Blog : Bangkok times two
We arrived to Bangkok central train station at about 7:30am - a good hour and a half later than we were supposed to and proof that even timetabled trains across south east Asia cannot run punctually!! The actual train wasn't that bad. It was a carriage of fold down bunk beds essentially, with the girls on the bottom (their tickets cost a little extra) and me on the top, my bed was narrower and had no bar or anything to keep you in!! The beds were completely flat and about six foot long so perfect amounts of room and the housekeeper came and made them all with really fresh bleached or starched or whatever you say white sheets which was nice as they felt very clean! I slept for a good five hours or so, with my iPod in, listening to an audio book, which I will now have to rewind because I didn't listen to any of it, I just fell asleep!
In Bangkok station as it was the Thai new year we saw a little ceremony take place where some men in what looked like an army uniform parade around a small square and everyone stood as the national anthem(?) was played. It was really sweet to see how important the new year celebrations are to them. We caught a taxi to our hostel next as we were tight on time, with a huge to do list for the day. It was quite difficult to get any of the drivers to agree to take us on the taxi meter though as with it being Songkran they were really out to make their moohlar!
We put a wash on at the hostel and went for a walk to find some breakfast. Particularly original of us, but I ended up in Starbucks and the girls in McDonalds! We regrouped and did a quick pharmacy shop, stocking up on rehydration sachets, new toothbrushes and antibacterial hand gel and headed home to freshen up, hang out our washing and head to the shopping centre for our next batch of jobs! All over town we saw loads of water guns for sale an huge buckets of water ready for the big water fights that would be happening later in the day to celebrate the new year, like we had in Laos briefly!
In the MBK centre, Al managed to pick up a scarf for India, Kate a tshirt or two and I got Helen the money belt she had wanted and also a long dress as another India cover up option. We also stocked up on electricals and had a wander around in awe of the huge amount of stuff for sale. We must have spent half an hour in the little Boots store as well crooning over all of the things that reminded us of home and then working out the cheapest shower gel etc! As we were walking outside of the shopping centre we got absolutely drenched by people of all ages, Western and Thai firing water pistols and chucking bottles and cups of water at everyone celebrating Songkran. We really wanted to get into the spirit of things and celebrate but we all felt a bit begrudging getting so wet with all of our new purchases. We jumped in a taxi with the intent to go back to the hostel, put our stuff away and go the water fight up the road (which was one of two organised locations). The driver charged us an absolute fortune and half way on the journey we changed our mind and wanted to go to a vegetarian restaurant that Al knew near Khaosan road (the backpacker street and location of the second and largest organised water fight). The driver got us as close as he could but it was absolutely mayhem with lots of the roads shut and people hanging our o car windows and the back of pick up trucks throwing water and flour everywhere! We struggled through the crowd trying to stay as dry as possible which was obviously impossible and within seconds we all looked like we'd been swimming with our clothes on and our faces were covered with a white clay mixture that people, particularly the Asians liked to rub on our cheeks! We dashed through to a nearby side street and ran to the restaurant for cover, only to find that along with many other places across the Thai capital, it was closed for the entire New year period. There was another next door however with a lot of people in, also watching the water fight on the main street from the relative safety of the tables! We went a bit crazy with our ordering, getting fresh spring rolls with a peanut sauce, bean sushi and a curry with red rice each. I had the tofu and veg red Thai curry - I thought it only appropriate my last meal in Thailand, in SE Asia, be my favourite red curry :) it was absolutely delish, full of ginger and loads of veg. The way we absolutely cleared the table of food, you'd have thought we'd not eaten for days, or never had Thai cuisine!! Al and I really enjoyed being in a restaurant where we didn't have to question each dish and get Kate to taste things to see if they had meat in them! I will definitely be eating a lot more tofu when I get home and am beginning to find that what I miss most is not actually the meat itself (not that I ate that much to begin with) but yes daddy, not even sausage or bacon, its more the convenience of eating meat that I miss, because you don't have to think about what's inside anything that you fancy, like a quiche I saw in Starbucks that morning, leek and lamb - seriously why ruin it!
On the way back from the vegetarian restaurant we decided to embrace the water fight and walk up the whole of Khaosan road and join in. We bagged up all our purchases to try and keep them as dry as possible and Kate brought a big water pistol ad we walked through the huge crowds going up an down soaking each other. It had a very Notting Hill carnival feel to it, with so many people, blaring music and make shift bars set up on the side of the road with water refills and beer for sale. The people at the side stalls were the worst for fully drenching you, running up and tipping big buckets of icy water over your head! I've never screamed and laughed so much whilst being soaked and covered in the fly stuff. Al and I took to dipping our hands in other people's clay (sort of the consistency of a face mask) and smothering it on everyone we walked past to! Literally within seconds it was absolutely all over my face, back, hair and clothes!! Being so wet and covered it took us a while to find a tuktuk driver who would actually take us back to the hostel on the other side of town! In the end he agreed and it was fantastic as he took us up all of the back streets where little party's of people had gathered to throw water at everyone passing on the roads, tuktuk passengers, motorcyclists and all the people in the back of pick up trucks cruising the streets celebrating! We got hosed, covered by soapy water, had tens of full buckets chucked at the tuktuk and occasionally, the driver, loving it, slowed right down to let the people on the pavement get really close and soak us like sitting ducks!! Kate was frantically pumping up her water fun but it was no match for giant buckets of icy cold water throwers!! It was a really funny ride back to the hostel and the tuktuk driver had a good sense of humour about hit can being completely flooded! It was cold though as the air had chilled and being soaking wasn't so much fun with goosebumps! We drip dried as much as we could outside the reception entrance and then created a puddle trail all the way up the stairs to our room where we decided to have warm showers. We had thought we'd go and re join the water fight afterwards but a massive tropical rain storm out pay to that idea and so we stayed indoors, organised our washing and packed our bags ready for India. We used our final evening to send emails home and make our last calls as we were unsure of the wifi situation across India and how much we'd be able to talk to home. Before we knew it, the whole day was up and we had to go to bed before getting up at 3am in order to avoid the supposed Songkran traffic and airport immigration queues to catch our flight to Delhi. Goodbye Thailand and South East Asia and hello a whole new adventure!!