Monday, January 08, 2007

Mile and Miles of Smiles

Ahhh my desk. My keyboard. My headset. My broken desk chair. All of these things I had forgotten about over the last few days are back once again. Maybe I have become accustomed to my holidays being at least a few weeks long during my life as a student, but 4 days will always be too short. Especially for Thailand!

That said, we crammed a hell of a lot in, and therefore I have a hell of a lot to cram into this post! So let’s get going!

All the way to Thailand, Samantha and I had been arranging mock schedules for the evening which would allow us to fit in a swim in the hotel pool, a nice dinner as well as a few drinks before getting an early night, ready to be fresh faced for my friend’s arrival from Singapore on the morning of the 31st. Like most of these plans nothing happened the way it should have and the night went more like this: We got to the hotel, faffed around in the room for too long, had a delicious Thai meal before doing a bit of shopping on the Khaosan road. After that, there was nothing else to do but get our party hat on and have a corker of a night out dancing to an amazing ska band and hitting the Thai whiskey with reckless abandon. We even managed to fit a swim in but it was at around 2AM, in our underpants, well after the hotel pool had closed. I don't mean to gush, but I guess there is nothing else to say about the night other than it was the sort of night out that you dream about having with a girl.

We woke up far from fresh-faced the next morning, but refused to let it get the better of us and after an awful hotel breakfast we headed meet my friends Julien and Cecile at their hotel on the other side of town. We toyed with getting a Tuk Tuk over to the hotel but after haggling it down from 200 to 150 baht we figured we would get a meter taxi to see the price difference. The cab cost us just under 60 baht (that’s about 1GBP). When we met them and decided to get going on our day tour of Bangkok we stopped worrying about these small sums of money and jumped into a Tuk Tuk to see as much as we could. The day was great and we traveled to several of the more impressive temples of Bangkok, saw the Grand Palace and the largest markets in the city before heading on a longboat cruise down the canals. There are lots of photos of the day (as well as the rest of my trip) on my Flickr.

The Bangkok canal system was an unexpected surprise and a great experience. I never realised the number and length of the canals around Bangkok, nor did I realise the lifestyle of the people who live along them. Bangkok its self is a city as busy and metropolitan as any of the big Asian capitals. Skyscrapers, traffic, pollution and everything else unremarkable about any city in the world. However, a short boat ride transports you to a different world of canals, floating house and bank side monasteries. Watching the families starting their New Years celebrations on the canals while their children swam and fed the fish I felt like we had either gone back in time or I had fallen asleep for a while and the Longboat driver was taking the piss a little and had whisked us off to a distance fishing village for the afternoon. After an hour or so of wide eyed gazing, though, it was back to the smog.

As the sun set over the Chao Phraya River our thoughts turned to the night and the New Year eve party ahead. We had already draining the best part of two bottles of Sang Som (Thai whiskey) between the four of us during the day, so it wasn't going to take much to put us into 100% party mode... We headed back to our hotels with the promise of meeting at our hotel bar later that night to begin our celebration. I'm not even going to bother describing the night in detail. It was the best New Years I have ever had, and that is saying something considering the scale of some NYE parties I have had. I guess it wasn't the scale of the party that defined it though. In Julien, Cecile and Samantha I had the best company imaginable and we made an awesome party unit together, but was more than that. The vibe was electric regardless of the bombings that took place earlier that night. The Khaosan road was packed solid with hundreds of partygoers and the bars and clubs were heaving. People were singing and dancing in the street and the land of smiles cast its spell over all present. There are a thousand and one little stories about what happened at what bar, who sprayed silly strings in whose eyes and who was dumb enough to buy a bunch of knockout buckets (me) but to put it short it was a perfect New Years.

Of course, it finished up with us in the pool in our underpants again...

We woke up the next day feeling like utter crap. Horrible. After ensuring all our loved ones knew we hadn't been blown to bits we set off to see what we could see. Basically, everything we wanted to do went wrong in some way, so we resolved to just wander down to the market area of the Chinatown district of Bangkok. It was all pretty nice, but very crowded and we were all feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. As such, the day was fairly uneventful and most of it was spent reminiscing on the zanier moments of the night before and stopping every 10 minutes to drink water. In the evening we thought it safest not to hit the town as further bomb threats had been made and most international governments has requested tourists avoid crowded spaces in case more bombs went off. They didn't, but if I had gone out the strain of drinking more Thai whiskey would probably have killed me anyway. So we said goodbye to Julien and Cecile who shot off to resume their lives and got an early night ready for our daytrip to Ayutthaya the next day.

Which will be in my next post!!

Photos from the trip HERE!

No comments: