A Travellerspoint blog

3 Days in Bangkok

River cruise & ping pong shows!

sunny

After 15hrs on an overnight train from Trang I arrive in Bangkok @ Hua Lampong Station. Finding Stella (Austrian friend I met in Koh Lanta) in the crowd of people, we're off to find transport to our hotel she booked in city center. Stella was told from a local on the train not to pay more than B60 to city center by MBK which is across the street from hotel. We get to the tuk tuk's; instantly asked where we're going and pricing 3 times the required amount. Stella stuck to her guns - B60, that's it. Price went from B200 down to accepted B60, funny. Important to know prices but understand coming to a new location will usually pay more until one's educated. Always bargain with tuk tuk's or take a metered cab which are reasonably priced.

We're off to get our first taste of Bangkok traffic and busy during the morning rush, always busy so it seems. Our driver was quite chatty always looking back to talk without keeping eyes on road but got us to Muangphol Mansion without any issues. If shopping is on your list during your trip or before heading back home, this is a good location. Stella only had 3 days left before flying home to Austria after a 3 month trip so she needed to brave the crowds & shop. Muangphol Mansion was reasonably priced for location @ B980 for a/c & (sometimes) hot shower. Clean room with a view of MBK Center; shopping mecca for clothes & electronics - Ipads/phones in abundance. The Sky Train - National Station - is adjacent to hotel & MBK so easy to catch to various destinations and very efficient. First day we relax getting to know our surroundings, then off for supper around city center. After being on the islands & staying in beach bungalows for the past month, hard to adjust to 'city' life but do enjoy it's energy.
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After a good night we wake to go our own ways. Stella to sort out some shopping, while I go apply for my Vietnam visa. Another advantage to city center is it's close to Vietnam Embassy. All can be done by SkyTrain - 3 stops from National station with a short walk. After getting lost for a short time (usually happens) and redirected by a security guard I found the embassy. The visa process is quite easy really; fill out paper work, one photo and hand them your passport. One thing I should've checked into further was entry date. I put in a specific date of entry & exit. But would've like to keep open just in case of travel plans changing as they do. I'm sure this is possible though didn't verify.

Being close to canal, I caught the local canal boat @ the next day. B10 for longest journey to end - fun. A walk around, was stopped by guy offering B10 for 'government' tuk tuk to take you anywhere, scam, beware.
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Our last night we headed for night market @ Asiatique; very new, vegas feel and not traditional Thai market as hoped. Stayed for a bit and ran to catch last boat - 7pm -heading to Khoa San road, which was free for last boat of the night. Do the river @ night, lovely. Hop off & head to KS road. Cheap, cheap accommodation and travellers everywhere, busy. After a nice meal with Thai girls playing traditional music & dancing we (or more Stella) wanted to see a lady bar for her last night in Bangkok. Patpong Road it is!
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Catch a taxi, dropped off & the craziness begins. Patpong is actually a night market with regular bars 'and' lady bars on either side. We find King's Corner for our first encounter. Walk in, pay the highly priced beer B145, watch the Go Go girls dance with numbers attached and who are very friendly. If interested, this is how it works. You pick a girl, she comes sits with you, buy her a overpriced drink or not, and chat. When (if) decision's made, agree to the prices/conditions listed and off you go for the night. We leave to watch a 'ping pong' show. Out the numerous guys offering, we decide to follow one up the stairs to a dark, small stage with a couple girls ready to show what they can do with there female anatomy. The list was long. We just wanted check out the place before agreeing to the B300 per person for the show (beer included) however, we shouldn't have open our beers - now committed ourselves to the show. Feeling uncomfortable we wanted to leave promptly. He comes over threatening us if we don't pay him the B600 he'll call the cops - now a 'really' uncomfortable situation. We decide to pay for the beers only and run out - which we did! It was a fun night; Patpong is quite the place with anything goes attitude, money's everything. More stories and leaving @ 3am we head back to normality of city center. Patpong's worth a visit - but be careful.

After a good night, I say farewell to Stella the next day - wishing her well. I stayed an extra day and caught a mini-bus back to Ban Chang (B160) to my friend Phil's place for a visit. Grab my laptop & sort out my belongings for the next adventure - Chiang Mai in the north.

