Dubai airport - 1 of 5
Nothing prepared me for how awesome his airport is...truly amazing building and contents! The size and scale of this place is fantastic...little did I know this would be the most tranquil of spaces...
Pleased to say I have survived the Tuk Tuk driving however struggling with the sweltering heat. A mere 20 degree increase from the Scottish temperatures and my expanding waistline are going to make this trip a real challenge!
I am trying to convince myself that the jet lag and heat are the main reasons for me using the Tuk Tuk's (small motor bike with a carriage for passengers at the back - very rustic!) rather than my total lack of fitness, to walking instead which was my original intention. But by now I am fully aware of how flexible my travel plans need to be in order to sample the local culture, cope with the heat and truly unwind...something I have been in dire need of lately.
First impressions of arriving in Bangkok, the airport looked rather big, grey & soulless....well the city itself is anything but! Colour and people everywhere, but despite being told by everyone that Thais are really friendly, until you experience it first hand I was rather apprehensive. I have been given advise of what to visit and when (free entry to temples was an unexpected bonus) as well as to what to pay for
Dubai airport - 2 of 5
Real plants and rocks...I am way too easily impressed!
transport that was 5 times less than I was expecting...but then I felt guilty for not visiting any of the tailor and souvenir shops the driver wanted to take me (despite his assurances that "looking only not buying" I would rather spend my time doing anything but this), that I ended up paying him 5 times as much, safe in the knowledge I did my good deed for the day at a fraction of the cost back home....how gullible I am.
I am very pleased with my hostel choice it is clean and air conditioned with free wi fi (which i have finally figured out how to use...who said you can't train an old dog new tricks!) and cold water for showers (they do also have hot water but there is no hope in hell I would ever be tempted by this with the heat - it is hard to believe I survived 12 years living in Greece but then again summer was the worse season ever for me, until I moved to Scotland!)...you can't ask for much more...and the guests are super friendly too....so far I have met Canadian's, Brits & Germans it is nice to have English
Dubai airport - 3 of 5
The top of the tree is nowhere reaching the ceiling, it is that high!
The backpacker district I am staying is full of massage & food stalls, so I didn't even need to go looking to have some neck, back & leg massages...nothing like having a bit of bliss after a fair amount of pain or torture in my case since I have a very low threshold to pain, but the bliss part is so good I have gone back every day...in the hope that all the tension from the hectic last few months will just leave my body like a toxin...pleased to say it is starting to work!
I have also used the Sky Train to get to my starting point for the cookery course in the slums. I did not appreciate how far out my accommodation is in relation to the city centre transportation system (and probably much safer for me, not to tackle the bus services on offer, since I am fairly dense in that department)....this is a small price to pay for having the backpacker amenities & main tourist sights on your doorstep!
The cookery course was a brilliant experience I would recommend to anyone wanting to try something a bit
Dubai airport - 4 of
There is a waterfall behind the lifts, there is a wall of 3 double width lifts and behind and above there is a black wall of water cascading with fountain like features, you get a climse of this via the lift windows...truly impressive
different and gives a huge benefit to the local slum community. This is a chance to give back a bit and have fun in the process. The staff were extremely friendly and their knowledge of the produce in the market was fantastic! There were 10 of us in the group a true mixture of nationalities, Australia, USA, Germany, Turkey and Scotland, which produced some excellent banter. Now I can cook 3 Thai dishes (yes of the very mild variety but authentic none the less!). Poo (singed my cookery book so from now on it will be Thai for Greek Easter) and her staff, thank you for making this an experience to remember....also eating the insects was a bonus (one more thing off my bucket list!).
Yes I finally got round to sampling some insect protein in the form of a maggot and 2 grasshoppers (the second one was to prove to everyone in the group that the first one tasted rather nice!). I obviously preferred the grasshopper to the maggot. However I do have to confess that the 3 dishes we cooked:- stir fried rice noodles with black bean sauce and chicken or Phad See Ew, Beef with cashews
Dubai airport 5 of 5
Yes there a re pineapple of cabbage trees (whether you are European or Kiwi) in the lobby....
Just in case you did not realise from photos and commentary, I thought this airport was brilliant! Almost looking forward to my return....
nuts or Gai Pat Met Ma-muang, Chicken green curry or Gaeng khiaw waan, were much tastier!!! But good to know if I was stuck in the jungle and there was a fire to BBQ the insects I would not go hungry....
