We arrived at about 7am after our 12 hour bus journey from Chiang Mai, which was not too bad as we both slept, thanks to the sleeping tablets! This is our 4th time in Bangkok in a month as we have used it as a base to get to the surrounding areas. We went straight to the Wild Orchid Villa guesthouse where we stayed on our last two visits. They were full when we arrived but we only had to wait for an hour for a previous guest to check out and the room to be cleaned. We settle in and sorted out a load of laundry, had breakfast of fruit, yoghurt and muesli at the street stalls and then because we had slept on the bus, we decided to head out and see more of the citys sights. We got a taxi to the legendary Chatuchak weekend market a short way out of city centre. The market was huge and had over 15,000 stalls, all set out in sections depending on the goods they were selling. We looked around the handicrafts, clothes, antiques, home wares and many more areas before buying ourselves flip-flops and Thai silk cushion covers. We also tried some of the BBQ food, mini pigs in blankets on skewers and small toasted garlic bread, both were lovely and a good idea for BBQ cooking. After about 3 hours of looking at the various stalls we decided to take the skytrain back into the centre. We got off at Siam Square, which is the main shopping district, with some up market malls and also the MBK mall, which is for those shoppers after a bargain. We went to MBK, we had quite a quick look around as we were starting to get tired. We went to the top floor and found the packed food court, which had too many windows with many different dining options to choose from. Wayne opted for a Beef noodle soup and I had a duck noodle soup from different counters both were very nice and really cheap. After we had filled up we went back downstairs to get a taxi back, not one of the taxis that stopped wanted to take us as we wanted them to put the meter on and they didn't want to! We decided to take one as apparently the traffic was bad and it would take a while. 10 minutes later we were back and the driver would not take our offer of 1/2 the agreed fare, he started shouting and I told Wayne just to pay and be done with it even though we were not impressed, it was our choice to go with him! That evening we went for our favourite street food just around the corner from where we were staying, it was as good as always. We then walked to find a bar to watch the rugby world cup match between England and Australia. We found a bar and realised that we got the start time wrong so we only managed to watch the last 20 minutes, but we won so a great result.
The following day we were picked up for our tour. Our first stop was the Damnoen Saduak floating market about 1.5 hours from Bangkok. We were transferred to a James Bond boat and taken through the canals to the actual market. We had a couple of hours here and decided to take a boat around the market so we could experience it better than walking on the bank. The canal area was jam packed with boats of visitors and also the vendors selling their goods, which included food and many souvenirs. We also sampled some of the food for sale from the boats. We had some small sweet coconut type cakes. They had a soft texture and were served hot, we couldn't work out how they had been made but think it was maybe sticky rice with coconut rind - very nice though. We also had some taco's we were really surprised as these were sweet and we expected them to be savoury. They were like brandy snap biscuits filled with coconut cream, slightly too sweet for me. The market was quite tourist focused which was a shame, but we were still able to get some authenticity from it. After a good look around the market we were back on the bus to Kanchanaburi where we had lunch on a restaurant over looking the River Kwai. We were then able to visit the museum but we passed and headed straight to the main attraction, "the bridge over the river Kwai". We could have taken a small tourist train but we decided to walk across. The bridge was much smaller than I expected it to be but still a great sight to see. The final stop of the day was the Tiger Temple. A Buddhist temple where the monks meditate and prey and also a sanctuary for Tigers. We were able to go into the Tiger Canyon, where the Tigers were for the afternoon and queue up to be able to go in and stoke them. We were taken by a guide who held our arms on the way up to the tigers and back, they also took the photos for us. It was all quite safe, if one of the tigers had made a move we would have been whipped out very quickly. The tigers were hot and sleepy (not sure if this was because they had been given drugs) and just laid down to allow us to touch them. Walking around the park we saw baby tiger cubs being looked after by the monks, these little ones were able to play and run around freely, they were not on chains. This was much better as we were able to touch them, when I stroked one, he turned his head to play and I jumped away scared he was going to bite me! We also saw a deer which allowed us to stroke his horns and lots of wild boar running around! In the evening we met Pete Murray a friend from home in Patpong for a few beers. We met Pete and his Thai, Joy, girlfriend in one of the many pole dancing bars, we then went in search of a ping pong show, but failed, I ended up being extremely drunk. It was lovely to see a familiar face and find out the news from home.
The next day we both woke with hangovers and decided to go to the restaurant downstairs for a sandwich as a cure. We then fell back to sleep until late afternoon. We took the river taxi down the river to Chinatown. We walked through the main streets following our map in search of the main area, it seemed as if everywhere was deserted as the shops were all shut up, we decided we must be too early so we found a bar to have a quick drink at. It was getting later and the whole area was pretty much still closed, we called Pete and Joy who we were meant to be meeting and told them the area was shut. We got some dim sums to eat as we walked and finally found out that Chinatown was closed as it was the Kings birthday. Not his actual birthday but a Monday, this means that every Monday everything shuts down as this was the day the King was born. Most Thai also wear yellow t-shirts on a Monday in honour of the King, the whole nation worships the King and Queen, their portraits are everywhere, in restaurants, on buses and even on banners on the side of the road. We met Pete and Joy and headed on the Metro, which was spotlessly clean and empty as Thai people find it too expensive only about 50p. We went to Sukhumvit an area known for its nighlife where we had some food and then headed to the bars of Nana. Pete was trying to find a go-go bar called dollhouse a go go, so we ended up going all over in the end we found it, more lap dancers and no ping pong show!
Our last day in Bangkok saw us book a ticket to Krabi for the overnight bus. We pent the day sorting out our bags, wandering around the stalls of Khao San road and using the internet to get organised. We had some good street food and are sad to finally say goodbye to Bangkok.