Thailand part VI: Bangkok & going home

In this blog post series I will have six posts telling you all about my adventures in Thailand. The posts will be published every other Monday. Check out Thailand part Ipart IIpart IIIpart IV and part V.

 


Tai 6


Around midnight the nightbus arrived in our last stop before Bangkok. It was the same stop where we were when we were on our way to Koh Tao. We ate some chicken curry with rice and it was spicy. We also bought some bananas and Oreos… I know, I know, Oreos have nothing to do with Thai cuisine but we wanted to try them. I also got a huge cultural shock there: an Indian family of around 10 people was eating with their hands only. Just taking curry sauce with rice in their hands and putting it in their mouth: this was unseen to my eyes!

We arrived on Ratchdamnoen Avenue around 5.30 AM on the 27th of January. Somehow we just walked behind other people from our bus and in 2 minutes ended up on Khao San. That worked very well for us 🙂

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Khao San: 6 AM

We walked around, asked some hotel prices and finally picked Top Inn for 680 baht per night. It was around 6 AM and there were still people and sellers on the streets: that’s one fun city! The room at Top Inn was by far the best room we had on the whole trip. We really needed to rest well the night before flying and travelling again.

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We left the hotel room around 8 AM to go on our pre-planned city tour. By that time, everything was dead. No people, so street stalls, nothing. The street had closed down.

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Khao San: 8 AM

 

Sanam Luang Park

Our first stop was Amulet Market. It had just opened. It was nothing I’ve seen before: lots of religious amulets, little statues and other things. I was so blown away that I even didn’t take pictures. I forgot to take pictures?! That shows how impressed I was.

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Our next stop was the Grand Palace. The ticket to get in was pretty pricy… We thought long and hard and decided not to go in the ticket-restricted area. It’s a huge complex and would have taken up the whole day but we also wanted to see other places. Gotta leave something for my next visit to Bangkok, right? 🙂 We walked around the free area and then headed to Wat Pho.

Grand Palace. You had to cover up (couldn’t even have shoulders showing) so they gave you a weird shirt. 😀

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After walking for some time we arrived at Wat Pho. Wat Pho is a huge golden Buddha with a pretty large complex of other building surrounding it. They even offered free drinking water and wi-fi. The Buddha of course was something unique. The size is just unimaginable. 

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Wat Pho

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On the Wat Pho territory

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On that day in Bangkok I saw so many Buddhas… Hundreds maybe?

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 After leaving Wat Pho we headed to the port to cross the river to see Wat Arun: the Temple of the Dawn. We had some time until the boat left so we grabbed a quick lunch: fried tofu (which tasted like nothing really) and some fried rice with chicken. I had mastered the art of eating with chopsticks.

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For 5 baht we got a 1-minute boat service to the other side of the river Chao Phraya. It is the dirtiest body of water I’ve seen. It almost looked toxic. 

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Wat Arun area was being decorated with lots of red for Chinese New Year

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Wat Arun: the details on this building are amazing.

 

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I climbed the steps of Wat Arun to see the city view. The steps were really really steep.

 

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I mean… Look at it! So beautiful 🙂
Again: the details.

 

Find me! 🙂 

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After seeing the Temple of the Dawn we started to walk back to the center to do more sightseeing. It was hot outside. And the air in Bangkok: it’s a sight itself with all the smells and gases. You’ll appreciate the air in Europe so much more when you’ve been to Bangkok 🙂 

Grilled banana
Iced cocoa
You could notice the protests in the city: we also saw a protester camp, lots of policemen and saw protestors marching. We ran away from their sights immediately 😀

Next we saw the Giant Red Swing, Democracy Monument and the Golden Mount.

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Giant Red Swing 
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Coconut puddings. I thought they would be like the coconut waffles I got in Khao Sok but no: they weren’t nearly as good 😦

 

Democracy Monument. A couple of days before it was all surrounded by protestors.
The Golden Mount aka Wat Saket 

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City views from the Golden Mount

After visiting the Golden Mount we took a tuk-tuk to Chinatown to visit Wat Traimit and a big market. But unfortunately I didn’t know that Wat Traimit was closed on Mondays 😦 Then we walked around and searched for the market which we finally found. It was AWESOME. So much good food, interesting people and funny smells. 

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Smoked DUCKS. I have tasted some pretty good meat in my life but this was on the top of my list.

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The market was really busy. I managed to snap a picture when people weren’t pushing around…

We bought ourselves lots of food for dinner and headed back to our hotel on Khao San. We took the tuk-tuk again. By the way, it’s not recommended to use tuk-tuks. I can clearly see why. They drive really dangerously and are all open and without any safety measures like seatbelts. If there would be a crash, you’d be hurt bad. Take a taxi instead 🙂

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Our lunch: water, fruit salad, grapes, Chinese steam cakes, smoked duck breast, vegetable fried rice and a toast.

