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Sunday 23 Feb 2003
Bangkok, Thailand

Second day...

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was that Trailfinders messed up my coupon for the hotel I was staying in.. they had said the day of arrival was in 2004 !?!? This meant the coupon was useless (after spending 50 euros on it!) and I had to pay for the room myself.

Thankfully I got it sorted with a load of help from Mum and the proper voucher was sent via fax... and they cancelled my creditr card payment. Wahay! I need to keep as much moola as possible for the next few months.

Thus, tonight Ive found a place on the (famous) Khaosan road (or Backpacker Central as it should be known!) and the room is costing about 8 euros. Nice!

One bed.. one pillow.. one private bathroom... one fan. Thats it! Well as long as I get some sleep I aint complaining!

Today is Sunday, so everything is closed, but tomorrow Ill be getting my visas organised and then Im outa here.... this place gets a bit annoying even after 1 day since you get hassled endlessly by Tuk-Tuk drivers! Grrrr.

Im typing this while sitting in an open air bar (humidity and computers in the open dont mix though.. these guys will learn when all the machines explode!) while sipping a Heineken and watching Gangs of New York on a big screen

sweet :)

...raconter...

This was my first night in "backpackers-ville". Before my trip Id always assumed backpackers were drug-dealing, child-molesting, unclean hippies (and, knowing this, I could understand why certain Ozzies would regard me as such when I backpacked around Aus.. although they never "said" it, they gave me that "look" that said it all). Of course I quickly discovered this to be the complete opposite (bar one or two less-savoury characters Ive met) as I got to know many over the next few months. They come from all sorts of backgrounds, wealthy, poor, but all have the passion to meet new people and make new friends in strange places making some of them the soundest people I have ever met!

Naturally though, if you wanted to meet some of the dodgy characters I had previously imagined, Khao San Road was the place to be...

Not so much in my first week, moreso when I returned to Bangkok, I could tell the transients from the locals. The former are, of course, the average Joe backpacker who stays in Bangkok for a few days, the latter, however, are (mainly) guys who have "gotten lost" in Thailands system and are essentially living on Khao San Rd permanently getting drugged and damaging their liver in every way possible. You would often recognise these people by the permenent glazed look in their eyes and the tarnished rags they wore. I once saw a "local" falling asleep face-first onto a plate of scrambled eggs. They are predominantly Brits who came here in the 90s and decided to stay cuz its cheap.. or maybe cuz theyre running away from reality.

Back to this evening.. I went out to the local bar this evening. First time going to a bar "on my own" I think, usually I meet up with my friends.. but well I was there on my own so what to do. It was great fun, I met some class lads from Norway and the States and met a pretty Thai student by the name of Patty who said she had lived in Ireland at one stage (not sure exactly how true THAT was though!!). The Norwegian guy was a computer programmer who had just returned from Siem Reep in Cambodia with a bandaged foot. Apparently he had been piggy-backed by a few over-zealous prostitues who were obviously trying a new approach at getting customers, he slipped and fell into an open sewer (a common sight in Siem Reep).

Another thing about backpackers, especially in South East Asia: when your on your own, they will get chatting to ya really quickly. Youre never really on your own when you travel to South East Asia.

The room in the hostel/hotel (they are one and the same in Thailand... a hostel is usually just a "non-five-star" hotel and not a backpacker meeting place as in the western world) on mid-Khao San Rd was very basic: had a tiny shower/toilet, a sheetles bed (you had to bring your own sheets/sleeping bag... this is standard in all Thai hostels) and a bare cupboard stinking with the remnants of cockroach spray. It wasnt necessarily dirty, but the blue-gray-cobwebbed walls, plus dusty floor didnt exactly inspire confidence. Neither did the gigantic creaky old fan that hung precariously over my most valuable body parts... no more airconditioned hotels for you my friend! I was now in the "real world" of budget travel Asia-style! It was almost exactly like the disgusting room that Leo DiCaprio had on his first night in Bangkok in the movie "The Beach".

The most freaky thing about my new den, apart from the boarded up windows that required me to always have the bright-white neon bar on 24-7, was the "internal window" that looked out onto the hallway. To make matters worse, it didnt shut properly!! I had to lean my backpack against it on the bed so that no murderous Thai lunatics could reach in from the hallway and slice my neck with a rusty blade!

I would soon discover, of course, that my first choice of room was actually one of the worst on the street, and that there were many far-nicer places to be sought at far cheaper rates if you do a little exploring.

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