The market we visited was vast in size, much bigger than the one I visited in Arequipa (Peru) last year. And the warning we were given before venturing in was a valid one....there were live & dead animals / fish / birds...so the faint hearted or vegetarians would find it rather disturbing...so I have not posted any of the more risqué photos on the blog, to avoid offending anyone.
My intention on this trip was to visit some temples and just "be in the now", so to get the ball rolling I visited the marble temple, the standing budha and third one I have no idea the name of, but as the saying goes once you have seen 1 temple you have seen them all...with the exception of Angor Watt (potentially)...nice buildings but lots of people popping in for a visit does not make them the most tranquil of places...so my intention of just staying
one of the monuments
in one for a while did not happen...I am sure there will be plenty more opportunities over the coming days.
It is true that travelling alone increases the opportunities to mix with fellow travellers and local people up for a chat....and this random encounter part is one of the highlights of travelling for me. However now and again you do meet some rather interesting characters for all the wrong reasons...this was certainly the case of my interaction with a young Nepalese traveller....after a short time innocently chatting he came out with the most unsuccessful come on line, "you are fat and middle aged but I do want to have sex experience with you and not a skinny Asian girl" it is a good job he thought I was funny because I burst out laughing rather than decking him! Needless to say it gave me something to laugh & write about, however it certainly did not give him the experience he was looking for. So the moral of the story is that even fat, middle aged pale skinned women are on someone's bucket list!
Next on my itinerary was to visit the Grand Palace & Wat Po.
So I attempted to visit the Grand Palace first thing in the morning to avoid the heat & all the tourist tours only to find out that is exactly what they had also planned...ah well since i was already there i decided to proceed only to be refused entry since i was wearing lycra yoga pants! The queue to hire a skirt was huge so i opted to go across the street and buy myself one instead, while using my newly acquired haggling skills, a wise investment i am sure it will come in handy while visiting other temples. Appropriately attired i was now allowed entry and proceeded to spend the next 3 hours walking and stopping and walking and stopping....to get round the complex while dodging the Japanesse and Chinesse groups taking photos at every entrance along the way, and there are lots of them.
After that experience i contemplated not visiting Wat Po, however i am glad i talked myself out of it, what a difference a few hours can make...it helped that it was just after 12pm when the heat was just starting to get abit unbearable so most people obviously decided to
stay away, having said that it was still fairly busy...but definitely worth it. Finally found a quiet spot next to a temple where I was able to just sit alone and chill out...it was much better than i had expected it to be, tranquil and with a cool breeze blowing, just perfect for some "being at one time"!
A big shout out to Lynn & Chris for recommending both of the above sites, I am glad I visited both of them, it certainly puts the whole Bangkok chaos in to perspective by seeing all the detailed craftmanship and devotion up close.
Well after 5 days in Bangkok I have survived the heat & chaos with:
- only 8 moskito bites
- endured & enjoyed 5 foot massages and 2 neck & back ones
- I am now able to cook 3 thai dishes
- I saw rats in an ally, they certainly looked fatter than the cats and dogs I had seen
- I was only scamed once (while i was walking down a road, a guy come over and put 3 bags with corn seeds into my hand,
when i attempted to return it saying i did not want it, a second man appeared and said it was wrong to refuse a sign of good luck, he then proceeded to empty the seeds to the nearby pigeons while taking the empty bags - obviously to be re-used for another unsuspecting tourist - once all the 3 bags were emptied a woman appeared and demanded payment of 150 batt to which i said no way, the second guy returned and said 100 to which i said 20 handed him the money and walked away...if it was only 1 of them i would not have even paid anything however 3 against 1 the odds were against me despite my yellow belt, so I wisely let them con me out of less than 50p) a small price for a massive lesson learned
- I am able to haggle the price of a tuk tuk ride with confidence and stick to it (also the skirt and the scam too!)
- and in the meantime I have lost at least a couple of pounds (not so fat now!) due to the heat despite my attempts to sample all the food on
- despite it raining for a few hours for 2 nights it did not make the weather any cooler during the day but it certainly made the whole walking in the rain a fun experience
Following recommendations from my cooking buddies I have opted to stay longer in Siem Reap and only 1 night in Phnom Penh plus I am going to head up north in Vietnam rather than spending much time in HCMC since the weather is much cooler and considering how hot it has been during the day in Bangkok I am looking forward to some cooler weather to wander round in....I am not much for siting in an air conditioned room or taxi to enjoy a holiday.
So I have organised a mini bus transportation from the Bangkok hostel to the Cambodian border for Friday at 7am, and followed by a taxi to Siem Reap so should be there for 4:30pm....I am sure it will be an experience to be savoured...Cambodia here I come!
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