my guests said "I thought no problem but when I saw you holding on I realized this was not normal". We were still on all wheels but it seemed that just OUR wagon had de-railed. Some of my guests had the bright idea to get out of the train and walk back to the train station we had "just" passed. I talked them out of it as we had no idea where we were ... it was totally dark outside. After awhile we were moved to the restaurant and the rear side of the train was moved to the previous train station while the front part (without our wagon) was moved to the next train station. It took a few hours after we were picked-up by buses while we did not realize that our bus-driver was having diner about 20 min from us. The next morning we arrived in Bangkok only 3 hours too late. Not bad at all. About 100m of rail-track was destroyed.

People on holiday tend to drink a bit more as they do at home, but some drink at home already too much. Just as some of my guests. One I had to rescue out of a discotheque where he thought that all girls smiling to him liked him. Good that one of the Thai boys came to me to tell me it was better that I would bring him to the hotel. Another guests decided after a few drinks that while his wife was sick in bed he should have one more drink after diner. I did manage to bring him back to the hotel but in the middle of night his wife called me that her husband had never came back to the room. I found him in a karaoke bar near the hotel between a bunch of cute girls.

The work of a tour-leader goes together with a local guide. You are suppose to meet each other and the all group at the airport. I did not worry too much that I had not see my guide yet but when I almost had my all group I called my boss. No guide here! So I went to the hotel with all the guests, without a guide. In the hotel a new guide was waiting for us. But it not only happens with guides. I was once asked to go to the airport as soon as possible as the tour-leader was not able to come. Good I was living only 20min from the airport.

Some people like to complain.
The airco is not working. "Yes it is but it does not make much noise."
The airco is too cold. "Well you could change the temperature from 17 to 26?"
The food is not good. "Ok I will check it" ... but why is everyone else having a good diner?
Are we going to a temple again? "Yes that is in the program you booked".

In many programs there are extra options. And if you like to join them you have to pay for it. But some guests book all the options but try to avoid paying for it. "Sorry ATM not work", "Sorry hotel not accept TC".

Some guides just do not like the fact that tour leaders work in their country and try to make your tour a living hell. So they pull jokes like just changing the program without saying. Or on purpose arranging that the bus-driver will be too late and all will think that I did that. Of course this problems between tour guides and tour leaders are created by the salary difference.

Our mode of transport is a bus and that bus has to be save and comfortable. And the bus driver has to drive safe. All went wrong when I arrive at the airport and the bus was too small and too old. Or when we were leaving for a trekking and our jeep had tyres without any profile. Or when our bus driver thinks it normal to drive with a speed of over the 100km/h in a village almost killing a few kids. Or when the clutch breaks and the bus can not stop and start driving again anymore, driving thru an toll-booth screaming "Sorry I can not stop anymore". Last stop at the airport!

Once after a lunch in the middle of nowhere our bus was gone because the bus had to be repaired and the bus driver told nobody. There you are just leaving the restaurant and no bus in sight! Even our guide did not know where the bus was. Or once I did find out in the morning that our driver had been drinking all night and he was not fit for driving.

We wake-up early to leave after breakfast. All the luggage is in the lobby. It is 15 min before we should be leaving and I did not see our bus. Our guide who does not wants to loose face says "No problem, bus is coming". At 5 min before our scheduled time of leaving I start to look near our hotel where the bus should be parked. And yes there is our bus, blocked by 3 other buses and our driver is not in sight at all! I pulled of with only 20 min delay and the guests did not noticed it all!

You still think being a tour-leader is all fun? No ? Well I promise you a funnier part 3 next time!

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