Thursday 19th November - OFF TO THAILAND WE GO
Up and out after cat nap. Had to wake the owner up who was sleeping inside main door. We paid up and made our way passed Kowloon Park to Jordan Road, where we picked up the bus to the station. A fair distance away, but I just couldn't sleep, was far too much to look at on the way. Ad however, slept like a baby. I tried to spot part of Disneyland as we went by, but it was obviously too far from the main road. Seven brand new Ferraris went racing passed the bus, all different colours, each equally as gorgeous as the next - one day I might be lucky enough to own one YEH RIGHT! Saw the extremely long cable car that takes you out to an island with a huge Buddha on it, looked kinda scary, especially after Leslie saying one of the carriages came off a couple of years back, don't think anyone was on it thankfully, but still doesn't feel you with too much confidence ay.
Wasn't sure where we needed to get off and we'd been on here for a while. One woman obviously noticed my concern and said we had a little further to go. The next stop came and as I got up to let the lady next to be get off, the bus jolted and I tripped over our bags and got flung across the bus to the opposite window. Highly embarrassing, but I guess I can just add that to my ever clumsy list of things I've done. The bus cleared at the terminal and we made our way into the spotlessly clean building, very big and spacious. Found our desk to check in and with only a 10-15 min wait, we were all checked in and making our way to the departure lounge - LOVELY.
I was starving and wasn't sure what I fancied but the large bag of peanut M&M's I got, with water did the trick. Well kind of anyway, we were both feeling very sorry for ourselves, that'll teach us for staying up all night, the night before a flight. Both passed out on the chairs in the department lounge while waiting to board the plane. Made sure I got a pic of Ad though, he just told the whole story in the photo, it had to be done.
The flight was comfortable enough, we didn't have a window seat, so didn't see much of Hong Kong when leaving, but wasn't bothered anyway cos we slept for most of it. Really needed that sleep. Was so pleased to be greeted by sunshine on the Thailand side. Long walk to customs but plenty to look at and although we were tired we were very excited. Lots of statues and Thai decorations on the corridors we walked along. Didn't take long to pass through customs and collect our bags etc and we made our way to the bus terminal to get the cheap bus to the area of town where we had seen reasonable priced accommodation.
On the bus I saw a leaflet for some of the islands around Thailand and got very excited, really looking forward to being on a beach and swimming in the ocean, it's been a while, plus the beaches and sea looked beautiful. A fair distance along and our stop was called out and off we got. Not used to scams of Thailand yet, we found out the hard way. People here are so friendly, so you are easily strayed away by them. A really nice local chap approached us and told us about a place called TAT, which we now know is a Tourist agency. He told us they had special discounts today on accommodation and could help us with buses moving forward as well. It all sounded pretty good. So he pulled over a tuk tuk for us and for very little money the driver took us directly to the TAT office, which was going all the way back to where we'd just come from. Enjoyed our first tuk tuk experience though.
The office was jam packed with new arrivals, one lady called us over, she was very sweet and offered us a free drink while running through what we were hoping to do. It's not all bad, they can arrange your whole stay here if you want them to, but unless you are away of just how cheap you can do things by yourself, you'd think you were getting a pretty descent deal. She found us a really nice hotel room, bus to the south and a few nights on an island for a reasonable enough price, but we took the information with us and decided to have a look around ourselves first. Glad we did, as just around the corner we bumped into a German girl and spoke to her about her experiences whilst in Thailand and she told us not to bother with TAT because compared to prices you'll pay independently, they are a rip off. She them told us of a hostel she stayed in, further in the other direction, but it sounded pretty nice, so we jumped on the sky train to give it a go.
She was right, the place was really nice, tucked away off the main road, but unfortunately all the cheap rooms had gone and only the way over budget rooms were left. Had a look around the area, but everything was out of budget, so we made a call to the accommodation we were first heading for, to make sure we could still get a room and then we sky trained and taxied over to it. Took ages and we arrived in the dark. Scary looking place. Children and owners all out in the street cooking and hanging around, very dark and dingy looking. The taxi driver spoke to a lady about where Phiman Waterview guesthouse was and she called over a little boy to show us the way. Through a maze of little back streets, passed local residential places, dogs and cats everywhere and the smell of damp, stench drains. We really weren't sure about this, but once inside the guesthouse garden, a whole different perspective revealed itself.
