Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok Life

Bangkok Life

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Tuk Tuk!

Khao San Road

Khao San Road

First trip to Bangkok

This trip was from Siem Reap to Bangkok and included lots of random waiting at border-control. Bangkok traffic was Crazy. Note that capital C. We did get there at the speed of light though thanks to our mini-van driver. Stayed just off Khao San Road on the first night. Ya, shouldn’t have done that. Did not sleep a wink in our little cell. On a positive note – there’s a Boots AND Starbucks!!!! Good times. Khao San Road is not how it looks on the Barry’s Tea ad. (Mum, I still didn’t find any tea-bags in my bag and I’ve emptied it a few times…) It’s basically bars, shops, clothes-stalls, food-stalls…and Boots and Starbucks. Actually Starbucks is just off Khao San Road and housed in the most beautiful old building, all nooks and crannies. Bangkok doesn’t smell at all and it’s pretty clean. There’s a street parallel to Khao San Road with ‘nicer’ places to eat and some roomier bars – and a really cool walking street with stalls of random crap (read: tattoo parlours, t-shirts, flip-flops…) to get between the two main roads. Plenty of ahhem ‘working girls’ parading around the place too. We moved hotels on our second day and found an alright place with exceptionally rude staff. Land of smiles my ass… Found an English café with TETLEY tea called ‘Oh my Cod’. Sure you’d have to pay them a visit with a name like that. You had to pay more for the Tetley too as I think it’s considered posh or something? Well, what’s a girl to do when she gets no Barry’s in the backpack.

We did A LOT of touristy stuff on this trip. Yes, that includes the zoo. Although they had an elephant show of which I do not approve. There’s a great public water bus system in Bangkok that HAS to be done (although you probably don’t want any of that Chao Phraya river in your mouth so no talking). It’s a great system, very efficient. I think meandered is the right word for what we did around Chinatown. It’s a maze. There’s one market called ‘Sampeng Lane’ and it’s literally a kilometre long. You’d get anything you can imagine here. Actually there were shed loads of beads/sequins/sewing/dress-makers/tailor-type shops (Don’t do it Jayne!). We also found a TESCO here. Nothing like home mind. But still. Stopped in a shopping centre called ‘River City’ just to get some air-con and actually got the best sausage-rolls you can imagine. We took Bangkok’s skytrain system too. So efficient I thought we were in Berlin! We found an epic cinema, we’re talking VIP leather seats, which recline (of course!) and a Starbucks in the cinema (Cinema + Starbucks = Happy John) and all for 10 euro total. Not each. Epic.   

Second trip to Bangkok

So we kinda did this one properly. Stayed at the Grande Centre Point, Ratchadamri. Epic. So epic we stayed three nights instead of two. More like serviced apartments (we had our own washing machine!) with fantastic facilities; sauna, steam room, jacuzzi (separate male and female quarters of course!), outdoor swimming pool, reading room, cinema room, gym, tennis court, playroom, DVD rental… I kinda want to live there.

We basically spent three full days touring the blissfully air-conditioned mega-malls of Bangkok, armed with two credit cards and four arms ready for the ‘challenge’. My sincere thanks to AIB and Bank of Ireland. You rock!

I can’t even explain how fantastic the shopping is in the Siam area of Bangkok. Here’s a little rundown of the epic acreage; Siam Paragon (which had the most amazing gourmet food emporium – I bought Lucky Charms!!) Siam Centre, Siam Discovery, Siam Square, CentralWorld (tourist privelege card!), Central Point, Gaysorn, Digital Gateway, Erawan Bangkok, Pantip Plaza and MBK. That’s not even all of them. Unfricking believable.

Hopped out to airport in no time on the Airport Express. 

