Finally Back In Asia

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
Trip End Oct 06, 2013

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Where I stayed
Fortville Guesthouse

Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, November 28, 2011

We have a new authour- DH has taken control of the pen:

The day had come when we had to leave the paradise known as Hawaii. A short flight from Maui to Oahu and then two more flights-  10 and a half hours to Seoul Korea, couple of hours lay over then a 5 and a half hour flight from Seoul to Bangkok. Our bags were to go directly to Bangkok which is always a mystery to me. No matter how long we travel, there is always such a sense of relief when you see the bags on that carousel at your final destination. Especially when the first bag is mine. On these long flights, you really have to go to that place in the deep recesses of your mind and write off the time . Just get through it. Most flights you don't recall anything that happened, it's just time you will never get back. However, the flight from Hawaii to Seoul had a moment for me of suppressed laughter, which is always the best kind of laughter, even if you are by yourself. The flight was full, mostly Koreans returning home and kids- lots of kids!  How people fly with young children is beyond me.  I do not have the patience or stamina for this, but I do admire it in women who have to keep these children occupied, fed and entertained for such long hauls and with limited resources and space. In my sleepy , jet lag, time change, international date line crossing haze, I am aware that the plane sounds like a flying day care, and it's hot, really hot. I lazily look around me and see many of my fellow passengers huddled beside each other, some are in hoodies, others under blankets and yet it is so incredibly hot. I dozily turn to Vic, and hand-to-God if he isn't sitting there beside me wearing nothing but his shorts, hiking boots and a little Korean Airlines headset watching God knows what movie. He has no shirt on. My all round Canadian big muscle guy, is sitting on the plane without his shirt! Now I immediately look forward as I cannot let Vic see me laugh at him. This strikes me as one of the funniest things he has done and he is completely oblivious of how this looks. Wasn't there a Seinfield episode with George taking his shirt off at an inappropriate time? I put this question out to my fellow travelers, have you ever been on a plane sitting beside a shirtless man? My suppressed laughter finally under control , he then turns as asks (in that loud voice people wearing headsets talk in), isn't it unbelievably hot in here? I can only look straight ahead and nod, yes. (editors note= to be fair, we had asked that they adjust the air conditioning which, apparently, in Korean means 'crank the heat'. The lights were out and we were the only two in our row.)

I had mentioned in a few e-mails back home that I would probably need a few days in Bangkok to get into Backpackers travel mode after having such a decadent " holiday" in Hawaii. Bangkok does not allow that grace period- you are thrown into the craziness that is Bangkok the minute you step off the plane. To be truthful, I don't remember much about the cab ride from the airport to our hotel other than the heat, the incredible heat.

We were staying at a place called Fortville Guesthouse. Vic booked us in and then we made the climb with all the bags to the forth floor. We fell into the room and slept for 9 hours. We awoke and I had the feeling we were in a basement. I am surprised we don't leap out of bed in a panic more often as we wake up in so many different beds! This morning though our room is made of cement that has been painted to look like smooth stucco. The celling is very high and we are on a very hard mattress on the floor- no head or foot-board or box spring just a rock hard mattress on the floor. There is a window high-up and a TV mounted on the wall also very high up near the ceiling. The only English channel we could get was our travel channel, the BBC News. The walls are completely grey with no photo's or art. There were also no chairs, tables or stands, not even a hook. Bathroom had a flush toilet and we had hot water- nuff said.

We are quickly aware of our bodies stiffness from this slab we have crashed on and the first thing we do is scramble for the Advil bottle like heroin addicts needing a score, Vic doesn't even need water anymore to wash these babies down. Breakfast was in a little Internet cafe attached to the hotel and was a really nice little place, very clean and it looked like it had recently been renovated. We did get a discount on breakie as we were guests so including the lattes we ordered, we were out of pocket about $3. Not bad for a couple of eggs and toast.

Vic used his freaky map ready skills over breakfast and had charted our days adventure. He can commit maps to memory and has some sort of built in GPS that gets us around in record time. I swear that is why we get to see so much in one day, we don't get lost too often.

The streets were packed with merchants, pedestrians and so many tourists and Backpackers. There was evidence all around of the recent flooding. Sandbags lined the streets in front of the shops. There was water still coming in areas near the river but they had built walkways above these areas much like the ones we walked on in Venice. 2x4's formed crude walkways and formed little bridges which allowed you to walk over these areas. It seemed like old news to the people of Bangkok, some merchants stood in ankle deep water as they beckon you into their shop.

