Wednesday, 29 December 2010

South East Asia = annoying

Wednesday 29th December 2010

MP3 track of the day: twenty-four hours - athlete

Weather: Blue skies, fluffy white clouds and its a lot cooler that down south, though be under no illusions, it's still hot.

Yesterday had been a long day and so I woke late and proceeded to get ready in a leisurely fashion. I went to the shower to find that the water was cold, I tried another shower but it seemed they all told the same story … perfect. I didn't managed to look around my guesthouse yesterday and so this morning I had a quick look and I was pleasantly surprised to find a book exchange, pool table, DvD collection and a common room plus restaurant … nice.

I then logged onto the internet to find a message from Stef in my email inbox … %&?”#!!! Still my decision had been made and I was stuck with it now. It was around 1pm when I was ready to head out, I decided not to eat before heading out as the restaurant here looks expensive and I'm sure I will find loads of food outlets on my walk around the surrounding area.

I walked in the general direction of 'Wat Traimit' and got there before I had found anything for lunch. This temple was pretty impressive and it holds the largest solid-gold Buddha in the world. Cast in the thirteenth century it's three meters tall and weighs five-and-a-half tons … wow. I paid the forty baht asking price to go and have a look and take some photos. It was okay; I didn't stay long and I was soon out of the temple heading into town still searching for lunch.

I walked along 'Charoen Krung (new road)', I think, which could earn it's self the title of 'slowest road in the world'. The cars were at a stand still and due to stalls being erected to cover 75% of the footpath I wasn't moving much quicker either … which started to be infuriating as people got in my way to look at the stalls. I think an 'asthmatic ant … with heavy shopping' over took me as three Thai women were looking at a flower stall and blocked my way. 'Mr Speedy' had overtaken me, the three women in front and six cars stuck in a traffic jam … want to get around in Bangkok, become an ant!

The stalls were all 'snack stalls' and not really lunch; I did go into a 'Seven-eleven' for a quick snack as I was really hungry. I got to a cross roads and on the opposite side was a 'KFC'. No I thought, I'm in Thailand, there must be a big food outlet somewhere near here. I sat down for a moment, took out my map, and decided to head towards the 'Grand Palace' as I'm sure there must be lots of food places near there.

I walked and I walked and I walked but still nothing … I couldn't believe it. I got to the walls of the grand palace – which looked amazing – and still my stomach was groaning. It was now 2pm and all I had eaten today where six Oreo's and a chocolate bar. I decided to head back the way I had come and go to said KFC as that was all I could find … 3:15pm I eventually ate lunch.

It was now nearing 4pm and I decided to head back to the guesthouse; it was still quite a walk away and so I decided to opt for a street parallel to 'slow street' so I could get back before the new year. Due to going down a road that I hadn't been down before I did, almost, get lost. However I soon found the temple I had looked around earlier today and soon I was back on the right track.

Before turning right into my guesthouse I decided to walk along the main street for a little while longer, hoping to find a 'Seven-Elven' to get a drink and maybe a little something to eat. Now I had past hundreds of these convenience stores as I walked the city but could I find one now, could I hell. I could however get a new suit and a bracelet pretty easily but just a bottle of water … no. What is it with this city?

I eventually found somewhere and returned to my guesthouse to have a chill, drink my drink and eat my 'cooked coconut shells' (which are really nice). I then went to speak to reception here to inquire about a day-trip to 'the bridge over the river kwai' and a bus ticket to Chang Mai … my next stop. Neither was what I wanted to hear; first of all the only day-trip to the river kwai evolved a visit to a tiger temple and a floating market (why can't people just offer simple tour to one place?) meaning that I would only get somewhere between one and two hours at the bridge and it's museum. The guesthouse also sells a two-day trip which sounds really good, however at 3,000 baht I can do it cheaper myself (though looking at accommodation it's pretty expensive there). Secondly all bus tickets can only be purchased at the relevant bus stations, therefore if I wanted the guesthouse to book me a ticket to Chang Mai I would have to pay an additional 300 baht to get some guy to travel up to the bus station, see if they have a ticket available, and purchase it for me. If there was no ticket I still have to pay the 300 baht.

What a stupid system I thought, I then asked if I could go to the bus station myself in which I can and it only costs 40 baht to get there … much better. So it looks like I'm going to be spending a lot of time trying to find a tour to the river kwai and going back and forth to the bus station (note not the same bus station as I arrived at … that one was the 'southern arrivals' station where as the one I need to go to is the 'northern arrivals' bus station, both of which are out of town). This is what I hate about South East Asia, everything is difficult and time consuming. I was planning on not spending too long here in Bangkok because it's too busy for me, however it looks like I might be here for a while just to get things sorted.

I spent the rest of the evening chilling, on the internet looking at river Kwai tours and planning tomorrow. I think, for once, I may try to get up early and take the boat into the city (there is a river just behind my guesthouse and a ferry patrols it, charges 15 baht and can take me straight to the Grand Palace) to see the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Keao, Wat Pho and maybe Wat Arun. This would then only leave me three other places (national museum, Royal Barge museum and the Vimanmek Palace) that I want to visit, hopefully for the day after.

Toodle Pip!

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