Travel Journal

Bangkok

(Wednesday 7 October 2009) by Jon Paul & Sarah
Since we decided not to take a bus directly from Khao Sok to Bangkok, our route took us back into Surat Thani for the day. We bought our train tickets, then had about 10 hours to kill in the the suburb around the train station. I suggested that we just go from establishment to establishment and try a little of everything to eat. I admit, I was excited about Thai food, and the dinners we'd had in Khao Sok had been absolutely amazing, by far the best yet. But in addition to eating and drinking and hunting for our coveted coconut jam pastry, we also spent alot of time in a local park there. They had work-out equipment all over this park! It was a bit hot to actually use them seriously, but we definitely tried a few! They were getting ready for some festival of sorts in the park too, and once it got underway, it was really fun! Lot's music and dance presentations with the cutest little girls, local art stations, and offerings hanging from all the trees. There was some other singing too that we highly suspect was karaoke. For dinner we explored the night market, got several different things to try, and took it back to the festival. I couldnt' eat it; it was too spicy. JP got it down, but felt super guilty after feeding a piece to a local dog and watching him suddenly start whining and pawing his face. It was that hot :-)

So our train was supposed to leave around 11:30pm...ended up being about 1:30am. We got sleeper bunks, but were woken up just a few hours later, with instructions to get off the train. Very confusing at first, until we figured out that there had been a major train crash a few miles north of us, so we had to finish our route by bus. It was sobering to think that the train just a couple ahead of us had crashed. We would have been on it if we'd decided to leave just a bit sooner.

So yeah, after that eventful trip, we arrived in Bangkok and were greeted immediately with a scam. What a welcome :-) Well it was definitely our own fault too...I'll just say that the long trip to get here was somewhat exhausting and may have diminished sense of caution :-) Anyway, we headed to an office with a sign for "Internet and Information", which was great: we needed both. But the the man working there practically forced us to sit down and crammed a bunch of options in our face about where to stay, and how to get over to Cambodia later. He was quite the convincing salesman, and defences were weak, and unfortunately we gave in and agreed to his "package deal." Of course, it really did seem like a good deal at the time. Until we were led to the guesthouse he booked for us. It was awful, down some smelly back alley, and just overall depressing, with the shadiest bathroom we've come across yet. Within thirty seconds we decided to go back and demand our money back. To have a back up though, we searched around for another guesthouse, and found a really great one a block down. In fact, we'd both say that this was the NICEST one we've stayed in so far. It was a bit more per night, but only a bit, and the difference in quality was huge. A few doors down from this guesthouse was a travel office, and JP went in out of curiosity to see what a comparable bus ticket costs. Half what the guy charged us, turns out. So we hurried over to the original guy and requested our money back. He wasn't at all happy about it, but did return the guesthouse money. The bus tickets he would only give back half. He and JP argued back and forth a while, but he wouldn't budge. We walked out with half a refund, checked in, and JP left then to get the matter settled. He doesn't give up easily! Neither of us thought it would really work, but he ended up talking to a policeman, who talked to another, who talked to another, who talked to JP and then another, and so on, until the policeman sent JP back to the salesman, whose associate (he wasn't there at the moment) immediately gave over the rest of the money. I just hope we don't run into the salesman while we're here :-)

We were in Bangkok three nights/days. We saw so many Buddha's, some very impressive, and some really amazing temples as well. We saw the panorama of Bangkok from their "Golden Mountain", built by one of the Thai kings in the 1800's, and were taken to the "lucky Buddha", a small cheery looking statue with a long history that I've now forgotten. Come to think of it, we did get a little lucky that day :-) The government was sponsoring rickshaws that day with gas coupons, so we could be taken all around the Wat Saket area (with all the sights to see) for only 10 baht, about thirty cents. Normally it would have cost us much much more. And actually we were going to walk it anyway, so it was nice to have a break. Our driver did take us to a few stores we hadn't requested of course, hoping we would buy something and earn him a commission, but that was expected. We went out in search of our pastry several times, got a few errands done at the mall (we needed a screen protector for the camera because it fell off, and we've been carrying it around in one of my socks for the past week), and found an incredible little restaurant for noodles. We enjoyed the sights, and had some fun chats with several local Thais. We were told that we MUST go visit a Buddhist temple in Riverside, CA, where several monks from one of the temples here now live. The hotel we stayed at was wonderful; they sent fruit up to our room, and even folded all our clothes and organized our stuff while we were out!

  • train crash/glad you were late by Mom(Ann)
  • Amazing adventures by Mom (Jill)
  • Good goin by Aaron


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