Grand Palace and Temple of Emerald Budda -Vic and I along with dozens of other visitors were not dressed "politely" enough as we we both showing our kneecaps. It resulted in us being supplied a pair of pants for Vic, and what can only be described as an area rug, that was to be wrapped around me and tied on. The heat was incredible. But that was quickly forgotten as we entered the grounds. The splendor literally stops you from walking any further until you just take it all in. The temples were beautifully decorated with mother of pearl, pieces of glass in every colour, ancient statues of mystical creatures. Vic's photos can best demonstrate these temples in all their glory. Once you stepped through the threshold of these temples (without footwear of course), you really could imagine what these temples were like hundreds of years ago. The smell of incense, the presence of monks and the sight of recent offerings all added to the moment. You were allowed to enter and sit before the elaborately adorned alter. No photography was allowed but you were encouraged to sit down on the red wall to wall carpet and take it all in. You were not allowed EVER to show the bottom of your feet to the alter. This created some very comical " getting up" and " sitting down" maneuvers.

Vic raced around, always a few feet ahead of me, snapping away his photos and muttering about too many tourists and shaking his head at those in front of sacred temples with goofy poses.

We wandered for about three hours then headed off to Wat Pho near the Chao Phraya River. We had walked through a market were the vendors were all working in water well over their ankles, unbelievable.
This Wat did not disappoint and again you really felt transformed in time, looking at something that has been seen by thousands over centuries. A short boat ride across the river to Wat Arun. Here we were able to climb very high and as there were not too many tourists here, we had a beautiful sunset all to ourselves.
We hiked back towards our hotel but passed a strange sight where they were offering massages on the side of freeway. Women had their blankets spread out with little pillows and sat crossed legged waiting for customers. It would be like seeing this on University Avenue between College and Dundas Street in the middle of rush hour!
We found a great gourmet pizza place right across the street from our hotel so it was a quick bite and an early jet lag night.

Killer bed. have I mentioned the bed? We met two couples from BC at breakfast who put us onto a guide and river tour and who could get us into Laos by boat as we can only stay in Thailand for 30 days. Vic exercised his computer skills to the max and had our flight to Chiangmai booked, contacted the guide, and accommodations booked ( thanks to a recommendation from our fellow travelers), all while dealing with a power outage, a time-out from the Cafe Internet, and then his lap top battery died!

We walked to the boat docks and caught a local boat for a down river trip to catch the new Skytrain to get to the famous MBK Mall. Another beautiful day and it is always fun to be out on the water. The boat was really full but open air which helps with so many people. The Sky train was very new an very clean and very cold! We were not sure if we had the right stop but a woman who took the seat Vic offered ( always a gentleman- love that), said that we should get off two stops before the one Vic thought. Of course she was wrong but only trying to help, so we walked two more stops till we hit this mall. MBK mall ( 8 floors 2,000 shops - Toronto Eaton's Centre 3 floors 230 shops). Now I am not a shopper and this place was for professional shoppers only. It had everything but what we were looking for which was a camera and underwater housing for diving. We did get Vic's phone set up so we have a local number which will come in handy for bookings of tours and places to stay. We decided to take a cab back and that is one hair raising experience. Still not as bad as the traffic in India but how it works I will never know. For all the dangerous turns, speeds, and lane changes, we never saw an accident.

 As it grew darker we decided to head over to walk the famous Khao San Road, which was not too far from where we were staying. We loved it! It had an infectious atmosphere at night- travelers of all sorts, shapes , sizes, in all manners of dress. It consisted of mainly pedestrians but there was the several motor scooters or taxis trying to get through the narrow street. Twinkling lights in all the trees that lined the road, beautiful Thai women trying to get you to go in restaurants, guitars played, competing against singers, three piece bands, DJ music, karaoke, vendors yelling, people calling out to each other. So much noise from so many different sources all competing for our attention. Although the sun had long gone down, the heat still hug in the air, sticky heat. Smells of an open BBQ, and the ever present smell of moth balls (?), the strong smell of lineament from numerous massage cots lining the street. We saw two women travelers sitting with their feet in an aquarium with those dead-skin-eating fish nibbling away. This is actually banned in some States and in Canada so I was surprised to see it here on an ancient street in Bangkok! We found great seats at an outdoor restaurant right on the street, and sat and had beer and brochette watching it all go past us. Chaos, but glad we were part of it. This City is never still.

I almost forgot, on the way home we saw ( lost count) but well over 16 huge rats scurrying away from a garbage bag, all running in a straight line along the sidewalk. I just stood there with my teeth clenched, hands balled into fists and my toes curled fight into my flip flops. Even Vic hesitated, not getting his camera up to his face fast enough to get a photo.
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