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Welcome to Paul and Tracy's main blog. Here you can keep track of what we've been up to, and join us on our adventures.

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Friday, March 13, 2009


Last Post...

… queue distant strains of a single bugle... OK, so this isn't really my Last Post, but it is the last one from the Far East on this occasion. Currently sat in Bangkok airport, having walked about 5 miles past all the expensive watch and handbag shops, past the duty free and tacky (but beautifully presented) tourist tat, past the burger bars and Thai food outlets, past the cosmetic counters smelling like the inside of a French brothel (or so I'm told), and finally through security and into the holding pen by the departure gate. With only 25 more minutes to while away before boarding... but enough of the present, let's look back over our last day in Bangkok...

First, we were woken early by the sound of the person in the room next door going to the lavvy. It was so loud, I was convinced he/she would emerge from our own en-suite and join us in bed. Until I heard his/her door slam and the pitter-patter clump of his/her footsteps in the corridor. That was around 4am. Must have been going to see the floating market. Bloody tourists... (we plan to do that on our next trip). Back to sleep and woken a little while later by the sound of the builders starting work right outside our balcony. Separated from us by panes of glass that were little more than transparent sheets of thin air, it sounded like they'd taken exception to me drying my smalls on the balcony and had decided they were a radiation risk and needed encasing in concrete. Put in place using very large sledgehammers. And lots of shouting. Peaceful, it wasn't.

With little choice but to emerge from our slumber, we got up, showered (again) and dressed before heading down for breakfast. Avoiding the early-morning spicy noodles for a change and opting for a more sensible Spanish omelette, cooked by the chef outside on the veranda, and washed down with a strong Thai coffee. A combination that worked wonders for our fragile bowels and saw us racing each other back to the room to see who could fart the loudest (Tracy won, but then she's had more practice ;-0).

Once we'd managed to get things back under control in the botty department, we made our plans for the day. We'd take the boat along the river and visit the main shopping district around Silom road, and just wander around for a while. I was a great plan, that led to a disappointing and uninteresting morning. Apart from the boat journey, there really was nothing worth writing about. Well, perhaps the endless ranks of tuk-tuk drivers trying to encourage us to take an hour's tour with them, visit their brother's jewellery stores, or see the lucky Buddha. As we did that back in 2004, resulting in a large argument the following day as we tried to get our money back, we passed up their kind offers. It is interesting to note that there are now posters all over Bangkok warning tourists about these scams, though, so perhaps the practice will eventually die out, and the tuk-tuks will be useful ways to get around once again. But until then, we'll make do with the boat ride, which for the princely sum of 26Baht return will take you anywhere along the Bangkok Riviera. The journey itself is worth it for the breeze, and for the eclectic mix of buildings that line the riverbank – from beautiful palaces and well-tended gardens, high-rise apartment blocks gleaming white in the sun, through to semi-derelict warehouses and run-down wooden buildings inhabited still by some of Bangkok's less well off.

Tracy admires the views from the boat in Bangkok

After we'd wandered for way too long, and turned ourselves into dripping, sweaty, hot and slightly less relaxed effigies of ourselves, we headed back on the boat towards the hotel. But rather than go straight back we decided to head back to the Khao San one last time, to try and find a necklace for Tracy, and to get some lunch. On the way we discovered a little alleyway with a couple of backpacker guest houses and restaurants, and stopped in one for a drink and some lunch. Sat once more with a cold beer and pizza, we quickly regained our relaxed demeanour and agreed that the next time I suggest wandering aimlessly round a built-up and busy city in 40 degrees of heat and high humidity, Tracy would take a pair of tweezers to my most sensitive parts.

The last of the Bangkok beers...

On the way to the Khao San, we also passed a 2nd-hand bookshop, and as Tracy has finished her book, I insisted she went inside and didn't emerge until she'd bought one. This wasn't purely out of a desire to see her improve her literacy, but more to ensure she was occupied when I got the netbook out later to write this rubbish...

We did manage a final stroll along the Khao San, but failed to find a necklace she liked, and as we were returning to our earlier disgustingly damp state, we called it quits and headed back to the the hotel, for a shower and a snooze... and for me to update the blog, ring BMW up to confirm my attendance on their advanced riding course this weekend, cancel my bank card (which I discovered was missing when packing) and pack the bags for later. With all the chores done, the phone rang to say our transfer to the airport had arrived (an hour early), so we grabbed one last shower, dressed and went downstairs to check out and complete the journey to the airport, where we checked in, had our last Thai meal in a fast-food outlet, and made our way to the gate...

… past a new and very colourful statue of the “Churning of the Ocean of Milk” that featured on the walls at Angkor Wat... (more cheese, Gromit!)

The statue of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, Bangkok airport

Next step is a 12 hour flight to Paris, and then a further wait before the short flight back to Manchester, and then a car journey home... oh, such joy!


And “joy” wasn't quite the right word for it. Seated in row 26 of the Boeing 747-400 we realised that our seats had been reduced in size because they're in front of the emergency exit, and next to the toilets. Which meant that once in them, we couldn't get out again, arses wedged firmly between the arm-rests. And whilst we had the middle and aisle seats, the window-seat was occupied by a rather large French lady who snored loudly and leant on Tracy's arm-rest the whole way. The seats, being in front of the emergency exit, also reclined less than normal, so we had a face-full of the row in front. And with the toilets so close by, a constant stream of people passing by to keep us company. All it needed to complete the nightmare was a screaming child.

He was sat 2 rows back... with his slighter elder and equally noisy brother...

The rest of the journey home was a mix of snoozing and reading. The wait at Charles-de-Gaulle was not too bad, and our flight from there back to Manchester bearable (just – what is it about Air France that it attracts passengers with the worst B.O. imaginable?). The real drama was when we got home, and Tracy discovered someone has cloned her credit card and maxxed it out (in Tokyo!) - the company had sent her a letter as they knew it was fraudulent because she'd told them where we were going – and when we discovered out central heating boiler had broken down (we'd turned it off before we went) – so no heating or hot water... and it's Friday the 13th now...

… just as well I'm off this afternoon to spend the weekend in a nice B&B in Wales, attending some advanced riding training... poor Tracy and Carlie (who's coming home for the weekend)will have to endure a very cold house without me...

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