First few days in Bangkok

This is a post without photos for a change…

I got to Bangkok at about 7pm and on the way in spotted a Tesco that I resolved to go to as soon as I could. I had also gotten word that quite a few British brands were here so thought I would go and have a look, I’ve been away nearly 6 weeks now!

Anyway, at Ekamai Bus Station got on the Skytrain and headed straight for the National Stadium where I had leads on several guesthouses… all of which turned out to be full. I did also spot the Hard Rock Café… had to go there after I found a hotel. Eventually I found the Atlanta Hotel, which had a 50’s Art Deco lobby and was like checking straight into a film noir set… I loved it. I didn’t like the overbearing posters that gave an overbearing list of rules. Admittedly I had gone to that hotel because I wanted to steer clear of sex tourism etc, but this was too far in the other direction. The amount of rules and the in your face nature of the publication was too much. The room could also have been a lot nicer, even for a budget hotel. But still, it would do nicely.

I then went straight to the Hard Rock Café, ordered a filthy huge Legendry 10oz Burger and listened to the live band. Ended up spending nearly 1200THB/£24! Went a bit crazy on Western civilisation… and it took it’s toll on my insides.

The next day I got up, had my favorite breaky of Musili and Fruit then headed to the shopping centres. The big on, MBK, was the main attraction. 7 floors, 2000 shops! Even in that situation I found shopping tough!

Lunch was Dim Sum… humm that was very tasty…

Went to Siam Centre and a few other spots nearby, but mostly hung out at MBK… had a bit more Dim Sum….

Anyway, there was a boots there so I’m going to reload on Boots Suncream etc (less expensive, more plentiful and no chance of it being faked). I also went to that Tesco I mentioned (and the Carefoure near it)… turns out both are not like what I would find in the UK/France. Carefoure was closer, but still very unique (as you would expect). When I got out of them it was raining, as only SEA can deliver! Thank god I had a poncho and the boots are waterproof!

Anyway, that evening I hit the nightmarket and found more Dim Sum… I also looked at quite a few shops but still my shopping hesitation prevented any purchases, not even an England Rugby shirt for 250THB/£5. I eventually chilled out with some Chang listening to more live music at the Food Court. Had some more Dim Sum on the way back, in fact, a double helping…

That’s 40 Dim Sum in one day!

The next day I resolved to move from the expensive place to the cheaper Khao San Road area. This is sort of a backpacker mecca of SEA! It’s all cheap accomodation (but not so cheap, you can still get similar deals near Siam), and bars, and a market with good T-shirts in it etc (I finally bought a couple, but it seems I’m not a medium Tshirt, more a large). I also got a guesthouse with decent aircon and WiFi, K.S. House.

Last night was quite fun, Red Curry for tea then 150THB Margaritas that went down all too well. I bought drunken Falafal on the way home… I think I may be drinking a bit too much…

Now I’m off to explore Bangkok again!

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Ko Chang

So after the fun of Sihanoukville it was time to head into Thailand. The bus took me to the border and then I let the guy on there talk me into upgrading my ticket to go to Trat for an extra $6. Bags were unloaded for us, we just had to sort the formalities on the Cambodian side (hand in our departure card and get our exit stamp) and then walk across no man’s land to Thailand. There are large signs saying “drug smuggling will get you the death penalty” which almost made me want to check my bag even though I knew nothing was in there.

Once at the Thai side the guy seemed a bit suprised I had bothered to organise a visa in Osaka, but asked no questions really and just gave me a 60 day stamp. Easy!

I then get across and find my bag. The guy who hauled it across the border said “you have to give me some money for taking it across” as quietly as he could. I told him to speak up (knowning exactly what he was up to)… he wouldn’t. I then told him that he got paid by the bus company and if he wanted money he should have asked before he did it. As I walked off he went “Why not?” (a guilt tripping tactic), he got a full mouthful why not. Thing was, I would have tipped him if he had not been working the scam.

Anyway, we waited for the bus, and waited, and waited. Eventually mini busses start turning up and taking people to various bus stations for onward travel. I was in the last mini bus, some people before me had gone in the back of a pickup truck.

When I got to Trat I decided to head straight on to Ko Chang rather than stay. My pickup truck to the ferry cost only 50 THB, some of the guy’s who had bought through tickets from the bus company had to pay it anyway… one, who I later got talking to, was not happy at all.

Still, it’s one of those adventureous looking vehicles…

The local bus service...

The local bus service...

Now guess what I was thinking as I approached this scene…

Its Jurrasic Park!

Its Jurrasic Park!

It's getting dark. That's when all the really big ones come out! Get me Sam Neil and Jeff Goldblum! Only they can save us now!

It's getting dark. That's when all the really big ones come out! Get me Sam Neil and Jeff Goldblum! Only they can save us now!

We took another pickup truck to Lonely Beach, where all the backpackers hang out. By the way, we is myself, David who was the guy who I got talking to on the bus, and Sum, a Khymer woman who had been helping David. We found some cheap bunaglows for a mere 250 THB and they had fetching pink walls and Hello Kitt (sic) sheets!

We then went off and I had some of the best Thai Red Curry I have ever eaten! Damn it’s good.

The next day we toured the island a bit… I’ll let the photos do this part for me.

The morning was a bit cloudy. This is Lonely Beach.

The morning was a bit cloudy. This is Lonely Beach.

