I should have blogged this weeks ago –forcing myself out of my lazy blog funk!!
The first day of October and I was treated like a tourist princess. I had asked Marius to treat me like a tourist and he did just that! He took control of the whole outing.
I walked from my place to the bus stop at Big C Chaengwattana. There are no bus schedules so estimating commute times is nearly impossible. The buses come and go however they please and don’t always stop EVEN when you are waving at them. I wish I could say standing and waiting at the bus stop is pleasurable…but man oh man is it ever hot on your legs when the sun hits you! Took me about 40 minutes on the 166 bus to get to the Victory Monument stop. From there I caught the BTS skytrain to the Siam stop. Love the BTS! It runs so efficiently and air conditioned. I don’t always get a chance to sit, but the asian TV ads are able to distract me pretty well! From Siam I walked a short distance to MBK where Marius and I met up. We walked to the canals where we hopped on. Marius was telling me that not many tourists use the canals as a mode of transportation. The price of tickets has stayed reasonably low. The signage to locate the docks are not clearly marked with English maps or names so farang/falang (like myself would have no idea how to differentiate the different stops)! So glad he was with me or I would have stayed on the boat all day. The operators of the boat shoo people on and off the boats so quickly that you NEED to be ready to jump off when it is your stop. What would have been around a one hour bus ride was a cool 20 minute scenic boat ride. We walked passed The Grand Palace on our way to Khao San.
I finally got to see Khao San Road…during the day. As a popular backpackers stomping ground, it takes on two different personalities! Around midday they stop all the vehicle traffic along the road and make it “night life friendly”. I was excited to see all the food stalls and especially the little collectible trinket stalls. I finally saw the tourist Tshirts! We stopped in at a couple of used bookstores to search for some books my Daddy-O recommended for me. No luck finding them but I found LOTSSS of other books. Don’t think I will be buying a new book for awhile!
Soi Rambutri was a lot quieter. A gorgeous stretch filled with restaurants. We passed a fish pedicure salon! I want to try it one day. The sensation of having fish pick away at, and then eat your dead skin must feel so weird!! We stopped for food and drink at a funky little restaurant. We were both attracted by the shade and fans!
We boarded a boat at the Phra Arthit Pier and headed towards Sukhumvitt. We chose to board the local boat (that was more than half the fare) as opposed to the tourist or farang/falang boat. We had to hop on the BTS for a couple of stops. Again I was a very happy tourist looking at ALL THE SHOPS. It was late afternoon so the stalls weren’t too busy. I witnessed my first car accident while trying to cross a busy intersection. Marius and I heard this extremely LOUD CRUNCH and saw a bus drive into the left side of a truck. We heard the crunch then saw the bus TRY to keep moving straight..further metal on metal action. It really felt like slow motion. Luckily there was no passenger in the truck. Both vehicles were turning left and it seemed like it was the buses fault..but who knows how that issue was resolved.
We went to some more book stores and found another restaurant to stop and eat at. The restaurant was cute and quirky. As we progressed into the meal I was reminded to always pack insect repellant. The bugs were relentless and forced Marius to run to the nearest 7 Eleven! I ordered sticky rice and mangoes. I was surprised at how sweet the rice was. I don’t remember it being this way. I felt like I was being hit with a huge sugar rush.
It was a great day of sightseeing.The humidity was a great excuse to pop into different places for refreshing drinks!I loved being navigated around and not being stressed about getting lost.
Forgot to mention we also saw the building and alley/soi where Hangover 2 was filmed.
Thanks for reading! The countdown is ON until I move back into the city. EXCITED. I. am. to be closer to friends!!
My flights over were both great. The staff and plane were awesome. In all honestly, I didn’t have any expectations of the flights as I had to book them in such haste. I couldn’t be bothered to check comments or ratings for either Qantas or Emirates. I was impressed by both airlines and would recommend either. I LOVED that the Qantas flight had a usb port so I could plug my iphone to charge 🙂 I also like that they served Tip Top ice cream bars for dessert (or “pudding” as my Kiwi friends call it).
I flew from Auckland to Sidney with Qantas and only had 1 hour to switch flights. When I checked my baggage I stupidly forgot to ask if I had to re-check my bags for my connecting flight. I was a little nervous that I would arrive in Thailand without my baggage. Luckily the clerk at the Emirates counter assured me that if was impossible for Emirates to expect me clear customs and check my baggage in under an hour. I was fortunate to receive my request of a window seat over to Australia as the airplane was only around 2/3rds full. On the way to Thailand I was sitting in the aisle in the middle row. Not ideal but not the worst situation. I was lucky to be seated beside a lovely young couple from Amsterdam. I felt awful for then when I heard their flight route. They had just spent 3 weeks (or was it 5?) travelling Australia and were now beginning their trek home. They needed to fly 8hrs from Sidney -> another 8 hours from Bangkok to Dubai -> then an additional 8hours home to Amsterdam. What was worse was they were obligatory to exit the plane so they could go through customs and then re-enter TO THE SAME SEATS! I thought that was brutal. When we touchdown in Thailand all three of us had had barely any sleep. Thankfully the movie/tv/music selection on our individual TVs was exceptional. I was happy with everything I watched! They were eager to exit and re-board the plane so they could try to get more sleep where as I was excited to have reached my destination!
It was after 1am when I got off the plane and felt the humid air. I loved it! Going through immigration was a bit of a wait but fairly manageable. One of the female security guards told us if we wanted to walk a few minutes down the hallway there were another whole area for passengers to go through. That handy little tip saved me quite a bit of time. I was thrilled to discover that my luggage was WAITING for me when I found the luggage belt. It had been turned off with all the luggage lined up in a neat little row.
