Pic of the week; Nai Yang Beach, Phuket

The beautifully understated Nai Yang beach. 7 mins from the airport & a million miles from Patong! The perfect Thai weekend break.

The beautifully understated Nai Yang beach, Phuket Thailand.. Only  7 mins from the airport & a million miles from Patong! Mojitos, Massaman, Massages, Moonlight and my Man :) The perfect Valentines weekend break.

 

 

24 Hours in… Bangkok

I’ve done backpacker Bangkok, now 9th time around here’s flashpacker Bangkok……

Saturday Morning… Chatuchak Weekend Market!
Saturday Afternoon…. Measure up at a good tailors
Saturday Night….Chinatown Shanghai Mansion Hotel
Sunday Morning…Taling Chan Floating Markets
Sunday Afternoon…Pool Cocktails @ The Marriott Courtyard
Sunday Evening…AirAsia flight back to Singapore

24h in Bangkok Done!

Northern Thailand

Now I like a beach, I really do, so the North was never going to prevail against the south Islands. That said, Thailand part deux has it charms, and us girls celebrated the end of a good run here after pretty much 2 months together.

Like:

1)      Chains. Mock you like, after a 2 months in SE Asia without the Golden Arches, a Mcflurry at 11pm for 9 baht is most welcomed! Seven Eleven’s too – 20 baht toasties, cashews, sour cream & onion Lays, cornettos. Snack heaven.

2)      Bamboo Tattoos. Although I know Thailand is not original a place to get inked anymore, I’m glad mine was in the lovely Pai, and with traditional bamboo, which we even got to keep.

3)      Dare I say it; I actually liked Bangkok 8th time around! We got there in the end.

Dislike:

1)      Waking up with all three of my jumpers on to see my breath freeze in Pai & Chiang Mai I thought we’d left the cold weather front behind in China!

2)      The inability to travel direct from Chiang Rai to Pai, even though maps and logic tell you it should be possible.

3)      The price of the Gibbon Experience/Flight of the Gibbon. I want to swing from a zipline, but not for £60 thanks. I can go to GoApe for that I imagine, all be it in the slightly less glamorous surroundings of Sherwood Forest.

Where I stayed

Easy house Chiang Rai, Diva Backpackers Chiang Mai, Saishon Guesthouse Pai, Lanna Guesthouse, Chiang Mai, Ton Nam Guesthouse Lampang, Charoendee Guesthouse Bangkok.

Khao San Road, Bangkok

Bangkok and I have always been on/off. My problem with it mainly all comes down to the fact that backpacker mecca (Khao San Rd) is disconnected from the rest of the city. I blame the notoriously hard work tuk drivers for making you regret the second you start negotiating prices, or even the BTS Skytrain for not extending the extra mile or so. Turns out all I needed to discover was the number 15 city bus that runs to Siam Square and even Mochit for just 7 baht.  Who knew? You now.

You might argue that if the location of Khao San Rd annoys me so much, I should relocate. However, herein lays my guiltiest secret of all, about somewhere it’s not really cool to like; I hold it quite dear to my heart.

Some argue that it epitomises everything that’s evil about backpackers and the world. Namely mass tourism and the bastardization of paradise. To this I say, it’s ONE 300meter road in a big wide world of ‘off the beaten track.’ Calm down haters.

Fact is, if you aren’t absolutely fascinated by life in the little microcosm you need to get off your high horse and into the gutter. Literally

For those who have never had the pleasure, picture Silver Street Doncaster or McDonalds near Oceania Leeds on any given Saturday at 3am. It’s vibrant, neon, energetic, broken, filthy, ruined, squalor. The view is as follows:

7Eleven, second hand book stall, Rayband knock offs, silk suit makers, tattoo parlour, brothel, Pad Thai noodles, Chang beer singlet stalls, guesthouse, Irish bar. The next 20 meters: 7Eleven, second hand book stall. Copy and paste.

I’ve been here enough times to have a favourite 35 baht Thai green curry stall down the road by NapPark. Same with the favourite dress stall at the end just next to the fruit shakes, and with the secret 300b guesthouse that sits down the rabbet warren backstreets near Starbucks. I suspect however that this still makes me a rookie. This place is the original veteran. There’s a sign outside M.K Tours quoting 50 baht for the airport bus. It’s faded but still readable from Khao San’s 1970’s heyday no doubt, despite the fact that the buses are all 130b now.

I arrive, as always with this place, at dawn.  I’m sure the long distance buses do it on purpose; they want you to see it at its best (or worsted?) It’s 4am, 40 degrees, it stinks of garbage, and it sounds like slurred karaoke. Ironically it’s not actually that good a night out. There are so many clubs and bars there is almost too much choice. As a result, no one is quite sure where the ‘in’ party is, so they all take to the street to watch the curb side street dancers and drink the 150 baht cheap whisky buckets.

The vantage point extraordinaire has to be a streetside deckchair outside of the fish spa massage place in the thick of the action. I’ve developed a preoccupation with what masseuses always gossip about whilst they work, presuming that most of the time that no one around them speaks Thai. In one of the busiest parlours there are at least 30 staff on duty, dragging in drunken passerbies for 100 baht foot massages. Even though they dial it down to skeleton staff in the early hours, you can still walk by here at 3am and get one done. It seems like shifts run for 24h a time. The masseuses (male and female)  never take their eyes or ears off the world of gossip going on around them, as their eyes judge the half naked, deadlocked/pierced western skanks that stagger along the road with Spy wine coolers clutched to lips. Or maybe they are my eyes, and I am judging. Sorry ladies, but the nearest beach is 3 hours away, and a bikini top does not make for an outfit. The streets are lined with markets full of beautiful clothes. Buy some!

Love KSR or loath it, it’s magnetic it its traction. Buyers, sellers, couples, one night stands, old, young, travellers, kids, hippies, flashpackers, down and outs. That’s unlikely to change anytime in the next 40 years either, but just in case, visit now, before it’s cleaned up and ruined!

Lampang, Northern Thailand

So our game of ‘location roulette’ actually paid off. Lampang is everything I wanted Kanchanaburi to be in my head. The town is a few guesthouses set along a river dotted with bridges. Ponies and carts still trot through the streets.

We find what we think is a cute bamboo bungalow which reminds is of Hansel and Grettles house, although the Three Bears might be more appropriate as the three of us are squeezed into sharing a double bed. It’s run by a crazy little grandma character too, who briefly mentions something about loud music from the bar over the road. It’s Thai lounge mixes of Gaga/Westlife and Kesha when we arrive so doesn’t offend us too much. This is until midnight arrives and the hard house base kicks in so loud that our window reverberates from 20 meters away. We did try to hang out there for a while, but the music nearly made our ears bleed. The locals really know how to have a Tuesday night here.

Whilst here we also venture an hour’s walk to the famed Herbal Saunas. We get all the way there to find a bamboo house with a welcoming 90 year old lady, who leads us towards 3 grotty cubicles a bit like an old garden shed. We poke our heads around, and in it sit three wooden stools around a pressure cooker with tepid lavender leaves floating on top. If the whole thing didn’t cost $450 baht (£9) we’d have gone through with it for giggles, but fearing for the experience of being stewed alive in a cauldron we pass.

So albeit a detour experiment, Lampang was worth coming if not purely  for this, taken from the Ratsadaphisek Bridge at sunset. It’s one of my all time decent pictures. Photoshop eat your heart out.

Previous Older Entries

An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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