Date: January 6th - January 7th
The 4 hour sleep on a proper bed was gold! After recharging the batteries and once we had enjoyed the rare luxury of a hot shower, we headed out to battle the humidity and to begin our quest of finding 'the perfect engagement ring'. My thoughts before leaving for our holiday had been that it would be better to shop for a ring together in the Asian shopping capital of Bangkok than for me to try and find something among the overpriced, minimal selection, that Saga-Ken, Japan had on offer. Within an hour my gamble had paid off as we had found Karen's match. The ring is stunning and complements Karen perfectly. It's just so beautiful on her. Plus, I can now finally say... we were from then on "the fellowship of the ring..."
Once we had the ring out the shop door, and the alarm didn't sound... we ventured out to do some more mainstream shopping, something both of us like to think we have skills in! ...After all you've got to have skills.... like bow hunting skills.... or nun chuck skills. We figured since it was a Friday, which meant the massive market, Chatuchak, wasn't open until the weekend we would head to the MBK shopping centre, commonly regarded as being super popular with the "young crowd". We decided the best tactic was to split up for a while and hit the shops and stalls alone and so arranged to meet in a couple of hours to watch the Narnia movie. So, two hours and some change later we meet, both having run late, and discover that neither one of us actually left the 3rd floor. I should now add there are some 7 floors to be discovered in this place!! After an enjoyable, and again incredibly cheap, screening of The Lion the Witch and the wardrobe, we agreed that this mall had to be tapped out to its full potential again the following day.
For our last night in Thailand we went back to the ever-eventful Koh San Road. I spent my time hunting out DVDs and CDs... all of the legal nature of course. I tried not to go to mental as I was seriously freaking out at what I could get for so cheap!! Just to bore you and since this is after all my travel journal I will run through the highlights of what I got... conveniently leaving off the embarrassing purchases like Robbie Williams... oh crap I should have left that out... The DVDs of special mention are, the British 'The Office' complete set, The family guy movie, wedding crashers, and 40 year old virgin. Among the CDs I got Bloc Party, Elvis, Ryan Adams with the Cardinals, the Kaiser chiefs, and Madonna confessions on a dance floor! (which rocks by the way!) We finished the night with some other compulsory Thai purchases (for example, some "real" adidas shoes) to go with our already bulging bags from earlier in the day.
Our last day in Thailand was long. We spent hours upon hours shopping in MBK. We were trying to find a number of presents to bring back to Japan as "omiyage". As I'm sure you all know, if shopping for yourself can get tiring, shopping for other people for a whole day really tests you!! About 4pm we finally forced ourselves outside to escape the ever tempting stalls with their super cheap T-shirts, I figured six was definitely enough... or their crazy cheap DVDs. Once we had made it out and alive, with about four shopping bags on each hand, we started to make our way back to the hotel via a quick look at a notice board to see what was on at the cinema. We still had about three hours to kill before we wanted to collect our bags from the hotel and make our way to the airport for our 10pm flight.
While just walking along, Karen looked sideways at me to see me looking back at some guy who just walked past. My head was lopsided and she could see my brain ticking over behind my eyes.
"What is it?" she asked.
Before I could answer her I had turned and half-heartedly yelled back to the guy, "Ed?"
This was met by the guy with a similar half hearted turn before quickly continuing on his merry way in the opposite direction to us.
"I think this is crazy, but I'm sure Ed just walked past us!" I quickly tried informing Karen while we turned and headed after the stranger. I rapidly caught Karen up to date on how Ed, and his whole family, are good friends of mine, and my whole family. I have known them all my life and actually, thanks to their gracious hospitality, lived with them for about 4 months when I went back to England when I was 18. I explained how I hadn't seen Ed since then and had had only minimal email contact. How he could possibly be at the exact same coordinates of the globe at exactly the same time as me was, and still is, beyond me.
After a burst of speed walking I called out again, this time going for a guarantee, "Hoyland?" His surname came more confidently from my mouth this time. From Ed's point of view, the chances of having "Ed" called out while in Bangkok are slim... but still possible. However, the chances of "Ed" being followed up with "Hoyland" within 30 seconds are beyond any coincidence. They meant someone who knew him was there for sure.
It was so great to catch up with Ed after so long, and before long he was on his cell phone informing the rest of the family, who were also in Bangkok, that he was with me and ordered them to get their A into G over to where we were! So the next couple of hours were great being able to see all of the Hoyland's, minus, unfortunately, Jacky (mother) who was at the hotel feeling very sick so couldn't meet us. They had all spent the last three weeks in Thailand, having opted for a summer Christmas instead of the usual London weather. Meeting up with their family really was the icing on the cake for my whole trip to Thailand. It also provided Karen with her first opportunity to show off her ring... or, as we call it ... her bling!
The rest of the night was the usual travelling fiasco with little to report, except, we unfortunately had the worst meal of our trip to Thailand as our last meal. Gutted. Also upon arrival in Seoul for our 4 hour layover, and then again in Fukuoka once we touched down in Japan, we were simply FREEZING! Having only some shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt on, while our bags are being checked through, meant I was a little under dressed to say the least.
On reflection of the trip im not sure anything could have been better. Obviously there are the usual, I wish we had more money, or, I wish we had had more time. But, other than that the three weeks we had were amazing. We got to see a great deal of Thai culture, meet with many locals, experience the amazing cuisine, buy a load of cheap stuff, spend a couple of weeks catching up with some friends from back home, relax on many beaches in the sun, and enjoy the warm sea, both above and below. However, the trip, for me, will forever be remembered as the first proper holiday I got to spend with Karen and the time she agreed to become my future wife.