Imy dropped me off at Perth airport bright and early for my morning flight. After a quick coffee I hopped on the plane and couldn’t believe how empty the flight was – literally every passenger had a row of three seats to themselves – it was amazing!
7 hours flew by and before I knew it we had landed in an extremely muggy Bangkok – it was 4pm but still 35degrees hot!
After clearing customs Cat and I were reunited and set about finding a taxi to take us into the centre of town and to our hotel – the Ramada Menam Riverside – for a two night stay courtesy of mum!
We literally couldn’t believe how lovely the hotel was and we were especially pinching ourselves when we were shown up to our city view suite – that’s right. A suite.
Cat and I were both overheating from our travels so we decided to hit the hotels outdoor pool which was amazing!
Soon hunger got the better of us and we decided to wander up towards the open air mall, Asiatique, which was just a five minute walk away from the hotel. This mall is made up of Japanese war bunkers and is definitely worth having a wander through to admire all the stalls and shops.
We were completely spoilt with our restaurant options but soon settled on a nice looking fish restaurant called the Dishes. Catriona was in heaven and ordered a seafood curry soup whilst I went for a traditional Thai green chicken curry. By this point we were both starving so set about ordering rice each and a side plate of garlic/chilli green beans – big error. Little did we realise the food portions were HUGE – literally they were sharing plates. Safe to say we failed spectacularly at finishing our meals – it probably didn’t help that the chilli levels were through the roof. It was completely delicious however.
That evening cat and I made our way back to the hotel and slept perfectly in our ridiculously comfortable beds.
The next morning cat and I made the most of our free hotel breakfast (literally you could have anything from cooked breakfast, curry, noodles, sushi, cold meats, cheese – they even had an egg station with a designated egg chef!)
Stuffed, we then made our way down to the hotel pier and hopped onto the free hotel boat (!) which took us across to the central pier.
Our plan for today was to visit the the Royal Palace and meet up with my friend Catharina. I had met Catharina a couple of weeks ago in Western Australia, she had a bit of a gap in her travel plans so decided to book a flight to Thailand and join us for some of our journey. We had organised to meet at the gates of the palace at 11.30 so after hopping on another taxi boat from the central pier cat and I found ourselves outside the palace grounds.
Unfortunately seconds after entering the gates Catriona was stopped by a security guard and told that she was wearing ‘impolite clothing’ and that she must borrow some clothes from the front office. We were aware that we would have to cover our shoulders in the palace but it turns out Catrionas pashmina was not cover enough.
We joined the queue of other ‘impolite’ visitors and made our way to the changing rooms in the absolute sweltering heat. The temperatures had hit 37 degrees although we were told it felt more like 43 – it was crazy. Soon Catriona got her coverup shirt (which was still damp with sweat from the previous user…!) and we made our way to the ticket booths to meet Catharina.
We soon realised the errors of our ways – there was no way we could ever meet someone in these bustling crowds – there was people everywhere! We waited for about an hour and with no sign of Katharina we made our way inside in the hope that she had done the same thing!
Needless to say, the Royal Palace was completely stunning. We had our cameras in our hands constantly taking photos – every corner provides another beautiful architectural wonder of gold leaf, historical paintings and intricate mosaics. The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings which has been the residence of Thai kings since 1782. The present King Bhumibol Adulvadej (Rama IX), currently resides at Chitralada Palace, but the Grand Palace is still used for official events.
Catriona and I made our way up one of the main attractions of the palace, the Emerald Buddah, when I was suddenly jumped on my a person in the crowd – Catharina! We were all so pleased to have found each other.
We spent another hour or so wandering the sprawling buildings within the palace. If it wasn’t for the unbearable heat we could easily have spent a whole day here. It was stunning. After a little while we left the hustle and bustle of the palace grounds and made our way up towards Wat Pho, the temple of the Reclining Buddah, stopping off on the way for a delicious coconut ice cream to cool us down.
The reclining Buddah literally took our breath away with its sheer size – it’s incredible at over 150 meters in length and glistening in bright, gleaming gold.
Unfortunately the peace and tranquility of the temple was soon broken for us when an actual fight broke out between four Thai visitors. We’re not sure what it was over but when it spilled out into the temple forecourt we thought it was probably time leave, grab some lunch and a nice ice cold beer.
