GUEST POST – ELIZABETH DAWSON
After a simply marvellous month in China our final stop was to completely shift the scenery and pace with two weeks in Thailand.
Strangely for two Australians neither of us had ever been to Thailand before with brief stopovers in Bangkok airport on long haul flights our only contact with the place. Well, we are pleased to report this time we managed to get out of said airport to take a look around!
Basing ourselves in the Phra Nakhon area at the lovely, friendly Niras Bankoc hostel we were able to strike out on foot to visit all the key sites from the gorgeous Grand Palace and assorted wats, paying our respects to both the diminutive Emerald Buddha and the enormous Reclining Buddha on our way.
Of course no backpacker trip to Bangkok is complete without doing a few laps of the infamous Khao San Road which seems to have the highest concentration of gap-year travellers in the world sucking back buckets of Sangsom and chucking back Changs like their lives depend on it. Obviously I never did such things when I was their age…
Most afternoons we needed to retreat from the heat with a siesta at the hostel or in the massive shopping malls of Siam Square (or it seemed in taxis trying to negotiate the jammed Bangkok traffic).
By night we were spoilt for choice, one evening taking in some muay-thai /Thai boxing bouts at Ratchadamnoen stadium. Behind the cage in the cheap seats we still had a great view of the furious flurries of kicks and punches of the bare-foot boxers and enjoy the all the sound and spectacle of the crowd taking bets and cheering on their man.
The next evening after fishing out the cleanest and smartest duds from our backpacks (easier said than done at this late stage) we thought we might turn beer-o-clock into cocktail hour for once with a visit to the swanky Vertigo Bar at the Banyan Tree hotel. The 360 degree sunset view of Bangkok from this roof-top perch on the 61st floor of the hotel is simply breathtaking.
Taking a tip from our hostel we then popped into the fairly underwhelming Suan Lum Night Bazaar for a kind of pesce-pedicure. We just sank our tootsies into a tank of little fish and they took it from there nibbling off all the dead skin. They had their work cut out for them with our feral feet but they did a damn fine job in the 20 minutes we let them run riot.
After all that serenity we thought it was time to seek out some seediness and peruse the lurid attractions of Patong and Soi Cowboy in Sukhumivit and see for ourselves the remarkable skill sets with which the ladies working in this area are blessed. Not places I will be going back to in a hurry but part of the Bangkok experience I guess.
So that is our guide to spending four days in Bangkok. From Bangkok we headed south to the Gulf of Thailand coast islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui for some lazy beach time and to dive deep below the waves. Once I manage to drag myself off the beach there will be a separate post for that.