Bangkok the Sequel - Anna & Ian Strike Back

Trip Start Oct 02, 2012
Trip End Mar 31, 2014

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Friday, October 19, 2012

Waving farewell to Koh Samui, and the last of our Thailand beach adventures, we get picked up at noon from the hotel then drive to the pier. The boat is late so we sit around for an hour and a half before piling onto the boat. We sit along the side with our feet dangling through the rails and look out at the rocky islands and calm sea. After a while we get talking to a lovely couple from Seattle who are sat next to us. They've been travelling for 6 months, 'Brian and Lesley' (who sound more like middle class folk from the midlands rather than hip young americans) advise us on a few places to see in Vietnam and Northern Thailand. They are currently in a race to make it to the southern border before midnight, as their visas are about to expire and once they become 'illegals' the penalty fees start to mount up. As the boat nears the mainland we part ways with some new ideas and wish them luck in their visa race. For us its another coach ride from the pier to the train station in Surat Thani, where we have a 3 hour(ish) wait for our sleeper train to Bangkok. However, this being Thailand the train is late by 100 minutes! 4 and half hours sat on a wooden bench. We kid you not, our bottoms were numb beyond belief and we had to hobble onto the train once it arrived.

After a somewhat troubled sleep on the train (Ian had been taking tablets to stop the tom-tits he caught in Koh Samui), we left our STILL HUGE bags at the station and went back out into the madness of Bangkok for a bit. This time is much better. We are 3 weeks travel-smarter and know exactly what to expect from this place. Relaxed and more confident we walk about 2-3 miles through Bangkok's China Town to see the massive Reclining Buddha and the surrounding temples etc. China town is rammed due to a festival (same veggie one that was happening in Phuket we think) but we breezed through, strutting like seasoned travellers. Arriving in the baking sun after a weaving hike we are both dripping in sweat and no longer strutting. We need water. We need shade. We need somebody to turn that bloody sun down a bit.

Following a little rest we begin to look at stuff. The Reclining Buddha and the surrounding temples/chedis are absolutely awesome - just as impressive as the Palace ones and The Emerald Buddha's resting place. Personally we liked this place and the serene atmosphere even  more than the Palace/Emerald Buddha. Entering the Temple of The Reclining Buddha you realise how massive he is! He literally fills the temple in which he is housed. He is also gold. And having a lie down. Our kind of Buddha.

After checking it all out we head across the road for a mango ice smoothie and a sit down in some air conditioning - we are very very hot. After about 20 minutes we are very very cold. Ian's eyes have frozen and the bottom of Anna's face is numb and blue. Quick back out into the blistering heat before frostbite takes hold! After 5 minutes back outside not only have we thawed but we have once again started to cook and are presently sweating out our mango smoothies.

Back in the train station we need to eat. The 6ish mile hike has made our bellies growl and soon we will be on the sleeper train for 15 hours (oh joy). In the food court we find out (the hard way) that you can't use cash!? You must swap your cash for coupons/tickets at the entrance and pay with those. Don't know why this is the case but the food is really good and cheap. Ian makes a feeble attempt at using chopsticks. The Thais don't even use chopsticks; they use a spoon like a fork, and a fork like a knife. We haven't found out what they use knives for yet....!?

Onto the sleeper train (on our way north to Chiang Mai) we sit next to two Irish chaps, it's their first day in Thailand and they are (marginally) whiter than Ian.  We think they have flown to Bangkok then got straight onto the sleeper train! Crazier journey than us in a way - must've been about a 13 hour flight followed by a 15 hour train ride. Ouch! They are carrying a french stick, grapes, a packet of orange club biscuits and two matching backpacks the size of small family cars. They proceed to order breakfast from the nice fellow on the train and when it arrives the next morning they look at it for a while, decide not to chance this foreign stuff yet and open the packet of orange clubs instead. Haha. This sleeper train is the poshest so far but aircon is freezing!!!! It seems that if you have air con in Thailand you must turn it to the coldest setting imaginable! It's the law. After a few miles in arctic conditions, Anna ends up wearing a selection of Ian's wardrobe to try and stay warm. Comfy beds though and in the morning we will be in Chiang Mai :)

It's been our most arduous and lengthy journey yet. All in all it takes us 46 hours to get from Koh Samui to Chiang Mai. It has been an extemely long day but we are confident Chiang Mai will reward us in the coming days.
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