Ealing to Bangkok.
Still feeling the effects from a late night out with our friends in London, Heidi and I slowly finished packing our bags ready for the night flight from Heathrow to Bangkok.
We said our final goodbyes to our amazing housemates and to Ealing, which had been our home for the last 5 years. Our housemates had bought us ‘Ealing’ t-shirts as a leaving present, which has become a tradition in the QAG house hold.
So, we swung our rucksacks onto our backs and headed off to Heathrow. Though not without difficulty, as Heidi’s bag is nearly the same size as her and weighs about 16kgs but she did well not to topple over.
We touched down in Bangkok around 3pm on the 26th September. The flight with Qantas was great, which was a good start as we are flying with them for the entire duration of the trip.
Leaving the baggage reclaim area I was greeted with a nice surprise with seeing a client project I had worked on displayed proudly in the foyer of Bangkok International Airport.
Bangkok’s metro transport system is very useful and easy to get around. Though I can’t say the same for their road sign posting. Having experienced China and the UAE previously, you would of thought I would have been more savvy with Asia’s road directions but that wasn’t the case. Instead of stopping and trying to get directions, I spearheaded the charge towards our hotel, thinking I’d read the map correctly. I was wrong! Taking us 30 minutes away from our hotel. Finally after getting correct directions from a local we lugged our bags to the Sawasdee Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 8, arriving exhausted and uncomfortable from the humidity. Luckily we were just in time as darkness had set in.
The first night in Bangkok was a blur due to lack of sleep and 18 hours of travel. Though the memory of being in ‘Monsoon’ restaurant in Sukhumvit stands out for it’s good food, friendly service and the moment of relaxation where I thought to myself; “finally we are here”.
We were up early and ready to start our adventure. Heidi and I had planned initially only to spend 3 days in Bangkok and then use it as a base for one night while returning from Chiang Mai. Our first destination in Bangkok was to see the Grand Palace and later we made our way to Khao San Road, which in its own right is something to experience. Khao San Road is a hive for travellers and is full of guest houses, bars, eateries and tacky souvenir shops. In the evening the street is blocked off from traffic and a buzzing nightlife continues into the early hours.
A lot of the main traveller attractions and Khao San Road are based in a part of Bangkok that has no access to the train or the metro system but you can grab a Tuk Tuk (small, 3 wheeled motorised cart) that will take you anywhere in this area. Tuk Tuk drivers love to bargain and make sure you never pay for more than 100 baht per ride not matter how many passengers. Also another tip is to make sure you stress; “No Stops!”, otherwise you’ll end up in a tailors or a jewellers on your way to your destination. Metre Taxis are handy and can even be cheaper than Tuk Tuks but only if you avoid getting in one at rush hour, as the metre doesn’t stop when stuck in a traffic jam, which are extremely common in Bangkok. On that note, my biggest complaint about Bangkok would be the amount of traffic. It makes London look like a country road. On the other hand, I was surprised that Bangkok wasn’t as polluted or smelt as bad as I’d been preparing for based on friends opinions who have visited previously. To be honest on both of our visits to Beijing, I found the pollution and smells a lot worse.
Bangkok also has a good river taxi service that has been recommended to us by various people, unfortunately we never got the chance to experience that mode of transport.
Our second full day in Bangkok we went back to Khao San Road to book our bus to Ayutthaya and our hill trek tribe tour to Chiang Mai. It was at this moment that we were told of how badly Chiang Mai had been hit by fatal flash floods. After a few phone calls by the tour operator we were assured that the flooding was calming and both the train and the tour was still running.
For the rest of the day Heidi & I explored Bangkok by foot. We got lost a few times from dodgy map reading but also stumbled across the flower market and China Town. In the evening we found a street kitchen that was packed with both locals and travellers, so we decided to give it a go based on its popularity. The food was fantastic and a meal for 2 that also included drinks came to about £4.50. Bargain!
Another early rise, as we needed to get across town to catch the bus to Ayutthaya to start our journey north to Chiang Mai. Unaware that the next 48 hours would be a test for both of us to see how much steel we had as backpackers.
You can read more of my journey here:
From W5 to Bangkok
To Ayutthaya and back again
Waterfalls, Tiger Temple and the Floating Market
Koh Samui Archipelago
Krabi: Thailand Transport and Ao Nang
Krabi: The final days in Thailand
The highs and lows of Langkawi
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