Day 4: Regina-cologist

Day four, and, to be honest, there isn’t too much to write home about, nevertheless, I shall endeavor to expand upon it. After another tricky nights sleep, I woke to find that my head was still full of snot, which, I felt set me up for another crappy day. So, after having both showered, and I, blew my nose for the fiftieth time, we set off to Khoa San via taxi, for an arranged price of two hundred and fifty baht.
When we arrived, it was around midday, we headed to our new hostel named NapPark, this was a twenty two bedroom, mixed dorm, where you couldn’t help but meet people. We weren’t allowed to go up to the room at that time, so, we dropped off our bags in the baggage hold room, and, went exploring outside. In Khoa San, there is so much to see. We decided to start, by looking around the market stalls, as Sarah wanted a small rucksack for day trips. They range in price from two hundred baht (about four pounds), to twelve hundred baht (around twenty four pounds), depending on which size you want. After looking at three different stalls, Sarah found a medium sized one, and, using her blonde hair, again, got them down to three hundred baht (six pounds).
Seeing as we were both a bit peckish, we decided to grab a meal, before heading back to the hostel. With our bellies full from rice and noodles, we checked into NapPark, then, put our bags away in the lockers provided. A bit later, when we were relaxing on our beds, we made our second friend of the trip, a guy named Ollie, he was about five feet, nine inches, a little bit stocky, brown hair and several scars, sustained from rugby injuries. He was very friendly, and, invited us out with him and a few others, for a night they already had organised. Shortly after our introductions, one of Ollie’s friends came in, who would be joining us that evening, his name was Luke. Luke was of slight build, with dark hair, a smiley face and around a similar height to Ollie.
After everyone was ready for the evening ahead, we all met in the lobby, where we proceeded to exit the hostel. It was outside that we were introduced to Bridgette, Sarah and Catherine, three Canadian girls, whom, Ollie invited along with us all, due to meeting them prior to our arrival. Off we all ventured, looking like something from the wizard of oz, skipping our way to the nearest restaurant, to have some pre drinking food. It was here, where three more people would join us, one of whom was Danny, a Dutch guy with mousey blonde hair, glasses and slim build, his leg was also in a cast, but, that’s another story . We were here for a good couple of hours, exchanging stories and the such, next, came the impossible task of paying for the bill. Sometimes it’s difficult to split the bill between three people, let alone, having to do it between ten. Luckily Ollie was an accountant, so, we used his numerical magical abilities to slay the issue.
Our next destination, a reggae style bar, known only to Danny and the others, it was down a dark alleyway but safe as could be, however, it was here at the reggae bar, that I was bullied by an eight year old girl, selling roses. She got my attention, by interrupting my conversation I was engrossed with the guys, by twanging an elastic band on the back of my arm. At first, I thought it was probably Sarah, as that is the exact sort of thing she’d do to get my attention. To my surprise, it wasn’t Sarah, instead, it was a cute, five foot nothing, eight year old Thai girl, who was extremely violent towards men that refused to buy roses from her. When I asked her what she was doing out so late (as by this time it was getting on for midnight), she simply yelled “SHUT UP!” at me, and, with the fiercest look in her eyes, demanded money for these roses, all the while, making a fist, or, picking up objects to threaten us with. In the end, I just ignored her, and, she left, but not before she played a game of rock, paper, scissors, with Ollie, he lost, and had to buy a rose. She then went to hang out with Sarah and the Canadians, where she was all smiles and laughter. Clearly this girl just hates men.
We all visited a couple more bars, then, called it a night, and, returned to the hostel, where we all just chilled out in the lobby. It was there, on their soft, padded mats (that they had specifically for that purpose), that, Sarah and I, drank water to prevent a killer hangover the next day, and where, the whole group united together, to ask Brigitte teasing questions about her home town, aptly named Regina. She took it well, informing us that when the Rolling Stones visited Regina, they said it’s the town that rhymes with fun. Not long after, we all went to our beds, to get a good nights sleep, thanks to the aid of good old alcohol!

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Day 3: TukTuk The Piss!

