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Bangkok, Day 1, Saturday

Written on: Saturday July 7th, 2007

A journal entry from: Elective

After starting the day with a refreshing hot shower, and finally feeling clean again, we trekked downstairs to the Sara Restaurant to claim our free breakfasts. It was a buffet breakfast, with some very interesting dishes on display, including rice and curry ? for breakfast?! I was wary of feeling ill again, so stuck to watermelon, which was nice but not very filling! I didn?t have much in the way of appetite in any case, so it didn?t really matter.Our first task of the day was finding a nearby DHL to ship all our excess baggage home. The reception staff were extremely helpful, and marked on a map for us where the closest one was. It was about a fifteen minute walk, but seemed a lot longer with the weight we were carrying. Once we found it, it was pretty straightforward, but a lengthy process. It cost us 65 pounds to send a 10kg box home, but we were grateful to have lost the extra kilograms, and not so bothered about losing the pounds!!

The road that lead to DHL was the famous Khao San road, with its bustling markets, and busy bars and restaurants. We had a wander around the market, checking out the clothes and souvenirs, and made a couple of cheap purchases. I managed to get a nice top, but the quality is dubious! It will last me while I?m over here though, so I don?t mind!

The idea for the day was to visit the Grand Palace, and Wat Pho (the reclining Buddha), but a crafty tuk tuk accomplice convinced us that it was a Buddhist holiday in Bangkok, and the places we wanted to see were closed! Sneaky, but we fell for it hook, line and sinker! Instead of going where we wanted, we braved a government tuk tuk tour, to various other temples and sights. To be fair, we got to see a lot of things, including the Lucky Buddha, Golden Mountain (had great views of Bangkok!) and a couple of other temples. Unfortunately, part of the bargain was also to visit various shops which the tuk tuk driver obviously obtained commission from. We didn?t buy anything though! Interestingly, despite us agreeing to pay the 20 baht fare for 3 hours with the driver, he dropped us off at one temple, and then was nowhere to be found when we came back. We waited around for a while, but he never reappeared, so we had essentially taken a free tour of the city ? bargain!

By this point, it was coming up to the time that we needed to head back to the hotel, so we set off walking and arrived back at quarter to five, only to be informed that the group meeting was at five, and not half past as we had thought! We quickly stepped into the bar for a drink, and then went back to meet the group. There are 14 of us so far, with 2 more due to meet us in Krabi:- me and Sophie- an Irish couple, Anna and Shane- an Australian couple, Zoida and Andrew- 2 girls from Exeter, Jenny and Ellie- 2 sisters from Reading, Hannah and Kerry- an American girl, Marie- 2 girls from London, who are travelling separately but share a room, Sophie and Lucyand finally, the piece de resistance! A guy called Dave, who just so happens to be John Batty's cousin, a guy that's on our course! How random! So anyway, so far it seems like a nice group, with an age range from about 18 up to roughly late 20s, early 30s.  Once the meeting was over, and we'd gone through all the standard itinerary information etc, we arranged to meet for dinner at 6:30pm. I was really looking forward to our first taste of real Thai food! The restaurant that we went to was small, but cosy, and we sat on low tables in a separate room upstairs. It was very comfortable, and the atmosphere was great as everyone was really excited to be starting the trip. The menu was so extensive, and mouth watering that I took forever to make my decision, but in the end I went for garlic and pepper stir-fry with brown rice. It was a good choice, as when it arrived, it looked delicious, and was really nicely presented on a wooden plate with a large banana leaf! It tasted amazing, and the portion size was just right! It definitely made me look forward to the food for the rest of the trip!The next stop on our night out was the busy Khao San road, where the market had been earlier. The transformation from day to night was amazing - the road was brightly lit with signs, and teeming with people! Tourists were everywhere, mingling with the street sellers and dipping in and out of the many bars! We headed to Central Khao San, a bar that our leader recommended, and assured us that we would see some ladyboys! We did see a couple, and they are extremely convincing - as skinny as the women, and often far more attractive! It was good fun, and they really play up to the part! Most people from the group went home at around 10pm, but after a couple of Malibu and pineapples, Soph and I were ready for more! Joined by Dave, who was also still wide awake, we scouted the street for a decent-looking bar, and stumbled across 'Brick Bar', named literally after the material it is built out of! We paid 150 baht (around 2 pounds) entry fee, and made our way inside! It was pretty dark, lit with candles, but even so, it was pretty obvious that this was not a place regularly inhabited by tourists! In fact, we were the only non-Thai people in there! Unfazed, we headed to the bar and claimed our free drink, then set ourselves up in a corner. A live band were playing, and the Thai people seemed to love them! We had a bit of a giggle when they played "That's The Way I Like It" (not sure if that's the real title!), but we got fairly bored of the Thai music, so left after we finished our drinks. We had planned to go to a club that we had spotted on the way down that was promoting free entry, but you had to leave your bag at the front desk, which made it a no-go for us! Instead, we made our way back to the hotel, but not before we were approached by a guy who was running a small food stall with some off-putting local delicacies - an insect bar!! Sophie and I passed, but Dave tried one of the bugs, much to our disgust! He made out that it wasn't bad tasting, but decided quickly that he would need a drink to wash out the taste! We had no sympathy! We had to pack our bags for the morning when we got in at around 11, as we were going to leave them with the hotel staff while we wandered Bangkok, so we eventually got to bed at around midnight, and I am happy to report that I did not vomit all night - excellent!!    

 

From Mum on Jul 15th, 2007

Good to see you're not just sticking to the touristy bit, but stay safe. Has Dave been sick yet? Lv Mum xxx