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Published: January 7th 2009
A typical Thail cafe
I love the crazy telephone wires
Hello Hello and welcome the 1st lot of antics from Bangkok to Ko Panyi.
Wow, I’m not even sure where to start describing one of the best holidays I have ever had. I think I could write forever perhaps the only place to start is on Christmas day J
After very little sleep, overcome with excitement I left my apartment for the airport at 8am. Its pretty jacked getting to the airport from here, I think JHB could learn a thing or two. 30mins on a shuttle bus and I was at the airport. And at 10:45 and I was finally leaving freezing climates and was on my way to Thailand.
The flight was uneventful from Incheon to Hongkong. After 30mins in transit and making mates with an American we got back on the plain and I was hoping to catch a couple of hours of sleep when the Korean lady sitting opposite me (who had incidentally been shooting intriguing glances and sweet smiles at me since we left Incheon, clearly had enough of my continually nose blowing (Korean flu, once you get it its permanent) decided she would practice her lay pressure point therapy that she
One of 100s of roadside eateries serving any number of things
was reading about on the plain. She proceeded to take my hands and push her very very sharp nails into different points in my palm, man alive it was sore...one, two three, big smile next point!! She was taking great joy in the whole process think it was largely due to the fact that she found a western sucker to try out her newly read about skills. While I was skeptical about this whole thing I have to admit I haven’t had a runny nose since so maybe the little Korean lady wasn’t just taking joy in inflicting pain on me….or maybe here sharp prodding jolted my nasal senses back into normal working order!
After 8hours on flights and in transit I landed in Bankok to warm weather, bags on my back, lonely planet in hand and no plan what so ever except my 1st nights booking! I had the misfortune of waiting in the airport for over an hour for my bags to come out of the luggage conveyer but at that stage nothing could have put a damper on my excitement!
I collected my bags and made my way over to the taxi pick up point,
How could you possibly choose western food over this yummy looking local delicacy :-)
while waiting in line for a taxi I had my 1st Bangkok experience. We were all in a line OUTSIDE the airport and the Irish guy standing behind me in the line lit up a smoke, not a moment later and he was tapped on the shoulder by the security guard who promptly told him he was in a no smoking area and pointed to a sign indicating a 2000 Baht fine for offenders, he did however motion to a sign not 20m away that indicated a smoking area. The Irish man, his wife and I all turned to each other in complete disbelief that there could possibly be a distinction between one outside area in the airport and another we were fighting back the giggles...needless to say the Irishman promptly took his smoke the 20m to be finished and to avoid to 2000 Bhat fine J. Like in Africa you learn that you will go hard to find such idiosyncrasies and complete lack of logic anywhere else in the world and they are what make places like Thailand and Africa so special!
Getting a taxi was great, cause for a change I was getting into the taxi on
Woman from the back definitely man from the front! Ladyboys strutting their stuff
the right side and the taxi was a beat-out old Toyota, this was just the 1st of many reminders of home. In Korea you will go far to find a car on the road that is more than 3 years old. In Thailand you will go far to find a car that isn’t at least 3 years old. What’s also great is that you can’t miss a taxi, they are any number of bright colours ranging from a more typical yellow to blue to pink all makes for a very colourful traffic jam. After only about 10mins of driving we hit a Bangkok gridlock on the way to Sukhamvit where I was staying. I had a very amusing Taxi driver who was hurling abuse and getting very irate at the thought of sitting in the stand still. He assured me that the traffic jam was only because of “Merry Christmas”.
After a long, amusing and fairly costly taxi ride I was safely delivered at Soi 1 at the backpackers, I checking in, had a chat with some of the other backpackers, had a shower to cool off and then headed out on my 1st exploration of Bangkok.
Street side bar
This is one of many street side bars where you can just sit on the street and have a beer....so weird coming to a country where you can openly drink in public!
is not a bad place to start in Bangkok. It has a crazy busy night life with 100s and 100s of places to eat and is jam packed with street dwellers prowling the night market that runs all the way down the main drag between Soi 2 and 12 under the sky train. After spending some time looking around the market stalls I branched off to check out the night life scene but I got side tracked, the streets were far more intriguing than the inside of a club or bar so instead of heading out on a jol I found myself taking in the Thais walking the Sukhamvit streets….Its very difficult not to be a voyeur (and I mean this in the non dodgy way) in Bangkok, the Ladyboys and 100’s of harlots that walk the streets are a complete entertainment to watch….its also quite fun playing the is it a girl pr is it a guy game, its touch and go really! Hours of street wondering and I decided to do what the lonely planet suggested I should, pop into a massage parlor for an hours traditional Thai massage. The masseuse was a very sweat and talkative lady
San, my tuk tuk drivers cool tuk tuk
who renamed me Miss Christmas and after asking where I came from promptly put on a perplexed face and asked why I had a light skin…its quite hard to explain how you can call yourself and African to Thai people when you have a light skin J. I finally made my way back to the backpackers after my awesome hours massage, seeing an elephant walking the streets and after many hours of prowling the very interesting Bangkok night streets.
