So after nearly 2 weeks in Saigon we made it to Bangkok on 02 September.
We flew in to the new airport and got the express bus to Khao San Road, we looked at some of the rooms on the main drag, but there were really expensive and quite grotty. Wayne was absolutely knackered so he sat in a bar while I went out and looked for a half decent room. I found a new hotel on Khao San but it was really expensive, I could not be bothered to look any further for one day so we checked in. Khao San road is fab, not at all what I expected. I thought it would be really seedy, but it is really cool, very busy all day with lots of clothes and food stalls which line the entire road. Our first evening was spent having a quick look around the area and stalls and then settling down to a Chang beer and Thai curry for tea, both are lovely.
We found a cheaper hotel in a road behind Khao San road, so we went and checked in and then we decided that we should see some of the city, so we headed to the main sight, Wat Phra Kaeo and the Grand Palace. There were lots of people that had to borrow clothes at the entrace as you are unable to enter unless you have sholders and knees covered, we had trousers and t-shirts on so we were OK but it was so hot. We decided not to have a guide, they hang around by the entrace, instead we got an audio guide which we could pause and rewind, it talked us through what we were looking at and the history of each area in turn, which was really useful as we would not have had a clue. The first place that you visit is Wat Phra Kaeo, the private royal temple which houses the Emerald Buddha. The whole site is massive and full of gold buildings which shine so bright in the sun. We wandered round listening to the history and meanings behind each of the buildings. Along with the buildings are guardian statues and golden figures, which are half woman and half bird, the whole area is very mystical. The main attraction is the building that houses the Emerald Buddah, you must take shoes off to enter and when you go in to the room, you must keep you feet from facing the buddha as it is so sacred. The building has small mosaic squares on each wall and pillar and inside the shrine is covered in flowers and incense sticks. The tiny buddha sit upon a pedalstal and looks small, but I expect this is the distance. It is all very powerful and quite an experience to be sat in the temple feels very special. The design of each of the temples, buildings and statues are phenomenal vivid colour and intricate detail it really is beautiful. There is lots of restoration underway to ensure that the Temples are kept in their original state and I can imagine that sue to the size of the site there is are constantly workers painting and working on the scaffolding.
The Grand Palace is the next attraction, some of the area is closed off to the public, this is the residential area but the you can still see many of the other buildings. The architecture here is also amazing big tiered roofs of red gold and green. As this is the royal palace there are guards at the front of some of the entrances in full uniform, which is white. Here the main attraction is the throne hall, where ceromonial occasions are held, the throne is magnificent and above is a tiered hat, which represents 9 tiers of the kingdom, although in most indoor areas you are unable to take photos. The last area is the museum, which holds some of the original stautes which have been replaced or damaged, there are also many buddha images which have beenn taken from the temples. We finally finished our tour after about 3 hours and Wayne was really tired this is the most he has done in the last 2 weeks. We jumped on to a tuk-tuk to take us back. You sit in the back in a carriage and the driver is on like a small motorbike, they are quite noisy and the drivers are mental. They go quite fast and whizz in and out of the traffic, the scariest bit is that when you are sat in the carraige you can not see out so you are unaware of where the bends are or where the traffic is! We went out quite late and sat in a rooftop bar where there was some live music, we sat and drank Chang it is lovely. We met a guy who is travelling on to Oz to work and he joined us for the rest of the evening, we then went down to a busier bar, where there were lots more drink and it was a lot livelier. It is really funny to just people watch, we saw one guy get chatted up and they left together Wayne is sure that it was a lady boy which amused us while we thought of the shock he'd get. We left the club quite late and as we had not eated we got Pad Thai, Spring Rolls and BBQ corn on the cob from the street stalls it was lovely and so cheap.
We checked out of the hotel as we had decided to get the bus down to Ko Phangan tonight. We were able to leave our bags at the travel agents, which was better than having to lug them around all day. We had about 5 hours so we decided to get on the Express boat down the Chao Phraya River. The river is the easiest way to get around the city and is used by tourists, locals and monks. We took the boat down to the central pier and then jumped onto the skytrain (another good way to get around - the roads are manic). We got off at the Patpong area and had a quick look around although there is nothing to see in the daytime, Wayne was really tired today so we stopped for a drink and then walked back down Silom Road, where there are lots of big hotels and shops. We got back on the boat and were surprised that we had been gone for abour 3.5 hours. We got back to Khao San Road and I went to the beauticians and then we grabbed some more street food as we had run out of time. We had corn on the cob again and a hot chicken pitta bread. We were collected for the bus at the right time and taken to a car park where we had to wait for the VIP bus (it has a toilet on board!). The bus is a lot more comfortable than the Vietnam ones, it had a TV but unfortunately it was not switched on. The roads here are also much better than Vietnam, less bumps and they drive on the same side of the road which we didn't expect, although it took us ages to figure out which side we normally drive on - it has been so long! We stopped at a place for a toilet and food break and then on to Chumphon, where the people heading to Ko Tao got off, we headed on to the port further down, Surat Thani. About 10 minutes out of Chumphon the bus stopped and we were told that we had broken down so we all had to get off and were ferried by mini-bus to the travel agency in Chumpon where we had dropped the others. We had to wait here for 3 hours before we could get on the ferry, there was a small room with mats on the floor so we tried to get some sleep in there!