Sunday, 14 April 2013

and yet another bum bashing!

Bangkok is utterly mental !!!

on  Sunday 8 April we caught the train from Ayutthaya  to Bangkok.   Standard Tbai train with only third class - in with all the chickens!!!  No, not really, no live chickens but plenty of different food to buy.  I will never complain about British trains again!   All wooden benches for more than 30 minutes is a little bum numbing.   The air con was open windows - which, to be fair, was fine.   The upside is that the fare was 15 baht - about 40 pence for a 2 hour journey!

Introduction to Bangkok by rail was rows and rows of shacks - the only time I personally have seen such poverty was passing by illegal settlements in South Africa.    Then there are, side by side to these shacks,ultra modern, very fancy apartment blocks behind security fences and gates manned by guards.  We often talk about the poor in the UK - I don't know about anywhere to compare with here, and Thailand is apparently rich compared to other Asian countries.

We stayed in different hotels but only about 5 mins walk away just off the famous backpacker road - Khao San Road.  Ate at one of Amy's favourite Bangkok restaurants  - Indian - best curry for ages!     Then wandering around the area which is all street market, food and drink ..... chaotic.

Next day we were "free" until midday so I did the big tourist thing and visited the Grand Palace.   Seemed a bit priccy for Thailand at about £12 entrance fee, but what a truly magnificent place.   My photos don't do it justice.   Then I lost track of time in the Queen's Textile & Costume exhibition - for me personally this was best part of the visit but, unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos.    And so consequently, I had to suffer the wrath of Amy as she had to call me as I weren't at the agreed meeting place on time.  I was in trouble!   But, you have to build in leeway time here, so we wasn't late for our minibus pick-up.  
Royal Guards at the Palace

doing a spot of re-gold gilting in the Grand Palace
Minibus to Trat which is the jumping off place for the island of Koh Kood.    Six hour drive south - less said about that journey the better!   No trains to Trat.  We could have flown but the minibus was much cheaper.  It did have air-con but the driver kept turning it down.  All the seats were taken and only room for our big backpacks in the luggage space so our other bags and Andys guitar had to be nursed.  Amy tells me that all other minibus rides she has taken were SO much better.   Trust us to have the only cold blooded Thai driver in the whole of the Kingdom.  It got better .....not.
All the other passengers were going straight to Trat Pier for boat to another (bigger) island so we were unceremoniously dumped out of the bus 20 kilometres from Trat, so then big fight with a taxi driver for a reasonable price.   he took us to the bus station so then another slight altercation as we didn't have a clue where our overnight hotel was the end he did give in to Amy Pressure and after some U-turns and stopping to ask people, we did get to the right hotel.   Trat isn't so big but if I tell you that on Trip Advisor, the most recommended place to visit is the hospital - then you can understand that it isn't a renowned tourist destination ..... unless you want to go to the island.

The hotel was fine - about a year old and still in its clean, modern state with the folks at reception fine and smiley and speaking some English.   They only had a breakfast room so we had to venture out for dinner.  The first place we came to was packed ... with Thai people .... always a good sign (apparently).   Well, no-one spoke English and either couldn't or didn't want to understand Amy's Thai, so we ordered by pointing to a menu and hoped for the best.   It wasn't the best!!   The chicken in my fried rice was obviously the bits they would normally throw away and after the second mouthful of god knows what, I couldn't carry on.   Amy and Andy weren't faring much better either.   So we left and walked on a bit .... the second place we tried was ....... great!!   We all had something we liked.   After eating we decided on an early night.   All I can really say about Trat is that if you had booked your annual 2 weeks holiday there, you would be sorely disappointed.

Next day we were picked up at 0800 by a truck to take us to the Pier - a good 30 minute hair-raising drive through the countryside.     And there was the sea!    We had booked to go to the island by speedboat rather than the slower bigger boat and I was so excited.    Excitement turned to panic when we walked along the wooden pier and there didn't seem any logical way of getting onto the boat.    I should have known ... there wasn't any elegant way ---- once more, I had to be "persuaded" by Amy that I could do it ..... step off the pier onto the side of the boat which meant a leap of faith ..... and then jump down what looked like a sheer cliff face to me (I have only got short legs you know).   I had to be manhandled once more by two Thai boatmen whose combined weight wet through would be significantly less than mine!   Anyway, I was on  but by this time there were no seats left inside, so Andy and I had to sit in the front deck in the blazing sunshine.    Off we cast ..... not to bad me thinks.    Then the boat really took off and suffice it to say that thank goodness I hadn't had a full English for breakfast.   My bum taking another hammering (OK, I know it was a speedboat!!)  but thought it would all be a bit more dignified.   I am sure the high and mighty when out for a cruise don't get bounced 6 foot out of the seats every other minute.    Then .... I was asked to move to the other side of the front deck "to balance the boat madam.... must admit, it did help!    So then I had to worry all the way there about how on earth I was going to get off the boat!    Yes, it was much easier as they pointed the front into the pier so there was a step up and not such a huge gap between the boat and the landing stage.    We had arrived on Koh Kood - hooray!      (I am thinking now that Amy and Andy only let me tag along as extra entertainment.)

We had booked to stay the first 8 nights in Cozy for Backpackers where Amy and Andy have stayed before ... but this time I insisted on a separate bungalow with air con and private bathroom.   Previously they had slept in a room with just a fan and shared bathroom ... but I put my foot down!     So we had a bungalow each which is on stilts - front facing some grass and flowering shurbs and the back into trees.    For our last 2 nights on the island we are going upmarket and I have booked at a flash resort.    

To be continued ...............

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