One a.m., two a.m., three a.m., do you notice a pattern here? This was how our first restless nights sleep went, we would constantly keep waking up each hour on the dot, yet, somehow, when the clock rolled around to five a.m., the next thing we knew, it was eleven o clock in the morning. At this point, we decided to rise, like a couple of phoenix from the ashes, and seize the day.
First port of call, Sarah wanted some coffee, however, we were too late making it downstairs, but, that didn’t stop Sarah from getting what she yearned for, as, the receptionist was kind enough to allow her a cup, I swear, Sarah’s blonde hair mystifies the people of Thailand, as if it were the golden fleece from Jason and the Argonauts. When Sarah finished her drink, we headed off to the docks, which we were informed of by Mandy, to catch a boat up river to dirty Khoa San Road, “holla city of squala!”. Unfortunately, for money, but fortunately, for educational purposes, we ended up on a tour boat. Which, unlike normal boats, that take you directly to your destination, has a man on board with a microphone, that pours information into your brain about every temple you float past. It turned out to be helpful though, as, it narrowed down the temples that were best to see.
Upon arriving in Khoa San, we began making our way down the street outside of the dock, where we were collared by our very first tuktuk driver (a tuktuk, for those who don’t know, are irritating mini taxis, in the form of a chicken chaser style vehicle, they get their names from the sound the engine makes, and you constantly get harassed by these in certain areas). Again, fortunately and unfortunately, there was a local teacher passing at the time, who spoke perfect English, he noticed we were carrying a map and camera, he then informed us of a good market, some good temples, and, how the tuktuk’s fuel supply is paid for by the government, that’s why it’s cheaper to travel via tuktuk than taxi. What he failed to tell us, was, after each destination you want to go to, you will be taken to one of three destinations, a tailor, a jewellery store, or a tourist information centre.
So, for a price agreed upon before climbing into the tuktuk, of twenty baht, off we went to our first of many bloody temples, I don’t want to sound like a typical British tourist here, but, I don’t know how many times you can look at different temples before they all start looking the same. For me, it was somewhere around, eight to ten. I began thinking like a pessimist, one thought was, “oh great, another bloody Buddha statue, laced in gold flakes, surrounded by a huge monument with a ridiculous amount of steep steps”, (I’m six foot fives inches tall, and even with my long, gangly legs, found it hard going to climb, so, I have no idea how the Buddhist monks managed thousands of years ago, they probably only stood around five feet back then).
When we arrived, we had to pay an entrance fee of forty baht each, we then proceeded through a big archway to look at the places of worship, there were a couple of buildings at our first stop, and, before entering each one, you had to remove your shoes/flip flops, as a sign of respect to their beliefs. Inside, each one was decorated with a golden Buddha, standing around ten feet high, and, had smaller duplicates surrounding it. The walls were plastered with wallpaper containing golden images (of what, i cant quite recall), and hanging from the walls, were murals, depicting stories of Buddhist history.
As we made our way to the second building, we noticed two monks, one of which was playing on his iPhone. Sarah and I, were always under the impression that monks gave up all physical possessions, before committing to their lifestyle choice. Obviously, we were wrong. After leaving our first temple, we hopped back on to the tuktuk, ready to head to our next destination, but, we were kind enough to sit and wait, whilst our driver went to the toilet. It was here that we met another local, who, told us about the tailors of Bangkok, and, how the made to fit suits they make are Armani, but without the price tag (I didn’t know how true the story he told was, but, he continued to tell us, because of the cheap labour in Thailand, the suits are low in cost, and, it’s only when the suits reach countries like America, that they stick an Armani label on it, causing the prices to soar to extremes of two thousand plus dollars).
Back from his toilet break, ironically, and, unbeknownst to us, our tuktuk driver escorted us to his location of choice, this transpired to be the exact suit shop the local guy was telling us about. After being asked to enter, we made small talk with the tailor, and, respectfully declined his offers. When we were free of the awkward situation, it was off to another temple, followed by two more tuktuk choices, a jewellery store, and a tourist information centre. It was here that we paid a rather expensive fee, of eleven thousand baht (around, two hundred and twenty seven pounds), to eleveate us of any problems, and, aid us in our journey to Chiang Mai, for this price, we also got a few day trips thrown in for good measure.
Finally, after being driven all day, we arrived in Khoa San (a place rich with market stalls, bars, restaurants, suit peddlers, and, bloody tuktuks). Our first priority, was to scout out the location of our next hostel, which we achieved promptly, followed by an evening meal, during which time, we made a Skype call to Sarah’s sister. Lastly, we noticed the time was half six in the evening, and, the last boat home ran at seven p.m. We made it to the boat in good time, and, headed back to hotel chilli, where, we’d rest our heads for one final night, before heading off to the debauched Khoa San Road the next day!

