Aug 27

A crazy few days in Bangkok and another Birthday celebration

Sad to leave Bali, we made our way to the Airport and jumped on our flight to Thailand. We were going to Bangkok to pass a few days before we connected to Hanoi to begin our 17 day tour of Vietnam and Cambodia. The aim was to rest up – it didn’t quite work out like that…

Bangkok was an exciting prospect though – as each place always is. We took a taxi from the airport and travelled for a good hour in extremely wet conditions. We were missing the sun already, but despite the rain, the air temperature was still soaring – close to 32ºC + each day. Our driver was good fun and we communicated in the language of football. A Manchester United fan, he was happy to chat about the highs and lows of the game. He even knew who Southampton were as they were due to play Manchester City that weekend – this pleased me.

We arrived at our hotel, which seemed a little out of the way and it was practically beneath a series of interwinding highways in the sky. The pictures we’d based our booking on had been a little misleading and our room was a bit dingy. We’d been in worse and it was budget. This was something like our 30th room of travelling so far – pretty insane when you think about it. We stayed local on the first evening, walking over to the local mall and market area which was right beneath Bangkok’s tallest hotel – The Sky Hotel. We grabbed some food and then browsed the markets but it was so wet we didn’t linger for too long and made our way back. We’d been in contact with our partners in crime Mr Rob and Charles and they were making their way through Malaysia on the sleeper train to Bangkok. Plan made.

On our first full day, we wanted to try and suss everything out to make all of our lives a little simpler so we walked over towards the Sky rail, about 5 minutes away. Bangkok is buzzing, all day and all night. The roads are chaotic and being a pedestrian presented new challenges, like crossing the road. With little to no crossing areas where we were, we observed the locals who just casually stroll out in front of the armies of cars coming towards them and successfully cross. We’d been waiting a good few minutes to try and cross with no luck, so we just went for it and copied what they did – success! You do put your life in the hands of other drivers and pray they stop – something we were not at all comfortable with, but had no choice.

Relieved, we made our way up about 3 flights of stairs to the Sky Rail station and memorised the name ‘Ratchaprarop’ to come back to. We then muddled our way to ‘Phaya Thai’ on the train using plastic coins for tickets, walked over to the next Sky Rail station and jumped on another train to ‘Siam’ using a paper ticket this time. The trains were quick and efficient but it was a bit of a ball ache having to get a several trains rather than being able to go directly.

In Siam, we were greeted by infinity pools outside of a huge mall called Paragon. We approached the entrance where a Shark bursting out of the concrete was waiting for us. Picture taken, we made our way into the mall for food and air con! This place had the biggest food court we’d ever seen, ever! It had so many places to eat, each varying in price and dish. We had some Dim Sum and then went to investigate what else the mall had to offer. After meeting Jackie Chan and Steve Gerrard (wax models), we made our way up to floor 5 – the cinema area. The floors in between had provided a little fun and culture, we saw some tradition sarongs being made. Back to floor 5, the cinema equipped with digital screens, 4Dx screens and an iMax screening the Dark Knight Rises. We made a mental note to see it as we’d seen it in a, by comparison, crap cinema in Brisbane and then about 10 minutes on pirate from a DVD man in Bali.

We then made our way outside to be welcomed by a wall of humidity. It’s hot, it’s wet, it’s humid. I know at the time the UK was seeing 30ºC, but that was nothing in comparison to this. After descending down the stairs, past many beggars with babies and giving them all my change, we had a browse through a cool arts market selling boutique style clothing. Fi grabbed a lovely hand made, skull top – it looks better than it sounds – for all of £4.

Back on the Sky Train again, we made the trip to the river, where we priced up potential tours on the boats to floating markets and temples.We were beginning to see through some of the locals and the incessant ability to try and over charge you for anything and everything. We didn’t take the tour and made our way back to our hotel as our sixth sense had told Rob and Charlotte might be close. We walked through the lobby door…and there they were. Friends reunited – again!