On the walk back down to the pier we stumbled across a little street food trader and swiftly set about ordering ourselves dishes of Pad Thai; probably the first of many on this trip. It was absolutely delicious.
It was at this point that one of the men from the stall came and sat with us and started giving me a quick chopstick lesson – he obviously thought I was struggling… He was a really lovely guy and was really interested in our trip, drawing all over our map and giving us lots of fantastic tips.
When we told him that we were heading off to Koh Tao the next day he told us all about his daughter’s diving experience on the island, and insisted that we visit a particular travel agent to book our tickets. Before we knew it he had walked us across to a tuktuk driver and we were on our way! Looking back I don’t know how this happened so quickly…
After a fairly nail biting tuktuk drive we found ourselves at the Thai travel shop but swiftly left after not getting a great feel about the establishment. It was only a little later that I remembered a couple of the girls I met in Australia, Katie and Emily, warning me about a scam where friendly locals befriend you and then insist you visit travel agents which then in turn scam you. We also read something similar in one of the guide books. We’re still a little undecided on the situation, we certainly don’t want to claim that the guy was scamming us as he was lovely and a great help with his tips, it just seems a little dodgy looking back. I’m pleased we left the travel agent anyway and we will definitely be a bit more cautious in the future!
We were now all the way on the wrong side of town and feeling a bit gutted that we’d wasted our money on the tuktuk journey… Luck soon came back on our side however and we wandered across an STA travel shop and swiftly set about booking our trip to Koh Tao – at a much cheaper price than what we were quoted at the Thai travel agent…
Feeling a lot happier we hopped onto the sky train and made our way back across to the hotel, again via a nice trip on the hotel’s boat.
That evening we decided to visit the notorious Koh San Road – the backpacking tourist strip of Bangkok which is full to the brim with bars, restaurants and little shops. After a quick boat and tuktuk drive we found ourselves right in the middle of the hustle and bustle – it was crazy!
We had a quick dinner on the strip – I went for vegetable rice fried in green curry paste which was delicious.
After filling ourselves up we walked up the strip and admired the crazy array of wares on offer from fake designer goods, edible insects and erm, off course the notorious ping pong men.
We soon decided it was time for a well deserved drink so sat out on one of the street side bars and made the most of the £2 margaritas and lots of people watching. It’s safe to say after a busy day out in the sun we slept like babies that evening.
The next morning Catharina made her way across to our hotel and we all had breakfast together. It was beautiful weather again and we decided it might be a good plan to make the most of the hotel facilities and spend the day lounging by the pool. We’re going to be back in Bangkok a couple of times more during our trip so we didn’t feel too bad not using the day to explore.
We had such a lovely day lying out in the sun, swimming in the pool and sipping on cocktails. We even tried to teach Catriona how to do underwater handstands – as to be expected that wasn’t a raving success!
A little later in the day we decided to walk back up towards the Asiatique mall in the search of a pedicure – we didn’t really time this very well and got completely stuck in the middle of a storm. An open air mall really isn’t the place to be in that situation!
We decided to give up on the search for a pedicure and instead took shelter in a restaurant and had an early dinner before heading back to the hotel and getting packed up and ready to make our way across to our night bus to Koh Tao.
Our bus to Koh Tao was picking us up over by the Koh San Road and was scheduled to leave at 9pm – although we were told to check in at 7.30. At 7pm we booked a taxi outside the hotel however we had such bad luck and every single taxi driver refused to take us! Something to do with traffic further into the town. After a bit of help from our very helpful bellboy we got in a taxi – although by this point we were half an hour late and starting to panic a little. The saga continued and our taxi driver proceeded to drop us off at the wrong bus station so we ended up lugging all our bags through the Koh San Road, through all the party goers – absolutely sweating in the heat! It was awful!
We eventually made it to the Lompraya bus office, checked in and got out seat numbers. By this point it was around about half past 8 and we made our way across to the bus stop to wait.. It turns out that the bus times mean nothing here and even though the bus was scheduled to leave at 9 it didn’t turn up until way gone half past 10. All that rushing for nothing! Eventually however we got into the bus and got ready for the long journey ahead. Next stop – the beautiful paradise island of Koh Tao!