Friday 19th December
Awoke in my berth on the sleeper train surprisingly refreshed despite the cold induced interruptions to sleep and the buffeting. A steward delivered breakfast included a welcome coffee and some very lightly toasted bread and jam. After 21 hours we crawled into Bangkok and by local bus made our way towards our hostel. I had forgotten quite how mad and traffic congested the streets are. My plan to make the remainder of the way by ferryboat backfired as none seemed to be traveling to the stop we required. Eventually heavily laden with rucksacks we made our sweaty way on foot to the Roof View Lodge. It is surprisingly up market for a hostel. We are staying in the Banglamphu area witch is backpacker central. The main street of Khao San is a bit overpowering but probably brilliant if you're in your twenties. I got a bit of a surprise when admiring the shapely breasts of someone approaching me; I looked up to discover that they belonged to a rather old man with three days stubble. Such is Bangkok. We're a bit north of the main action which suits us. The good news is that beer is cheap. (A large bottle of Chang - our favourite - £'1 in some bars). A plate of Pad Thai is about 50p from a street stall and an excellent green curry cost about 80p + 40p for rice at a bar. Not knowing the local bus routes, we made a tortuous journey to Siam Square to find a reliable chemist to get our anti-malarial tablets only to discover after that there was branch of Boots within walking distance of our lodgings.
Our hostel had no availability for Saturday, so we had to move on. It was surprisingly easy to find somewhere else. We've ended up in the Riverline Lodge tucked away down a back alley but with a rooftop area with splendid views out over the river. Jen used the in-house washing machine and hung our washing out to dry there. In the afternoon and evening we wandered the atmospheric streets. Traffic dodging is the sport in this town. Taxis and tuk-tuks are a law unto themselves. We've settled on a favourite bar which seems to employ exclusively lady boys as waitresses. It sells excellent pad Thai and cheap beer. We finished the evening with a beer on the rooftop of our lodge watching small tugs straining to pull huge barges up river.
After wondering around the local market of street stalls (only thing we bought was delicious freshly squeezed orange juice), we took the ferry down river for a bit of sightseeing. We stopped off at a big market on the west riverbank less frequented by tourists. The variety and number of food stalls is simply incredible. It seems that Thais (like the Malaysians) spend the whole day (and most of the evening) working and grazing food.
Unfortunately the camera has stopped working again so no river views from today.