Thailand - Bangkok and Trat


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Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Trat
December 5th 2016
Published: December 7th 2016
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David here...

We arrived at Bangkoks Don Meung airport after a short and pleasant flight. We made our way to immigration and this is where the airport rage started. We joined a queue but quickly spotted that there was only one desk open so decided to move to another queue. As we joined a much smaller queue the attendants opened up a barrier and a swarm of Chinese people made their way over to where we now were. I don't mind waiting in line, I am British after all and consider myself an expert queuer. What I do mind is people pushing in front, which appears to be exactly what these particular Chinese people thought queues were for. 3 'gentlemen' in particular tried to push past us despite other people in the queue behind us. I made my feelings very clear to them, much to Suzanne's embarrassment, but this did not deter them, they only looked at me sheepishly as they continued to try and push past. We'd gone from having about 10 people in front of us to about 20 and didn't look like getting through until 2017. I was fuming by this point so we decided to cut our losses and get out of the packed area and join another queue where there were 2 desks opened and more orderly queuing going on. We managed to push our way out and joined the back of the other queue, which was still full of Chinese playing 'Mike Reid's Runaround' (look it up kids).

After about 10 minutes of waiting one of the desks was having technical issues so closed. Cue everyone in one queue pushing across to the next queue, causing more mayhem. By this point I was about ready to explode. Fortunately I.T came to the rescue, fixed the issue so the second desk could reopen, cue everyone rushing back. I managed, somehow, to keep our place and we were finally through after about an hour. The guy who stamped us in was also really grumpy and appeared to be looking for a way to stop us from entering. I think it has to be one of the worst airport experiences I've ever had.

So, not in the best of moods, we looked for the train line to get into Bangkok. The buses go to Mo Chit station and Victory Monument, however we'd spotted that the train went closer to our hotel. I asked at the information desk and found out where the trains left from, across the road, and we made our way there. Unfortunately at the ticket office they told us that the train only went to Bangkok Central and did not stop where we wanted at all. Annoying. As we were there we decided to buy a ticket anyway, as the main station was only a couple of stops away from our hotel. Only then did we spot that the next train was in 30 minutes, which in Asia time was over 50 minutes. Not best pleased we waited and finally got on the (late) train. We managed to get a seat easily as the train was surprisingly quiet, probably as trains can be quite slow.

After about 40 minutes we approached the station near the hotel where we originally wanted to get off. Again, we knew we were approaching thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the offline Maps.me application that Charlie had recommended when we did the trek. To our surprise, the train stopped! It wasn't actually a scheduled stop, but the train had to wait for the level crossing to close. Not looking a gift horse in the mouth, we quickly jumped off the train (to some odd looks). Finally the gods of travelling were feeling pity for us. We got to the hotel 3 hours after landing, would've been a lot longer if not for that stop.

The Cacha Hotel was only a 15 minute walk away and we were soon checked in and in the room. It was a very comfortable room. Clean, sleek and modern however strangely the bed was a matress on the floor and the tables were all low down. No seating anywhere either. It was still worth the £29 a night we paid.

After freshening up we hit the town. We deliberately chose this area as it was near The Rock Pub which we had visited last time in Bangkok in 2010 and we wanted to go again. Before this we wanted some food. Near our hotel there were some street stalls set up however none of these looked nice so we made our way to Hollywood Street, an area next to the Rock Pub filled with bars and restaurants. We had read good reviews of TS Cuisine online so went there. The first warning should've been that no locals were eating there, only a couple of tourists but we trusted the reviews. Service was good however the food was not great. Poor quality meat mainly but it just wasn't good. After this we made our way into the Rock Pub, first ones in again, and ordered a litre of Chang. The beer prices are among the most expensive but it was a Rock pub playing decent music. Eventually a covers band came on who were pretty good, if a little safe, playing Guns and Roses, Metallica and Judas Priest. The singer had a decent voice and the guitarist was excellent. We got through 3 pitchers of beer and left when the next band came on, who played stuff like Green Day.

We were still feeling like a drink so ended up in Hollywood Street at Skate Cafe where they did 4 big bottles of Chang for 360 baht, half the price of the Rock Pub. We also ordered some chicken wings and spent a good hour soaking up the very local atmosphere before heading back to the hotel, enduring the smells from the street food vendors on the way back which had grown worse as more things were cooked. That's Bangkok for you.

The next day was to be a resupply day, we needed to get some toiletries and Suzanne was in desperate need of some trousers. The Siam Paragon shopping centre was nearby so after a lie-in and chilled out morning we walked the short distance in search of food and shopping. Lunch was the first priority and after walking through the main food court and food passage we opted for the cheap thai food selections in the food hall. This is where you put money on a card and use the card at each stall to get what you want. I went for a pork red curry with rice and 2 sides and Suzanne went for a Pad Thai that was cooked fresh. Both dishes were alright, nothing special but tasty enough. We also got through 3 soft drinks and the bill came to 300 baht, about £6.60, so a bargain price. We then wandered through lots of shops, eventually finding some trousers and the toiletries we needed (thanks, Boots). After a couple of hours we decided to have a coffee, but we could not find anywhere nice enough in the centre so decided to head back to the hotel where we had a kettle and could make our own.

