|Date: December 17th - December 20th
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
A strange feeling awaited me when I awoke early with anticipation but then soon realised I was in fact able to afford a sleep in on a long day of travel... such a luxury! Usually I have to be up at the crack of dawn and finish off the packing I gave up on the night before... but not this time!
Once we were up and on our way it was into travel mode for an hour train, a subway ride, a bus, two hours wait (starving I might add cause we went through to the departures lounge expecting restaurants and there was a snack stand!!...a single bloody snack stand!), an hour plane ride, two hours more wait, a five and a half hour plane ride, a 45 minute wait for our luggage... very un cool I might add, and then a half hour taxi. While on the plane from Fukuoka to Korea we were given the highly important task of "exit seat" passengers! Was a nice return in regards to leg room for me, however, the seats were wasted as we couldn't enjoy them thanks to an insanely over tired worked up screaming toddler in the row next to us... seriously un real how much it screamed... not even cried... just SCREAMED all flight! I just feel bad for the passengers of the connecting flight the couple and toddler were catching. 12 hours to LA!
I would love to have been looking into our faces to see the disappointment that would have been showing when we found out our hotel, in direct contradiction to what they claim on their website, did not in fact have a swimming pool! I think this news, above all else, was the main catalyst for us deciding to just have an early night and get some rest instead of having a night time explore.
Sunday we spent the morning wondering round in a very defensive daze. After leaving the hotel nice and early in the glorious sunshine we set our radar for the Grand Palace and some temples. However, we soon found them closed to foreigners for the morning and we quickly found ourselves targets of dodgy tuk tuk drivers offering us our rides to all the other main sites for super cheap prices. Being novices we kept on trying to be nice and talk to them for a bit. It wasn't only tuk tuk drivers who seemed to be the problem either. Just walking along a very main street a crazy bird lady approached us and tried to give us bags of bird seed. "NO" we quickly said (thinking... oh crap, what kind of diseases is this lady carrying! ... oh and the birds too...) before we could walk away she has thrust a bag into each of our hands and thrown seed all around us, much to the pleasure of Karen who is definitely not the biggest bird lover in the world... some would say she has a slight phobia in fact. After the pleasure of being surrounded by filthy pigeons that we had clearly not requested crazy bird lady did the honourable thing and started demanding money from us!! So nice... in a rather panic we started hunting our pockets for any change to get rid of the lady... nothing in mine.. but karen had some gold and silver coins so quickly thrust them in her hand only to be met with "NO! NO! give me some paper money...these coins bad!!" The cheeky demanding bitch we thought and quickly made a get-away down the road ignoring her demands...
At this point we decided to try a new plan as the "temple" thing clearly wasn't working out well. Plan two was swung into action and we quickly selected a tuk tuk driver, instead of letting one chose us, and headed to the shopping district of Siam square. Let me just say this. Tuk Tuk's are insanely fun! If you get the right driver at the right time of day they can be scarier than roller coaster hands down! The speed those guys manoeuvre in-between each other, taxi's, cars, motor bikes, trucks, busses! Honestly they need to be experienced to be believed.
What did we find upon our arrival in Siam square?...closed shops! Can you believe it... ok no problems... we're hard out travellers now... think on your feet... think on your feet... plan three. One thing I wanted to do more than any other thing in Bangkok was see King Kong ASAP so that is what we did! This was the turning point for the trip as everything from here was gravy. Was rather funny at this point too, as after buying a drink at a coffee shop with some paper money the bird lady was so intent on getting I received some coins as change. "Hey Karen look at these their different from the coins we gave that lady?" Hahaha turns out we had given her our remaining Korean coins from our short stop over there! no wonder she said they were rubbish! How bad did we feel! (not actually that bad to be honest, she was draining). We were astounded at the cheapness of the tickets ($3US each) and the kick-ass-ness of the seats. Was also cool to find everyone stands when they play the national anthem, with images of the Thai King being shown, before every movie.
After a brilliant movie and feeling in much higher spirits we decided to try our luck again at the temples and palace. We were rather delighted to find our wait was rewarded, as everything was now open to us (and every other tourist!) and gleaming gold in the sun. The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew were simply stunning with the amount of detail and history behind each bit of architecture. I quickly shot off about a hundred photos and that was only photographing a fraction of it all!
In the evening we grabbed another tuk tuk to Koh San road, aka back packer central. It is a very lively street any day of the week being lined in market stalls selling all sorts of things like, DVDs, shoes, t-shirts, jewellery, and much much much more. There are also loads of bars, restaurants and guesthouses that line the road and its always full of people. We spent a good, though painful couple of hours there, as we looked around lots but refrained, with great difficulty, from buying anything as we didn't want to lug it round with us for the entire trip. I also saw a corrupt cop go up to one stall, who were frantically trying to pack up their "authentic" $10 diesel shoes. The cop then just started pointing at different things, which the owner quickly bagged up for him, before he took the bag over to a police car that was cruising along the road very slowly and carried on his way to another stall!!
On Monday we headed out of the city to find a water theme park called Siam Park. I had been there 15 years before with my family and was hoping it was still open and as ass kicking as I remember. It couldn't possibly have been harder to get to but it was open at least. Finding the right bus took a good while as there was no information to help, no locals had ever heard of the place, and there were about 50 busses scattered around a massive roundabout to choose from. Eventually we tracked down a bus that was mentioned on some website we had read and we decided that although the lady collecting the tickets on the bus had tried telling us twice that it was the wrong bus to bite the bullet and go for it anyway. We were right, she was wrong. Once we made it there we were rather shocked to find that it clearly hasn't actually had any make over work since its heyday when I was there last. The place resembled a run down, haunted theme park. There were virtually no visitors around and many of the "shops" were now empty. Very eerie feeling. The water complex itself turns out, like everything you remember from childhood, to be not nearly on the scale as I remember. However, it still offered us our first chance to have a swim in the sun which was magic. There were also a couple of decent slides to go on. The Thail kids found it hilarious as they kept jumping on, head first, straight after Karen, before I could get on to stop them!
After we had done our dash in the pools we went to check out the other rides on offer. The pirate boat was funny as we had the ride to ourselves and I spent the entire time trying to scare Karen and make her feel as sick as possible. Not bad effort either as she was consequentially sick after her next two rides! Poor her. She had to then endure an hour and forty-five minutes on a bumpy, stuffy, bus back to town. The ride for her was made all the worse as fifteen minutes in she was sick into a plastic bag I luckily had with me and then had to hold onto it for the remainder of the journey!
That night we decided to keep things low key and so after a wonder round the local night markets Karen hit up an hour foot massage for $5US. Very highly recommended to, as she claims it was the second best thing she has ever experienced... second I say....