Day 226: Cowabunga Dude

Only 2 days remain of the Erratic Ramblings guys, get it while it’s hot. Today was a sad day, we lost two more fellow travellers. Yes ladies and gents, both Ann and Simon left us to fly back home to their lives in England. It left a void that we tried to fill with shopping and the beach. With the parents gone we were back to our lazy ways, after going out in the afternoon we remained at the hotel. That’s basically it, but here I go once again explaining everything else that happened.

Our alarm was set for 8:15am, it was Ann and Simon’s last day so it was only fair to enjoy breakfast at a time that suited them. Even though I was shattered because I hadn’t finished my blog until close to 3am, I got up when the alarm rang – and believe me, I really didn’t want to. We knocked for them at their room, then we all devoured a very nice breakfast. It was buffet, and they had everything from bacon to fruit. I had a couple bowls of cereals, some fruit, bacon and egg, a croissant, and some coffee. Needless to say I was full afterwards. Because Ann and Simon only had until midday we decided to spend their final few hours looking around the nearby Carrefour. We quickly popped back to the room to rifle through our bags and see what we could give Sarah’s parents to take home. We both found a few items which cleared a significant amount of space, then the four of us met in the lobby before setting off.

The Carrefour (a word I just learned that day) was all of 500m down the road from our hotel. Inside it sold everything you could want and more. It consisted of three levels. The ground floor sold cars and had a couple restaurants. The first floor had an arcade and a handful of small shops. The second floor contained nothing but local eateries and a few more shops. The third and final floor was a ginormous supermarket. As we ascended the many levels, we lost the girls instantly on the second floor when they spotted a shoe shop. Like magpies to shiny objects, they were all over it. Simon and myself decided to leave them to it and went on ahead to the supermarket. They had a great electronics section full of gadgets, much like the girls to shoes, we found our obsession. It was there I fell in love with a 55 inch 3d television. Never had I seen an image so sharp and clear, nor had I ever seen 3d so perfect. The tv put cinemas to shame. I was both entranced and mesmerised by its beauty, I couldn’t peel myself away, every image looked as though it was coming at me. It only got better from there, we then found another tv that was connected to the Internet, and its remote acted like a wand. Wherever I moved it the sensor on the screen moved with it, I felt like a wizard in that very moment. After we’d spent the best part of 40 minutes looking at electronic gadgetry we decided to look for the girls. They were in the supermarket flitting between the various aisles when we found them, Sarah bought a couple items then we left for our hotel.

The time was getting on now and Ann and Simon had about 40 minutes left before their taxi was scheduled to arrive. That was enough time for us to enjoy some final drinks together. We ordered a few beers and took them to the roof terrace. It turned out the leaking roof in our old room was a blessing in disguise. When we reached the terrace there was constant banging coming from a nearby construction sight, had we still been in the old room it would’ve been too noisy. As we sat around the table we took some pictures in the nice weather and enjoyed our drinks, then before we knew it, it was 12pm. We walked Sarah’s parents to the lobby where we said a long goodbye for a second time. Unlike the time we said goodbye in London before we came travelling, this time around it didn’t feel as permanent. It was a strange feeling, like we’d be seeing them again next week. We waved them off as they drove away in the taxi, we waved until they disappeared from sight, Sarah and I then returned to the room for a short while.

Neither of us had done any laundry for a long time, so it was no surprise that I bagged around 85% of what I owned. Sarah had a few items, but nothing to the extremes of my bag. We were doing it now because we didn’t want to show up at Beth and Adam’s house with a bag full of smelly clothes and be like “hey guys, do you mind if we use your washing machine?” I’m sure they wouldn’t have, but we didn’t want to come across as rude. I was left with only a couple items which were already clean, unfortunately the one pair of boardies I had were too big, it was time to use the sewing kit Sarah’s parents had bought me. Sarah to the rescue, she took them in slightly and they now fitted my slender body perfectly. Our hotel charged per item for their laundry, so that was out of the question for my load. Instead we enquired about places in town that did it by the kilo, they didn’t really know of anywhere specific, but told us there were plenty to choose from. With that we took our bags outside and the security guard helped us hail a taxi. For just over £1 the taxi driver dropped us off at Legian street and we located a nearby laundrette. They charged me only 40,000 (just shy of £3) for four kilos of clothing. Not bad at all. Now we were free of the smelly garments we walked around the neighbouring shops.

