Unsurprisingly I’m all behind – I’ve sorted through the photos and have partially designed the website, but tomorrow I’m off to Cornwall for a couple of weeks so there won’t be much progress until I get back (things happen sllllloooooowwwwwly down there)
Home sweet home 🙁 At least the journey went smoothly, not that I’d really know as I was unconscious for most of it. Having spent one day here now in a partial daze it’s hard to say how it feels to be back as yet, so far it’s been nice to enjoy some simple pleasures like the ability to make a cup of tea and toast and so on. And to be around some of my possessions again, and to hear some good music for a change. But mostly, last night’s curry was a winner!
So now I’m halfway through the mountain of junk mail and bank statements that are waiting, and about to embark on some serious laundry duty. Stay tuned for the photo update…
As planned I’m in Kao San Road, today is a lovely sunny hot one, just to rub things in I suppose. This morning found me digging deep into the bottom of my backpack to pull out a long-sleeved top, the leg extensions for my trousers, and even a pair of socks! And I think I’ll need them, having just checked the London weather forecast..
Once I’m back I’m planning on sorting through the approximately 1500 photos I’ve taken and will try and sort out a posting of the highlights of the trip. I expect this’ll take me a week or two, so check back here sometime after that to see if I kept to my word!
Not much left to say so I might as well go outside and enjoy the last of the sunshine! See you all soon.
Last night I checked out the rest of South Pattaya, to the south of my hotel and things only got worse. I inadvertently walked down Soi 3 of an area known as “Pattayaland”, this soi is also known as “Boy Street”. No further explanations required there… Other than that the prices rose to astronomical levels, in Thai terms anyway, so instead I walked for miles all the way back to North Pattaya I eventually found a place with live music and no hassle, but even then when I paid up and left one of the waitresses was offering extras…
In its defence, Pattaya’s probably a great laugh if you’re a group of lads on a stag-do type weekend and don’t mind splashing a bit of cash, or if you’re an old fat bastard who hasn’t been laid in some time, but not good otherwise. So today I made good my escape, this time on a genuine bus service. It cost 20 baht more than the dodgy one but took an hour less thanks to not stopping every 20 yards to tout for passengers.
I’m staying back where I was in Sukhumvit, will take it easy tonight and then have all day tomorrow to kill, which I’ll probably spend chilling up in Kho San Road. So expect one more post tomorrow, the last tearful one before I fly!
As ever things look better today under the light of day and after a decent sleep, at least until I went for breakfast in the hotel. Here you get to see the sleaze at it’s height, with all the old tossers eating with the girls they picked up the night before, who are still wearing their pull-me gear. In the rooms on prominent display are two packets of condoms, one for Thais and one “large size” for Europeans, so I expect they get put to good use!
As for me I tried to go out last night but in the end just had to grab some quick food and retreat to the hotel, the hassle even from walking down the street was too much to bear. I seem to get more attention than most, a side-effect of the way it works I think. As far as I can gather, when you pick up a girl here you pay for her to be your girlfriend as such, rather than just for a night of sex. I think that’s why the guys like it so much, as they have a companion for their time here, and from the girls’ point of view, if they can get someone even vaguely half decent then all the better. Now, I think I can safely say this without fear of being accused of an over-inflated ego, but compared to the majority of blokes here I’m probably looking like Brad Pitt or someone. For a start, most blokes here are over 50 and their waistlines are over 40. Oh, and they’re wankers, of course.
For exploration today I walked up to North Pattaya which seems to be more civilised, and I’ll try up there later to see if there’s anywhere to eat and drink without having to get a bank loan for a burger or to pay for a hostess. Nonetheless, unless things change dramatically tonight I think I’ll cut my losses and head back to Bangkok tomorrow and spend my last night there instead.
A long day today, getting to Pattaya via a variety of transports – a motorbike taxi to the bus station, a bus to Bangkok, a taxi to Khoa San Road, walk to the longtail boat, then the boat, then the sky train, then another bus to Pattaya which turned out to be a bit of a scam. As I got near the bus station someone called over and asked if I was going to Pattaya, and indicated to the bus sitting nearby looking like any other normal bus with Pattaya etched into the windscreen. Thinking it was about to leave, which it did, I got on.