A few guests were chilling by the waterfront. A huge well lit up bridge was standing out against the night sky, it lit up the garden a little, was actually very pretty to look at. We relaxed while they got our room ready, with a hot choc and for Ad a coffee and chatted to a couple about Khaosan Rd nearby and good recommendations to eat. Once we'd dumped our bags in the room, we set off for a little look around.
Khaosan Rd was everything we'd been told it was. People filled the streets, mainly tourists from all over. Restaurants and bars were spilling out over the street and stalls of clothes, music, food etc were everywhere. It felt like Europe. This is the most white tourists we've seen in a long time, felt quite comforting in a strange kinda way. Picked up a pad thai from one of the stalls, naughty but tasted dam good and oh so cheap. Had a good look around. It's gonna be hard not to go crazy and buy lots of clothes, there are so many to choose from at such good prices. Will have to look more tomorrow. We've got plenty of time. Quick stop in internet cafe on way back, didn't feel like talking so just sent emails. Then back for a well earned good nights sleep.
Friday 20th November - GET YOUR BONES BACK IN PLACE WITH A THAI MASSAGE
Up late, needed the extra rest. Went to a recommended family stall around the corner for brunch. A lady and her daughters cook at their home, they are very sweet people and good exceptionally good fried rice and pad thai YUMMY!
After we went on a small mission to find the Thai boxing stadium to see a proper live boxing match. Took us ages to find it, but when there, were told today and tomorrow the matches are being held across town in another stadium, but Monday we can come back and try to get tickets. We'll see. As we were already north of Khaosan rd, we stuck to this area and had a look around some mansions and museums, with lots of greenery and park space around them. Quite a pleasant area to stroll around. There was supposed to be a zoo nearby, but we couldn't see it anywhere.
Still feeling a little weak and done in, we headed back into Khoasan Rd, where we'd seen some massage places. Ad went for the traditional Thai massage, while I had a facial. I think I may have drifted of dury part of it, it was so therapeutic. Until she had to go to town on my spots, now that side of it wasn't pleasant at all, the massaging and creams used, soon made it feel better though and I felt fresh and clean afterwards - REFRESHING. Ad had a whole other experience all together. Turns out the traditional thai massage is no more relaxing than being dragged through a hedge backwards, he looked a little worse for wear afterwards.
Through the centre of Khoasan Rd, I couldn't help but try on some dresses, but so far nothing seemed to take my fancy. We found a very busy restaurant and sat right in front of the live singer. He sounded really good actually. We shared a green thai curry while having a drink or two. The Vodka's and sprites here are pretty strong, so sipped it slowly. Enjoyed the entertainment and the food was delicious, green thai curry's always been a fav of mine. Spotted a stand on the way back selling crickets, worms, maggots etc - don't think i'll be having that for desert that's for sure YUK!
Back to guesthouse, sat sipping drinks, looking out over the river, while planning our next few days and scanning comments in the south east asia book we carry.
Saturday 21st November - THE GRAND PALACE & RECLINING BUDDHA
Waited for the boat taxi that never came, guess we'd turned up too late, so opted to walk to the grand palace. It's a nice day and we stopped for a noodle soup each on the way for brekky. Was a good start to our day and we felt much more with it.
The palace wasn't too far. As we got closer to the entrance gates a local stopped us to inform us that it was only open for locals at present and for tourists in the afternoon. He wanted to get us a tuk tuk to take us somewhere else first. Understanding that this happens quite a lot here, we simply told the guy we were meeting friends who are from Thailand and with that he bid us a good day and left. Later we were informed, they do this to try and take you to a shop they own and try to sell you stuff, a bit of a scam but people are becoming more and more aware of it now.
As it happened the palace was open to all and we had a great time wandering around the grounds. The beautiful thai architecture was mesmerizing, my camera actually ran out of battery. Boy, are people gonna be bored of these pic's back home, couldn't help it though, the place was so beautiful. Parts of it reminded me a little of the Forbidden City in China, but obviously on a much smaller scale. I guess it helped by being a super hot day, but what a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Not too far around the corner was the reclining buddha, another popular place to visit, we could see why. It's huge and just as impressive. Was a tad busy there, but didn't matter, we got to see what we came for and have the heaps of pic's to prove it. Took the local entrance in, didn't see the sign and just left our shoes with others and followed a bunch of people inside, didn't realise we had to pay DOH! Oh well it's not often you get things for nothing.