Posted by jollyrobbie 06:35 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Phuket - Bangkok

Phuket - Koh Phi Phi - Krabi - Ao Nang - Tonsai - Koh Lanta - Koh Lipe - Trang - Bangkok!

sunny

"The Condensed Version" - Forgetting, or rather, thinking I wouldn't need my laptop travelling the southern islands of Thailand, I am writing the quick & easy blog to play catch up...:)

Phuket

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With my friend Phil & his fiance Nudacharee - who were kind enough to show me the south & start me on my travels, we fly from Pattaya airport (Utapao) paid the expense of B2750 for the nice short flight; with the thought of spending more quality time travelling down south. Decided to continue through Phuket - one night stay - onwards to catch a ferry to Koh Phi Phi. The 2hr ferry crossing B1000 was full of high season tourists but finding a nice spot outside on the deck in the sun made the overall trip relaxing. The first view of the infamous limestone rocks as we make our way to the Phi Phi pier was truly impressive. Cameras were out on all sides of the ferry shooting like drunken hunters during duck season.

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Koh Phi Phi

Pull into Koh Phi Phi (tonsai beach), unload with the throng of people, and not surprisingly locals 'welcoming' us with budget accommodation possibilities. I head for a beer. My own ritual; get away from the madness until the storm calms down a bit, then head off on on terms. Phi Phi is a literal maze of dive shops, bars, restaurants, accommodations with a "massage for you?" thrown in for good measure. Spent 4 days which find surprising; 2 days long enough. Don't get me wrong, Phi Phi is beautiful; clear waters, great snorkeling and there are places you can find to get away from the noise for a time. Walk up to View Point (nice views) and down to other side and visit Rantee Beach, a chilled l'il spot. I found a place called Tropical Gardens, definitely recommend as it's tucked away but still close enough to the action if desired. Also hiring a longtail boat to tour the surrounding area is worth a half day....monkey's are cool! Okay, there's Leo's "Beach" but as you'd suspect...busy.

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Krabi - Ao Nang

Ferried from Koh Phi Phi to Krabi, about a 3hr crossing. Felt a bit like being in a cargo hold, old boat but smooth ride nevertheless. Get off @ Krabi pier, find transport and continue on to Ao Nang. A town set up for the package tourist; kayaking trips, elephant adventures and boat tours to the surrounding islands. Thought about staying to do Tiger Temple, a 1000 step climb to view an amazing (from what I hear) temple set in the jungle. But after the crowds of Phi Phi, I wanted to find some seclusion. Phil & his Thai fiancé, Nudacharee who I’ve been travelling with, suggested we go to Tonsai , so we go. A short longtail boat ride B200 from Ao Nang. We're dropped off at West Railay instead, which is just next to Tonsai. West Railay being a popular tourist destination, we quickly hop another longtail B50 to our chosen location. Tonsai.

Tonsai

Tonsai is a rock climbing mecca. With high limestone cliffs of all shape & sizes, it is a climbers dream. Not a 'rock' enthusiast myself, I can still understand the attraction, gorgeous. However, one doesn't have to be in the group to enjoy the relaxed, friendly feel Tonsai has to offer the weary traveller. My friends stay in the higher end accommodation (a/c & tv) while I find a B400 bungalow with fan/mosquito net, perfect. Not the prettiest beach but that's not what Tonsai's about...set in the jungle with limestone cliffs on both sides, monkeys swinging through trees, you have the feeling of being of being somewhere quite special. Yes, one of my favourite's so far. Tonsai is somewhat far removed as there are no police, so 'mushroom' shakes and desired smoke is readily available, which of course I didn't partake...it wasn't me with the french guy, his Indonesian girlfriend & a couple locals;) Be very careful - the laws in Thailand are extremely strict. "No candy from strangers"

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The advantage of having West/East Railay so close is tourists head there and bypass Tonsai all together. West Railay has a nicer beach and is worth to go, as well as East Railay with it's mangroves, just a resort feel to it. People from the 'other' side only visit with day trips by longtail or the scramble over the slightly hidden path through the rock/jungle. I (we) stayed in Tonsai a total of 6 days, could've been longer, easily. But more to see ahead of me, after some self-deliberation, decide to island hop with Koh Lanta next. I won't say more about Tonsai as it's not for everyone, so if in the area, go see for yourself and remember, keep it under your hat;) Be warned: No power lines to Tonsai, all by generator. So, power is usually on from 6pm - 6am, depends where you stay. More expensive, 24hrs.

