Bangkok

Having dragged myself up and out after breakfast it was only then that the heat and smells really hit home, as did the sights and not so delights of the Khaosan Road.  Arse grazing shorts for the girls and undone shirts for the guys – clearly no-one read the memo about suitable wear in them thair foreign parts, or did, and decided it didn’t apply to them.

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Even Auung San Suu Kyi is unimpressed with the dress code on the Khao San Road.

I meandered out and around, getting my bearings very slowly – down to the river, away from the river, ooo am I near the river – does that hotel name Riverside give me a clue???? There I was thinking I knew where I was and popping up somewhere unexpected but vaguely close by-ish.  Was never going to get a medal for orienteering, that’s for sure, however I was relieved that that small patch of Bangkok finally made sense that evening when I headed off to a restaurant called Peeps for dinner.  It was a 20min walk of ‘Aha’ and not because Morten Harket showed up, and also a good opportunity for the late lunch to digest and make space for the dumplings and Tom Yum I had.

Anyhoo, earlier in the day I somehow I ended up heading toward The Grand Palace, passing hundreds of Thais in mourning black who were coming and going to the Royal Urn to pay respects.  There were temporary shrines, stalls giving away free drinks and medical checks to those visiting, and shuttle buses to bring the mourners to and from the area.  It was heaving with people and despite being suitable attired I was told I couldn’t walk straight up the road to the palace so had to go a back route, which was fine as it meant more wandering around vaguely looking for a restaurant I had eaten in a few years earlier with Ar Lel (not really expecting much success as couldn’t recall what it was called or where it was), suffice to say – not a success and as I was soon turning into a human Mr Stay-Puft I set off in search of air-con and a large bottle of water back toward the hotel followed by lunch close by and then a nap.  20mins of shut eye turned into 2hrs and I awoke from my slumber less Sleeping Beauty and more Drooling Beast and headed out for dinner.

Awoke at 5.30, pretty perky with it so got up which was weird as didn’t really need to get going till 9am, or so I thought.  Just after 7 and deciding to go to breakfast I decided to check my ticket one last time and that’s when I saw that the flight was at 9.20 and that’s when I went into panic as I had just over an hour to get to the airport in the rush hour to check in. Having run down to reception to ask for a taxi, I had to head back up to the 4th floor and stylishly fling everything remaining into my bags before returning back down again.  No taxi was ordered – as it consists of a man going into the road to wave at taxis to stop..and said man had to go to the room to check I hadn’t decided to get a tattoo done whilst smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes in my room.

Finally out on the road, and into a taxi and I re-read my booking and check-in was by 9.20, flight at 10.20 – phew…breathing space.  However what I had in my hand was not my check-in document but my booking document.  Check-in document was in the bottom of my rucksack….or was it?  Turns out it wasn’t but I wasn’t going to find that out for another hour.  In the meantime I sat back and watched the rain start to pour down, not realising it was also going to be the same in Samui.

As it turned out I got to airport, managed to rummage through the bag, not find the ticket, not get charged for a reprint and make it to the bag drop still 2 minutes early than check-in was officially open.  I’ve never been more relieved.  After that as I tried to get to security, however there was an additional ‘surprise security’ just by the desk.  Who’d have thunk it? I was stopped by a man and directed to look at a screen.  On said screen was live action viewing of our bags going along the belt and everyone checking in a bag had to wait and then point out their bag before being released from the pen.  That was it – point at a bag, declare it yours and be released.  Not a problem for me, as my bag is fairly distinctive but more of problem for the little old ladies in front of me who had a) bad eyesight and b) plain black wheelies.  They hadn’t a clue, and were intently peering at the screen as a whole raft of black wheelies went by.  As they were before me at check-in logic would dictate that my shouting ‘mine’ would suggest their bags had been and gone but no-one cottoned onto that fact so I left them to their early morning viewing and scuttled off to security and some breakfast.

The flight only took us as far as Nakhon Si Thammaret, and we came out onto the runway to dry skies but AirAsia had put a rack of umbrellas out for people, just in case, how cool is that?  From here it was a bus ride to the ferry, ferry to the wrong side of Samui, then an hour and a half minibus ride in the pouring rain.

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What’s that coming over the hills, is it a monster? No, just a chuffing big cloud of rain.

It was only as we drove along through massive puddles that I realised there is no drainage system here at all, so it all collects on the surface.   I was sharing  a minibus with some Chinese people going to a hotel in Chaweng – they got dropped off at the door of their hotel, I think the driver and his companion were a bit bore, by the time we had circled Bo Phut once, having missed the turning to the hotel, so I got dropped at the corner of the road the hotel was on and told ‘it’s down there’ with vague pointing.  Clearly, even I could tell you that from the tone of triumphant arrival coming from the Thai satnav.  Luckily the hotel is signposted as it’s tucked away or else there’s a good chance with my directionally challenged nature I’d still be out there now wandering or else staying somewhere completely different. I arrived, happy to a) learn I did not have to move rooms after one night now, and b) find out they have real beds with proper mattresses like proper folks have.  So happy!

Showered and sorted I headed out into the street (yes, not a typo, it is practically one road) of Bo Phut to reacquaint myself with it, try not to ‘do the math’ at the cost of the food, avoid the puddles and the torrential downpours and basically settle in for my 12days of yoga in Samui.

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Ahhh..did you pack an umbrella?

Can’t wait to start.

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