P.S. The shopping is not that great in the airport. Stupid misinformation in blogs! Saying that John did buy a hoodie in Ralph Lauren and I bought a watch. Oh and we also got some tax back. (If you spend more that 2,000 baht in a shopping centre in the same day you can claim your 7% tax back at the airport. You have to get a form stamped at the shopping centre, before check-in and then you get your money back after check in). Oh and AirAsia is way better then Ryanair!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Graffiti

Tha Pae Gate

Tha Pae Gate

Chiang Mai Train Station

Chiang Mai Train Station

Took an overnight IRT Deadliest Roads trip from Luang Prabang to Houayxai/Chiang Kong on the Laos/Thai border.  An experience to say the least. Obviously we had no Laos kip left to pay to get across the water into Thailand. The Mekong River is the natural border between Laos and Thailand…and most other places around Asia to be honest! We had to get some breakfast from a street-vendor and paid him in US dollars to get Laos kip (they’ll take anything you’ve got!  Didn’t quite want to give up the rolex). He had to go to another shop to get his laughing cow cheese supplies for our rolls. I fell, of course, getting off the boat on the Thai side. Good times.  I don’t know why they even bothered putting a border official on the Thai side – it was super quick. We took a bus to Chiang Rai on a public bus (complete with some old-lady admirers for John and the back door wide open – in the RAIN) from here to see if there was anything to see there. There wasn’t…so on we continued to Chiang Mai.

We found a lovely guesthouse in Chiang Mai, no idea of the name though as it was only in Thai. It was more like an apartment really (except with zero amenities) with a lovely lady owner. We may have been the only ones staying here actually. Plenty to see in Chiang Mai, lots of temples, a great night bazaar and lots to do in the surrounding area. I bought a few bits and pieces here. You could literally spend weeks just wandering around the place. We found the most amazing Italian restaurant, ‘Pizza e Vino’, in the world/outside of Italy. It’s just off Tha Pae Gate, and actually run by an Italian. We ate there five nights in a row. No joke. And oh my God the wine. Our first night in Chiang Mai consisted of the Italian restaurant, the night bazaar…and a lady boy/cabaret show. Great laugh though. One guy did a Whitney Houston impression with fluorescent blue lips. Indescribable. Most of the other nights went the same way.

We actually went zip-lining with this crowd called ‘Flight of the Gibbons’. Saw a few gibbons alright but I’m pretty sure that was a bit of a scam. Staged-gibbons I tell you!! The zip-lining was crazy though. You’re harnessed and you basically jump/are pushed off tree-top platforms and you ‘zip’ down a metal line. They have thirty-something lines strewn hundreds of feet up in the air around the rainforest. Pretty great day out. One of the lines was pretty scary alright. You have to jump off like Superman (woman in my case). The girl in front of me was freaking out. I was thinking ‘this is no bother, would she come on’…then the Skyranger AND her boyfriend pushed her off. Still I was fine. Then I looked over the edge. Couldn’t do it. Managed it the second time then though!! Thanks for the helping hand there John. We found the coolest little bar (the size of a poker table on the side of the street) called Ben’s Bar where we whiled out a mega-rainshower and then some. Spent the night/early hours chatting with a lovely Norwegian and a crazy ex-pat psycho who loved himself. Found a fantastic book shop run by a guy from Fermanagh. I was only allowed to buy five books though. Stupid AirAsia.

Attempted to book a first class railway sleeper cabin to get to Bangkok but all booked out. Three days beforehand. (First class because of other train experiences + my serious dislike of bugs). Hampered.com. Booked a seat on a ‘sprinter’ twelve hour train instead. It was actually grand, you could even recline. Thanks again Mr. Valium 🙂

Chiang Mai Market

Chiang Mai Market

There's a woman in there!

There’s a woman in there!

Daily Life in Chiang Mai

Daily Life in Chiang Mai

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Book Shop

Book Shop

Night Market

Night Market

Plenty of Gibbons to be seen

Plenty of Gibbons to be seen

‘Always stay attached’; Exactly the sign you want to see hundreds of feet in the air…

‘Always stay attached’; Exactly the sign you want to see hundreds of feet in the air…