Category Archives: Diary

Day 2 27 March Time to explore Bangkok pt 2

So after finding the river terminal we looked for a boat – the first tour guide offered us a ride for about 300 baht but we noticed a local ferry only charging 8 baht – just shows never take thr first offer or be pressured into anything. We got off at Tho Tien and walked to Wat Po. Here we a friendly lecturer from the main uni. ‘So how dyu 40 degree heat and 100% humidity?’ he asked grinning. We said it was fine and after chatting a while he offered us a tour of the city for 30 baht. Is everyone in Bangkok a tour guide?! But we thought what the hell – this was before the film Hostel was made…

Our first stop was the Golden Mount – a huge chedi at the top of a hill. From the top we had magnificent views of the sprawling mass known as Bangkok. It seems inconceivable that they could build something of this size so high up. Back at the bottom a tuk tuk driver took us to Wat Saket. If you hadn’t guessed by now Wat means temple 🙂 This particular temple was filled with golden statues of Buddha in different poses. In the central temple we had to take our shoes off. The walls were decorated with murals and depictions of Buddha. In one corner a man was painstakingly restoring some of the paintwork.

After having a good look around we went back to the driver who drove us to a place where you could buy tailor made suits very cheaply. We had been warned about these places – its a bit of a con and the suits aren’t always the best quality. Many backpackers feel obliged to buy a suit. But seriously why would I want to carry a suit in my backpack for the next 12 months! So we politely said no thanks – there was no pressure on us at all to buy anything.

We then went back to the hotel via the tuk tuk and ferry. Tomorrow we would finally make our way to Kao San Road – the main backpacking drag in the city. Goodbye air conditioned hotel!!

Day 2 27th March Time to Explore Bangkok Pt 1

Ferry to Wat Po

After a full breakfast of eggs and bacon we finally left the hotel.  The first thing that hit me was the humidity – from the coolness of the hotel it was like hitting a brick wall.  My older brother gave me a bit of advice about the heat – he said just accept it.  If you go around complaining about it the heat will get to you and you won’t enjoy yourself.  Just drink plenty of water.  So that’s what I tried to do for the next 3 months in South East Asia.
We found the city’s monorail and got on board and from there our aim was to get a ferry and explore some of the city’s temples.  It was clean and air conditioned – almost too nice to get off.  We made it to our first destination – a place called Saphan Taksin but didn’t know how to get to the ferry stop. Again our map was found wanting.  Once we had worked out which side of the river we were on – always a good start – we tried to take a short cut down a rather scruffy road.  It came to a dead end – all eyes were on us as we walked back.  This street was terribly dirty with numerous broken down cars.  One had no wheels and was literally crammed full of rubbish. 

Day 1 Arriving in Bangkok 27th March part 2

And so we travelled through the crowded polluted streets of Bangkok with tuk tuks and motorbikes weaving in and out as if we were in some giant moto grand prix.  The buildings were mostly concrete and uninspiring so when we finally got to our hotel it seemed like paradise.  A smart porter dressed in a red suit complete with cap and gold buttons took our things and escorted us to reception.  We remeembered to tip him as our guide book said.  Tipping is big over here.  After checking in we helped ourselves to a free cup of tea while I asked the waitress what the Thai word for thank you was – ‘kar koon kap’ (ka at end for women).  She seemed deighted that I asked!  The first thing I noticed in the hotel was a strange smell in the air – its difficult to describe but it was a kind of tropical heat smell – musty and humid.  Cat said she’d experienced something similar in Egypt. 
Our room was a welcome relief – cooled from the air conditioning and spacious.  By the end of the day the room was a tangle of clothes lines full of knickers and bras.  We just stayed in our room that night not wanting to venture out – we were all a bit scared I guess.  I mean – just what were we going to do with all this time.  12 months.  £5,000 each.  It was almost too much to take in.  Later on we ventured down to the restaurant and had fried chicken – not very adventurous I know – gentle steps!!  But the service was amazing – everyone was waiting on us and took our plates as soon as we had finished.  Everyone smiled as well and seemed really friendly.  Was this just the hotel or was all Bangkok like this – we’d find out soon enough. 
We wandered back to our lovely cool room.  I slept very well unlike Cat who didn’t sleep at all – she was worried it would always be like this.  Both Suzanne and Cat were already very homesick but I was feeling fine. So now it was just a case of getting out of our hotel and actually see what Bangkok had to offer…. easy peasy … ?

Day 1 Arriving in Bangkok … part 1

Thailand is 6 hours ahead of London but it was only 5am when we arrived but surprisingly not that tired.  When I say we, there was me and two of my uni mates Suzanne and Cat.  Once off the plane we didn’t really have a clue where to go next or what to do.  The furthest I’d been from home before was Corfu with my parents!  We had a hotel pre-booked but Bangkok was miles away from the airport.  We could of course get the limousine advertised in the foyer but I felt that was kinda cheating.  Our first attempt saw us walking outside in the darkness of Thailands streets – unbearably humid after the coolness of the plane.  We soon changed our minds and located the train station. 

By this stage it had magically gone light and we boarded a train we hoped was taking us to the big smoke for about 35p.  The first thing I noticed was we were the only white people on the train and we got more than a few stares.  I guess most backpackers took the limousine after all!  Everyone was very quiet but then it was only 6am.  Outside I could see the lush vegetation of the countryside – banana plants, coconut palms, tropical flowers all scrambling amongst the corrupted iron huts running along the roadside.  There was also a heavily polluted stream that divided the railside from various villages and houses. 

After about an hour we made it to Bangkok’s main station.  It was chaos with all the hustle and bustle you’d expect at a busy terminal.  What we didn’t appreciate at this stage was that we were still nowhere near our hotel!  So we sat at one of the entrances and tried to gather our thoughts.  A bus seemed the best option but everytime we tried to get on it was full.  Don’t forget we were each weighed down with a backpack, daypack and now a litre of water.  The map in our guide books was also pretty useless – after taking the really stupid option of walking to our hotel we realised that the map only showed the main streets.  With our bags weighing a ton and the sun starting to take its effects a ‘tuk tuk’ pulled up beside us. 
The girls were very reluctant to get in.  I didn’t think we had much choice – hot sweaty and just a tad lost under some unknown bridge I thought it was worth the risk.  So in we squeezed and had our first authentic experience of riding through Bangkoks streets.  It was mad flying through the streets running neck to neck with buses and smokey vehicles down 5 lanes of traffic. Who needs a limousine!! It was at this point we realised just how far we’d have to walk.

And so our journey had begun …

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