Dunno what was going on with this bamboo pole

Dunno what was going on with this bamboo pole

It's not like scrambling over rocks went wrong before...

It's not like scrambling over rocks went wrong before...

Up north a bit... one of the fancier beaches

Up north a bit... one of the fancier beaches, White Sands Beach (Sai Khao Beach)

Wooden turtles...

Wooden turtles...

On the northern coast... this beach is mud. Strange thing is, it's still nice

On the northern coast... this beach is mud. Strange thing is, it's still nice

This is where we stopped for lunch. A spa. Thing is that they need to put a bit more effort into that lake. Dye it or something.

This is where we stopped for lunch. A spa. Thing is that they need to put a bit more effort into that lake. Dye it or something.

White Sands Beach (Sai Khao Beach) from above

White Sands Beach (Sai Khao Beach) from above

Another arty shot!

Another arty shot!

We liked it so much we decided to move here

We liked it so much we decided to move here

And that concludes the photo tour of Ko Chang.

That evening we resolved to move to White Sands Beach the next day, but we also went out for a bit of food then got word of a party occuring in a bar up the hill. When we got there it was a mixture of Ladyboy spotting and talking to random travellers who were a good laugh. Completely lost David and Sum, not sure when they left, but I went back just after midnight.

The next day we packed our bags, checked out and then spent most of the morning searching for cheaper guesthouses. The resort we wanted to stay at cost 3000THB a night! Eventually we found a nice spot at a still expensive 1000THB a night, but we were too tired to keep looking.

That afternoon was spent shopping, Skype calling home, chilling in the aircon that I now had and watching TV (which I hadn’t seen for days). The evening was just out seeing the bar scene again, eventually ending up at a fire show.

The next day I decided it was time to move on. David was also leaving and Sum, who had been looking for work on Ko Chang, decided to move to Trat. We headed for the ferry but stopped for 30THB Pad Thai on the way, tasty!

Bye bye Ko Chang

Bye bye Ko Chang

David and I found this sign hilarious, the Tourist Police also run a resteraunt????

David and I found this sign hilarious, the Tourist Police also run a resteraunt?

We then got a pickup truck back to the bus station, another full on experience if ever there was one. It’s great bargaining with them.

And after a 7 hour coach ride, I’m in Bangkok!

Cambodia

Hello everyone, it’s been quite a while since I last posted something, so it’s time to bring you up to date. I’m going to do 2 posts for this one.

So, as you know I was heading to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I got talking to a guy on the bus who was a French/Brit who was living there with a Vietnamese wife, and also owned a CRM/ERP business (quite a lot of common ground there). We decided to meet up for some drinks later on.

Once I arrived I was immediately attacked by the normal amount of touts and prowling transport drivers who saw me as a walking money dispenser. I’ve developed a good tactic to fight them off now. Basically you find a café and go to ground for an hour. It’s a good thing I did, as this promptly happened…

Sure can rain here when it wants to

Sure can rain here when it wants to

Anyway, I then roamed off to find a guesthouse, eventually finding the Top Banana. Was OK, but the main gripe was that it was an internal room (no window) and aircon was a disproportionate $5 more! Just went with a fan only in the end.

I then chilled out on the roof terrace that was very good, and then went to meet my bus friend. On the way I worked out PP was pretty seedy and not my kind of place. Too many girlie bars etc. Still, I had a friend to meet and plenty of drinks were had before I headed back exhausted.

The next morning, waking up in a pool of sweat, I decided I was going to move it to Sihanoukville, which is more of a beach sort of town. 8 hours of coach ride later and I was there. Was tired again so I just checked into the first guesthouse that I recognised from Wikitravel, Mick & Craig’s. This place was still fan only, but the room was shaded and did have good ventilation, so it felt cooler. It was also without hot water, but this didn’t matter as the water that did come out wasn’t freezing and I was taking cold showers to cool down. That aside it was very plesent and I had a handy bar and resteraunt right downstairs!

Headed out to the beach to check out the local area and realised I had made the right choice with Ochheuteal Beach… plenty of places to eat right there on the seafront and cheap prices all round! Dinner was a traditional Khymer Hot Pot.

The next day… ah screw it … I went to the beach after buying some super strong sun tan lotion, here are the photos…

Ahhhhhh... only 5 minutes from my place!

Ahhhhhh... only 5 minutes from my place!

Looks refreshing!

Looks refreshing!

Drinks prices...

Drinks prices...

Arty photo alert

Arty photo alert

I went to the market a bit later and saw these clearly genuine items…

Nokia are into baggage now!

Nokia are into baggage now!

Anyway… back to the beach later on for more chilling and beers… I then decided to go scrambling over the rocks to see what I can see…

What could possibly go wrong walking over these?

What could possibly go wrong walking over these?

This can. And I hurt my foot and wrist.

This can. And I hurt my foot and wrist.

Back to the hotel for the first aid kit.

Went out that evening, had Baracuda BBQed on the beach for just $3… so I spent the money I saved on boose… lots of it… in fact I think my Mekong Bucket may have been spiked as I was nearly passing out on the walk home.

The next day I dragged myself to the nearest full English breakfast and then planned my escape, not that I didn’t like Sihanoukville, in fact I loved it, but I had to get to Thailand soon and I was also fighting a hangover…

Bus ticket to the border was $10. I left the next day