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Chapter eighty seven - Bangkok to Sydney

G'dnight Thailand, G'Day Australia

sunny 25 °C

Day 311: Bangkok, Thailand to Sydney, Australia 06/08/2012

A lazy morning and early afternoon is spent lounging, and after a quick shower and a final pack of the bags, as well as one last great street meal, we are off to the airport. We really cannot believe that things have got to this point and we have been on the road for well over ten months now! It is all slipping away...sob.

Disaster strikes en route to the airport. A little jig of mine backfires as the left strap of my backpack breaks. Disappointing to say the least. After neglecting to get in touch with Emirates to confirm our flights (cannot get through to them at the weekend), we face the moment of truth...are we even on this flight? Yes, no sweat. Time for some last minute refreshments in the airport.

As we board our flight an old Pakistani woman tries to board without her boarding pass. Hmmm, we will have to see how that one pans out for her...In our seats, a decent dinner and a film and a few zzz's go up. The next chapter of our trip awaits.

Posted by tevs 23:07 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney flying australia thailand bangkok airports Comments (0)

Chapter eighty six - Bangkok. Again.

Bye Bye Asia...for now

overcast 28 °C

Day 308: Bangkok, Thailand 03/08/2012

A fairly early start for the bus ride to Bangkok then, with the bus setting off for that most horrendous of borders at Poipet. A nutritous breakfast is eaten on board in the shape of a baguette smeared with a Laughing Cow cheese triangle. We reach the border in good time, being told when we alight 'no sticker, no bus' by the driver, who we assume will meet us on the other side.

Now the fun begins, with the sheer inadequacy of this horrid little part of the world showing itself in all its glory. The scrum on the Cambodian side of the border takes only about 15-20 minutes for us to get through, which is not too bad. Then comes the Thai side...the 100% uncomfortable and wholly inefficient process of getting to the Thai immigration counter takes over two and a half hours, with everybody in the queue being rained on with all their stuff and us enduring the frightening experience of being shouted at by a little old Thai lady.

Once through the rigmarole of dragging ourselves and our stuff through the immigration counter, we start the ridiculous process of being transferred onto a Bangkok bound minibus. Sitting with an Irish couple we met tubing in Laos, we are subjected to the frankly inexcusable ways of the travel mafia, who make us wait around to buy some reasonably priced (but crap) food and drink off them whilst they try to explain why a driver sits in an empty minibus waiting for passengers. Some seriously pissed off people here.

Finally arrive in Bangkok nine hours after starting the 'four hour' journey. Check into the Train Inn for the last time and in need of a beer, discover it is a Buddhist holiday and alcohol shall not be served at 7-eleven.

Day 309: Bangkok, Thailand 04/08/2012

Wake up after a decent night's kip, the horror of Poipet firmly behind us. To anyone reading this, please learn from our mistakes and never travel overland from Thailand to Cambodia - the two times we have done were hellish - the cost of an airfare is more than worth it, despite the expansion of one's carbon footprint.

Off out for the day and our noodle soup breakfast at Hua Lamphong is cut short by the arrival of a couple of rats in the joint. No Saturday in Bangkok would be complete without a visit to Chatuchak Market, the sheer size of the place never ceasing to amaze us. We even find parts we hadn't seen in any of our previous visits, with antiques, second hand watches, military memorobilia and traditional Chinese medicine stalls rearing their heads. The products available here are seemingly never ending, and after a few hours here and a few purchases later, we head for a much needed hair cut and a good bite to eat. We grab a tuk-tuk back to the Train Inn and watch a couple of episodes of Only Fools and Horses on my new box set and cringe at how un-PC it is. Still brilliant though.

Day 310: Bangkok, Thailand 05/08/2012

A lazy morning is spent watching some more Del Boy and Rodney capers at the hotel and after unsuccessfully trying to get the laundry done (it is Sunday), we decide to go for a quiet stroll around Bangkok. We end up seeing lots of parts of the city we have never seen before - local markets, food markets and a vast array of weird and wonderful buildings and areas. Whilst trying some smart trousers on for the Aussie wedding I am shouted at quite viciously by the strange woman market stall owner and told in no uncertain terms to go. Weirdo.

We soon find ourselves back near the station and after marvelling at the hyperactivity of a hedgehog (Sonic?) in a cage at yet another interesting market we embark on that other favourite pastime we have enjoyed in this part of the world, the cinema. The Dark Knight Rises is one of the best films I have ever seen at the cinema and Bane may be my favourite bad guy since Hannibal Lecter. Off to Australia tomorrow. Cannot believe it has come round so quickly! So long Bangkok, we will miss you.

Posted by tevs 22:32 Archived in Thailand Tagged markets market thailand bangkok cinema Comments (0)

Chapter seventy one - Somewhere on a bus between BKK & Lao

Surprisingly decent journey

overcast 26 °C

Day 257: Somewhere north of Bangkok, somewhere south of Laos 12/06/2012

Up after a bit of a lie in at the Train Inn, and then we are out for about twelveish. We drop the bags at the left luggage bit of the station and then change things up a bit by having some noodle soup at the ridiculously good, ridiculously cheap noodle soup stand at the train station. A nice day out is needed before the overnight journey (not sure what to expect) so grab a tuk-tuk to Siam Square again.

After a visit to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (excellent – some amazing art, etc.) we head back to our favourite medium of art, cinematic art, to watch Mel Gibson in ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation’. Despite the couple of hours we need to kill, it is an excellent piece of cinematography (new word for both me and the blog) and we make a hasty exit to ensure we make it to the train station for our carriage to Laos.