After dinner we chilled and rested for some time and then went out to enjoy our last night in Bangkok and in Thailand. I started to get really sad because I really didn’t want to leave. I loved that crazy city! 

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Khao San at night. It seemed as if all the tourists of the world were there 🙂

We went back to the hotel room around 11 PM to catch a good 10 hours of sleep before a long 24+ hours of travelling back to Europe. In the morning we walked on Khao San for the last time, ate our last pad thais, fruit shakes and coconut puddings. Around 11 AM we checked out of our hotel and grabbed a taxi to Siam Center.

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Last fruit shake: banana-mango-papaya. I just can’t even think about it, it makes me want to go back ASAP.
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Pad thai in the making… 
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My last pad thai. Last carbo-o-holic days had begun…

When we caught the taxi, we asked for the taximeter. He said: “Yes, meter, yes.” The driver was funny: he was talking all the time and commenting on the radio show that was playing 😀 It took us a ridiculous 1 hour and 30 minutes by car to get to Siam Center because of the protestors that had blocked the roads. We also saw them marching, shouting and playing music.  

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Blocked road by protestors

Around 12.30 PM we arrived near Siam Center. It was also all surrounded by protestors but the malls were still open and you could get in. But the damn taxi driver hadn’t actually used the meter and then tried to rip us off as much as he could 😦 I knew asking 500 baht for this drive was too much. We gave him 400 and left him shouting how “bad people” we were.  

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The shopping malls in Siam were huge. There we also saw really rich and sophisticated thais for the first time. Since there was Gucci, Chanel and other world-famous brands there, it was logical to see other kinds of people. We bought some not thai food again: I really wanted to try the famous Krispy  Kreme doughnuts. I have to say: they are worth the hype 🙂

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Siam Paragon

Siam Center was also the place to catch the SkyTrain to the airport. We arrived in Suvarnabhumi airport around 3 PM.

Believe it or not: this was my first time trying Starbucks. I’ve eaten there before but never drunken the coffee since I started drinking coffee (rarely) last year.
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Emirates’ Jumbojet: two floors again

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Our flight left Bangkok around 8 PM. I was sad. I thought about going home, winter, freezing weather and a ton of schoolwork that needs to be done. But at the same time I was so happy with our trip.  

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Menu on the first flight
Food on the first flight: shrimp pasta. I hadn’t had pasta in about a year. It tasted pretty good 🙂

We landed in Dubai around 1 AM. We had 5 hours to kill before our gate was opened. We did some shopping, walking and just sitting around. The time passed quick and around 7 AM we were flying to Stockholm. We also had 2 Estonian families on that flight 🙂 

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Dubai airport: shopping paradise.
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Low carb HELL 😀
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Menu on the second flight: 2 meals. Total overkill, we were stuffed when we got off the plane.

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Dubai from air. I even managed to see Burj Khalifa – the highest building on Earth 🙂
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1st meal 

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I can’t fall asleep on planes. By that time I had been up for over 24 hours, watched a million movies and was ready to get home 😀

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2nd meal
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We flew over Estonia. Lake Võrtsjärv.

We were officially in Stockholm by 10.30 local time. It was cold. I was in flip flops. The first thing I notices was how clean the air was. It seemed almost like home. We got our luggage, changed into warm clothes and jackets and got on the bus to the city. From there we caught the subway to the Värtahamnen port. We were freezing since it was below zero, about 40 degrees cooler than in Thailand.

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Stockholm subway aka T-Bana
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Tallink Baltic Queen again

We had to wait before we could board the ship and were finally on it around 4 PM. We showered, relaxed, fixed ourselves up and were ready for dinner at the buffet.

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1st plate full on yummy food

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Last plate full of food: desert. The buffet was great. We were full but not stuffed. It was the last high carb day of this trip.

After indulging for 2,5 weeks and topping everything off at the buffet the night before, I was so done with carbs. In the morning I bought some salami and cheese from the ship store and was back on my regular low carb. Oh, did I mention: it was super cold in Estonia. The weather program said it was well below –20 degress Celsius and when considering the wind, it felt like –30C. 60 degrees cooler than Thailand. It felt like a total shock!

By the way, my mom told me I had spoken whilst sleeping on the ship 😀 I remember seeing dreams about missing the plane and the electricity being out. I said something about the electricity out loud and also almost got out of bed. I’m creepy 😀 

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Last morning on the ship

We were in Tallinn around 11 AM and home around 2 PM. On the 30th of January, our 19 day trip to Thailand had ended.

 


 

 My suggestions:

  • Bring a hair-dryer. Even if backpacking, bring it with you if you have long hair. It will save you a lot of time and sitting around in your hostel/bungalow.

