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March 20th 2013
Published: March 20th 2013
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Psy recently filmed the most watched video in the history of YouTube but may need to have his song's hook amended, for in Thailand there are many sexy ladies! The country is the party capital of the world, and justifiably famous for the good times on offer. There's a cure available for sceptics that goes by the name of 'I'm resistant to the party capital of the world'. It comes in a simple pill form, and the medicated dosage is sure to take effect before you know it. But let's move on from the party scene, and focus on what humans enjoy most (aside from some extra good loving of course) and that's got to be glorious food! In Thailand a divine street meal from a vendor costs the princely sum of a dollar or two. The dishes are healthy, delicious, and full of flavour, as the cooks know the secret ingredient to make magic from a sizzling wok in a couple of minutes. Dining out in Thailand features five star flavours, all enjoyed while sitting on cheap plastic chairs. As a matter of fact, food is a highlight of any visit to Thailand!

The journal continues, dear reader, from where we left off at the conclusion of my visit to Nepal. It's been a memorable trip, and I flew out of Kathmandu with fond memories to treasure. However, time marches on and it was time to head over to Bangkok to enjoy a week long stay in Thailand, one of the world's great travel destinations. I caught the bus from the airport for the 150 kilometre journey to Jomtien, to link up with an Australian friend who is now firmly entrenched in the expat community in Thailand. It's been great to catch up over old times, and he's set a demanding travel itinerary which has kept me occupied from morning to night for four days. We paid a visit to the Pattaya floating markets, a recent addition to the city that has become very popular with locals in a short space of time. There are plenty of cheap meals on offer; a great array of shops, entertainment, and a buzzing atmosphere.

Incredibly the guest speaker for the weekly sunday morning expats meeting on Pattaya beach featured Ray Woods, a legendary figure in the travellers century club community. He has visited all 319 countries and territories on their official list. That's even more than on the travelblog world map, and during his speech he said, for example, that he had to visit all seven separate territories within Antarctica to qualify. I'm thrilled to be in a position to sign up to the club, and introduced myself to Ray like an affectionate puppy after his speech. These guys are in another league to me, but I'm grateful Ray was kind and considerate in acknowledging my recent achievement in reaching one hundred countries visited. On the final day I visited Nongnooch garden and resort with two friends, it's a spectacular park less than half an hour from Jomtien. You can spend hours wandering around the beautiful grounds; and there's wildlife, elephant rides, tigers with their handlers, colourful birds and much more. It's a great destination and very popular with tourists, the vast majority of whom seem to come from Russia nowadays. In fact there's a little Russia street in Pattaya, with all the signage and menus in Russian to cater to the hordes who can't seem to get enough of the sun, surf and crazy good times after dark in Thailand.



Flight times from Siberia are a little over five hours, and it's certainly a bit warmer in Thailand than being in the depths of a Siberian winter! Of course we were out and about of an evening, taking in all the excitement of Walking Street which is jam packed with people after dark. There are heaps of pubs, go go bars, there's even a Russian go go bar, and plenty of rocking live bands and discos to keep travellers entertained. I've had a great time staying with my friend in Jomtien while getting a special introduction to his friends in the expat community. From his serviced apartment it's less than fifteen minutes to get to Pattaya on the baht taxi for an awesome night out.

However the time arrived to part company with my friends, both old and new, and I boarded the bus back to the flash We Bangkok hostel in the heart of Silom. The hostel is close to all the thumping nightlife and market stalls that line the streets around Patpong, and the vendors don't pack up their wares until tourists begin to walk home well after midnight. Bangkok traffic is as I remember from a decade ago, and just getting from one
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We enjoy sunset at Bangkok's legendary Sky Bar
major intersection to the next is quite an achievement. Actually the centre of this buzzing metropolis is as close to gridlock as you're likely to see anywhere in the world. But there's a magical energy to the Thai capital and her people that strikes a chord, in fact every time I've been in the country my affection for the patient and tolerant locals grows further.

My friend jumped on the morning bus to Bangkok on my second day in the capital, in order to organise an enjoyable get together to savour all this world class city has to offer. We started off the afternoon in a group of four with high tea at Erawan tea rooms, where everything was just so, what? Yes indeed, tally ho, and it was most certainly a jolly good show in the heart of Bangkok, old man! We then headed out for sunset views of the city at the most famous bar in the world, Bangkok's legendary Sky Bar. The beers are insanely expensive, but first you must take the lift up 64 floors in order to enjoy a drink at the bar, or preferably many choose to relax over a sumptuous meal, with world beating views of the Phraya river and central Bangkok in all directions.

It was time to bid farewell again on the skytrain, and I slotted back into life as a solo traveller. I had a great conversation with an American girl at the hostel table while I was checking the internet the other night. We chatted for several hours, and the computer soon became the furthest thing from my mind. I love meeting interesting people, and a stimulating conversation with a new aquaintance is a special part of life on the road. To conclude the final day in Bangkok I booked in for a day long day tour starting at 6:30am from central Bangkok. The destination is the Bridge on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, where over 100,000 allied prisoners lost their lives after being press ganged by the concquering Japanese army into constructing the 400 kilometre railway to Burma. The railway was completed in little more than a year, yet the horrific toll on the starving prisoners of war in a malaria infested area shall never be forgotten.

We relaxed over lunch on the fast flowing river, and then headed out to the Tiger Temple, where we enjoyed one of life's most unforgettable experiences. If they put their minds to it, the sleepy big cats could have visitors searching for a new face with a single swipe of their massive paws. For a brief moment I doubted if I had the minerals to enter the tiger enclosure, but a local girl guided me through the process after taking my hand, and to be able to remain calm in such close proximity to these alpha predators is an experience I'll never forget! I've always been obsessed with tigers; who are the biggest, strongest and most lethal predators in the feline world. There's an ongoing controversy about whether the tigers at the temple are drugged, but from my experiences with African safaris a big cat is rarely active during the heat of the day, preferring to sleep till the early evening where their predatory instinct to hunt will inexorably surface. I recommend a visit to the Tiger Temple, which also features a variety of other wildlife cared for by the gentle monks. They have somehow managed to forge an animal sanctuary for the magnificent wild creatures of Thailand, in the midst of an increasingly cruel and materialistic world. I spent a final night at the hostel amongst congenial company, and the staff and guests have been brilliant. In fact visiting Thailand again this past week has inspired me to say, basically all of you should be here now!


An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger." Confucious



As I continue my travels, until next time it's signing off for now

Tom

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24th March 2013

Very cool experience! The tiger temple sounds amazing! Definitely going to try and visit there soon

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