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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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Thursday, March 5, 2009


One Night In Bangkok...

So after we waited and waited, eventually our flight was called for boarding and we joined the long queue to get on the flight to Bangkok. It's a long flight, over 10 hours, and we were hoping that we'd not be surrounded by screaming kids or annoying adults. As we took our seats a family with 2 young children took their seats immediately in front of us. And a small group of French adults sat behind. The kids were hardly noticable during the flight, but unfortunately the same couldn't be said about the adults who proceeded to behave like noisy jack-in-the-boxes as they continually got up, grabbing our seats (and on more than one occasion Tracy's hair) so they could haul themselves up, and then held loud conversations over our heads almost constantly for the full 10 hours. Fortunately the in-flight entertainment was good, as we each had our own personal TV screen in the seat-back in front and a wide selection of films to choose from. With Quantum of Solace, Hellboy II before I tried to grab some sleep and Transporter 3 as we were approaching Bangkok the time passed relatively quickly. But we did arrive with very numb bums as the seats were the most uncomfortable I've ever encountered on a plane... but we weren't complaining, as we were just very glad to be getting away, and Tracy managed the whole flight without problem.

Eventually we arrived at Bangkok's new airport, Suvarnabhumi, a really huge and very impressive sight, but still much like any modern airport anywhere in the world. We grabbed the bag off the carousel and headed out to meet the transfer agent that Tracy had arranged. He was waiting for us with a sign with our names on, and spoke impeccable English. We loaded ourselves into the air conditioned comfort of the people carrier and settled back to enjoy the journey to the hotel. Our guide explained that the airport was just 3 years old, and had been built to cope with Thailand's ever expanding tourist business, and was already welcoming some 45 million people a year – and has capacity for 250 million. It really is very impressive.

Tracy, sat in the minibus en-route to Bangkok

He then pointed out many of the sights en-route to the New World City Lodge, where we'd booked for the night. This is the same hotel that we'd stayed in on both our previous trips to Thailand, and so we wouldn't have to worry about orientating ourselves. However, the hotel has changed somewhat. Where there previously was an underground car park (one that I used to dream of us riding into on our round-the-world trip) there is now a building site. Which was right below our balcony...

Once checked in and shown our room, which was large and spacious with a huge king size bed and an en-suite shower room and air conditioning, we grabbed a quick shower before putting on our shorts and heading out. The familiar sights, sounds and wonderful smells as we made our way along cramped pavements with roadside stalls selling fantastic smelling (but not the most appetizing look) food, others packed with tee-shirts and assorted clothing, and yet more loaded high with tourist tat, made us both feel as though we had never been away. We quickly found ourselves on the Khao San Road, Bangkok's famous backpacker haunt and within minutes were sat outside a bar with a large bottle of Singha beer for company...

Cold beer, Khao San Road, Bangkok...

One beer led to another and then another as we whiled away the hours, chatting and people watching. The Khao San is a great spot to spend an afternoon relaxing in the heat, soothing away the stresses of every day life with cool beer and watching the world go by... and go by it did... all the usual sights were there, from the street vendors selling dodgy fake watches, tee-shirts with inappropriate slogans (my favourite was “I'm not an alcoholic. I'm a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings”), freshly cooked Pad Thai, fresh fruit, or sitting braiding the hair of young travellers from all over the world. Up and down the street people wandered, mostly non-Asian, and all looking relaxed and without a care in the world. After a couple of beers we decided to move on and try another bar – preferably one with seats that were a little kinder on our sore backsides. We grabbed some Pad Thai from one of the street chefs – costing all of 25Baht for the one with egg, all of 50p...

Street food, Khao San, Bangkok

With hunger abated we found another bar with a large electric fan and settled down for another beer or two. And some more people watching. After about half an hour the peace was interrupted with the arrival of the Sweeney. Screetching into the road from a side road roared 2 motorcycle coppers. Ok, so “roared” is perhaps an exaggeration as they were riding scooters, but I had been drinking. One of them parked next to a clothing stall and proceeded to take a large number of hangers with shorts on and place them on his bike. He then moved to the stall next door and grabbed a couple of mannequin heads with beaded wigs and some hair extenstions, and laid these on top of the shorts. The other one (Reagan to his Carter) pulled up next to a little old Thai lady and her Pad Thai trolley and took out his notebook. He gave her a ticket, but she was too busy cooking up another portion for some tourists to really care. He then moved on to the fruit seller and did the same, but this seller also seemed completely unperturbed. As soon as Reagan's back was turned, he screwed up the ticket and threw it in the bin. So much for “you're nicked, son!”...

You're nicked... Sweeney raid Khao San...

All of this excitement was almost too much for us, so we drank our beers and moved on again. To another bar a little further down the road, where we ordered some more beer. And so we sat and watched as the endless stream of tourists wandered past and enjoyed some more beer until the sun went down and it was time to head back to the hotel for dinner. We'd decided to eat there when we saw the new restaurant that had been built on the side of the hotel, as we would then be in crawling distance of our room. Having staggered back successfully, we sat down and ordered from the menu – for starters we had breaded prawns and calamari, spicy chicken drumsticks and for main course we shared a plate of Chicken Ko Paeng with rice. All washed down with... well, nothing, as the restaurant stopped serving beer at 9pm. Which was probably just as well, as I think we'd (well, me actually, as Tracy had been on the small bottles of beer) had quite enough already.

And so, feeling decidedly merry and with a full belly, we headed off to bed... content that we were finally here in Bangkok....

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