A quick dash across the road for a bit of dinner (polystyrene trays – still QUALITY) and some products from 7-eleven and we are ready for the overnight rail journey to another country. Despite the relative comfort of the train bunks we still can’t quite comprehend how comfortable the beds on the train are. Especially when the curtains allow us to exclude the absolute weirdo from Scandinavia sat opposite us as we pull away.

Posted by tevs 09:44 Archived in Thailand Tagged football thailand bangkok city_living Comments (0)

Chapter seventy - Bangkok (again)

More markets?

overcast 27 °C

Day 253: Bangkok, Thailand 08/06/2012

So, awoken at five in the morning by the driver screaming, ‘Quick, quick, the air conditioning is broken. Get on the next bus’. Everybody in a dazed and confused state given the fact we were all asleep a few seconds previously. At this point we are bundled onto a local stopping service bus, which just about manages to accommodate all the passengers plus our luggage.

Arrive in Bangkok pissed off at the palava of swapping buses and enjoying the early morning commute into the city centre. When the bus eventually drops us off it becomes clear that the cabin crew has had an inside man and somebody has been rifling through the bags and been on the rob. Luckily, we are a bit wiser than some of the younger travellers and all our valuables are on us...

Catch the rest of the rush hour bus service to Hualumphong and check into our favourite hotel, the Train Inn. A nice hot shower later, we are back on the streets of Bangers and enjoying a little bit of lunch before taking a quick stroll to the trade market for a bit more of our favourite pastime.

Today we see a new bit of Bangkok in the form of Siam Square, which is a very nice shopping district, full of little boutique shops, vintage stores and very, very upmarket shopping malls. Then onto the 1960s in the form of the Lido cinema. One screen, one showing, one size of salted popcorn available. Prometheus is poor, but then a head back to the DVD room at the Train (as we regulars call it) to watch a little Sherlock (amazing series) before watching the first game of the Euros.

Day 254: Bangkok, Thailand 09/06/2012

A very good night’s sleep and there is always the joy of a nice, hot shower to make us all feel a little bit better. A great bit of breakfast at the train station (noodle soup) and we are straight onto the MRT for Chatachuk Market, the biggest market in the world and after arriving at eleven we stay literally all day there, encountering stalls, zones and universes unseen by human eye on any of our previous visits. We buy a few little bits and pieces before being inhumanely driven away by the rain around half five.

A very uneventful evening at the Train Inn watching some more Sherlock and some more soccer (sorry people back home for using this derogatory term) after dinner. A wee bit of skyping to start the evening and life could not get any better.

Day 255: Bangkok, Thailand 10/06/2012

Happy birthday wee sister!

Given the familiarity of yesterday’s Bangkok experience, we decide to have a noodle soup breakfast at the train station and then head to this massive weekend market we have heard about before.

Again we buy a few things and see some more things we hadn’t/haven’t seen before and haven’t/hadn’t bargained for (cock fights). The pet section is ridiculous and coming out of the market with two puppies, a baby snake, a little crocodile, a handbag designed for my new sugar glider, a huge wooden horse and a new eighty litre backpack (guess the real purchase…), I walk out munching on a huge bag of deep fried grasshoppers. Despite sounding like an Ant and Dec inspired challenge this crunchy treat is exactly that, a crunchy treat.

Head back to our neck of the woods and we give a massive happy birthday to Rosie on skype before having a bit of decent scran at the side of the road for about a quid. Euro 2012 again somehow takes precedent over an early night.

Day 256: Bangkok, Thailand 11/06/2012

A bit of a lie in is followed by a spot of breakfast at the roadside (some more impressed than others…) and although I quite realise how boring this blog is becoming, we hit the silver screen and enjoy the most ridiculously big bucket of popcorn we have ever seen for a pound. Men In Black 3 is not quite the biggest sell out movie I have ever seen but come on Will! Quite enjoyable though.

Leave the safety of the cinema and discover that the rain is hammering down like a decent day in the north of England somewhere (despite hearing the news on the hosepipe ban in the southeast). England play tonight and despite searching frantically for somewhere that can shelter me from the inadequacy of Woy’s (respect) squad on the world or even European front, we end up in public at the Paragon Centre’s Chang Screen (after a bit of umming and ahhing and some youtube), where we proceed to make the worst TV interview since Balotelli after the FA Cup game last year (‘can I say shit?’). Despite the experiences in India (the mere mention of India makes me realise how boring this blog is becoming after the sub-continental leg), we hope this never goes out.

England just about over-under-perform and so we are reasonably happy…head home ready for our journey to the border tomorrow.

Posted by tevs 08:48 Archived in Thailand Tagged football thailand bangkok city_living Comments (0)

Chapter sixty nine - Somewhere between Koh Lanta and Bangers

Another bloody bus

overcast 24 °C

Day 252: Somewhere between Koh Lanta and Bangkok, Thailand 07/06/2012

Wake up to find the rain is just unrelenting. As well as coming through the ceiling, the water is finding its way through the wiring and out via the sockets and light switches. Time to leave we think and after breakfast I take a stroll to find out if we can change our bus tickets to leave today. Turns out we can so a couple of hours later we are waiting at the travel agent/internet café for the minibus to turn up. With the rain lashing down it arrives forty five minutes late and our luggage is wedged in amongst the other passengers whilst we get the relative comfort of the front seats.

We are dropped at the wrong place in Krabi but luckily a very helpful woman at the bus station (I know, a helpful person!) calls the bus company and we are transported to the correct destination. After a bite to eat we get on the bus to Bangkok, where we are by far the oldest people. The rest are all real Khao Saners aged 18-19. One very annoying Brummie girl needs to be gagged/killed/forcibly ejected from the moving vehicle (delete as applicable) but after she eventually shuts the f*ck up a decent night’s sleep follows.

Posted by tevs 09:04 Archived in Thailand Tagged travel bus thailand Comments (0)

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