One night in Bangkok ...

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
1
9
34
Trip End Feb 06, 2013


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Flag of Thailand  , Mandalay,
Sunday, November 25, 2012

Well, actually there were 6 nights, but the first was the most memorable, both good and bad. First the good: we are now officially in love with Bangkok. 12 years ago we already were: we even wanted to move here, but at the time this was our first Asia experience so we weren't sure we would still feel this way. We spent almost a week here, not doing anything really special, just enjoying the city life, the great mix of super hip and traditional Thai, small markets in between the sky scrapers, gorgeous tempels vs enormous shopping malls and the busy river. Bangkok feels great, like home and gives us the opportunity to really relax for a couple of days, just hanging around, reading and writing on the hostel rooftop, strolling the streets, discovering nice little places: street eats, breakfast with roti at a small market, coffee places.....

Then the 'bad'. Nothing serious, just the wrong hostel: too close to Bangkok's Pat Pong, in a nasty backstreet, uncharacteristically dirty for Asean standards, some weird people in the entrance hall. I just didn't feel OK there so we decided to move the next day consequently spending most of the day searching the web and checking out hotels and hostels. It is a lot less easy to find a nice hostel for a nice price in Bangkok than we thought.

In between we visited the visa agency that we emailed before. Travelling is a constant choice between spending time and spending money and in this case we chose the latter. Conveniently located in the same street as the Myanmar Embassy the (Birmees) agent would be able to get us our visas in a day, which he did. As Burma grows more popular by the day (especially after Obama's visit last week the stream of visa applications from the US is booming), the lines in front of the embassy grow longer and start earlier in the day, between 6 and 7 AM. We had already been warned that Burma prices have risen recently due to the popularity and from our internet search and the email from Pierre who lives in Yangon (friend of Nicole) it was clear that availabilty of cheap rooms is very limited. Burma simply hasn't been able to open up enough guesthouses to keep up with the demand. We heard about prices rising 500%252525 and people ending up with no accomodation at all.
So, we started designing other scenarios: going in January for instance, but the travel agent, Mr Frankie, only laughed at us and said he expected it to be even worse by then and this situation would keep for the next 5 years. Good for him, not so good for us. What to do?

While we were getting our passports for the visa from the awful Urban Age :-), we find a terrific, wonderful, great hostel in the same street as the Myanmar embassy: the Mile Map hostel. It is new, clean, cosy, cheap, roof terrace, washing machine, free wifi! Everything the budget traveller needs! Esther was so happy, that we immediately got our backpacks, moved into our new place and decided to stay there until Monday.

As we are now in Burma, writing this blog, it is clear that we decided to go. And we are glad we did. Although bad for budget, the timing is still very good.

Some of the memorable moments in Bangkok:
- Somboon seafood: our favorite restaurant from 12 years back is still the best eating experience in Bangkok (SE Asia? The world?)
- Meeting Gerda on our first night for drinks. How special it is to catch up with a good friend in the middel of Bangkok!
- Finding a local market in between the sky scrapers close to Silom Rd but not discovered by tourists
- Going back to the Hyatt hotel for high tea on Sunday, the place where we celebrated our 'engagement' all those years ago
- Seeing Skyfall on IMAX screen: wow!
- getting the best massage ever at an Ayurvedic center in our street
- Visiting Wat Arunand then walking miles and miles and miles through Chinatown mostly because we couldn't find Siam Center :-))). And so happy that we couldn't because this was sooooo great! And I wouldn't have wanted to miss that special smile from the old Chinese who sat begging in the street for the world! He really touched my heart and I have been upset for days.

Note: we managed to find much needed new flipflops in Frank's size (once we got to Siam Center). This is somewhat of a miracle so he had to buy 2 pairs :-)

We arrived in Yangon, early this morning and will travel around Burma for the next 3 weeks. As the internet penentration here is 0.1%252525 we expect that we will disappear off your radar for a while.

To be continued......
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