Flash Packing in Bangkok City
Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
92Trip End Apr 22, 2011
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Our 12 hour ferry and bus journey went past remarkably quickly but the 4 films back to back on the bus probably helped.... mind you the last film was Mr Bean, not sure if you call that a movie!!! We arrived in Bangkok on time at 8.30pm and only 3 mins walk away from infamous Khao San Road which is where all the main backpackers accommodation, food-stalls, bars, etc.... are. This area has a constant turn over of travelers coming in and out of the city day and night, we tried 3 places before we found anywhere that wasn't full, we eventually found a cheep but tidy room with share bathroom. We dumped our bags and went for a tour of the area....in search of some food. We are in the middle of quite a busy area with two bars just outside our window, the room is fairly hot so the windows have to stay open but with all that said we both have had the best nights sleep since we have been here.
We got up early the next morning to do a bit of a recky of the other accommodation option looking to see if we could get something slightly nicer for the same money...or cheaper. After about 4 hours traipsing around the streets, I got bored and we found that the room we had was fair for the money so we are sticking with it.
As if we hadn't walked enough we then took a wonder down to the river to check out the river taxis, where they go and how much, there is a floating market every weekend, as there wasn't much of Sunday left we decided to leave this until next weekend.
Monday morning had us setting out on a long walk to Siam city, shopping capital of Bangkok, for some serious window shopping. Fighting off the Tuk Tuk drives hell bent on taking us to temples and monuments for the cheap price of only 20BH, which would more likely involve going in to his brothers or cousins shop and costing us 200BH to get back to our road.
Every shopping Mall (and there are a few dozen in Bangkok) has a big multiplex 8-15 screen cinema ..... sadly none where showing Full Moon (which I still haven't seen) but we did manage to see the new Sherlock Holmes film which only cost us 2.40 pounds each to enjoy the full comfort of reclining seats, A/C and a great film. Top Tip if cheesy popcorn ever comes to the UK avoid it at all costs!!
We came out pictures starving and headed for the nearest food court, they have a strange cash less system where you buy tokens before entering the food area buy your food and cash in what tokens are left. My Dad had already recommend we try this and it was great, over 100 different choices of dishes to try and most dishes were about a pound each....bargain!!
We are taking the whole keeping on a budget thing very serious, so much so that with our trip to the pictures, popcorn, lunch in the food hall, shopping from Tescos (mozzie repellent, deodorant) and numerous drinks we had 88BH left out of our 700BH for the day. We had walked our feet off and it called for some hard bartering with the Tuk Tuk drives to eventually get us back to Khao San Road for 88BH when the starting price was 250BH.
We have had a stressful couple of days trying to sort out our visas, we need a visa for Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam as well as our extra 30 days in Thailand (we had a 2 month visa from the UK but needed to come to Bangkok to extend it). We spoke to a number of Tourist info desks in the hope of getting a simple solution, most of them provided a visa service at a small cost, however they all kept giving us conflicting information and it was driving us mad. A simple thing like where is the immigration office.... two different addresses from 4 different areas....one of them being the Internet (and that was the wrong address).
A trip to the Immigration office had us getting up before 8am and in a taxi heading out of town. Hands up to the Tuk Tuk drive who informed us the immigration office had moved address - he could quite easily taken us to the old one. The new one was about 40km away and we needed to get a meter taxi. Very impressed with the efficiency of the new office, massive complex on the outskirts of the city. We where in and out in under an hour, clutching our newly stamped passports.
As it was still morning and we had expected to spend the day waiting for our visa, we hit the shopping mall again. The Vietnam Embassy was only up the road from the malls so after some lunch (back in the voucher mall) we took the sky-walk to investigate.
Hopefully the rest of the Vietnam people are not as rude as the woman behind the counter of the visa registration desk but I am sure it was just an off day for her, anyways we get our passport and visa back in 6 days, so time to relax for a bit.
We have become Flash Packers...for a definition see the below link
After a lot of consideration and 4 months of rubbish connections and slow downloads we have bought ourselves (with Xmas/birthday money from the parents) a mini laptop. We are now freezing our bits off making use of the free Wi/Fi in McDonald's. You guys don't know the meaning of cold, try 4 hours of subzero A/C in shorts and vest.
We have stayed in many a hostel with free WiFi which we hope to do again, or we are going to get very large filling up on Maccy everyday!!!!
18th January 2010
It's been a busy few days since our last update, we have spent most of it in McDonald's trying to get free Wi/Fi. Bangkok doesn’t give a lot away and where we have traveled through most of Malaysia and Thailand with Free Wi/Fi being thrust at us when we haven’t needed it. It is now very annoying that we have a new toy to play with and Bangkok won’t give us the key to the toys box.
Last night we tried to call home from a bar off Khao San Road but it was so noisy we gave up, and that was in between the dodgy cabaret singer warbling on.
We met up with Grant (from my work) on Friday, he was out here on holiday traveling round Laos and Cambodia and was flying out of Bangkok. It was great to meet up and catch up on all the gossip…it’s great to get news from work, I do like to be kept in the loop. We had a few beers that night and then arranged to meet up the next day and go to the weekend market.