Feeling tired again, we picked up a tuk tuk outside. Bargained him down, still a little more than we should be paying but we repeatedly told him "no stops, just straight to the guesthouse". With this he laughed and as he pulled up to the guesthouse, he continued to slowly move. When we said to him "ok, we want to stop here" he laughed saying "but you said no stops" VERY FUNNY, nice guy actually, if only all the drivers were like this. We couldn't understand why they were so eager to have stops on everyones journey, but were later told that it's because even if people don't buy, but they stop them at certain shops, they get some kind of credit/vouchers etc. Now we can see why.
Only spent a few mins at the guesthouse. Got chatting to a couple who had just been to the weekend market and raved about it. So off we went, it took about 40mins by bus. We knew when we had arrived because all you could see was the tops of what seemed like hundreds of market stalls and people everywhere. The biggest market I've ever seen with rows upon rows of clothes, shoes, house items, handicrafts, food- you name it, they had it. Ad unfortunately, couldn't find anything he liked, but I came away with 2 pairs of shorts and a pretty dress, which combined came to about five pounds, thanks to Ad and his bargaining skills, there's no way I could have got stuff that cheap on my own. Not bad ay? Still was very tempted to buy some puppies, they were soooooooo cute.
A sweet Thai couple advised us on what other buses we could get back, we only knew of one, which didn't seem to be turning up, but eventually came. Picked up some Chicken on rice and soup on the side as we made our way back to town. Was perfectly delicious and the couple running the stall were very friendly. Popped back into internet cafe and skyped home - skypes great. Managed to talk to mum, dad, sis in law and my little niece, great to see them all. Ad was on another computer talking to his fam.
Made our way into town and found a bar with big screen, noone seemed to be watching the Chelsea game so Ad asked if they would mind putting the Arsenal game on because most other bars seemed to be playing the Chelsea match. Beers for Ad and many fruit shakes for me and the game was over with a very disappointing end. It's annoying to think in the last 13 matches that Ad has missed Arsenal were unbeaten, but this one he gets the chance to see and they were defeated. I told him he was banned from watching anymore games. Headed back for the night.
Sunday 22nd November - BAD DAY FOR COMPUTERS
Bit of a nothing day, we were all set to move on down South, but the guys in our guesthouse advised us to go in the opposite direction as the south was having continuious thunder storms. Another couple looked concerned as they had already booked their tickets for the south, but said they would email us to let us know.
Spent the rest of the day searching for a reasonably cheap internet cafe to burn our photos onto disc, the place we like did not have the facilities and everywhere else seemed to charge a small fortune. We tried to sneakly get away with it in one place, but they caught us, it's annoying really cos Ad knows what he's doing and we have our own discs, so surely we should get charged just for the time we use their computers, but they still charge a fee for the discs even though they are ours - I DON'T GET THAT. Just stopped what we were doing and left this place.
Ad got a haircut. The girl was really good, took her time and it came out really nice. He said it was the best service he's had in a long time, plus it was really cheap compared to what you'd pay at home.
More computer troubles, went to another internet cafe to skype home, but the first computer we got onto was having problems with the mic. The guy got really humpy, luckily we moved and the next one worked, otherwise I think he would have spat his dummy right out. SOME PEOPLE. We'd chosen to go to the island Koh Chang now, which is heading towards the Cambodia border. So while Ad was chatting to home, I found a place to stay and booked it.
Found a street stall selling noodles and curry, smelt good, was a little cold but tasted ok. As it was starting to get late now we made our way through town. Checked out a club one of the guys had mentioned at our guesthouse, obviously it was dead now, but they said to come in the early hours - we'll see, looked nice though. Found a busy bar showing the Tottenham vs Wigan game and got a couple of beers and enjoyed chilling there. Couldn't believe every time we turned around to look at the screen Tottenham had scored another goal, think the end result was something like 9-1.
Heard some live music coming from an upstairs bar and ventured for a look, it was jam packed. We ordered a beer and found a seat next to a guy who kindly said two seats were free at his table. The music was wicked, some Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, some rock and indie stuff, really chilled. Got chatting to the English guy and his Thai girlfriend, really nice couple. He'd done loads of travelling so had heaps of tips for us going forward. It was already 3am by time we'd left and we had a 7am pic up for the island tomorrow, so figured we should head back. That didn't stop them trying to get us to go on clubbing with them though te he.
In the dorm tonight cos we thought we might be leaving today and room got booked up, no worries though, it's only for one night.