Because the temperature in Australia would be similar to that of England, we were looking for hoodies. Nowhere sold them bar the expensive branded shops. It’s not like there wasn’t a market for them, it was mostly Australian tourists in Bali on their holidays, so if they came over during their winter surely they’d want warmer clothing to take home. We spent a couple hours scouring the streets, stopping in various skate shops admiring their items, but not actually wanting to pay their steep prices. After many shops had been entered and exited we found a little restaurant to eat lunch. Our meals were tasty, as was the added tax and service charge on the bill. After we paid the high 15% tax and additional service fee we went to the beach. The one thing this beach had that the others didn’t was entertainment. In the waters riding atop the waves were hundreds of surfers. Some were pros, others were just learning, but it was fun to watch regardless of their skill level. Some of the bails made us wince, it didn’t look pretty any time somebody face planted the shallow water, or received a surfboard to the back of the head. We sat for a while before moving down the beach a little farther. On the way we passed countless surf schools, all of which asked us if we were interested in learning. I was, but couldn’t afford it. The beach was full of people for some unknown reason, at first we thought there may have been surfing competitions, but there wasn’t. Many people were just taking pictures of the surfers for their own purposes. The whole time we were there Sarah kept comparing her tan to other girls.
“Gah, look at her tan, she’s so brown. Tomorrow I want to spend the whole day on the beach!” – terrific news for me! After a couple hours passed, we stopped in a nearby shop for snacks before catching a taxi back to the hotel. It took a few before we found a driver willing to take us on the meter, then the second we got into the car it began raining. Perfect timing.

The driver missed our hotel and began driving back down the road. As soon as we told him, he smacked on the brakes and came to a grinding halt beside the road. He apologised sincerely, we told him it was fine, paid the money, then walked 10m back to the entrance. The pair of us returned to the room to relax for a while, where we ended up staying until 8:30pm. It took me a lot longer than expected to read through the previous day’s blog, around 2-3 hours. I was so tired when I’d written it the previous evening that I pretty much had to rewrite all of it again. It was about 7pm by the time I’d finished and uploaded it. I then Skyped my mum to see how she was doing, thankfully everything was good and we had a great conversation. Afterwards Sarah and I went back to the Carrefour for something to do. We bought a delicious strawberry fruit shake to share, then spent the rest of our time in the supermarket. I went back to the new love of my life… the 3d tv, and took some pics for the blog. Sarah bought a couple more items, including crisps to replace the ones she’d stolen from the room’s minibar, then we bought another shake and returned to Sun Boutique Hotel.

Because we still hadn’t eaten tea yet, we ordered food from the hotel’s restaurant. What a smart decision that was. I chose the spaghetti bolognese, and hands down it topped any others before it. The chef had even chopped up the noodles to make them more manageable, as if I were a child. It was so flavoursome that I could’ve easily eaten 6 servings. Sarah was chatting with her sister the whole time she ate, and was practically in tears every time her niece made her laugh. When we’d finished eating we tried to take the conversation upstairs, that way Sarah wouldn’t have to shout over the top of the passing traffic outside. Unfortunately the Internet didn’t work in our room, but because my Skype was still signed in from earlier that evening, Sarah noticed my nan was online. I then had the pleasure of running around the hotel trying to find a good enough signal to speak with the queen of the family. Ground floor, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd all offered zero bars. Eventually it dropped off and none of them were sending out any signal at all. I tried one last trick by restarting my device, voila, it worked. I got ahold of my nan and spoke with her from the comfort of the bed in my room. My uncle happened to be around her house at the time, so I briefly got a chance to talk with him too. He wound me up by saying he was enjoying the lions share of nan’s baking now that I was gone. Her cakes are the best things since… her sliced bread. The time was 11:20pm when we said our goodbyes, Sarah and I then attempted to watch a movie, but both of us were far too tired. Somehow I managed to find the energy to write my blog, then got to bed around 1am. Sarah had demanded that an alarm be set for 8:30am, not a minute later, as all day tomorrow she wanted to get sunburnt like the many Aussies we’d seen at the beach today… Oh the joys of travelling with your girlfriend (I’m aware I’ve probably used that line before, but at least each time you know it’s justifiable).

