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April 9th/10th Last Days In Bangkok.

Sunday, April 13th, 2008


Originally uploaded by roupiesontour

As the bus arrived in Bangkok early we got back to the hostel and slept. In the afternoon it was last minute shopping at MBK and the Suan Lim (?) night bazaar. It makes a nice change to be able to buy things as this is our last country but having got back to the room and seeing the number of bags we have now got I think we are going to have an issue packing!

The next day sees an early rise for me. I wanted to go and see the bridge over the River Kwai but funnily enough the kids did not seem that interested. The trip included the floating markets which meant a nice early start of 6.10, God I felt so tired. It felt strange to be on my lonesome but I soon got talking to people and it felt nice to just have yourself to worry about, I didn’t have to think about entertaining the kids. They went to the Oceanarium with my sister in one of the shopping malls. Complete with 4d cinema, glass bottomed boat ride they had a whale of a time (boom boom).

The floating markets were a tourist trap but I did enjoy the boat ride. There are stalls on either side of the dirty canal and some boats that go up and down selling souvenirs, fruit and other food. You pay 150 baht to be taken up and down by paddle boat and the sellers hook your boat so you can’t escape. I bought some lovely fried bananas with coconut but have seen enough souvenirs to last me a lifetime. A stop that was not on the itinerary (so of course cost extra) was the Cobra show. “Brave” men wind up cobras and other snakes by hitting them on the head and then dodging the bites. It’s a good chance to get very close up to some magnificent snakes but not very humane. The lowest point of the show was when a glass caged mongoose was wheeled in and several snakes were dropped into his cage so the audience could see how he managed to attack them. The snakes were then prized from his jaw – all you could wonder was do snakes feel pain and did the mongoose ever get fed, it was actually pretty horrific.

After much swapping around of minibuses we arrived at the Death Railway Bridge on the river Kwai. It is a very clam place and the river flows quickly under the bridge – does it sound silly to say the bridge is smaller than I thought it would be – the famous metal rounded arches not as tall. I walked across it with my dripping ice lolly and contemplated all the hardships and death that had happened here – it seems a world away. We claim to be a civilised world now but how quickly in war would we go back to treating our fellow man in such an appalling way. I guess you just have to look at places like Africa to see we never really change.

Last stop (right over on the Burmese border) was the Tiger Temple. The kids baulked at the idea of another temple when I suggested going on the trip. O had asked if there were real tigers there and I said no – probably just statues. How wrong could I be? Yes there are real tigers there, just rolling around in the canyon and you get to have your photo taken with about 6 of them. The monks that lived there helped nurse a tiger back to health and it just went from there. The tigers couldn’t care less that you were there – they were docile and you could tickle them and pat them until you chickened out. There was one large fella there – the size and weight of him were a real eye opener. He stretched upright against a tree to scratch his front paws and you could just imagine the weight of his front paws on your shoulders – you wouldn’t stand a chance. We had a very talkative group on the tour and we all had a fab time here – it was a little bit surreal. At 4 the tigers are walked back to their overnight accommodation (cages). The tourists are all caged in a huge pen with the tiger cubs while they pass the head monk make this “call” and all the other animals, now sensing that it is safe come to feed. It’s like Noah’s Ark – oxon, wild boar complete with piglets, chickens, horses and cows all descend from nowhere. It was an amazing sight and something to remember over the 3 hour journey home. As the minibus was full and there was no room for a guide the driver talked more. He earns 180 baht a day (£3), gets up at 4.30am and does not get home till gone 9 and works 7 days a week. It was a reality check that’s for sure and makes you wonder how they keep smiling. He also said that that the girls in Bangkok aren’t interested in local man – they only want farang boyfriends. I guess it’s no wonder with that and the view of old, fat lechy westerners in local bars who have come over for some “entertaining” we are unliked.

The sunset was fabulous and during the trip it really started to sink in that I am actually going home tomorrow – 1 day left. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. The daunting prospect of finding both a job and a home hangs heavy but the excitement of starting again brings me up and deep in my soul I just feel that everything is going to be OK. Ask me again in 6 weeks and I might not feel the same way!

April 5th – 8th Busy Doing Nothing

Sunday, April 13th, 2008


Originally uploaded by roupiesontour

Because of the poor uncomfort of my sister we took it easy. Needless to say the beach was not our top destination. She looks like a lobster with stripes and the aloe vera gel has been slapped on religiously. To amuse ourselves we did other things………..
Let’s see as I am trying to remember
Played a round of golf. As my Dad had to bring his Sunday morning round to an early stop due to a snow storm in the UK we played 18 holes of mini golf amongst the dinosaurs in blistering heat. Despite getting a hole in one I lost to Josh who just kept on managing to get the ball in – he made it look so easy. We took the bus home and found a market to have a browse – it was so hot inside no wonder the stall holders were all a bit arsey. We managed to find one nice guy and found 2 pairs of jeans one for O and one for Josh. Once we got back O had to try on everything she had to work out her “Airport Outfit” for going home.

Took in a show. We paid a lot of money to go and see a Thai extravaganza – complete with 30 elephants, Thai dancing, illusions and acrobatics. The kids really enjoyed it but the animals left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. The elephants were all lined up as you went in and you could pay extra to have your photo taken with one. I swear one of them looked like he had contact lenses in – may be to protect against all the flashes from cameras I don’t know. During the show the elephants perform and stand on their hind legs putting their front legs on the one in front of them in a long line if that makes sense, it just looked a bit cruel. There were also tiger cubs in the entrance for that “photo opportunity”. They were being distracted with a bottle of milk, they looked so out of place. We did not have our photo taken as did not really feel this was right – the queue for that unfortunately was massive. The tickets did include a buffet dinner as fortune favours the brave I got my first taste of sushi. The little rice rolls are yummy but although the texture of the salmon was quite surprising – it’s a bit like very moist cake – it’s not for me.

