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A mini adventure!

Enter Thailand

THAILAND | Saturday, 23 May 2009 | Views [720] | Comments [1]

After an arduous series of flights I arrived in Bangkok. Happy to have accomplished two things, shortening the journey back home and seeing the movie Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood, I recommend this film worth a watch. Upon arrival I was in awe of seeing such a different culture and being in a place so unfamiliar to home and so far away.

The signposts to the baggage claim being in two different languages, the people looking so different to yourself and the humidity were among the first things that grabbed me. Once having made it through customs I have never in my life been offered so many Taxi rides!

Before I could accept a taxi I needed to get some Thai currency, so I made my way to the ATM to make a cash withdrawel and to my horror the ATM was refusing my bank card. After trying another ten or so times and being in disbelief I realised this was real and had to get myself together and get this problem sorted.

But working out how to operate a Thai international phone box with no money is no easy task and getting help was also difficult. Trying to explain to the Thai people why I needed to borrow the money was a little tiresome but eventually I managed to borrow 500 Baht from a nice Thai lady, in exchange for my passport as a deposit. After searching the airport with the directions offered to me by a Thai to locate the international phone center I finally located it. Lucky for me I came prepared and had the Barclays bank number written down in my luggage.

After waiting for a rediculous amount of time to get through to customer services (having worked out how to dial the number which was a mission in itself) barclays inform me they decided to block my card because I used it in a hotel more than three times - what a fucking joke. I had informed them that I was in Australia till Feb 2010 AND told them about Thailand but they still needed to block my card. Thankfully after 5 minutes he card was unblocked and I could proceed with my journey 2 or so hours later after having passed through customs.

Not a good start.

When I left the airport nothing could have prepared me for the humidity I was walking into. IT was like being in a steam room and within minutes of leaving the air conditioned airport I was sweating buckets.

I took a taxi to Th Ko Sahn in Bangkok about 35 minutes away which cost me 400 Baht (8 GBP). Once there I was blessed with the task of finding some accomodation in the middle of a busy drunken street with all my luggage at around 1:30AM. I must have looked like such a target!

Very wary of my surroundings I was approached by a helpful Thai guy who showed me a hotel off the beaten track which was quieter and a good place to get some rest. Of course I was very cautious and wondering if there was an ulterior motive for his helpfulness which of course there was he wanted 40 Baht for some food which I gladly accepted. I would never have found this hotel on my own, the streets (smelly) are very difficult to navigate, small and winding with difficult names to remember.

I got my head down at the hotel for 500 Baht (10GBP). I had my own double bed, air conditioning, fridge, room service, bathroom and I could smoke.

The next day I took a walk around bangkok making sure I made a strong mental note of landmarks to guide me back to the hotel. I could not believe what I was seeing and for the first time I was a real foreigner I was the one who stood out.

The people here are fairly poor and to them you are rich so I felt slightly awkward and very cautious of my wallet being pickpoted. I think for the first time in my life I didn't feel short! I was as tall or taller than a lot of the thai people! Walking around bangkok was an experience in itself, people serving food on the streets, masses of food stalls tables and chairs laid out on the street, beggars, people trying to get you to buy crap it's very easy to get subdued by it and after a while it gets very tiring.

After an hour or so I got talking to a Thai guy who seemed very genuine although I was skeptical. We was talking for hours and he was educating me on the local tradition, the thai language and what to go see and do. It seemed a bit daunting trying to work out how to travel this country but he showed me to a tourist information center which was about a 15 minute walk. He said I will wait outside while I go and talk to them and I was in there for about 2 hours talking I just assumed he would be gone by the time I leave but he actually waited all that time!

You would never find someone so helpful back in England, at least in my 22 years I haven't. The information center sorted out my entire stay here for me and pointed me in the right directions.

For his help I bought him three beers 1 litre bottles for 3GBP (150 Baht). After we departed I wished him all the best I went to go and try my first experience of Thai cuisine. I went to a street stall and had pork and rice which was amazing and it cost around 2GBP! - a pack of 20 Marlboro cost 1.10GBP!

The next day I left the hotel and made my way to the train station in the evening and headed up to Chiang Mai. The train ticket was cheap and I had a bed to sleep on! Chiang Mai is in the north and I was happy to leave bangkok which I was not too impressed with.

Here in Chiang Mai I embarked on a 3 day jungle trek. I was not at any time informed on how difficult this would be but it involved hours of uphill walking in the baking hot sun. The group I was with were all cool people in their 20's and we had a good time. At times it was really dangerous having to walk along ravines with nothing but a 100m+ drop to your left with minimal pathways, I won't lie I was terrified. At one point we came to a part where the path was totally separated and we had to use a bamboo stick to walk across it with a huge drop below if you fell.

We come accross snakes, spiders many mosquitos and elephants after it was finished I was so happy to have completed it, my legs could barely move aterwards and I was covered in bites.

Later, on the last evening me and some of the group went to go see a Mauy Thai boxing fight which was really good. We had ringside seats for 10GBP! - and you could smoke in the arena. Rules on drinking and smoking here are very liberal.

After it was in a bar for a few drinks before retiring to bed for some well earned sleep - never have I appreciated air conditioning so much in all my life.

Tags: arrival, bangkok, chiang mai, trekking

Comments

1

mate what can i say you feeling tall must have put a big smile on your face lol and i'm liking the fact that beer and fags are cheap and the rules are liberal see you in a few weeks mate

  BIG T May 26, 2009 3:40 PM

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