Only when we left did alarm bells start ringing, there was only me and 2 Thais on it, strange for such a busy route. Then he quoted the fare as 80 baht, whereas translating the sign in the bus by cross checking the Thai script in the Lonely Planet it read 70 baht. And he hadn’t given me a ticket…. First I insist on a ticket and he eventually produces two 45 baht tickets from somewhere. Then I tell him I think the fare should be 70 and he eventually gives in and returns me 10 baht. Then all the way, there is this bizarre behaviour where the bus stops anywhere and everywhere, the guards jump out and try and drag Thais into the bus from the street and from other buses as they’re climbing in. In the end the bus was full of Thais, and I came to the conclusion that the guys doing this must be employees of the bus company who’ve “borrowed” a bus and just charge very low fees to the Thais. Of course, I’d paid top dollar and had an hour longer ride than I should have done because of all the stops. I’ve taken the bus registration number and may report them to the tourist police tomorrow, depending on what mood I’m in!
Anyway, after one final moto-taxi I’m now in South Pattaya, and what a dump it is! At first glance, having just been for a walk to find some dinner, it’s nothing but wall-to-wall girlie bars with the full support team of fat German and English blokes to supply them with cash. And the prices of food and so on are astronomical, I fancied a curry but the bill would have worked out to about 5 pounds with all the trimmings and booze which is crazy for Thailand (ironically one of the first things I plan to do when I get back home is to get a curry from my favourite curry house which’ll be a tenner, without booze…) I’ll take a look around in daylight tomorrow, I think it may be a case of heading either north or south to find a little more civilisation. Otherwise I might engage a contingency plan and move on!
I had a shock to the system this morning, I stepped outside and actually felt a bit chilly – it was only 27 C this morning, the coldest daytime temperature I’ve been in since Sydney over 3 months ago. Looking at the London forecast which says maximums of 14 C I think I’m going to be in trouble when I land!
Off I went to Erwawan today, the bike at full speed most of the way as it’s only a 110CC. I was here before but it is a beautiful spot for sure, a 7 level waterfall with crystal clear water. I found myself a private swimming hole, you can see the fish clearly when you jump in, and if you stand still they come and start nibbling at you which is a bit of a cheap thrill!
I ended up in a bar last night where they were showing “Bridge on the River Kwai”, tacky, but I suppose I should have expected it! Will leave by bus in the morning for Bangkok, then attempt to cross town for another bus station to pick up a Pattaya service.
A quiet day – I’ve moved to the Pong Penh gusethouse (which actually doesn’t smell that bad), have procured a bike for tomorrow, and went up to revisit the death railway bridge. Apart from that I’ve generally veged, and had a massage.
Why did I even bother to make this entry??? It must be the prospect of only having 5 more days before flying – I’m trying to squeeze out every last drop…
The coin landed in favour of Kanchanaburi, so here I am, after a small hassle in Bangkok with the taxi driver taking me from my train station of arrival to the one I needed for the Kanchanaburi train. The guy didn’t know where it was so left me, well, somewhere… (This is rather like a black cabbie in London not knowing where Paddington station is). After a session with a policeman and a tuk-tuk driver I got there in time for my train.
When I was here 2 years ago, I stayed on a raft in the river to the north of town, in the vicinity of the famous bridge on the river Kwai, it was nice but not a lot going on in the area. This time I decided to check out another strip of rafts further south towards town, but they were all rather overpriced and very crappy. Somewhat disappointed, and very hot and bothered as I didn’t sleep well on the train thanks to a small child in a nearby berth who decided it was wake up and play time from 2am onwards, I went into town instead and got a hotel unit with aircon, a good move actually as I spent the afternoon cooling down and sleeping.
This evening I’ve been on a walking tour of town to remind me what’s what, I’d sort of forgotten how cheesy it is in some ways. Thai people, from Bangkok I suppose, seem to use this place as a weekend getaway, so there are lots of tour buses with blasting music driving around, and on the river there are these huge floating restaurants and discos cruising up and down the river. It’s a little like Blackpool but with better weather. Now I’ve walked up to the area to the north where I stayed before and what a transformation! It’s almost unrecognisable and has clearly developed into a traveller’s niche with many new bars, restaurants and guesthouses. Tomorrow I think I’ll move up this way for sure.
I made a couple more purchases of useless, space occupying junk from the market which I can start to get away with now as I won’t have to unpack again too often. In Thailand and Laos the vendors have this wonderful tradition of taking your money and touching it against many of the items on display, when they make the first sale of the day. Today the honour went to my 500 baht note in one place.
Killing a couple of hours now (which I used to dread doing, but with practice has become remarkably easy on this trip!) before the night train, which I’m looking forward to quite a lot. In the 13 hours it takes I can decide which way to head once I’ve arrived at Bangkok…