After partying the night away at the Full Moon Party and no sleep, our taxi picked us up at 5am and took us to Koh Samui airport for our 7am flight. On arrival at the airport, the check in lady told us that she needed to see the credit card that the flights had been booked on in order to be able to check us in (despite the fact we had already checked in online). We'd booked these flights way before we left the UK and with a card that no longer exists... after much talking and pleading (which also involved her saying she was going to have to cancel our reservation and make us re-pay on an alternative card!) I think she felt sorry for us in our bedraggled state and so let us on. Pheeeeeeew!! Koh Samui airport is something else, it's not an airport in the conventional sense, it's all open sided and resembles a beach resort not an airport. The walkways are lined with palm trees and the departure lounges are more like colonial garden rooms with free food and drink and sofas everywhere and all exposed to the outside with lush planting around you. Very relaxing and how all airports should be to make you feel calm about your impending journey.
So, after a quick one hour flight, we arrived back at where we started our SE Asian adventure and were we would end the trip, Bangkok. Still in yesterday's clothes, with remnants of neon paint everywhere and VERY tired. We hopped in a taxi to our hotel that we had pre-booked and after a quick shower we spent the rest of the day sleeping! After possibly one of the best sleeps we have potentially ever had, we made ourselves look a bit more presentable and headed over to meet Matthew (Lou's brother) at his apartment. Our friends Charlotte and Jamie from Portsmouth, were in Bangkok for one night only at the start of their holiday in Thailand, so we headed off to meet them for a night of beer and catching up. As it was Jamie's first time in Bangkok, everyone decided that he needed to go to "Soi Cowboy". Now then, how to explain Soi Cowboy to you.... we've taken this exert from Wikipedia....
"Soi Cowboy is a red light district in Bangkok, Thailand. A short 400 metre street with about 40 bars, mainly catering to tourists and expats. The go go bars follow the pattern common in Thailand: alcoholic drinks are served and women in bikinis dance on a stage. Topless or even nude dancing occasionally occurs in some bars, but remains technically illegal. The area is named after T. G. "Cowboy" Edwards, a retired American airman who opened one of the first bars there in 1977. A tall African-American, Edwards got his nickname because he often wore a cowboy hat."
We sat outside one of the bars and had some beers and catching up. Whilst sitting of the bars, it feels no different from sitting on a bar strip at any European beach resort, lots of neon light's, music and hawkers trying to sell you cheap tat. There are girls in bikinis who serve you drinks and gently encourage you to go their bar but there's no pressure and unless you actually go into the bar, you don't see anything offensive. After a few beers, we decided that as part of the experience of visiting Soi Cowboy, we'd go and watch a show. We'll leave it at that!
The following day we met Charlotte and Jamie for lunch and after taking them to the shopping mecca of MBK, we bid them a fond farewall and spent the next couple of days catching up with Matthew and his family and starting to organise ourselves for our trip to Australia. We also made the most of the cheap shopping in Asia, stocking up on everything before we get to Australia!
We had one full on tourist day in Bangkok. We got up early and made use of the free breakfast buffet at the hotel and made our way to the Grand Palace via the BTS and a tuk tuk. When we got there, as expected someone tried to scam us by telling us that the Grand Palace was shut until the afternoon and that he'd take us on a tuk tuk tour in the mean time. Thankfully, we were aware of these scammers so paid no attention and carried on walking to the main entrance where we were allowed straight in and nothing was shut!
We knew that we'd have to be covered up to visit the palace, i.e. no bare shoulders or legs, but on arrival discovered that my (Hannah) leggings, although covering my legs, were not allowed as they were tight fitting. So, I had to hire a delightful and very stylish skirt to wear over my clothes!!!
Now suitably attired, we spent a few hours exploring the palace and surrounding temples and soaking up the culture and amazing architecture. Even after 2 months of visiting temples and other such places, we were still blown away by colours, craftmanship and elaborateness.
After leaving the Grand Palace, we headed for somewhere slightly less culutural but still just as iconic in Bangkok, the Khaosan Road. The Khaoson Road is a street which is famous for being the main backpacker mecca of Bangkok and is full of bars, restaurants, clubs, shops and backpacker accommodation. It's vibrant and always busy and bustling. It was made famous by the film "The Beach" with Leonardo Di Caprio as the place he stayed in at the beginning of the film. It's dirty and tacky but it's got a charm about it and is must for any backpacker to visit. We were typical tourists on the Khaosan Road, we ate pad thai and drank beer on the side of the street and bought tshirts from a side stall!
In the evening, we headed back to the cinema that we visited at the beginning of our trip and finally saw the 4th installment of the Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn. Again, pushing the boat out and paying £4 to have a sofa to sit on at the back!
The rest of our time in Bangkok was spent packing and sorting our bags and getting ourselves ready for the onward trip to Australia.
And so we come to the end of our time in SE Asia. Very excited to head to Australia but sad to leave SE Asia after such an amazing couple of months. We've made some good friends, seen some amazing things and had an overall fantastic experience and would happily do it all over again. We'd recommend everyone to visit SE Asia if you get the opportunity and soak up some of the culture, friendliness, food and weather that it has to offer.