I'm here, in Bangkok!

Trip Start May 13, 2007
Trip End Jul 26, 2007

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Well, here I am after, what feels like, a pretty mammoth journey, safe and just about in one piece in Bangkok.  The flights weren't to bad, apart from a bit of turbulance on the flight from Doha, but that didn't last too long.  It does feel like I've been travelling for days though, probably not helped by the fact I didn't sleep at all on the plane.  I took full advantage of the complimentary drinks and my personal entertainment system in the back of my seat kept me entertained.  That's probably the last wine I'm going to be drinking for a while :(  It's beer here on in I think!  Getting off the flight in Doha was like stepping into an oven, it was 8pm, dark and the temperature was still 33 celcius.  I'd hate to be there at midday!  It was slightly better getting off at Bangkok as it was only 7.30am, but still 25 degrees.  Its rainy season here at the moment, so It's really warm and muggy.  I witnessed a bit of the rain earlier, very heavy but it only lasted for 10 minutes.

I had been warned by my guidebook about the illegal taxi drivers who wait in the terminal and try to stop you going to the licensed ones, so I wasn't fooled!  I got into a nice air-conditioned taxi and the first thing I noticed was no seatbelts (sorry Mam!), I wasn't overly concerned until we got out of the airport and the speedometer started to nudge 120km!  Couple that with the fact that there seems to be no traffic regulations in Bangkok and everyone seems to either have a death wish, or think they're immune to car crashes (perhaps afforded them with all the amulets and buddhas they decorated their windscreen with, further obscuring their view!)  I'd been told about the traffic but I don't think anything can compare you for actually seeing it.  Huge carriageways (most of which seem in various stages of completion),  packed with cars, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, lorrys and buses all weaving out of each other and cutting each other up.  No beeping of horns as you'd get back home though, everyone just seems to swerve out of instinct!  had I not been so tired, I would probably have been quite scared!

So, I got to my guesthouse, Big John's Backpackers, its quite sparse but serves its purpose and seems clean.. Whats more, I got free beer tokens on arrival!  I decided against going to bed, and thought I'd head straight out to visit the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.  That involved another suicidal taxi ride, but by some small miracle (maybe the amulets do work!) I got there in one piece.  If I thought driving in the traffic was bad, its nothing compared to crossing the roads.  There are zebra crossings, obviously more to make the road look pretty than to serve any actual function!  It seems like you will never get accross the road because there isn't one break in the traffic.  But watching other people I learnt the trick is you just step out and hope to God the cars stop, which so far, they have!

When I got to the temple, another scam was tested out on me (thank god for Lonely Planet!) 
The one where a man tells you that the temple is shut today, but he can take you to an even better one down the road in his taxi, he just has to stop at his brothers gem shop first, where you then given the hard sell on probable bits of glass being sold as gemstones.  This scam clearly only works on blind people though, as the man was standing in front of the gates to the temple telling me it was shut whilst I was watching hundreds of tourists mill around inside!

The temple and the palace were stunning, so intricate in their design and decoration.  The scale  is just enormous too.  Unfortunately I couldn't see the other famous temple, Wat Pho, with the Reclining Golden Buddha, as it was a festival day, so was closed.  I'm going to go back tomorrow.  I had to admit defeat at around 2pm though and come back to the guesthouse for a few hours sleep.  It ended up leaving me feeling quite disorientated though and I wasn't sure what day it was when I woke up.  I'm going to get some food now and do some of my homework for my teaching course over a beer!

Take care everyone and keep in touch! xxxx
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Where I stayed
Big John's Guesthouse
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