One night in Bangkok

Dum dum dum dum dum-dum. OK, trivia time. The song came from the musical Chess written by Tim Rice and two guys from ABBA. Anyway, that’s all that Amy and I had – one night. And two long days! Yet another early morning after too little sleep and we shared a minibus to the airport with two Aussies which worked out even cheaper than getting a tuk-tuk.

The whole airport/flight/landing thing was a bit of a blur courtesy of Amy’s snoring keeping me awake. OK, that’s a lie. If anyone was snoring, it was me. Somehow we managed to stay conscious as our Air Asia flight dropped us at the new (to me) Suvarnabhumi Airport. It’s certainly glitzier than the old one despite obviously not having been finished yet. Unplastered concrete shows between miles of glistening tubing. Or maybe that’s the “look” the designers were going for. It still doesn’t have free wireless, though. *tut*

Immigration was a breeze and we walked right onto one of the express buses. I believe the BTS (overhead train) is being extended out to the airport which will make transport even quicker in future. I’d elected to stay at the HI Sukhumvit this time rather than Big John’s. Partly as Amy was staying there and partly as it would be somewhere different that’s still in a good location (ie not crappy Khao San Road – I am such a snob). I won’t rattle on about the hostel and duplicate information you can find on the Thailand accommodation page.

Despite the best efforts of Bangkok’s notorious traffic system, we made it to the hostel by a little after 11:00. Not bad for a flight that landed at 9:50. Despite being exhausted, we agreed on a quick shower before heading out for lunch to make the most of our stay. The advantage we had was that I’d been here before, so anything Amy wanted to see, I did have a good idea of how to get there and how long it would take. As such, there’s not a lot new for this visit apart from the companionship!

I’ve decided just to lump this visit into one post as it’s easier on my doddery memory…

For lunch we (for “we” read “I”) settled on the Bull’s Head. I couldn’t visit Bangkok and not pop into the best British pub it has. So I did. While sitting force-feeding myself a delicious cornish pastie smothered in HP Sauce (which Amy declared she would have to try and get in the States now she’d tried it), Billy walked up to me. Billy runs the Bull’s Head and he’s a great guy – though he admitted he’d have walked right past if I’d not been wearing my Newcastle shirt.

We got talking (about football – surprise) and the Billy mentioned there was a pub quiz on that evening. Amy wasn’t too sure, but it’s an English Pub thing so we managed to twist her arm. It would be “quaint”. Billy also told me that I’d made it into the final cut of the music video being filmed when I was last at the Bull’s Head. He didn’t have a copy but after much searching, I located it online. You can see me around 2:08 through, and Billy giving out a red card a second later. I can’t get this to work in Firefox, but it does play with Internet Explorer:

Same Same – Give It All You Got video

Our stomachs full and our wallets emptied (lovely food, but pricey compared to eating on the street!) we boarded the BTS and headed for the river where we hopped onto a boat. The conductor on board didn’t take any money from us until we got up to disembark opposite Wat Arun, and then took so long sorting out our change that we missed the stop and had to get off at the next one. The walk back down one stop wasn’t too far, and we hopped on the next ferry across the river to see the Temple of the Sun.

I’d been before with Prashant, but it was still good to revisit. Amy loved it, and I think I appreciated it more this time than I did the first as well. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to wait till sunset and watch it being lit up, so made our way back to the hostel via the Siam Paragon mall. This has filled up somewhat since I was there last year, with most of the units now containing shops. Even the Ferrari dealership has opened its doors fully to non-Ferrari Club members. There we spotted that Spiderman 3 was on. At the IMAX. For less than the cost of a regular ticket back home. Times noted for the next day, we returned to the HI and showered.

A quick turnaround and we made it back to the Bull’s Head for 8pm and settled down for dinner. My stomach was still working on the pastie from lunch so I settled on the world’s best barsnack – a small plate of double-fried beef strips. Amy had something Thai and kept pinching my beef.

At 8:30, the quiz began. I won’t go into detail regarding the poor wording of the Great Plague question which cost us a point, though it wouldn’t have helped anyway as we managed to come last by a fair margin. I wish we’d played our joker on the music round instead of entertainment. Ah, well. Amy really enjoyed it, much to her surprise, and everyone who entered got a free bottle of beer. We also “won” a booby prize of a generous discount from a dive shop, but unfortunately as we were both flying out we couldn’t make use of it.

Downstairs, I lucked out completely. Virtually everyone I know in Bangkok was there! Louise’s cousins Joy (who part-owns the Bull) and Sharon as well as Joy’s husband Nacho. More free drinks (thank you everyone!) and some great conversation. Ciaran, the quizmaster, got chatting to me about the dive prize and it turns out his wife La works for the company (Dive Site Asia) who offered the voucher. She explained that the voucher’s fully transferable (I passed it on to two girls in the hostel the next day) and that the company offer dive master courses including accommodation should I wish to head back to Thailand sometime… Hmm… Another seriously interesting offer which I may take up. We’ll see what life throws at me in the meantime!

The next bit can’t be read by Amy’s mum. After wandering for ages as we are rubbish at following directions, we found Soi Cowboy. This is an area of go-go bars and, despite her feminist leanings, Amy was curious to see what Thailand had to offer. When in Rome, etc. Soi Cowboy’s basically the same as Pat Pong which I went to with Louise last time and it’s a curiosity for anyone quite liberal. I’d not make a habit of going, but at least I can say I’ve been!

Of course, this meant another late night but we walked back to the hostel anyway rather than haggle with taxi drivers. We bid a sad farewell to Amy’s umbrella on the way as it died a fairly snappy-broken-twisted death.

The next day was fairly well planned and we hopped around a few things. The Dasa Book Cafe wouldn’t take my photocopied Lonely Planets, but sold great warm chocolate brownies. We stopped by a little roadside place for lunch (top notch cow pad guy) and made it to the Snake Farm in time for the slide show. The snakes brought out were slightly different to my last visit but I managed to talk Amy into getting a Python draped over her shoulders. For someone who claims to be scared of snakes, she did well!

Just enough time to grab a massage for me and a pedicure for Amy (not at Miss Puke’s but the place next door. I didn’t get a photo of Miss Puke’s sign, so there’s the link to prove it exists! Then we dashed over the road, dot in time to catch the start of Spidey 3. On IMAX. Woah.

The sound was significantly better than when I saw Superman Returns in Auckland, though the lipsyncing was out for about half the film. Otherwise, I loved it. Yes, it shoe-horned a lot in. Yes, it was slightly predictable. Yes, some of the fast sequences were a little too fast and blurry. But who cares? It’s Spidey. I didn’t look at my watch until the credits rolled!

From there to a small cafe next to the Bull’s Head for some Kang Gai (chicken curry) and then the Robin Hood on the corner where I introduced Amy to Newcastle Brown Ale. Which she liked. I’m impressed. There’s hope for this American yet!

And finally… back to the hostel where I manage a quick shower and pack before the taxi arrived to take us to the airport. Despite flying opposite directions (Amy to Seoul, me to Dubai) our flights departed two gates and ten minutes apart, so we hung around until Amy’s flight was called. Many hugs were exchanged and I promised (and still do) I’ll catch up with her somewhere, somewhen! At least I have a guide in Chicago should I get there before she finds another country to work in for 2 years!

Then to my gate, onto my plane… and on to another country! I do like Thailand. Once more, I hope I get back there again sometime soon.

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