I got up super early the next morning setting out to checkout the “must see Bangkok” temples and sites. Not 200m down the road and I encountered my 1st tuk tuk driver. This is a very prevalent species in Bangkok and for anyone traveling to Bangkok do not take the lonely planet warning about this species lightly! Sun was my tuk tuk driver and he convinced me that he was happy to drive me around Bangkok and take me to the temples and to the pier to catch a boat but not before we visited 1) the jewelry shop, 2) the tailor and 3) the travel agency. Basically If the tuk tuk drivers take tourists to these spots and the
San and I before departing for our jam packed Bangkok adventure
tourists buy anything or spend any money then the driver gets a petrol rebates or commission, sounds good in theory except that you get conned into parting with money you ordinarily wouldn’t have had you rather opted for a cab ride to your destination as opposed to the detoured tuk tuk joy ride! The Jewelry shop was a joke you enter this random shop that has 10 staff members all poised to show a crowed of people their wears only problem is that you are the only person in the store. After an obligatory walk around and a momentary glance in a display case to fain interest I left and got taken to the tailor. Admittedly I did part with some money at the tailor shop but this was on my list of things to do and the two pairs of pants I had made are stunning so it was worth parting with the money and earning Sun some petrol!
The final stop before I got taken to my intended destination was the TAT office. TAT stands for Tourist association of Thailand so one presumes you are at a reputable spot. Since I had no plans other than to
A quiet Bangkok intersection
I have never seen so many motorbikes in my life as I did in Bangkok
check out some Bangkok sites that day I decided that perhaps seeing what the travel agent had to offer was worth it. I had read that there was a 12hr over night bus down to Phuket so on the off chance that I could still get on that nights bus I ventured into the TAT office. It’s a very big pity I didn’t read the bus section in the book more carefully cause while I got on the bus that night and had an open ferry ticket booked for Ko Phi Phi I parted with more than double what I should have for the tickets and other westerner successfully suckered in Bangkok! None the less I had a ticket booked and Sun finally drove me to the peer to take a long-boat trip!
Tuk tuk joy ride over Sun finally got me to the pier. A long-bloat trip is a must in Bangkok in my opinion, it sure beats missioning on foot, negotiating with tuk tuks or sitting in traffic! I think my highlight was Wat Arun it is the most magnificent temple/shrine I have ever seen and negotiating the very very steep steps is well worth it because
the view over the river is stunning, they also have cold fresh coconuts to quench your thirst when you reach the top! After my boat cruise I got on foot to explore Wat Pho to have a look at the amazing reclining Buddha. I attempted to make it to the grand palace and the emerald Buddha but after a whirl wind, jam packed site seeing day in Bangkok and knowing that I had to be at the TAT office by 6:30 to catch my bus I opted to head back to the Backpackers to shower, packed a small back pack with as much stuff as possible, stow the rest of my luggage in the back packers storage and the begin negotiating my way back to the TAT office via sky train, subway and foot!
The orderly chaos that is 3rd never ceases to amaze and intrigue me. How on earth the manage to run a seemingly jacked tourist transport setup in such a ramshackle country is beyond me. I was very impressed with my skills I negotiated the brilliant Bangkok sky train and their underground with ease and even found the TAT office road miraculously. This being said it
A Bangkok long Boat
My Long boat skipper
seems that TAT offices are rather prevalent and I managed to stand outside the wrong TAT office for a good 10 or 15mins before surveying the inside of the office a little me closely and realizing the TAT office I was supposed to be at was some 200m down the drag.
A short wait out side the right TAT office later the group awaiting the bus got on a transfer from the TAT office to the bus stop where we were promptly herded (and I mean that in its most literal way) into groups according to destination and were promptly smacked with a sticker on the breast with your destination name….we all felt like we were getting on a corporal army bus rather than the VIP overnight bus!