20130530-145826.jpg

20130530-145856.jpg

20130530-145903.jpg

20130530-145925.jpg

20130530-150232.jpg

20130530-145934.jpg

20130530-145941.jpg

20130530-145949.jpg

20130530-150017.jpg

20130530-150037.jpg

20130530-150055.jpg

20130530-150108.jpg

20130530-150113.jpg

20130530-150136.jpg

20130530-150151.jpg

20130530-150158.jpg

20130530-150205.jpg

20130530-150213.jpg

20130530-150218.jpg

Day 183: The Faffing Laundry

Hmmmm, how to write about today? I know I usually say this, but there is literally nothing to write about. Unless you’re the sort of person who gets excited about someone doing laundry, I suggest you go elsewhere for your kicks. A good 6 hours of the day was spent faffing, and I don’t mean your usual sort of faffing. If there were awards for attempting to do something, but getting nowhere fast, we’d definitely take first place. Although I manage to elaborate every time I say “I’ll put today’s blog in bullet point format”, I genuinely don’t think it will be possible today. So, for a very quick read, here is what happened on this monotonous day.

• I woke up before the others, around 9am, very much aware I had the previous days blog to write. It took me all of an hour and a half to complete, in which time Sarah woke up. She entertained herself with the tablet, using it to go online, where she discovered the horrific news of a bombing during a marathon in Boston. There were 2 deaths and over 100 hundred injured. It’s a sick world we live in.

• We spent some time doing Internet banking, getting up to date with all what we owed. I still don’t fully understand the credit card system. Anna woke up during this, then we all went about packing our bags, as we had to check out by midday. Fortunately we had a new hostel booked, and then came the task of hailing a red truck. Outside our resort there were many trucks passing by. It took us 4 red trucks before one driver finally agreed to take us to So Hostel. Every driver before that, when asked to take us, would look at us wide eyed and shake their head violently in disagreement. We figured there must’ve been something going on on that street that made them not want to drive through. When we arrived, there was nothing. No post Songkran celebrations, no rioting in the streets, no protests, whatever reason they had for not taking us wasn’t to be seen. They simply must not like the area, which would’ve also been a strange reason, as the location is great. The hostel is situated a stones throw from the night bazaar, and plenty of other amenities.

• We were told we wouldn’t be able to check in until 2pm. This gave us somewhere between an hour and a half – 2 hours to waste. We were allowed to put our bags in storage, and free ourselves from the heavy strain on our backs. Before doing so, we took our dirty clothes out and decided to do some laundry. The hostel had three washing machines and two tumble dryers. All of which required a minimum of 30 baht. I was against this from the start, but the majority vote won, 2 against 1. It didn’t make sense to me, for us to do it ourselves. We had so many clothes that it would have been cheaper to visit a laundrette instead. Granted they charge by the kilo, and we had at least 10 kilos in total. By the time we’d finished, we had paid several times over for the tumble dryer, as on the first go it didn’t dry a thing, if anything our clothes felt more damp than when they first went in. By the end we must have spent 2 hours of our lives, and over 200 baht in 10 baht coins. Not to mention we overloaded a washing machine with all our darks. Oh, and before we could do any of our washing, we had the small issue of having no wash powder. Anna went off to reception to grab a couple pouches of the stuff, and it was then Sarah made the mistake of emptying the whole sachet into the designated drawer. In her defence, all the instructions on the pouch, and the washing machine, were in Thai. However, it was quite funny to watch the bubbles seep through the gaps of the drawer when the machine started. We took up two washing machines, as we separated the loads between darks and lights, and I didn’t say anything as I saw Sarah put a blue vest of mine in with the lights. I figured she knew best. Each load was set to finish at separate times, at best we had an hour to play with before one load was done, so we went out for breakfast.