  • Insist the taxi-drivers use a meter. If they don’t, step out and get another one. Agreed prices are always worse than the meter.

  • Don’t buy from the first place. Look around, see what other offers are out there. It goes for food, trips, tickets, everything.

  • Don’t freak out. Ever.

  • Smile. Always, even if you’re angry. That’s what the thais do! 🙂

  • Bargain to get a better price. Usually you can get a good discount. If they tell you 400 baht, say you’re willing to pay 200 (or if you want to, even 150). You’ll eventually get a price between 200–300 baht.

  • Bring a travel guide. My Lonely Planet was SO helpful.

  • Prepare ahead. That’s personal preference actually. I liked having an itinerary and knowing where to go next since we only had 2 weeks there.

  • Let it flow! If you have more time, you don’t need a strict schedule. Let it flow, it’s a vacation!

  • Bring insect repellent. It’s useful in some places, there were some mosquitos.

  • Bring a warm hoodie/fleece. Even if it’s hot outside, it can get cool in the evening and in buses with air-con etc.

  • Bring the best camera you have. I had to drag around my rather heavy DSLR camera and my neck got pretty tired but the picture quality is so worth it!

  • Don’t bring too much clothes. You can wash and dry things and buy new ones pretty cheap. Some casual stuff and one set of nicer stuff (dress, blouse or whatever) is enough.

 


 

And to end everything, I have to say a big THANK YOU to Heidi for her excellent Thailand posts. They helped me out so much with planning everything 🙂

Thailand is such an amazing country: lots to see, friendly people, gorgeous nature, relatively cheap, good connections and roads. If you’re looking for a place to spend your vacation from anywhere between December to March, go to Thailand. Whether you want to lay on the beach, party all night long, do sports, hike, go diving: you can do it all. I’m already looking forward to going back and also visiting northern parts and other interesting places. South-East Asia: I’ll be back! 🙂

Thailand part V: Ao Nang & Phi Phi Islands

In this blog post series I will have six posts telling you all about my adventures in Thailand. The posts will be published every other Monday. Check out Thailand part Ipart II, part III and part IV.

Tai Tai 4

Tai 5

Our morning in Khao Sok began with a 7 AM wake-up call and we had to be on the bus by 8 AM. I had some soy milk, nuts in caramel and funny deep-fried Thai crisps for breakfast. We were all checked out and ready to leave at 8 but some people were late so we just ended up waiting half an hour. Not too bad, considering it’s Thailand 😀

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Around 10 AM we had a half an hour break at a market. So much good food! We bought mango, dried bananas and Thai nut cookies (that were greasy and not that great). 

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Mango
Dried bananas. No extra sugar, the actual taste of banana! 🙂
Thai nut cookies. I thought they would be good but they were so greasy. Not good…

Around 11 AM we arrived at a minibus stop just near Krabi Town. The only way out of there was to buy tickets from the guys there… Which were overpriced of course! Should have paid 50 baht per person for a ticket to Ao Nang but they asked us 150. I tried to bargain but they wouldn’t. They also tried to make us buy a bungalow, tours etc from them. I actually got pretty frustrated because there they were: people trying to fool stupid tourists again, saying that there isn’t any vacant accommodation left etc. We just got the 150 baht ticket to Ao Nang.

In the bus to Ao Nang we also talked to other tourists from the UK and they all had done the same thing as us: just bought the tickets out of that minibus station and not get fooled to book anything else. We all felt ripped off in that bus 😀

Right after we arrived in Ao Nang

After arriving in Ao Nang the first thing we felt was HEAT. It was really really hot outside, well over 30 degrees Celsius. We started looking for a place to stay. I have to admit: many places indeed were full but we managed to find a lovely and cheap bamboo house for 500 baht per night. We also booked our trip to Phi Phi Islands.

Looking for accommodation…

We stayed at Gecko Bungalows for 2 nights. The vibe and feel of that place was amazing, by far the best atmosphere during the whole trip. It was peaceful, not touristy, the owner was super calm and nice, there were books and musical instruments in lounging area, a cute dog, chicken running around and a cow in the backyard… I just can’t put this vibe into words. I was just perfect.

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Our bamboo house. Each house had a hammock 🙂

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Around 9000 kilometres away from home

After dropping our bags off at the bungalow, we changed our clothes, slipped into bathing suits and were ready to enjoy the sun and sea. Before hitting the beach I had a delicious banana and pineapple shake from a street stall and then we spent the whole afternoon on the beach of Ao Nang.

Shades on, shake in my hands, hair up in a messy bun, bikini on… Oh, how I miss it!

 

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The whole beach was covered with shells

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Right after the sun had set

After sunset we went back to our bamboo house at Gecko to shower and head to the center to grab some food and enjoy ourselves. My momma was still ill but felt a little better. Instead: I was ill! My throat started to get sore and I had a cough which later got even worse.