As planned, I phoned my friend Pi Sangwan once I was ready to leave the airport. She told me she would head over to the airport and that Pi Loong was already at the airport waiting for me!!!! I phoned Pi Loong and she told me where I could meet her. I was really glad she recognized me as I haven’t seen her in years. I was thrilled to see a friendly face as I was not really sure if I was meeting them at the airport or the next day. Pi Loong, her brother and I grabbed a drink at the airport’s food court and caught up as we haven’t seen each other in years. I was under the impression that we were grabbing a drink while we waited for Pi Sangwan to arrive. You could say that I was A LITTLE CONFUSED when around 3am (so 8am Auckland time) we were leaving in a taxi together. I had originally planned to taxi over to my Thai-Australian friend’s house but we decided to change the dates. I then decided I would stay at a hostel near Khoa San Road. I had researched a LOT of different hostels with help from my Thai friends. Lolly mentioned a hostel that she stayed at 4 years ago and it sounded quite cozy. Within walking distance, to Khoa San Road but far enough away to get away from the party scene. The location sounded like an ideal place for travellers and expats to mingle. After catching up with Pi Loong I learned that the two ladies had been chatting a lot about me and were very worried about my safety. They had decided that I wouldn’t stay anywhere near Khoa San Road. So there was a change of plans and I would be staying in a hotel near Pi Loong’s house for a few days.
On the taxi ride to The Embassy Hotel I wanted to sleep so badly. I remember not wanting to blink too long for fear of falling asleep in the car. I was EXHAUSTED and had no idea how long the car ride would be or where we were going. When we arrived at the hotel IT LOOKED massive. There was a bit of confusion when we tried to get our key. Something about them wanting us to wait until 6am to get a room…the mixture of jet lag and English-Thai translation left me in a state of confusion. I looked at my phone and it read 3:34am. I asked Pi Loong 2 questions: if there was wireless so I could message people back home so they knew I was alive, and was I allowed to sleep in their lobby? My phone kept saying it was connected but it wasn’t giving me internet. The room situation was sorted out and I remember sleepily following Pi Loong into this massive bedroom with two beds and a huge window. She said goodbye and she would see me the next day. I put my bags down and belly flopped on one of the beds. I woke up a few hours later and realized I needed to take my contacts out and change out of my clothes!
I woke up again around 10am (Thailand time) and decided I should start the day. I showered and threw on a dress. I did not know if Pi Loong was going to walk back to the hotel or if I was going to need to call her so I left her a note to tell her I had just left for a quick walk. I think it took me 5 mins of humming and hawings as to whether or not I should wear a scarf. (I laugh at this now! But while I was standing in my air conditioned room I really was finding it hard to decide if I needed it or not). AS SOON AS I OPENED the hotel door I smiled as to having made the decision to leave the scarf at home! IT WAS HOT. DRY hot heat. I left the house on a mission to find a sim card for my phone and a wireless internet hot spot. My iphone was easily locating the wireless spots but not being too friendly about connecting to them. I got really frustrated at how fast my battery was dying struggling to connect to a wifi source. I successfully communicated to the 7 Eleven attendant that I needed a sim card for my phone. WHAT I lacked to understand was that I needed to buy a top up card as the sim card was simply a phone number. After sorting that out I still wasn’t able to get internet on my phone. I walked up the street for ages. I debated crossing the street but decided against it for my first day in Bangkok. Baby steps to this BIG ADVENTURE. I really did not want to be using my medical insurance on my first day!
I was starting to get hungry but I wasn’t feeling brave enough to try any street food. 7 Eleven are like North America’s Startbucks. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. So I went into 7 Eleven and grabbed some water and dried seaweed. YUMMERS. Solid choice, as I knew I would be eating more food with Pi Loong later that day. Loong came over to my hotel later that afternoon and we grabbed some food at BIG C. It is your everything cheap store (comparable to Wall Mart or Kmart). It has it’s own food court besides all the groceries, clothing, stationary etc. It is your one stop (cheap) shop. Their food court uses the refillable swipe card method payment. So you have to be really good at estimating how much your total meal will cost – or come back within 7 days to spend the remainder of your balance. Pi Loong and I tried to sort out my lack of internet. I decided that if I couldn’t get it on my phone I would try to buy an internet stick. It would mean no whatsapp but at least I would email, google maps and facebook. I quickly nixed the stick idea when I learned that you buy a blank stick and have to pay extra for the internet. That seemed rather odd to me. Would pretty much be like buying a memory card?! Anyways after all that confusion I was still without internet at my finger tips. It really made me realize how much I take internet for granted. I am just so used to always having internet in the home or places to find wifi. I said goodbye to Pi Loong around 10 and got back to my hotel around 11:30ish. I love that there is such a night time atmosphere in Bangkok. Shops are open late and people are out having dinner or at the internet cafes just skyping up a storm. While I was at the internet café emailing and facebooking someone was casually skyping his friend SO LOUDLY beside me. Sure he had his headset on but I felt like I was part of his conversation. His male friend was sitting on his couch in his shorts and t just laughing and loving the catch up… Well that was day 1. I won’t be blogging EVERYDAY but I will try to keep the blog relatively active!
I made it to Thailand and I am excited to share my highs and lows with all of you. LOTS LOTS of highs!
Lots of love to everyone,