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January 17th 2018
Published: January 17th 2018
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We arrived in Bangkok just after midday. We visited my aunty Dhum and her family who live in the outer suburbs of Bangkok. So we got there and saw her and uncle Menk, then all mu cousins On, Pa, Lek and Phong who came with his wife. Then there are the grandkids – 2 of whom are grown up teenagers (Firm and Fair) and Arm who is around 10. And that's just one branch of the family tree! We had lunch there and after a short visit Lueng dropped us off at the Mercure hotel in the centre of Bangkok – Siam square. As we always book and executive room, there is an included happy hour at 5-7pm. I went for a swim on the rooftop pool, then we went to happy hour to take advantage of the free drinks and watch the sunset. My parents joined us soon enough. It was a fantastic sunset actually. Afterward, me, Bill and my dad went for a walk through the awesome MBK shopping centre across the road.

The next day was my parents last full day. We went shopping in MBK mall and got some fabulous handicrafts then we met Aunty Dhum and On and Pa at the hotel in the afternoon. The two Bill's went to the Pratumwan temple and Pra Phom shrine to take photos and the girls took me to the Platinum shopping mall which is in the wholesale market area! I got a few clothes but they weren't as nice or as cheap as the last time I was there but that's ok! We had a late lunch and also went around MBK for a bit buying more food. When we got back to the hotel my cousin Nick was there. It was then time to say goodbye to Aunty Dhum and the girls and then we sneaked Nick into happy hour with us!! We’ve done it numerous times before! My parents then left for the airport as they had a midnight flight and then me, Bill and Nick went to Kao San Road. Kao San is infamously the backpacker street, but its not sleazy or boozy as it once was. We walked through and I bought some things, then Nick took us to a quieter street which was much nicer and prettier and we had a beer. Nick's Thai is getting pretty good - I'm proud of him but also a little envious too! Kao san was really nice I'd like to go back. We then went to Silom road and to Patpong night market infamously one of Bangkok's oldest red light district. But it was dead! Usually market stalls line Silom road but not many markets now and no customers! Its usually packed with tourists, but it wasn't like that anymore! In Patpong itself the ping pong shows looked like they had no customers like the market and half the market stalls were closed. A club bouncer who was sprucing a ping pong show kept chasing Nick! We then went to Silom soi 4 to The Stranger Bar to see a lady boy show and it was fantastic! They just lip synched pop songs and did a bit of stand up comedy it was great. And we had the best cocktails ever – a chilli nipple which is basically a mojito with chilli and pineapple infused rum – yum! Nick left early as he had to go to work the next day. I also got chatting to a Thai girl who was studying in Melbourne. She got quite excited when she found out we were from Australia. We left after the last show and as it was after midnight the trains stopped and we actually walked back to the hotel which only took 20 minutes so not far really.

The next day was a shopping day. I took Bill to 2 fancy expensive malls Siam centre and Siam Paragon. Bangkok has a plethora of exclusive brands and overpriced goods but its fun walking through these shopping centres (well it is for me anyway). Bill got tired of it quickly and I bought a few things but many things were more expensive than Australia. Market shopping is my domain!! After seeing how the other half live, we dropped stuff back at the hotel and walked to Pra Phom where I payed my respects. I have to go there every trip – its a good omen! Then we went back to the hotel where I had a swim before happy hour. We tried to get to happy hour in time to see the sunset, which we did but unfortunately it was hidden behind cloud cover so not as crisp as the other night. We did a bit more shopping after happy hour at MBK (still my favourite) and then I went for a relaxing Thai massage with hot compress!! Divine!

The next day was an early 6am start as we booked a full day tour to the Dumnoen Saduak floating market and Kanchanaburi to see the bridge over the river Kwai. I have been to Kanchanaburi several times, most recently 2 years ago but I thought it would be something that interests Bill. The floating market was alright at first – we took a speedboat to the main market area and a paddleboat around but it soon became clear this place is extortion central! When you paddle around, market sellers literally pull your boat in and start the hard sell. The two other guys in our boat seemed like shopaholics and entered a negotiation for a pair of thongs (that's flip flops to non-Aussies) which were quoted 600B! And someone wanted 250B for a Heineken! Ridiculous. Lucky we got there early as massive amounts of tourists buses came in . It was nice to see and do, but no longer authentic as its pumping out masses of touristy souvenirs. There were also pythons (yuck!) crammed in boxes and what looked like a beaver or something where they were trying to get your photo with it – no thanks!! Afterward our mini van took us to an ‘elephant camp' – Chang Puak camp, where basically Elephants are mistreated and are forced to walk around in circles with tourists laden on their backs. Oh no wait, you can see a monkey show where monkeys are dressed in ridiculous tutu’s and are on leashes, crocodile shows or how about gawking at the ‘long necked people', the ethic Karen tribe who are actually from Myanmar and usually live in hills around Northern Thailand, not in some fake village outside of Bangkok. It was foul – I admit I've done the whole elephant trekking before when I didn't know any better but at least that was in the natural environment with natural body of water nearby that elephants could cool themselves with. All ridiculous prices too. We thought the tour went here as a way to raise revenue, but then we left without the other people who came in the van with us so maybe they were spending the day there! What a waste! So we went onto to Kanchanaburi and saw the war cemetery where 5000 POW's are buried. We also saw the JEATH museum, which is a strange mish mash of WWII, Vietnam war information and relics, as well as a museum of coins, alcohol, Thai beauty pageants, gems, rocks etc. As eclectic as I remembered! We then went for a walk on the bridge over the River Kwai. Built by POW's in WWII when the Japanese invaded, the railway stretched for 400 km to Myanmar and 15 000 soldiers died building it and it is often called ‘death railway'. Today its a massive tourist site and we walked across took photos and waited for the train to come across. I got some great artistic shots.

We got back to the hotel in time for our included happy hour which was great. We then walked to central world shopping centre . I honestly haven't been there since I was a teenager a lot has changed. We had dinner at a pop up market outside - som yum yum yum!! And here we are - today the last day in Bangkok and the last day of out 2017/18 trip. We just did a big day of shopping at MBK and bought an extra bag - Bill piked out early so I continued on shopping in the Siam area markets. At the moment we are relishing at our last Mercure happy hour. Later we'll meet Nick and his Aussie mate Jesse at MBK as there is a Muay Thai fight night on Wednesdays outside and go to Kao San rd later. This has honestly been one of the best trips I've been on, made greater we've done a great Intrepid trip with my dad and our friend Andrea. Both great travel buddies and meeting my mum in Thailand! Made even greater by a fabulous Intrepid group! Until next travel blog - bye!!

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