BootsnAll Travel Network

Bangkok: Sweatin’ our way home

Following our shopping spree in Hoi An, and now with our existing bags fully loaded plus an additional bag bursting at the seams with new clothes, it was time to go home. Home to Australia.

Of our time in Vietnam, I think the knowledge that we only had two weeks before we saw family and friends again made it a little harder to deal with some of the less savoury instances we encountered. Whether that ‘jaded traveller’ aspect came through in the writing I’m not sure, but I do know we were damn glad to be heading to Bangkok from Da Nang, a town about a half hour north of Hoi An from where we would fly out, for two nights back in the Thai capital before flying back to Melbourne.

An unexceptional night in Da Nang was followed by a short flight south to Saigon, where we had an eight hour wait before getting a connecting flight to Bangkok, and, at least in my case, a grilling by Vietnamese passport control. I got questions regarding where I lived in Australia, where I stayed in Saigon, and who I was flying out of Bangkok with – I even had to show an onward ticket from Thailand; what the hell this had to do with getting a Vietnamese exit stamp I have no idea. Just a final kick up the arse from Vietnam I guess. Had it not been for the charm of Hoi An and the quiet beauty of Mui Ne, the country could’ve been almost totally forgettable. But then had it been the first country we visited and not the last, things might have been different. In fact, I have no doubt they would have.

We arrived in Bangkok late afternoon on Sunday February 25th, and grabbed an overpriced taxi into the Khao San Road district. After the distinctly mild weather in Hoi An, the oppressive heat of Bangkok was somewhat of a shock. What didn’t help were the Full House signs we encountered at each successive guest house we approached, looking for a bed. The town seemed fully booked. Our packs now felt as though they were stocked full of anvils, and the sweat was literally dripping off my face as we trudged further and further through the backpacker crowd.

This was crazy. I stopped with all the bags whilst Bec ran off to find us a room. She came back with not so good news, “I’ve found a place that has only one room left, but it’s fairly expensive.”

“Don’t worry ‘bout that. Let’s just go get it.”

By the time we got back there, the room was taken. And all we wanted to do was go home.

We had two nights in Bangkok, and after finally getting ourselves a guesthouse, we spent the first one drinking some well-earned beers and eating delicious pad thai bought from a street vendor. Ladies set up their carts on the street, consisting of a heated wok with piles of different noodles resting on the wok’s edge. For around 60 cents, you pick your noodle style and watch while the lady expertly cracks an egg into the heated pan, drags over some of your choice noodles, drops in a handful of greens, a teaspoon of sugar and some soy sauce, and a minute later you have a delicious fresh meal in your hands. Just add some peanuts and chilli, plonk your arse on the sidewalk and watch the world go by while you eat.

As we did exactly this on our last night, a group of school children surrounded the two or three vendors on the street to order their food, and soon Bec and I were joined on the sidewalk by about 20 or 30 Thai kids, all smiling as they ate around us. Their teacher (I assume they were on some sort of school camp or excursion), standing nearby with a video camera, proudly exclaimed, “These are my students.”

It was a great way to end our trip.

Next morning, we checked out of our guesthouse, and caught a bus back out to the airport. Exactly one year to the day after leaving Australia, we boarded a flight from Bangkok to Sydney, from where we would catch a connecting domestic flight to Melbourne. However, it wasn’t until we checked our bags in Bangkok that we realised we weren’t flying directly to Melbourne – looks like we were going to arrive later than expected.

But, due to the mysteries of air travel, we actually arrived in Melbourne an hour earlier than expected, and our much-anticipated airport welcome was delayed. We stood alone at the baggage carousel with our bags, every other bag had been collected and their owners long-gone. We had no money on our phone, and no way to contact my folks.

But eventually, as I searched inside while Bec waited outside with our bags, I spied my Mum and Dad walking through the airport. The spotted me, and my Mum broke into a jog, as though this were some cheesy Hollywood tearjerker. But of course, we both cried as we hugged hello.

And now I’m home, and I still don’t know whether I’m going to keep writing or not – I’ve been totally slack for the past 3 weeks since getting back, giving very little thought to putting feelings and adventures into words. Although, we’ve done as much travelling around Victoria seeing family and friends as we did in Vietnam I reckon, so there hasn’t been a hell of a lot of doing nothin’.

But, there’re some new photos up on Flickr so you can put the words into images, see ’em here.

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