• Along the street outside our hostel was a multi purpose business. It was not only a tourist information shop, where you could buy day trips and the such, but it acted as a barbershop and a laundrette. For 40 baht a kilo you could get your washing done, in a simpler, less complicated fashion than we’d already attempted. Seeing as the girls had a few items left over that wouldn’t fit in the drum, they handed it over. We then continued around the various streets for an open restaurant. Many businesses were closed because of Songkran. It was the first day after the festival had ended, and everywhere seemed to be on a hiatus for one more day. Eventually we located somewhere that was open, and we went inside to enjoy some sandwiches. Afterwards, we returned to the hostel to check on the washing.

• It was done, now all that was left to do was put it in the tumble dryer. We used the only two machines, and then had another half an hour to wait. For the majority of the day we filtered between going somewhere outside and returning to the washing. The second time we went out was for a coffee at Starbucks. We were getting low on credit on the gift card my mum bought us, but still treated Anna to a drink all the same. When we were done, it was back to the hostel.

• It turned out, one of the dryers worked better than the other. Either that, or it better coped with a smaller load. The light stuff had dried best of the two, but the darks had to go back in for a second dry. It was then Sarah realised a blue vest can’t go in with whites. It had spread to a few of her items, then she had the nerve to blame me for it. When secretly, deep down, she was happy it happened, as it would give her an excuse to buy more clothes. We chucked the load in for another half an hour, then went to reception to check in. We paid for two nights upfront, before being escorted to the storage room. It was there I had to use my Spider-Man skills to clamber over other people’s bags to get to ours from the back. I don’t quite know how they filled the room with so many bags and still managed to close the sliding door properly. I used the stairs, which were separated from the room by bars, to my advantage. I shimmied along until I located our holdalls and one by one, threw them to Anna. We then got into the elevator and were taken to the sixth floor to locate our room.

• There was a slight bit of confusion when we got there as to which beds were ours, but we soon figured it out. No thanks to a cleaner changing the sheets and pointing them out, even if it later turned out to be someone else’s. With our bags beside our beds, we returned to the dryers. They still weren’t completely dry, and by this point, people were waiting to use them. We took what was dry back to the room, but the items which were still damp we put as a giant load into the better dryer. Instead of leaving it for just 30 minutes, we decided to pay a little more for a total of 50. As well as the laundry that day we wanted to sort out our Australian visas once and for all. To do that we’d need an Internet cafe, as our place charged 20 baht for half an hours usage.

• We located the only close by Internet cafe, but what do you know, it was closed. There was a sign on the door which read “will be open at 4:30pm, sorry for any inconvenience”. That was a full 30 minutes from then, so we explored the rest of the area to see if there were any others. On the way there was a very peculiar man waking in Sarah’s path. Usually when two people are walking towards each other, that awkward stranger dance occurs until someone moves out the way. Not this guy. This guy was determined to make Sarah move, he was adamant he’d keep his ground, and came to an abrupt stop right in front of her until she moved around him. I only put this in here because he defied the laws of the dance, never had I seen someone rude enough to just stand still, forcing the other person to move.

• We couldn’t find any other Internet cafes, and in the end we couldn’t even be bothered to wait for the other place to open. We had to be back in 50 minutes, and 30 of those would be waiting around anyway. So we decided to pay and use the computers at So Hostel instead. Besides, they were cheaper than the cafe anyway.