Koh Lanta

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Back on the ferry trail; longtail from Tonsai to meet ferry out by West Railay B450, we board with bags in tow. A lovely ride. Sunny, blue skies passing along seemingly untouched coastlines with white beaches ready to be explored. With a few laughs with fellow passengers and a 2.5hr boat ride we arrive @ Ban Sala Dan pier, Koh Lanta. Again, politely push through the 'local welcoming' and find a cold beer & food. After a delicious meal, finding the location to stay, we find a tuk tuk driver to haul our bodies to another beach. Koh Lanta is made up up 3 primary beach fronts; Phrae Ae, Khlong Kong & Khlong Nin. Phrae Ae beach is busier with families and budget travellers as accommodation is more aplenty/cheap. Khlong Kong is quiter, slightly more expensive, but with a little scouting about can find cheap housing for your stay, as I did in the end. Never did check out Khlong Nin but am sure is fine, just a bit further along the coast. We stayed in Khlong Kong and glad we did. Again, friends chose higher end, while I found my bungalow, perfect. WhereElse Resort is a family operated, 3rd generation owned, beach/restaurant/bar. Lovely people & fun. Sightly went out of budget to stay B700 and worth it, nice feel to it.

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Rented a motorbike B200/day for 2 days which I highly recommend as there's a lot to see and the island itself is large. Be careful - met a few unfortunate souls who had bandages & scrapes from the road. Even though I've ridden before, you can never know what's ahead, behind and around you. Saying that, it is the most enjoyable way to see the island. Head down south all the way till the road ends @ National Park - nice tour with great beaches along the way. Also, visit the other side to Old Town. Road takes you through jungle, ending up at small restaurants and shopping, worth a visit.

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Stayed @ WhereElse for 4 days, then moved directly in behind, to a really nice set of bungalows for B400. In doing so, saved money but still enjoy 'my' family walking through to the beach. I'm a certified advanced open water scuba diver and Koh Lanta has some of the best diving locations in Thailand. Dipping into my funds, I dove (dived?) with Flip Flop Divers in Phrae Ae - owned by a great guy Ady originally from South Africa. Decided to to a 2 tank dive @ Koh Haa (5 islands) Beautiful dive with 100ft visibility, marine life with some cavern exploring. Worth it! A great time on Lanta. Also met Stella, a very nice gal from Austria (wink & nudge) who was near the end of her long trip. I had to say my goodbyes; Phil/Nudacharee (off home to Ban Chang), the family @ WhereElse, and after a quick morning swim - decided to keep hopping.

Koh Lipe

A flip of a coin. Head back up north to Similan Islands (next time) or keep moving in same, same direction south. Good so far - south it is.

Koh Lipe is a journey; 4.5hrs by ferry, with stops along the way dropping/picking up passengers. I bought a ticket for the Tigerline Ferry, slightly faster ferry service B1400 - speed boat @ B1900. Glad I did. Met two awesome Dutch girls and we had a laugh riding on the top deck, stretched out in the sunshine. There were clouds with bits of occasional drizzle - ongoing joke I used my powers to open the skies for more sun & worked! Gorgeous islands along the way which I have to remember for a possible return. Saskia & Denise were continuing on to Malaysia, then flying home to Holland. Koh Lipe is quite close to the Malaysian border and many travel from there in opposite direction. We part ways, say our goodbyes as I'm dropped off @ Pattaya beach in Koh Lipe.

