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Entries about bangkok

So this is it... I'm finally here!

semi-overcast 35 °C
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So apparently you need proof of onward travel to enter bangkok... seems obvious, but as I spent the last 3 months planning whether or not to buy a microfibre towel, I neglected to fully research this problem. I was under the impression that all you need to get a travellers visa for Thailand was 6 months left on your passport and proof of sufficient funds for onward travel.... but since my plan is to leave Thailand via slow boat to Laos, I had no proof that I would stick to my 30 day visa. Swiss airlines were quick to point out that I have no proof, leaving me to frantically buy a flight to Ho Chi Minh city out of bangkok for £40! Unfortunately, the stress and anxiety of almost not being allowed to board my initial flight in a 6 month adventure meant I did not fully appreciate the farewells from all my family; whom I miss already.

Anyway, not everything goes as planned, but at least I eventually made it to Bangkok!

Funnily enough, the guy I sat next to on the flight to Bangkok also had the same situation as he left from Paris! And he too was made to purchase a flight leaving Bangkok which he will not use, so at least I wasn't on my own in the oversight!

I made it safely to my first stop, link corner hostel, with Baptiste from the flight in tow (he hadn't reserved a room and so joined me after my recommendation to stay here).

I met Ben soon after I arrived and the 2 of us ate at a street vendor - the food was so hot it blew my socks off! And I'm usually fine with hot food - perhaps it was because it was 35° too!
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We visited the night market and then chilled on Ben's balcony overlooking the centre of town. I tried my first rose apple, which was so juicy and refreshing, like a really juicy cross between an apple and a pear.
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Above is victory monument by night.

My first impressions of bangkok... it was beautiful on the way in on the sky train... It's busy and there's certainly too much to see in one lifetime; I know it will be hard to decide what to do tomorrow!
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Posted by Libbytes 03:02 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok Comments (1)

What Wat?

sunny 35 °C
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So after a dreadful nights' sleep due to jet lag I decided to move to my next hostel - Hi Mid Bangkok - via taxi. I hailed one from outside link corner and it took me right there, only it dropped me off on the wrong side of a very busy road! Instead of running for my life across 6 lanes of traffic with speeding motorbikes, tuk-tuks and cars, I walked to the nearest pedestrian overpass. By the time I arrived at hi mid I was drenched with sweat!! So much for trying to avoid a walk. 2 showers later and Bel and Ben joined me for breakfast. The iced coffee here has been amazing so far; they put condensed milk in and it's so sweet and cold!

Since Ben was visiting Bel's mum that afternoon, I had my first taste of solo travel... I did ok I think! I took a train down town to Chao Phraya river, then a boat back up to visit Wat Pho. The temple complex was amazing. I think I read somewhere it is 8 hectares, and it had many mini shrines and Buddhas, all gold leaf plated. The main attraction here was the HUGE reclining gold Buddha - almost 50ft long I think - with mother of pearl feet. It was spectacular. But I also enjoyed watching some kind of initiation ceremony for young Buddhist boys. They were getting their heads and eyebrows shaved, then applying yellow powder; which looked like turmeric as it stained their heads yellow, before washing themselves with water. Some had nicks and cuts from the shave, I guess that's what the turmeric was for, but they were all smiling and laughing. There was an old man with a hose pipe who seemed to delight in splashing them and the young boys were also playing with the water, splashing each other!

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On the boat to wat pho.
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Pillars
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Reclining Buddha
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I think these were donation pots, people would take a bag of small copper coins and place one in each pot as they walked.
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Bonsai style trees were everywhere.
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Almost everything was gold-leaf plated!
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This but wasn't... bit toothy though!
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Young boys even got their eyebrows shaved off!
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But they got to get sprayed with water afterwards, and it was very hot!

I then got another boat across the river to the opposite side to see Wat Arun. Completely contrasting to Wat pho, everything was stone decorated with ancient Chinese ceramics. The Khmer style tower was about 80ft I think and you could climb it - up some very steep steps! The front steps were busy, but round the back was nobody and the steps there were in the shadow of the tower so much cooler!

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Wat arun, ok maybe some things were gold still!!
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Outer pillar
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Ceramic decorations
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Climbers on the sunny side
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You could just see wat pho over the river from the top.

I got a taxi back to the hostel from here after a stroll through a park nearby.

Not sure what I will do tomorrow, but I know Ben wants to go to the weekend market, and I would like to see the golden mount which I didn't see today (spent to much time watching people in wat pho!)

I will post some pics of the hostel tomorrow as it is beautiful!