• It took somewhere around half an hour to an hour by the time we finished our forms. While Sarah was sorting hers, Anna and I finished off the drying and took it to the room. When I returned I found a rather stressed out girlfriend. I think we were putting to much pressure on the whole thing, thinking the worst would happen if there was the slightest of errors. We checked it over to the best of our abilities, then paid £240 to be allowed a chance to work in Australia for a year. It was now out of our hands, and into the government officials that would be checking it. All that was left to do was get those X-rays, and we should be golden. We printed off all the forms, as instructed, then went about helping our buddy Anna with hers. It really is tricky when English isn’t your first language. Especially when it comes to filling out details from your passport. For example, we’d write Copenhagen if we were to put it on the form. But because Anna is from Denmark, it is spelled the Danish way, and the alphabet they use isn’t exactly on the keyboard. Even when she managed to figure out how to type using her letters, she then had the issue of wondering if the person checking it in Australia would understand it. It’s all very complicated. I swear they don’t want new people coming to their country. By the time we finished on the computers we wanted to be anywhere but there.

• We returned to the room to freshen up before heading out for food, but it was there we had a dilemma. The bed I had been issued earlier on that day now had two confused girls beside it. Apparently it belonged to one of them, and they couldn’t figure out why it had a guys clothes all over it. I apologised and explained the situation, then grabbed all my clothes. My bed was number 12 according to the receptionist earlier that day, yet the cleaner had pointed to the girls bed when we first arrived. I found number 12, but there was a girl led on top on it. At first I thought it was a gift from the hostel, a “welcome to the building Mr Norris” sort of thing, sadly it wasn’t. She apologised, and explained that her bed was the one above mine, and was just lying on it for some unknown reason. Before we left the room, one of her friends wandered in, wearing short shorts, and a loose, half buttoned shirt, revealing her large exposed cleavage. She too led on my bed, and again, I thought it to be a gift from the hostel. Sadly Sarah scared her off when she asked if the bed was hers, for a split second I almost suggested she stayed, but thought the repercussions of such an act unwise. Never had I managed to get two different girls in my bed within 5 minutes of each other, and have done so little to get them there.

• With fresh clothes, and our visas looking more promising than before, we headed for the night market. We had a quick look around some stalls before sitting down for tea. I ordered a couple dishes on accounts of only eating sandwiches at brunch. Sarah ordered a noodle soup based dish, but ended up wearing it, fresh from the kitchen. As she dragged the plate towards her, it caught on a place mat causing the boiling contents to splash over the edge and onto her lap. For the rest of the meal she rested a bag of ice on the burn to prevent any damage.

• After our food we only had half an hour to spare before a film started at the cinema. Because we had missed the opportunity the day before, we decided to catch the last screening of “Oblivion”, it was the latest Tom Cruise blockbuster. We hailed a red truck, and were taken to the central airport plaza for 100 baht. Everything was closing down, and we just managed to make it through the front doors before the security guard locked them. We took the elevator to the 4th floor and found the very busy cinema. Sarah was in a foul mood because of what happened, and the pair of us ended up arguing over it. We hadn’t even noticed Anna sneaking off. At first we thought she did it to get away from us, but after I bought popcorn and a coke, she returned with a tube of gel for Sarah’s burns. Instantly Sarah cheered right up. Doing a full 180 from the mood she was just in. It turns out, throwing a hissy fit WILL get you what you want. We then took our seats, but had to stand for the king when requested. It was nice to see they’d changed the footage since last time, much like they do with the orange Wednesday adverts. Now it was a montage of the king’s life, from childhood right up to present. The film itself was entertaining, but it wouldn’t compare to the new Ironman 3 movie which was scheduled for release very soon.

• The whole building was shut down by the end of the movie. We managed to use the elevators to reach the basement, and had to exit through the car park. It was midnight now, and there wasn’t a single red truck or tuktuk insight. We stood waiting for a while, before deciding to walk up the desolate road. The only vehicles that passed belonged to normal citizens. Fortunately a single taxi was heading in our direction. If it wasn’t for the girls being with me, I swear he wouldn’t have stopped. The driver didn’t have the light switched on on his roof, so I presumed he wasn’t looking for a fare. He was kind enough to take us to So Hostel, but we felt bad after he said he was on his way home when we stopped him. I think the red trucks and tuktuks only run until a certain time, after that you’re on your own.