Toured Patong. Patong Beach is famous in Phuket for the clubs, Go Go bars and general seediness set next to a beautiful beach. You can imagine why we didn’t stay here but we thought a wander around the town had to be done. The evening did not start well when a local Tuk Tuk driver decided to vent on us. The Tuk Tuks here are like little open vans and the prices seem to have been fixed to be extortionate – basically on a par with UK taxis. I understand that locals have to make money but what they seem not to understand is that every farang (Westerner) is not made of money and some of us are on a budget. We started walking down the road towards Patong and flagged down a TT, this guy on the edge of the road said “no no, I take you” and waved off the one we had flagged down. When we asked him how much and he said we said “sorry, too expensive” and continued to walk on. We were not confrontational or rude but this guy then just raged on at us about the price of gas in our own country, that we come here and don’t want to pay and he has to pay the same price for bread that we do. Well – I very politely said that the price of gas is 3 times more expensive where I come from but the taxi is the same price as here (with a polite smile) and left it at that but he still raged on. It really spoiled our experience and is not the only example I have heard of. It feels like if you ask how much something is, you have entered into a contract to purchase already – despite what the price will be. This is also the same for shopping. Talking of shopping Patong is a nightmare. You get called by every stallholder to come and see – “just looking, I give you good price Madam”, it’s exhausting as you try and smile as I know people have a living to make but OMG. O got called Miss Harry Potter by someone trying to get her attention which did not go down well at all! As the stallholders all try to guess your nationality we got so fed up we ened up pretending we were from Sweden, Australia, Canada and even Chile. The evening finished with a huge downpour so we got into a Tuk Tuk daring not to say anything about price and watched the torrents of water wash down the hills and the lightning in the sky on the way home.

On our last day we did a tour to Phi Phi Lei island. A fleet of sleek shiny new air-conditioned minibuses tours the island picking up the tourists and arrives at the pier en masse. There were so many of us you get given a bingo sticker and your number gets called for your boat. The leaflet for the tour states the max no of people allowed per boat – put it this way we were 9 people extra so a little bit cramped. The first stop was Maya Beach – the beautiful sand where the film “The Beach” was filmed. The reality was somewhat different from the film. We counted over 40 boats parked up in the small bay and there were so many tourists you could only stand – there was absolutely no room to sit. This was mass tourism at it’s very worst I have never felt more like cattle in my life and just feel quite sorry for my sister as it is not like we have experienced this anywhere else.

The day also includes passing by scenery from the film “The Man With A Golden Gun”, a trip to Monkey Island where there were so many people at the front of the boat you could not get a look in, lunch at Phi Phi Don (another number calling cattle market) and a stop at a small island in the afternoon to snorkel. Don’t get me wrong the scenery is still amazing – turquoise waters with cliffs that just rise vertically out of the water topped with green trees. It is just all the tourists that ruin it! It was exhausting being shunted from pillar to post and not very enjoyable at all. The only highlight was the snorkelling – we saw some great fishes and black sea spiky anemones.

Karon is a lovely little village and has a cozy atmosphere. It is full of Scandinavians and nowhere more than at the lovely Little Mermaid restaurant. The menus here come in about 8 different languages and do the best ice cream milkshakes. We took an overnight bus back to Bangkok – a government one which was direct and took 12 hours. We had a small wait at the bus station so O and I amused ourselves guessing names of foreigners and their life stories. As Josh was sitting far away from us we thought he looked like a “Marcus” from Germany who had come to Phuket to go clubbing and wore neon clothes when he was out! The bus even served food on board and entertained the kids with a Mr Bean video. The humour translates into any language.

April 4th – A Day At The Seaside

Sunday, April 13th, 2008
DSC01586 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour We all slept like logs – no surprise there. The rooms are very quiet and the hotel does not seem that busy. The lady has already discounted our room so ... [Continue reading this entry]

April 3rd – The Longest Journey

Sunday, April 13th, 2008
DSC01502 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour We only stayed 1 night in Bangkok as wanted to venture South to the islands. We have decided on Phuket as it is our first time and it looked like ... [Continue reading this entry]

April 2nd – Hard Rock

Sunday, April 13th, 2008
Thailand 005 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour Having realised that our trip has to end soon we try and make the most of our time in Bangkok shopping. It’s back to the MBK shopping centre and ... [Continue reading this entry]

March 30th – Tuk Tuk Races

Sunday, April 13th, 2008
A day of chilling and lazing around the pool. I don’t think my body could have taken another trip today. Both Josh and I have been suffering from colds and you ... [Continue reading this entry]

March 29th – Karen In Thailand

Sunday, April 13th, 2008
DSC01538 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour Tribal day today and a chance to see the much photographed Long Neck Karen tribe. There are actually many different types of Karen – white, red, black, big ear, big ... [Continue reading this entry]

March 28th – Nellie The Elephant Packed Her Trunk And Trundled Off To The Jungle

Sunday, April 13th, 2008
DSC01525 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour Early start for our 1 day trekking adventure today. We were joined by a Belgian family of 5 and a couple from the Czech Republic (no relation to anyone from ... [Continue reading this entry]

March 27th – On The Buses

Sunday, April 13th, 2008
DSC01546 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour The overnight train to northern Chiang Mai was full so we decided to take the VIP government bus. The bus terminal is frantic with activity and at 6pm everything stops ... [Continue reading this entry]

Come To The Cabaret Old Son

Sunday, April 13th, 2008
DSC01467 Originally uploaded by roupiesontour March 23rd – And So The End Is Near Our little trip with just the 3 of us is coming to and end today as my Sister is joining us for ... [Continue reading this entry]