We met up at the Sky train and took it to the end of the line. I have never been to such a massive market and I thought North Weald was a big. It was really well set up with all the market stalls under one huge roof but segregated into areas so if you wanted jewelry you went to one area, clothes another area and so on. It was mainly locals with a few tourists thrown in and all the stall seem to sell nice quality stuff rather that the normal tourists tat. It was a long day but worth it, we came back on the underground, which was unbelievably clean and shockingly empty for a tube train.
It was Grant’s last night so he come over to us again in Khao San road and we had a few beers in a little bar that showed the football, which kept Gary happy, while I caught up on some more Deloitte news. There was a fish foot massage in this bar which Grant and I nearly went for. You place your feet in a giant fish tank and about 30 fish surround your feet and nibble/suck off the dead skin, sounds gross but the girl we watched have it done said it was great, very relaxing…… after 7 days of walking none stop around Bangkok I am not sure a shark would nibble my feet never mind 30 fish!!!
We are off the booze again, having gone back on it for the couple of nights that we meet up with Grant, we are now officially off again. It eats into your money too quickly, although we did have a special fund for Grants visit, it will need a special occasion now before we drink again….maybe Man U winning the premiership (again)!!!
We did the cultural thing today and visited a temple, Wat Phra Chetuphon,The Reclining Budda. We walked from our road for about 5km and spent the afternoon walking round the temple and the grounds, which was very peaceful. We hadn't realised how noisy Bangkok was until it went quiet. The Reclining Budda was enormous, and it was something I really want to see last time we where here.
A couple of things we have done over the past week, Gary had a professional shave in a barber shop for 1.50 pounds, he came back looking 10 year younger, but I think that was the dodge sideburns the barber gave him. We also sold our tent, we have been thinking about ditching the tent for a while but now with the extra weight of the laptop and the fact that I don’t think we are going to use it again this side of Australia, we found a market stall to buy it for 10 pounds, which isn’t bad considering it was stained with mud from the rainforest and only cost us 20 pounds new. Having done a far amount of bartering since we have been in Thailand it was very strange for the shoe to be on the other foot when we came to selling the tent. I had assumed the stall holder would just offer us an amount and we would either accept or decline depending on the price, it took me back for a few secs when he asked us how much do YOU want for it….it felt all wrong to bartering up rather than down!!!
Some sad news is that Gary has broken his camera, not sure what has happened and if we can get it fixed we will try, this does will mean there will be a lot less pictures of me as Gary rarely goes near my camera…so it may not be all bad news :0)
We are moving rooms on Tuesday to the Holiday Inn, dead posh for us!! We have some free points to use on our priority club card and we both fancy a couple of nights of luxury before we head back down to the islands.
22nd January 2010
Our move was very smooth, we had a taxi take us to the Holiday Inn where we were met by the door man who took our rucksacks and loaded them on to one of those trolleys all hotels have, he then pointed us to the reception desk to check in. As we are Priority Club Members we have our own booking in desk, we were greeted by an immaculately dress receptionist who was very polite and friendly and looked past the fact they we were sitting on her silk upholstered seats in our grubby shorts that we have had on for at least 5 days. The main reception was fairly standard for any major hotel chain, huge, marble floor area with chandlers dripping from the ceiling. However that fact that we had rucksacks and that we looked a little rough around the edges didn’t stop them giving us the full 5 star treatment. Once we had completed the paperwork, the immaculate receptionist then personally escorted us up in the lift to the 15th floor and straight to our room. The Bellhop arrived 3 mins later with our rucksacks, he gave us a tour of the room including the control panel that turned the lights on and off from the bed. I pushed Gary to tip him, he gave him 20BH, well if you live the high life you have show you can afford it and I am sure he will spend that 40p wisely.
We didn’t have much time to explore our room as we still needed to head over to the Vietnam Embassy to collect our passports and visa. It took us best part of the afternoon as they had just shut for their 2 hour lunch as we arrived, we when off to kill some time and get some lunch ourselves. It’s funny it doesn’t matter where you are in the world office workers all look and sound the same. We found a street market with lots of food stalls and a big seating area in the middle. We grabbed a seat and ordered some food just as the offices started kicking out for lunch….except for the Thai Noodles I could have been anywhere in London at that point.
We when back after lunch and waited for the embassy to open, 20 mins later we had our visas in our hands.
We stole some free Wi/Fi while eating lunch and received an email from James and Lucy to say they were in Bangkok for a few days before their flight home and would we like to meet up. It seemed a bit ironic that we had just moved from Khao San Road only to then arrange a meeting back in it, but we really wanted to see James and Lucy again before they left so it was worth the effort.
We had a lovely dinner and a few drinks by the river which James and Lucy kindly paid for. It was really bazaar to think that James has to be back at work on Monday morning as we sat by the river in the middle of Bangkok drinking beer and swapping stories about what wonderful place we have been to.
Our hotel has been great, something both of us really needed without realising it, Bangkok is a wonderful city but I think we have spent too long here. We collect our Passports today with our Laos and Cambodia Visa’s in and then leave for the Islands tomorrow.
I am sitting round the pool now typing the blog and the sun has just come out for first time in 3 days. Later we will be getting our free drink from the Orchid Lounge and then out for dinner. Hopefully by then the maid has cleaned the room and changed the bed linen and towels, replaced the free water, fruit and miniature soaps and shampoos. It’s a tough life this backpacking lark.
We are off to Phi Phi tomorrow after a bit of shopping in Khao San Road.