We had booked a posher restaurant for this evening, one that we had decided on going to months ago after reading reviews online. Through the eatigo booking service we even got 50% off of the food if you booked before 18.30. We set off to the Ari area where the restaurant is located, giving ourselves plenty of time as we were using the Sky train to get there. The journey took less time than expected and we had 30 minutes before our booking so we popped into a little bar called Ari Baa Bar and both had a Tequila Sunrise for 95 baht each. It was pretty tasty and the ambience was really nice. We then made our way to Rock Restaurant and Bar. We were greeted at the door and we expected the place to be busy with such a good offer on but we were the only ones there. The owner came over to chat briefly and asked about where we were from and our trip. She was from Scotland and had worked in restaurants all round the world before ending up in Thailand 20 years ago. The service throughout the meal was friendly and pitched at exactly the right level. We went for smoked duck with mango salsa and fried chicken to start. The duck dish came out first and in true Thai spirit we shared the whole meal. The duck dish was astonishing and hinted at what might be if the rest of the meal was the same quality. The chicken was next and disappointingly it was just standard Thai fried chicken. Tasty enough but nothing special. The mains were very similar; lamb shank curry with rice and pork neck noodles, both were tasty but nothing like the standard of the duck dish. When we had finished the bill included the tax and the service charge and had the 50% taken off. We'd also stuck to soft drink so was very reasonable for what we had eaten. As we walked away we felt really pleased as the food quality was good and with the deal it felt a little bit special. We'd even been given a free mocktail once we'd finished the meal. We would not rush back but would recommend it with the eatigo deal.

As we'd not had any alcohol at Rock we stopped at Ari Baa Bar again and had Blue Margaritas and a Chang before making our way back to the Rock Pub. Once there we found that there was a 200 baht cover charge. We do not mind paying if it was for something good however there were 2 covers bands on, one playing Oasis songs and another playing Artic Monkeys songs, so we walked away after telling the door staff it was not Heavy Metal enough, and they agreed. So we ended up back at the Skate Cafe and ordered 4 bottles of Chang again. This time, as it was a Friday night, the whole area was rammed with local people and it was a great spot for people watching. After we finished off our beers we walked back to the hotel, picking up some Smirnoff Ice from our nearby 7-11 for the room as we were beered out at that point and wanted something different before settling down to sleep.

The next morning we left the room at 10:30 and headed to the Ekkamai bus station via the Sky train again. Once at the station we bought tickets on the next bus to Trat, a good jump off point to Koh Chang island. We ended up with a 90 minute wait before getting on the bus and setting off south. The bus journey took just over 6 hours and was fine. We arrived in Trat as it was getting dark but our hotel was only a short 15 minute walk away. Our hotel was down a small alley off the main road but was easy to find. The Iyara residence was clean and spacious and much cheaper than places on the island, so we had decided to stay 2 nights before moving on. We both showered before heading out to the no. 2 place on Trip Advisor, Joy's Pizza (the no.1 place has closed down). We arrived at 20.00 and found they were just shutting up. So we went for our back up plan. Last time we were in Thailand in 2010 we sheltered in a branch of The Pizza Company in Hua Hin during a rain storm and found the pizza to be just like Pizza Hut in the U.K. used to be. So we headed to the Trat branch, in the hope that our memories of the place were not wrong. Thankfully they weren't and we both had wonderfully tasty deep pan pizzas, just as good as we remembered.

We then headed to the big Lotus Tesco supermarket on the outskirts of town to see what they had before leaving with some beer for the room for me, though Suzanne decided she was having a couple of dry days. On the way back to the room we spotted our very first, live in the wild snake. It was crossing the road right in front of us, so close we nearly stepped on it. It took me by surprise I can tell you. It didn't seem to mind us, though I now rue not taking the camera out with us as I would've got a decent picture. I know it was not a Cobra or Viper so think it was just a harmless Rat snake, but we made sure not to get too close just in case. I reckon it was about a metre in length and we watched it until we lost sight of it in the long grass. We then spent the next few hours in the room reading and listening to Southampton lose to Crystal Palace.

In the morning we decided to get some washing done at the hotel facilities and to use the wait time to catch up with the blog and to research the next stops before heading out to lunch. While we didn't do much in the morning it felt like we'd got stuff done. We headed to Joy's Pizza again and enjoyed a Calzone and Lasagne for lunch which were both tasty, but we both decided we'd rather have Pizza Company again over Joy's. We then wandered round the town, loking at the buildings and temples, watching the locals feed the massive catfish at one of them, before heading back to the hotel via Tesco again where we bought bread, cheese and ham for a picnic tea as our room had a table and chairs we could use. So we spent a few hours in an air conditioned room, relaxing before enjoying a filling tea of cheddar cheese and ham sandwiches and a supper of sour cream and onion crisps. You really cannot over estimate just how good a cheddar cheese sandwich can be!

I'm aware that this blog post is pretty dull. We didn't do any sightseeing in Bangkok and Trat doesn't have much to see at all. This was all about the mundane, day to day, obtaining supplies, washing, researching places, moving on and catching up that you occasionally have to do. Reading about it is dull, but for us it was a chance to slow down, relax, catch our breath before moving onto what we hope is more adventure when we hit the island of Koh Chang. We really enjoyed Bangkok and Trat, so much so that we've already booked a hotel for 2 nights in Bangkok before flying out to the Philippines in just under 2 weeks time. If I'm honest, one night would be more than enough for Trat, but I'm glad we stayed an extra night...just for the clean clothes.


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