For dinner I had a rich mixed pad thai and then later also some iced tea with milk and a naan bread at an Italian and Indian place. Carb heaven! 😀

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Pad thai from a street stall. Gotta love that street food 🙂
Naan bread with garlic. The naan on Koh Samui in Noori India was better.
Iced tea with milk

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The next day we had a tour to Phi Phi Islands. Just to be safe, we didn’t eat any breakfast because we were afraid of the waves and being sick on the boat. It actually wasn’t that bad. The sea was more or less OK. But the boat was overbooked and we were like sardines in a tin.

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Ao Nang beach

Our first stop was Bamboo Island. Just gorgeous and breathtaking. The views… I haven’t seen anything like it! 

Bamboo Island 

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After a visit to the Bamboo Island we were taken to lagoons and snorkelling. One guy had bread with him and we spread that around underwater. All the fish came to that area and I was literally swimming in a bunch of rainbow coloured fish. So cool 🙂 

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Next stop was the infamous Maya Bay. If you’ve seen the movie The Beach (and if you’re backpacking in Thailand, you probably have), you’ll recognize it instantly. But I have to admit: I wasn’t that impressed! With all the motorized boats and the masses of tourists… It just wasn’t the same.

Maya Bay

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After a stop in Maya Bay we were on the boat again. We saw the Monkey Beach, Viking Cave and more lagoons. We also did some more snorkeling which was great fun.

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Viking Cave where they collect birds nests to make SOUP out of them. Say whaaaaat? 😀

Then we finally arrived on Koh Phi Phi Don. We were told we wouldn’t be taken to the viewpoint because we didn’t have time… I was disappointed. I really wanted to see that 😦 But what can you do, that’s what happens sometimes. We then had a Thai buffet lunch. Everything tasted really good and I ate way too much. I also noticed that I had a fever but fortunately my mom had some paracetamol with her. 

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Lunch: spicy Thai soup with chicken, pineapple and watermelon, rice, pasta, fried fish and 3 different veggie dishes.
A reminder of what happened in the 2004 tsunami that destroyed most of Phi Phi Islands 

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After lunch it was time to go back to the boat and head back to Ao Nang. We arrived around 3.30 PM. An American guy had told us in the boat that there is a place at the end of Ao Nang where there are a lot of monkey playing around and that we should check it out. That’s exactly what we did.

And the monkeys were so much fun! They even tried to steal our sunglasses and climb on us 😀 

Passionfruit shake: not too sweet, a little bit sour and really yummy 🙂

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Look at that face! 😀

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After seeing the monkeys I really wanted to go to the Saturday Market. It was getting late already and I thought about taking a taxi or tuk-tuk but they all offered us ridiculous prices so we decided to walk since I had a good map. We were literally melting in the sun but we finally made it there after a looooong walk uphill.

The market was awesome. I was not touristy and there were mostly locals buying there and almost none of the sellers spoke English. I ate some things without even knowing what they were 😀 We also bought lots of food to take back to our bamboo house for dinner and snacks for the next day. The visit to the market was one of the coolest experiences of the trip.

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What we bought: gulab jamun, fish, cauliflower, peanuts, pad thai, pomelo, 2 weird Asian deserts. Yum, yum, yum!

After we got home from the market I was literally so tired I just dropped into my bed. Or onto, since the bed at Gecko was really not soft. But my mom wanted to get a Thai massage so we went to the city. I got a manicure and a pedicure but the quality of the work there was not good at all. After that I felt that my health was deteriorating fast and we got some medication from the pharmacy. The lady there was a true specialist and gave me antibiotics and a couple of other meds. The bill was, well, not that pleasant on the other hand.

Next day was our last day in Ao Nang. We decided it would be a relaxing beach day since I was a little weak and my mom wanted to sunbathe. But it was so hot outside that I mostly sat in the shade or swam in the sea, drank shakes and read my Lonely Planet. My mom got sunburnt but fortunately it didn’t hurt too bad.

Watermelon shake 

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In the afternoon we left the beach, had some snacks for lunch, showered and checked out of our bamboo house. It was time to catch the night bus to the capital: Bangkok. 

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We became friends with the dog at Gecko.

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Around 4 PM we were picked on a retro transfer bus and then taken to our night bus which wasn’t VIP as they promised.

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Our night bus. Again: “VIP”. Not.
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Our transfer bus from Ao Nang to the night bus 😀 Retro!

Around 8 PM we arrived in Surat Thani and fortunately changed from the uncomfortable old bus to a new and good bus. Then it was time to sleep to wake up in our last stop of the trip: Bangkok.

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Our second bus: far more comfortable.

Next post: Bangkok and going home.