• The driver got us back really quickly because he took the back streets. Which was very entertaining, as he spotted out the lady boys to us, who were street walking. As we turned the first corner, I noticed one of them hunched over the passenger window of a stopped car. The vehicle quickly pulled away as we approached. It was either a customer or a pimp, either way, it was suspicious. We were dropped right outside the front doors, then we made our way up the stairs to our room. The girls played on the Internet for a while. Anna talked to her dad about the visa, while Sarah chatted with her friends. By the time I got my phone back it was 1am, and by the time I’d finished this it was 3:30am.

I am very sorry guys. I told a lie at the beginning of this. I honestly thought I wouldn’t have much to say on today’s activities, but it turns out you truly can elaborate upon a dull day involving laundry and visa applications. Tomorrow will probably see us getting our X-rays done, just imagine what I can do with that after I work wizardry with these words.

Day 182: I Love The Smell Of Fried Mosquito In The Evening

Wow, today was probably the longest day we’ve had yet. We didn’t get a break, after travelling for a good 10 – 12 hours already, we then had the pleasure of doing it all again. For the most part I slept, but one thing’s for sure, we couldn’t have been happier to reach Chiang Mai that evening. So sit back and relax as I explain the downside to being a backpacker.

• Continuing on from where I left off. After watching everyone’s favourite superhero do his thing, I stayed up for another few hours watching various other tv shows. At first I wasn’t going to give into tiredness, but around 2am I drifted off. At 5am our bus arrived in Bangkok.

• It didn’t take us where we wanted however. We had paid for a bus ride all the way to Bangkok bus station, but instead, the driver stopped just outside of Koah San Road. Typical. We asked him what was going on, and he said, “if you want to go to bus station, you must get a taxi”. There they were, like vultures waiting for a carcass, one by one they came over. Each time offering extortionate prices. We were all pretty tired by this point, but there was no way any of us were paying 600 baht for a half an hour journey. “Long way, very far”, was their explanation for the high price.

• Our bags had been unloaded for us, but instead of being in a sensible place, they threw them down beside the piles of rubbish on the floor. This made my bag quite dirty, I grabbed both mine and Sarah’s, then we hailed a taxi. It was a really nice older gentleman behind the wheel, and he agreed to take us where we wanted. He even allowed us to have the meter on, rather than charge a fixed price. For the whole journey I was like a zombie, after only having 3 hours sleep over a 20 hour period. Luckily the girls were more chatty than me, and they entertained the man. He told us about Songkran, and its duration in certain areas of Thailand. If you were to keep moving to new areas every time it finished in one place, you’d be able to celebrate it for a whole month. When we arrived at the station, the meter read 97 baht. So much for that 600 then. There are rip off merchants everywhere in Thailand. We thanked our driver, then went over to the ticket counter.

• All of the counters were free because it was only 5:30am. We went up to one lady and bought a bus ticket to Chiang Mai for 6:45am. This gave us enough time to have some food. I paid the 7Eleven a visit for some of their delicious toasties, while Sarah ordered something from the food counter. We feared we may have a terrible bus, but after asking the woman behind the counter, she put our minds at ease. It looked to be a comfortable vessel with reclining seats. When we stepped foot outside it was already parked up ready to go, all we were waiting on was the driver. He showed up on time and helped us put our bags aboard, we then located our seats and got comfy. What do you know, out of the two seats in front of me, I sit behind the one woman that chooses to recline hers. She had the front seats, and because of that, had loads of legroom, too much for a woman of her stature. Yet she still felt the need to recline her seat.