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My friend Phil was in Lipe 4 yrs ago and from what he told me of the laid back vibe & peace - much has changed in the years. Like most beautiful places, it becomes popular, then more is added to an already small island to accommodate the people. Start with the usual B20 island environmental fee (which is typical) - a dock is just off the beach where we're unloaded and have to pay B50 for longtail ride into shore. I joked I'd swim to save purely out of principal. The beach is beautiful regardless; the softest white sand I've experienced. Just too many longtail boats taking up quality space. I head for my beer before my bungalow search. Find Cafe Lipe - good food with 6 bungalows in back, run by a nice German guy with his Thai wife on Pattaya beach. Koh Lipe has 3 beaches; Pattaya, Sunset & Sunrise. Pattaya - beautiful & busy, Sunset - quiet & secluded, Sunrise - the longest & resorts. I spent most of my time, you guessed it @ Sunset. Koh Lipe is completely walkable being the size it is and don't regret coming as I wrote, relaxed & met some nice people. However, due to the length of the journey - not sure to recommend??

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After an email correspondse with Stella - Austrian friend - decide to head off to Bangkok to meet up with her and sort out my visa to Vietnam. Bought a multi ticket B1650; speed boat with minibus to Trang - overnight train to Bangkok.

Trang

After an excellent breakfast @ Cafe Lipe - grab longtail to speed boat and after a rough 'rodeo' ride we arrive @ Pak Bara. 'Miss Koy' waiting to take us to minibus station - 30min wait - load up in a/c bus for the 2hr drive to Trang. Crazy driver though got us there unscathed. Unfortunately had 4hr wait in Trang before boarding overnight train to Bangkok. Free Wifi in most places kept me busy and had a quick look around while in Trang. Reunited with Stella, had a bite to eat together & catch up. Time to board - us in different cars - parted ways, found my car #3, hopped on for the night train to Bangkok...gotta be a song there somewhere.

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First time on a Thai train - second class sleeper, a/c, top bunk. I don't recommend the top bunk in an a/c sleeper as it's right @ your head and cold through the night. Next time fan sleeper would be fine (cheaper as well) or lower bunk in a/c compartment. A smooth ride through the night - they serve beers & food if desired (expensive) bring own food with you. I watch as we pass by small villages & towns until the sun sets - always liked travelling by train. The Thai guy in charge of his car pulls upper bunk down for me & with clean sheets, I tuck in for the (cool) night but sleep well enough. We arrive in Bangkok; left 5:30pm in @ 8:30am in morning.

I'll finish my blog here and will continue Bangkok in a new one. I hope this helps and that you enjoyed, cheers!

Posted by jollyrobbie 20:02 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Decision made

Before & After...snow to sun!

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PB090058.jpgAfter a second year with new job of working and driving out in the bitter cold Canadian winter I made the decision 'not' to do a third! So left the job, rented out my home in Calgary and made preparations to travel SE Asia for 3 months. Just the thought of leaving daily responsibilities & packing the bare minimum to travel abroad, filled me with a sense of excitement, yet with slight trepidation. It has been many years since the lengthy backpack experience.

With the backpack dusted off, plane ticket purchased, hugs from family & friends, I head off to venture lands unknown to me...

Calgary - San Fran (5hrs) San Fran - Tokyo (11hrs) Tokyo - Bangkok (7hrs)...next time, pay a l'il more with no milk run! Landed in Bangkok, Thailand @ midnight semi-rested and fortunate enough to have a good friend living in Thailand pick me up. Nice not to worry about where to stay, what taxis to take & who to trust first time around in a new country...until ya get your feet wet of course!;)

Actually, I have two friends from Alberta living in Thailand with their Thai wife/fiancee, lucky for me. This was a big part of my decision to travel and a fantastic start to my overall trip through Asia. We arrive @ Phil's house in Ban Chang (hour south from Bangkok) which would be an envy for most Canadians; many rooms, hardwood floors and more importantly, air conditioning, yes, spoiled for sure. Wide awake due to time change, we visit with drink Tiger beer until the sun comes up! Nudacharee, Phil's fiancee cooks us a lovely meal the next day; my first taste of Thai, yum.PB150014.jpg

Following night, my other good friend Sandy & his wife Min come over from Pattaya (40min drive) and again, more beers...the only combat to jet lag I know. Other expats working in area, with their Thai girlfriends head out for a night of good food & drink! And was introduced to a nice Thai girl as well...welcome to Thailand;) And the story will continue...

Posted by jollyrobbie 22:29 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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