Neil and I had decided to head South to the islands quickly and booked a bus to leave at 5.30pm that night. That meant we only had time for one sight in Bangkok which meant the Grand Palace. I'd been before so I walked there with Neil and let him look around on his own. On the way we were hit by two scams neither of which we fell for. First was a Thai couple hanging around some pigeons in a park. As tourists walk by they come and give you two bags of corn - the bags are tied by elastic bands which means they can rest them on your shoulder or hands
. If you feed the birds with the corn you will have to pay so I tossed the bags back to the guy who caught them but gave them right back again. He kept pointing to the birds and saying "feed feed, it's ok, Happy New Year". I tried in vain a few times to give the bags back but in the end I thought "well I'm just going to feed the birds and refuse to pay since he won't take the bags back". I did just that too - he followed me for some time demanding cash but I just stubbornly said "No - you shouldn't give people corn and refuse to take it back if you really want to sell it!" The second scam was much more sophisticated - at one corner of the Grand Palace a guy in a shirt and tie came over and told us the Palace was closed and that our best bet was to visit a few temples he showed us on our map. Of course he had a tuk-tuk waiting and an attractive price. I said no and that I would check myself if the Palace was closed. Of course it wasn't and Neil got to look around. The scam would have developed into the tuk-tuk driver showing us around the temples but also countless gem shops and tailors all of which would pay commission on any sales. That was more annoying because this guy was trying to deny us our visit to the Palace which is one of the top attractions in Bangkok.
We got on our bus after a lengthy walk picking up other travelers from other guest houses. Our destination was Ko Phi Phi - an Island (Ko) just south of Phuket on the West Coast. Neil and I were still very talkative and as the lights dimmed on the bus we were "shushed" a few times by people trying to get to sleep - it was only 10pm - some people!
It had been a very different Christmas Day and I felt a few twinges of homesickness which hasn't been an issue up to now. Still that's what I signed up for!
I've no idea what time we awoke but it was probably around 1pm. I wandered around the area and found out about some scuba diving in the islands. The mood around Khao San Road was definitely festive with one or two people wearing santa hats. The odds shop had a Christmas tree in it too which reminded me of home. Before today I had hoped we would find a nice hotel advertising a full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings but in the end Neil and I settled for a dinner of spring rolls bought from a street vendor!