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Monday 20 Oct 2008
Bangkok, Thailand

A train in and a train out...

Our journey to Bangkok was a mammoth one. We didn't get off to a great start; first of all there was a power cut which stopped the water in our bungalow, then we went for a 'quick' breakfast, only to have a picture frame fall down the stairs of the cafe, which freaked out the owner and she just had to clear it up before getting our food, then when it did come Sion burnt her tongue on her porridge! The bus journey from Pai to Chiang Mai was only slightly better. We only just got a seat and ended up with no leg room as all the luggage was piled on in front of us. A little boy and his mum sat next to Sion and he proceeded to fall asleep on Sions lap for most of the journey, until of course he needed to throw up! Nice. Although, credit to the boy, as he did manage to narrowly miss both us and our backpacks.

When we arrived in Chiang Mai we grabbed some street Pad Thai and got a tuk tuk to  the train station. We had a two hour wait before our train so we had more Pad Thai and some card games. When we boarded the train we were pleasantly surprised with our last minute second class seats. As it was a sleeper train we sat facing each other on nice wide seats, that would later become one bed, and a bunk above it would appear from the ceiling. It was a 16 hour trip, which was gorgeous during the day with loads of lovely sights and a really cool breeze coming in through the open windows. We had dinner at our own table and then our beds were made for us. Sion had the stuffy smaller (and safer) top bunk and Phil got the breezy spacious bottom bunk... we're swapping next time! It went surprisingly quickly with only two annoying passengers who thought it would be nice to talk loudly about Thai women and what they felt were their favourite prostitute experiences. Not something you want to hear anytime really and especially not at 1am when you need to be awake to get off the train at half 5! They also had a big conversation about God, not really a tea and biscuits combination. Some people are weird.

We arrived in Bangkok and managed to dodge all the touts waiting to prey on us. We got a local bus to our guest house and were able to check in and have a shower at 7am. After a much needed nap we headed out to explore. We made it as far as the shopping area and spent the rest of the day in the malls in a bit of a zombie like state. One mall had a million screaming girls in it, we could just about make out a stage and so figure it was a Thai pop group or something. We left, they were VERY loud! That evening we went back to our guest house in the outskirts of the city (well away from the extremely tacky and touristy Ko San Road) and played Shit Head (our favourite travel card game) with Callum, a guy staying there too.

The next day we got a free ride to the massively popular Chatuchak weekend market and got thoroughly lost in it's maze like interior. We spent a record 7 hours there!! We didn't really buy a great deal either, there was just so much to see and taste! That evening it was tipping it down with rain so we stayed in the guest house bar and had dinner there which was very nice for hotel food. We spent the rest of the evening trying to figure out which island to hop to next, it's a hard life!

The next day was a bit of a balls up. We were trying to make it to the Grand Palace but ended up sorting things out first which took ages. We needed to book a train ticket to Chumphon, it was great fun negotiating our way around the touts in the station. They do just about everything they can to get you upstairs to the 'booking office' which is actually travel agencies with commissions! We'd been warned and headed straight to the real thing, some people must be so stupid! We then decided to go to another market but couldn't find it and were looking at a map when a friendly gentleman offered to help us. Conviently a man with him was going where we were going and another man further up the road offered us more directions. We crossed the road and briskly walked back to the skytrain station, we'd just foiled a scam! They're bastards acting all friendly, we feel sorry for people who fall for those things. The last guy wasn't happy and was unsuprisingly no longer friendly when we started walking away from him.

We ended up in the safety of another shopping mall and treated ourselves to two cinema tickets. It was so weird because before the film started we had to stand for the national anthem and watch a montage of films about the king and queen, by the end of it we were feeling very patriotic! The film wasn't bad either. We spent our last day in Bangkok doing the touritsy bit. We made it to the Grand Palace after getting lost in the, what seemed to be, engine and car repairs district, and finally finding the river for a river boat taxi! We paid the extortionate entrance fee to get inside but were pleasantly suprised by what we saw. It was grand, they weren't lying. We couldn't enter many of the buildings but were able to view the famous Emerald Buddha... which turns out to be jade! One story is, it was discovered when a monk dropped a seemingly normal Buddha statue and he caught a glimpse of a green nose, the Emerald Buddha had been hidden under a plaster casing. It's said to date back to 43BC and originated in India, it was then taken to Sri Lanka and the shipwrecked in Cambodia and then taken by the Thais when they invaded Angkor Wat in 1432. So it has quite a history. It was smaller than we expected!

Lots of the Grand Palace was off limits as the Kings sister was laying in rest. We then started to walk to Wat Pho but got caught in a huge rain storm and so only made it as far as a cafe, where we had very small expensive sandwiches for lunch! When the rain had died down we eventually made it to Wat Pho; this one houses a massive reclining Buddha statue which was much bigger than we'd expected! It was a HUGE 46m long and 15m tall!! The building around the wat were very grand too, we're glad we saw the reclining Buddha as it was pretty impressive! After that we got the river taxi back to the skytrain and went back to the guest house to dry off, have dinner and plan for Koh Tao... we left the guest house at 9pm and made our way to the train station for another night train. Next stop island paradise...

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Phil & Sion

Phil & Sion

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  • As close as...



    As close as we got to the protests in Bangkok
  • The Reclining...



    The Reclining Buddha
  • Phil at the...



    Phil at the feet of the reclining Buddha
  • The face of...



    The face of the Reclining Buddha