Posted by Libbytes 00:51 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok wat_arun wat_po Comments (2)

Exploring Bangkok

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On Saturday Ben and I decided to visit the weekend market at Chatuchak park, about an hour's bus away. The market was so vast, with most parts inside purpose built buildings. There were a range of shops mostly selling really cool clothes, homeware, accessories as well as food outlets and souvenir type shops. It was a really great market that made me wish I had endless space in my bag!
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The neighbouring parks were beautiful too. A lot of people on bikes or just chilling out in the heat. We were thinking of getting bikes but I think the walk to the bike rental place tired us out to much! Along the way we saw a butterfly pavilion and a lady with a pretty baby squirrel which was so cute!
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After a quick relax by (and in) the pool at Ben's apartment, we ate at a restaurant on Rang Nam rd. The food was incredible, I think my favourites have been chicken with cashew nuts, son tam (papaya) salad and sour pork. The green curry we had was so different to those in the UK, I think the Thai basil has a strong aniseed-like taste.
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There was an alcohol ban across bangkok this night too, but rules are meant to be broken right?! So we headed over to khao San rd (the backpacker district) where we were served drinks in paper cups! Since the usual way to drink in Thailand is to purchase a bottle, our half bottle of sangsom rum didn't look too appetising in a paper cup, but it still went down easily enough!!
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The next day (Sunday) I took quite easy. I got some bad blisters on my feet from walking a lot, and started with a little heat exhaustion. Ben and I visited the mall and I spent the evening with Wilma, a girl I met from my dorm. We had pad Thai and drinks at a sky jazz bar.
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On Monday, Dan flew out to join us on a last minute holiday during his half term. Dan, Ben, Wilma and I took a local boat over to the golden mount, a giant golden stupa up 200 steps. The views from the top were spectacular, and along the route up there were bells and gongs which you were allowed to play!
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Selfie on the boat!
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The stupa wouldn't fit on my camera screen, so I didn't try!
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We spent the rest of the afternoon in Ben's pool, playing and messing around before eating at a local restaurant. The evening ended (like many others with Ben and Dan) in a pool hall! Where we fought for the title of "UMPSC bangkok open"! Ben won.... as usual!
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Tuesday was a lazy day by the pool, and the 3 of us held a private diving competition (most of which is filmed!) and played a lot. We ate at a Japanese restaurant and had some local drinks, but retired early so we could get up at 6am to travel to Kanchanaburi the following day.

Posted by Libbytes 06:06 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok chatuchak golden_mount rang_nam_road Comments (2)

Thailand's Golden Age History

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After returning to Bangkok briefly from Kanchanaburi, Dan and I then headed out to Ayutthaya; one of Thailand's ancient cities. We stayed at a place I booked from home, Baan Are Gong guesthouse. A house made purely from teak wood, styled like a boat we think, with cabin style rooms, it was beautiful. Ayutthaya is a small inland island surrounded by a river and the guesthouse was located just next to the river ferry crossing.
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That night we went across the river towards the bars area, where we ate, played lots of pool, and Dan sang with the resident band on stage!
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The following day we went off to see the main attractions of Ayutthaya; the ancient city ruins and wats. We walked across town to Wat Mathat, Wat Bophit and Wat Si Sanphet. There were also elephants you could ride as taxis, but it was expensive and very touristy.
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After a pit stop for boat noodles and roti, we headed back and Dan went out to watch the city match, I surprised him later in the evening by arriving via motorbike (which I rode side saddle (I'm turning Asian!) As I was wearing a dress! It was amazing and I think now I am slightly obsessed with getting a motorbike!)
We met a German girl named Anna at the bar, and once again Dan was asked to sing on stage with the band!

The following day we went to the southern part of town, again getting a motorbike taxi to take us. We crossed over via river ferry again (which usually costs about 5p!!) Here we saw an in use temple, a Thai Wat next door to a Chinese style temple. Locals were setting off fire crackers (so loud!) And feeding the hundreds of cat fish that resided in the river. The temple was packed, mainly with locals making their offerings to Buddha. In the Thai temple locals were buying orange monk robes to throw over the large golden Buddha, which were then collected and piled up in the back... ready to be bought again!
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We got the train back to Bangkok that night so Dan was ready to catch his flight home the next day. We ate with Ben and went to the jazz sky bar again afterwards. It's been amazing having these 2 here! Really helped me settle into travelling and now I know I have the confidence to continue by myself! I love you guys :)
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I chilled in Bangkok for a day before catching a bus to another ancient capital, Sukhothai. The bus was amazing, like an airline, I got a free meal, drinks and snacks, and even got escorted to my seat! I met up with Anna in Sukhothai and we shared a room inside the old town, right next to the ruins.

