Bangkok

Trip Start May 05, 2008
1
16
119
Trip End May 05, 2013


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Where I stayed

Flag of Thailand  ,
Saturday, June 14, 2008

It was a hell of a travelling day just to get here. 4.5 hr ferry ride from Ko Phangnan to Chumpon via Ko Tao. The sea was very rough and sick bags were being handed out (always a bad sign). Several people were chucking up. I kept my head in my book to help forget about the jossling of the boat in the big waves. Finally we arrived in Chumpon and were dropped off at the train station by coach. Unfortunately all the sleepers were taken so instead of sitting in 2nd class we took 3rd instead. It wasn't so bad the last time so why not again.. wrong!! Lets just say that a 12 hr over-night journey in 3rd class is not advisable. We got on to our assigned car and found our seats inhabited by sleeping bodies, whole familes were spread-out on the floor on newspapers. Then all the people selling food etc were buzzing up and down the isle and could not get past with our big packs. It was a nightmare but eventually we found somewhere to sit one car up. It was alsmost impossible to sleep on the narrow seats and the train stops regularly and the food sellers come on and wake you up. They keep coming in right through the night, who wants to be woken up to buy food or drinks at 2.30am? Anyway, the train eventually meandered into Bangkok station around 7:30am the next morning. Sleep was intermittent and we emerged numb and stiff but surprisingly, time went by quickly. Next time I am getting a sleeper for such a trip or I'm taking the bus.

Next challenge was to find a reasonable double room near Khoa San Rd. Following advice from other travellers we looked for a room a couple of streets back from Khao San. There are some real shit places and some nice places. The Green Guesthouse house was a dive, somebody had written on the wall in the room we looked at "Don't stay here, the owners are cunts". We had no intention of staying there. We eventually found a decent place after walking several flights of stairs with our packs, huffing and puffing and sweating perfusely.

Bangkok is not as chaotic as we were expecting. Maybe it's because we have been traveling here for a while now and arrived in the morning by train, I don't know. It is quite pleasantly chilled out where we are staying. Khao San rd is a bit mad but interesting to stroll through. After some shut-eye we wet exploring and decided to be good to ourselves and get a massage. We found a very nice place and we both had a 2hr foot and thai massage (no happy ending, come on, it was a respectable place!). My massuse was very tiny but very strong and she stretced my body in all sorts of different contorsions. It felt great and we both felt totally revitalised afterwards.

Yesterday, we went to the Myanmar embassy to see if they will issue us a tourist visa. There were a number of people outside waiting and we got talking to a kiwi who had been there on a volunteer basis and was renewing his visa. We found him to be very cagey, speaking in hushed tones and he was suspicious of us and that we might be reporters. He reckons there are very few real tourists, only press. There was a lot of waiting around inside and there were tour agents there applying for visas on other peoples behalf and they took up all the time of the one tourist visa counter. It was looking like we might have to come back another day but eventually we got our turn. We were asked all kinds of quesions about our purpose in Myanmar. We had to write down the addresses of where we worked in Ireland, where we were staying Bangkok and where we will stay in Yangon (pulled out a guesthouse at random from the LP). Angie was quizzed about here real intensions and asked if she was sure it was only travel as she is a nurse and he was suspecting that we my want to work as volunteers. It looks like we are going to be successful, they took our passports, did lots of stamping and we paid the 810 baht fee (the travel agents charge 1400 baht to do this for you and when you consider transport costs to / from the embassy it is actually worth it). We collect our passports with visas 2 days later.

So that is where we are at now. We will book our flight to Yangoon in the next few days. In the mean time we explore Bangkok a bit more and maybe take a trip out to Kanchanaburi where the film "The Bridge over the river Kwai" about the death railway (built by pows in WWII) to Burma is set.

Almost forgot to mention that we visited the weekend markets in Chatuchack. This is reputablly one of the biggest markets in the world. You can buy almost anything here and you an really haggle and get some real bargains. I have seen a lot of stuff here that I have paid 2-3 times the price elsewhere in Thailand. I have been on the look out for a Chinese 2-string fiddle called and er-hu but I found the thai equivalent called a Saw duang (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saw_duang). I found one in the market and bought it for 1400 baht. Need to spend some time figuring out how to play it. It has a similar tone to the sound of a rooster and right now it sounds like the rooster is being strangled, hehehe...
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