At 8pm we were finally on the road! The bus was unreal it was hug and very very bright red but the seats we huge and they reclined and the showed movies I was wishing I had had such a luxurious ride on the numerous overnight buses I endured between Plet and Kenton back in the day! The Duch guy sitting next to me was a pretty cool chat so
that was also nice cause there is nothing worse than the prospect of a 12-4 hour bus journey when you are sitting next to a random. It was possibly the quickest 11 our bus ride of my life, as promised our luxury bus delivered us at the bus stop in Saru Tani at 7am where we were all due to split off onto respective busses for our various destinations. Saru Tanie is a mere 259 odd kilometers from Phuket where I was headed and the ETA was 11am so spirits were high…..that was for the first 20mins of waiting! After and hour I finally got on a transfer bus which promptly took a group of us not 10mins down the road (in the monsoon rain) to yet another bus stop where we got to wait for another hour and a half. In that time though I did manage to befriend a very nice American girl and had plans to tag along with her and her mates for the night so the delay was actually fateful!
At 9:40 an understated (and I mean this in the most sarcastic way possible) bright blue bus departed Sarutanie with a soaking load of
local and tourist passengers. The Bus trip was arduous we stopped every 20kms to drop off people and pick people up and then we stopped again for lunch. It was such a mission trip and all we wanted was to get to phuket! The bus trip, aside from taking annoying long was uneventful barring on drop off and pick up…..now I know I shouldn’t judge but it was hard not to….about 2 hours into our trip we stopped at another of the many random bus stops (AKA a dirt patch on the side of) and we looked out of the window to see who was getting on and there stood a massive black bakkie (in this case black pick-up) it had the following on the back….Dad sporting a blond MacGyver mullet and wearing a wife beater (AKA cut off vest) and a tat on one shoulder. Two older suns not dissimilar to dad but with shirts off wearing carzy glasses and head to tail in tats, the poor little brother of not more than 12 looked a little like the Dursleys son in Harry Potter only with blond hair and then to top it off was mom….a site for sore
Bangkok from a long Baot
The best way to see Bangkok is from the rive on a long baot
eyes….she was the largest woman wearing the smallest smallest shorts I have ever see (I will save you description of the constricted legs protruding from these very small shorts), tight white t-shirt and bandanna on her head. This lady looked hard core I would hate to get into an altercation with her….well this was what I though till she managed to squeeze herself into one of the only seats left, the seat by the loo which has but 0 leg room even for me she then promptly pulled out her knitting hahaha. Man Danielle and I had to practice some serious restrain not to laugh out loud!
The 11am ETA turned out to be 3pm much to the annoyance of all hoping to spend the day on one of Phukets beaches. We got off the bus and met up with D’s friends Bobby and Will and a group decision was made to head up to Ko Panyi. Ko Panyi is an awesome little fishing village built on stilts, there are only narrow walk ways on the island so 0 cars or bikes or anything except people. It’s most famous cause it is down the way from “James Bond Island”.
Bangkok from a long Baot
There were lots of these amazing wooden boats all along the river!
We took a two hour bus up to Pangang bay where we negotiated some accommodation and longboat tickets and after about an hour we finally got onto a longboat in the dark and got whisked off to Ko Phanyi. The night was rather uneventful since exhaustion was at its max and the Friday Muslim night prayer meant the island was dead quiet so we just had a bite to eat and headed back to our chalets for some much needed sleep!
There is nothing better than arriving at a place in the dark and waking up to the beautiful surprise of the Ko Panyi fishing village the next morning! Ko Panyi is really lovely to look around and because all the stalls and eateries are squeezed between the locals houses you can really get a sense of how the locals live. We spent some time walking around and having some breakfast at a local spot and then decided that it was time to head back to the mainland. Thailand is such a scenic country so the boat trip back to main land was just lovely!
Danielle, Bobby and Will were planning to head into the forest for a
An awesome ramshackel house
I just loved this crazy shack
little exploration but I had a ferry ti9cket and was eager to head to the beach so we parted ways after a very enjoyable 3rd night in Thailand! Bobby and Will incidentally teach here in South Korea as well so its nice to have some new friends here in South Korea!
After some negotiation and another hour bus ride I finally made it to the Pier and onto the packed Ko Phi Phi bound ferry ready to soak up some sun on the upper deck while on the two hour sea transit.
I don’t think I have ever taken so many different forms of transport in my life as I did in the space of those 36hrs! Until this point Thailand was already brilliant and I was already having such a blast and meeting so many awesome people along the way and it was only the start of the holiday!
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