Team GB were ready to take on Bangkok for the next four days. We mentioned the mall to R&C, that we’d been to earlier, so we promptly jumped on the Sky Rail. We went the in the wrong direction, then I slipped down some stairs – the monsoons had started. After eventually getting the correct train, we wound up back in the mall, munched some relatively pricey Indian food, then headed to Cinnabon. Stuffed, we all made the decision to go to the iMax to see The Dark Knight Rises. It was absolutely superb on the big fish bowl like screen, so much so it feels like you’re actually in the movie. Aerial shots make your stomach turn ever so slightly. Fi and Charlotte made a vow to quit the day jobs (again) to become Batman – sssh. One of the highlights was definitely having to stand for the Thai national anthem in between a trailer – we hadn’t seen that coming.

August 16th. A Bangkok Birthday, this time, it was Rob’s turn. We woke up fairly early to grab some breakfast at the hotel. Fi and I had made Rob a little card, which we attempted a 10 minute visualisation of a ‘Hangover’ style Bangkok Birthday. The thought was more the gift, than the drawing on the card.

Strolling out of the hotel and wondering around the local markets, we decided to try and go up the Sky Hotel to check out the view. We jumped in the elevator and it took us high up and then we saw a driving range / bar! Perfect we thought. So we ordered a few beers and 100 balls and bashed them at the buildings until our hearts were content. There was netting in the way to prevent actually hitting the buildings!

We then all jumped on the train to Siam, where we flagged a taxi to hunt for Koh San Road. This street is littered with market stalls where you can just about buy anything fake, street food galore and Café’s full of western backpackers. It took us a good three hours to browse the market, successfully and unsuccessfully haggling with the stall owners for tunnels. After nearly convincing Rob to get his ears pierced to then find out they cost quite a lot in Bangkok, we munched on some street food in the form of Pad Thai noodles and Crêpes. Surprisingly this was one of the only places we came across street Pad Thai. Most of the other stalls generally look pretty deadly.

W then got a price for a Tuk Tuk ride from Koh San Road to Pat Pong. So we jumped in the Tuk Tuk, the lights boomed, the horn sounded and we started racing our way there.

Traffic. Inevitably we hit a ton of it and the initial adrenaline rush of being on a Tuk Tuk, Chang in hand, whilst the driver sipped passers by’s beer slightly wore off. We crawled along, getting to know him and heard about his numerous current girlfriends. Eventually we arrived in Pat Pong. We re-grouped with coffee and when we strolled out of the coffee shop, it was buzzing. Market stalls, lady boys and a series of bars offering massages and Ping Pong, greeted us. Laughing, we dived into the market and browsed the collection of more fake items. This is where the love for U-Boat began for Rob and me. So after a good few hours browsing, we grabbed another beer and chilled in a restaurant/bar. We’d seen a sign for Thai boxing just over the road, due to start at 11pm.

The Thai boxing was immense. I’d never seen anything quite like it upfront and although it was violent, it really is an adored sport in Thailand. During the second fight, one of the fighters was completely knocked out and could hardly collect himself for about 10 minutes. When he had, like the first fighters, they walked around the bar collecting tips for their efforts. As the second fight finished, what we thought was a corner table, turned into a table dancing area. We made a fairly swift exit. And that was Rob’s Birthday!

We spent our last few days in Bangkok just looking around, visiting various malls and taking a trip up the river. We went to Chinatown where we mooched around looking at the endless amounts of crap they sell, had lunch in a stifling hot KFC, I know, not very ‘Asian cuisine’ and then freed some eels and fish from a market stall.

Bangkok had been crazy and once again it was awesome to share it with our pals Rob and Charlotte.

I hope you’re all still enjoying our updates, this has been such a good way of keeping everyone up to date and keeping a record for our own memories. It’s amazing how far we’ve come and travelled. 1 Month to go.

Lots of love,

Tom & Fi  xxx

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