Day 2: Sleeping Beauties

Waiting for bags at the airport, can feel a lot like watching the generation game, a big bag, a small bag, a cuddly toy. However, this was a first, as our bags arrived promptly, and we were out of there, before the maddening crowds had time to gather. Next stop, transport. So as we roamed the airport of Bangkok, looking like starving zombies, if a zombie’s sustenance were sleep, we were beckoned over by a kind elderly gentleman (or so he appeared) to a taxi office. In Sarah’s best attempt to bridge the language barrier, she was able to explain where we wanted to go, and, in return was given a price, now, not knowing the customs of the country yet, and being massively jet lagged, we naively paid the steep price of 1000 baht (£21, roughly) and headed on our way. We later discovered that no other traveller paid this much for their fare from the airport. This was our first experience of being conned.
As we stepped out of the airport, from the confines of the caressing air conditioning units, used in every store, building and car, the first thing to hit us was the dense humidity, and, seeing as I was wearing an ensemble worthy of a British climate, it sucked. Luckily we didn’t have to walk far before, our rather expensive, taxi driver took our bags, and, allowed us to enter his vessel. The journey to the hostel seemed like a long voyage, a lot longer than it probably was, along the way, Sarah and I made little conversation with each other, short of a few grunts here and there. It was hard to take in the surrounding sights through our blood shot eyes, all the while doing a thousand yard stare, trying to focus on where we were being taken.
After what seemed like an eternity (probably forty minutes at most), the nice views of distant temples disappeared, only to be replaced by smashed cars and people sleeping rough. It was around a couple more corners, that the taxi driver, drove us up a dead end alley, or so it appeared, and said in his best broken English, “you get out and walk now, five minutes, down there”, both Sarah and I looked at each other as if to say, “what the hell have we gotten ourselves into?”.
Hesitantly, we did as instructed, and before we could even get to the corner, the locals were friendly and smiling, and…. taking all of our possessions, just kidding, they guided us to where we were staying, which just goes to show, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Upon entering the beautiful establishment known as chilli hotel, I first noticed, that on the wall, behind the recptionist desk, they had printed famous quotes by well known philosophers, one of which read “the world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page”, which I found quite inspiring and encouraging, given what we had left behind. We were shortly greeted by the receptionist, who told us the worst news, that we weren’t allowed to check in until two p.m., that was eight hours later!!!!!! After some persuasion, we were allowed to go up to our room then and there, and, pass out, BAD MOVE, as we had now set ourselves up for a fail.
When we rose from our eternal slumber, it was around six in the evening, and we decided to get up and explore the local area, as we entered the lobby of the hotel, we met our first friend, a lady in her mid forties, named Mandy, who took it upon herself to be our guide, and show us where to get some food. After she left, Sarah and I ate our first of many rice based dishes, and, headed back to the hotel, each with an ice cream in tow. When we got in, Mandy was still sat downstairs, so we began conversing with her for a couple of hours, learning of things to do in Bangkok, and exchanging stories of how we came to be in Thailand. Sarah and I then said our goodnights, and, proceeded up the stairs to our room around ten or eleven p.m., to make an attempt at adjusting our body clocks to our new time zone. This would turn out to be trickier than we first thought, “why didn’t we force ourselves to stay up?”, would be the regretful cry that we’d bellow repeatedly for the proceeding nights to come.