We rented bikes; the only one that was big enough for my height was a rusty gold coloured traditional Thai-style bike, unique to any of the other bikes for rent and I loved it! Even it's very squeaky brakes!
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We spent the whole day exploring the ancient ruins, and for at least 2 hours we didn't see another tourist, which was a perfect way to see the sights!large_SAM_0522.jpglarge_SAM_0520.jpglarge_90_2DA573332219AC6817574F4F65BBDF68.jpg
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We went all over the western park of the park, stopping to climb a path. It was hard work in the heat, but worth it once we reached the top!
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The park really was beautiful...
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After a shower and a nap we went back to the park as we had heard there was going to be a light show. It wasn't really much about lights, but there was a festival and some of the ruins had lights pointed at them. We gate crashed the party (as the only westerners (or western women I should say...)) and there was free food and drink (which I took full advantage of!) A talent show on a stage, and at the end everyone got up dancing and I was dragged to the front to be taught traditional Thai dancing (and to be laughed at for my efforts!!). The evening was so much fun, it just topped off a perfect day in Thailand :)
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Up next, songkran in Chiang Mai!!

Posted by Libbytes 06:54 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok ayutthaya sukhothai Comments (1)

Feeling at home in Bangkok

sunny 34 °C
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We arrived in Bangkok from Siem Reap. Everyone in the group had been to Bangkok before, but stayed in a different district, AND... they all hated the city. So my mission, as designated tour guide, was to change all their opinions!! I took them to all my favourite restaurants and bars from previous visits, and we stayed at the hostel I stayed in previously; Hi Mid Bangkok. It felt like home going back to somewhere familiar after a long time travelling, a lovely feeling.

The first day I took them to a boat noodles place Ben took me to on my first day. Boat noodles had also been Dan's favourite Thai dish from the days we spent together, and it was great that everyone enjoyed the meal, even after I told them the soup was made with pigs blood (something Ben only told me afterwards too!).

In the evening we started the night at a jazz roof top bar which I went to a few times previously. We got very drunk and then the 6 of us piled into one tuk tuk to go to a club in Sukhumvit district...
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In the tuk tuks.
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The club had a mirror on the ceiling... lol
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Getting to know the locals!

The following day we went early to apply for a visa for Myanmar, which was a very easy process, and cheap! We watched transformers at the cinema, and then got scammed by a seafood restaurant! Our visas were ready the following day and after we picked them up we all went for a massage! I took everyone to a Japanese restaurant that evening (another one that Ben introduced me to). Again, everyone loved it! After, 4 of us went for drinks along Khao San Road (not my choice...) before everyone realised the is what they didn't like about Bangkok... better to keep the organisation up to me then!!!
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The last day in Bangkok was spent walking around between malls and a few shrines that I didn't manage to visit before. Steve and I also visited the Baiyoke tower, the tallest building in Thailand, with amazing views. Unfortunately, my camera had been playing up and corrupting my photos without me knowing, so I lost all the ones I took this day. Luckily the problem was fixable!

I love the city of bangkok, and it is currently the place I have spent longest in so it really does feel like my home in Asia. I was also successful in my mission to convince the others that Bangkok is more than just Khao San Road, as everyone said that this time, Bangkok was enjoyable, hassle free and had great food! Winner!

Posted by Libbytes 01:41 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok Comments (0)

Bangkok with Ben

sunny 34 °C
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Steve and I flew back to Bangkok. And with Steve staying only a few days before going to Indonesia, Paul going to Chiang Mai before home and Steffi staying in Yangon for his Chinese visa, it was to be the end of the gang... I planned to be in Bangkok on these dates to coincide with when Ben was in town for work.

The day I arrived, Steve and I met Ben for lunch before going out that evening for drinks around Silom district with one of Ben's friends Mam. Wet had quite a bit to drink and ended up playing pool in a dodgy club at the end of the night!
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Trying to teach Mam to pout!
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Apparently the new craze in Japan for selfies; toothache.
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More toothache
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We all have toothache....

The following day I met Ben for food and some serious day time pool!!
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After we ate at a very cool mall which is designed and themed like an airport terminal; terminal 21. The food that night was delicious and we followed it up with some amazing cheesecake before watching the new planet of the apes.
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The mall was so posh it had toilets with controls... Yep, one of the buttons sprays perfume at your bum...

The next day, Ben and I went to Siam park theme park and water park. It should've been expensive, but with Ben's expired (but no-one notices...) residents' card we got in cheap.
The roller coasters were pretty good, there was one which went through a few loops and corkscrew before then doing it backwards. And one which was identical to the traumatizer which used to be at Southport.
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Yep, more toothache....

It was great seeing Ben, but on Monday his workshop started and so Steve and I decided to take a trip to Phetchaburi just south of Bangkok. I planned to continue south from there, and Steve would come back to Bangkok to catch his flight.

Posted by Libbytes 00:41 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok Comments (0)

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