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Published: September 23rd 2010
I've just about survived the first 2 weeks of a very long trip. It's been brilliant meeting new people doing the same kind of travelling as me and I've had some great nights out so far. Got to visit Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai and Hua Hin, all very different from each other.
A To Do list for the relevant authorities
There are definitely a few aspects of Thailand, however, that I am completely unsuited to:
- The weather is far too hot! (I know it's a standard British thing - complain it's too cold, then moan when it gets hot). I'm finding it difficult to drink enough water each day to stay cool, yet alone cancel out the previous evening's beers. Hence some serious heatstroke last week in Chiang Mai.
- I don't subscribe to any insect newsletters, but they must have been directing every little critter in SE Asia to my legs. There should be a law against them.
- Guesthouses certainly aren't built for someone who is 6 foot 4. On 3 separate occasions, I have seriously banged my head on undersized door frames - which would be funny for those of you who know me as Clumsy Griffiths...
- DOGS!! Not only am I allergic to dogs, but they scare me and I hate them with a passion. Bangkok has 120,000 of them roaming free! Every street has them lying in wait for me to walk past. I keep having to cross the road and hide behind vehicles to stop them getting their evil canine teeth on me.
Bangkok is a crazy, hectic city. It's how people from outside London imagine London to be, but really it's another level of heat, noise and pollution. Imagine doing a full work out in your suit on the Central Line at 8am, while people drive motorbikes up and down the carriage - it's like that 24/7!
I've had some interesting journeys so far, mainly by train up and down the country. There seem to be 3 types of train in Thailand - Rapid, Express and Special Express. They should really be renamed Carthorse, Zimmer Frame and Stuck In A Siding For No Reason. The pace of life is definitely a lot slower than I'm used to.
The scariest experience I've had was arriving in Chumphon (the ferry port for Ko Tao) at 11.20pm. I expected lots of travellers to get off the train with me, but I was the only one. Within 10 seconds of getting on the platform, I had touts swarming around me, trying to get me to book their hotel and boat tickets. Obviously, the sensible thing to do at that time of night would have been to go to one of those hotels, but that's not how I travel!
So I walked off into the night with my backpack - without a map, or knowing where (or even if) the hotels were nearby. After about 20 minutes of not finding anything, and the streets getting a bit darker, a motorbike rider stopped just ahead of me and looked back round at me. He then prepared to do a u-turn, so I quickly moved into a side street so he couldn't see me. That was a reminder that maybe it's not so safe in Thailand after all. Luckily, I found a hotel that was still open. Unluckily, it had a dog guarding the front entrance. After the security guard scared it off, I got inside, only to find out they were full. So I had to go back outside (taking on Rover again) and walk another 10 minutes before getting a hotel.
In Ko Tao at the moment, which is very quiet (everyone's gone next door to the Full Moon Party at Ko Pha Ngan, but who's having the best time now? OK, so they are) - will head to Ko Samui, Ang Thong, Ko Phi Phi and Railay - that should be another busy week.
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