best Taxi ever!
Coins stuck all over dashboard, prayer flags all over roof, paper money all over windscreen, buddha figurines everywhere - amazing!
...hadn't really paid much attention to various friends and relatives comments on 'how brave' i was being.... this has always been the ultimate dream for me, i've longed for this opportunity for over ten years and always was so focused on the going that hadn't really spent much thought on the actual getting on a plane by myself to a country where i knew no-one and having to work everything else out along the way, by myself. this didn't hit until i said goodbye to Dad at the departure lounge entrance and put my bags through the X-ray machine... panick hit, tears came out of nowhere - needed gin and fast!! after two double GnT's and a pep talk from Shorty and Mark (thank you both!) was raring to go! ... well almost!
definately going to try to always fly with Emirates - absolutely awesome flight, complimentary magazines when you board (enabling me to get fully uo to date with all the bradgelina news thanks to Hello magazine!), really lovely staff (had compliments on my necklace within 5 mins of boarding the plane... always a good way to cheer me up!) hand towel to refresh (hot and Cotton
much needed cold beer after all that traveling!
no less!) a suberb in flight meal (- actually tasted like food!!) and when i asked for a GnT i got 2 x miniture bottles (and was bought 2 more without even asking when i'd finished those!!), about 200 films to choose from and another few hundred tv channels, playstation games etc. Watched a particularly lame film (confessions of a shopaholic - terrible terrible film ... but i watched it all!), AND very exciting lights all over the roof of plane which look like little stars .... all add up to very pleasent journey. Brief stop and changeover in Dubai and then onto Bangkok...
Arriving in Bangkok...
had a brilliant flight, slept for most of first leg then watched a couple of films on second leg. Was sat next to a couple of guys on flight (Alan and Andrew from Birmingham) who were also staying at my hotel so when we arrived we all shared a cab. The drive to the district i am staying in was interesting, best taxi ever with coins stuck everywhere and loads of budda figurines and prayer flags all over the roof. very quiet taxi driver though - or maybe he just
couldn't get a word in edge ways as all three of us excited and squealing about everything!
Bangkok is absolutely massive! i don't really know what i was expecting but arriving at 8pm everything was busy - scooters, bikes, cars, vans, pickups, buses all battling eachother along the road and every street lined with food stalls and carts humming with a throng of hungry thais picking up plastic bags of juice from one place, rice from another, curry from another.... everything moving, everyone busy - so fascinating and so completely different from anywhere i have been before - i think i started to fall in love with thailand hard on that first cab ride!
driving would be terrifying in Bangkok (bad enough being a passenger!) i think the road markings here are used solely for decoration and the thais like to fully utilise all lanes by driving from one side of the road to the other and back again to swerve in and out of traffic! took about 30 mins to get to hotel from airport. the clash of levels of affluence is very apparent throughout the drive old collides with new unlike anywhere else i've been... skyscrapers
Big Gold Buddha feet!
gives an idea of the scale of it!
towering over wooden traditional thai houses and a whole array of colours represented in corregated iron roofs! it certainly is very colourful, and lots of neon lights don most buildings in the city and everything is bright and colourful and vibrant! so much gold and red!
We were dropped at the end of Th Khao San road and walked through the throng of people to find our hotel. Khao San road is crazy and bustling full of markets selling everything from Dvds to hammocks (and lots and LOTS of jewellery....... i have resisted temptation so far however that will not be lasting long! i have already mentally more than doubled my collection back home!) by the time we arrived at the hotel i was dripping with sweat (33 degrees C out here and Very humid! and that was in the evening!) room at the Sawasdee Bangkok Inn was basic and small but clean and comfortable bed so quite happy with it. had a cold shower to try to stop the sweat then met Alan and Andrew down in the bar. we headed out and wondered round for a bit then met up with some of their friends who are
also out here for some food. spent quite a long while in Khao San Central which has a large outdoor seating area on Khao San Perfect for people watching (my absolute favourite thing to do on Khao San - it is fascinating to sit and watch the travellers interacting with thais trying to sell everything from TUk Tuk Rides to Ping Pong shows to hill tribes women walking round with wooden frogs and amazing silver jewelry - there are also lots of performers from break-dancers to elaborately made up clowns playing guitar) the 'early night' for first night didn't happen and crawled back to hotel in wee hours for another cold shower and some much needed sleep!
First full day...
woke up in need of a strong coffee... settled on one of many cafes along Khao San road, VERY strong coffee (almost strong enough to stand teaspoon up right in!) and a plate of noodles sorted me out and spent rest of day having a wonder and getting my bearings. Was offered Tuk Tuk rides, Ping Pong shows and various deep fried bugs and exotic looking fruits at every turn. went back to hotel drenched in sweat to sit
Inside the Reclining Buddhas temple
stunning and ornate paintings covered every surface
under aircon and regroup! went down to restaurant in Sawasdee Bangkok Inn Lobby and met a lovely American girl called Alex who had been traveling SE asia for several months already so chatted for hours about what she's been up to and where she's been/reccommends etc. We ended up going out for dinner and she showed me this amazing street just off Khao san (don't know the name but everyone refers to it as quiet street - next to Khao San it is soooooo quiet) loads of bars and street food stalls and a slightly older crowd less concerned with getting wasted like on Khao San! met up with a londoner called Indy and Irish guy called Dez who i'd met the night before and we all went for a few beers and chatted about various travels planned.
Following morning met another girl called Emma at breakfast, really sweet girl from Brighton who had just got in and was waiting to join onto a tour later that day. Alex had told me about some good places to visit in Bangkok so Emma and i set off for a days sightseeing. had an interesting run in with a tuk tuk
driver with whom we had agreed a price to take us to Wat Pho long story short he basically then decided to try to scam us with the classic 'free petrol from government if i take you to this shop or that factory outlet then i take you anywhere for 10bht...' got quite agressive, we ended up getting out refusing to fall for scam and were subsequently lost.... but lost in such a great place, right next to a huge standing Gold Buddha which i'd not even seen in the lonely planet - dropped on! we went to look round and seemed to be the only westerners there which was amazing. saw my first monks dressed in their bright orange robes selling lotus flowers and incense and birds in cages to be set free as offerings and took loads of photos. It was fascinating to watch the locals making their offerings, barefoot and silent, kneeling and bowing at the enormous feet of the towering gold standing Buddha - but did feel a bit like we were intruding a wee bit. Really need to do some reading up into the buddhist belief, everyone out here is so devout and the temples
and buddha's are so beautiful but want to understand more about it - I am so far purely a spectator with no clue on the whys and whens of these amazing sites of worship.
Then got air-con cab (definately the way forward!) to Wat Pho to see the amazing reclining Buddha. The temple sits in the royal district of bangkok and houses not only the reclinign BUddha but also has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. Wat Pho also happens to be the largest centre for education in Thailand in the practices of traditional Thai medicine, including Thai massage. The grounds cover 8 hectres and are filled with many ornately decorated temples and spires covered with stunning 3d mosaic. hours and hours could be spent wondering round the grounds, will definately be back again next time i'm in Bangkok!
... later that evening got on the Bus to take me to Ko Phangan to meet up with Art and Stan...
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