• I slept on and off throughout the journey. At one point I was in a really deep sleep, and I was embarrassed to find my mouth wide open as I awoke. When I briefly looked out the window between sleeps, I noticed there had been an accident outside. This was the first one I’d witnessed since being in Thailand, which is surprising given the way they drive. It involved two vehicles, a truck and a car, and there were policeman directing traffic around it. I then fell asleep for another couple hours.

” Around 11 o’clock to midday, I woke up and stayed awake. I watched a tv show or two with Sarah, but found it increasingly difficult to look at the screen. This wasn’t because of travel sickness, we had been on buses for over 24 hours by then, and my back was really beginning to feel it. No matter how I’d twist or turn, there was no escaping it. I couldn’t do a thing to get comfy. Fortunately our bus driver made a stop, and for half an hour we got to stretch our legs. It was a roadside service station, Sarah and myself recognised it straightaway, we had been here during a long haul journey before. By showing our tickets to the people behind the counters we could have either a free meal or drink. Remembering from last time that there was a reason the food was free, I chose to have a drink instead. Sarah ordered the food and shared it with Anna, but they soon realised how bad it was. When our time was up, we begrudgingly climbed back on the bus.

• I watched a film with Sarah, then fell asleep once again for the last couple hours. Our driver made stops along the way for people to get off at various locations, one of which was the woman in front of me. After she’d gone I pushed her chair forward, in an attempt to sit in a better position. It didn’t really make a difference, my lower back still ached. At 5pm our bus pulled up at Chiang Mai bus station, and we couldn’t be happier. If not a little tired.

• We had no accommodation reserved, this was a problem. So, our plan of attack was to find a cafe with wifi. Luckily there was one directly opposite. We went inside the tiny little shop, barely finding any space to put our bags, and ordered some drinks. Sarah then began looking online for places to stay. She found one that went by the name “Junior Guesthouse”. We reserved a room for three people, paid for our drinks, then hailed a red truck to take us there.

• The driver said he knew where it was, but Sarah remembered they often said that to get a fare, and actually didn’t. This happened to be the case with this guy. He had to stop at one point to come and ask us again where we were staying. It wouldn’t have been so bad, driving around aimlessly until we found it, had it not been Songkran. We had been travelling for over 30 hours now, so an additional half an hour around Chiang Mai didn’t really make a difference. What did however, was the hundreds of people dotted around various streets, squirting and throwing buckets of water at anything that moved. Targeting us out as we passed. I causally moved to the front of the truck, and took refuge behind the bags, meaning Anna and Sarah were the two most exposed. I blamed my hiding on the fact I had an iPhone in my pocket, but truth was, I didn’t want to get wet. Eventually the driver found the building, we paid him 20 baht each, and walked up the side street towards it.

• The people at Junior Guesthouse couldn’t have been more helpful if they’d tried. We explained how we’d made, and paid for, a reservation for one of their rooms. The owner looking very surprised asked us for our reservation number. Sarah hadn’t taken a screenshot of it, so instead, I showed him an email confirmation. He couldn’t believe it. He explained to us that because of Songkran he was full, and that a week ago he had taken their rooms off Agoda’s website. This was the site we’d used to book our stay. It was then they helped us out greatly, rather than just giving us a refund, they walked us down the street to a different guesthouse named Mountain View Guesthouse. The only downside of having to walk there was having to pass a water fight. The locals sprayed us once again, just before we stepped foot inside the building.

• Jeff was the name of the man who’d led us there, and he did one last kindness before leaving. He paid for our stay for one night. He apologised sincerely for the mistake with the booking, then returned to his own guesthouse. The room was very nice I thought, whereas Sarah said she found it creepy. The only creepy thing in the room were the creepy crawlies, I guess that’s the category Mosquitos fall under. There were hundreds of them flying around. At first we tried swatting them with our hands, but missed every time. I then returned to reception to see if they had any other rooms. They didn’t, but the guy have me something far more pleasurable. He armed me with killing devices. I returned to the room with a can of pest repellent, and the best thing of all, an electric tennis racket.

• “Hahahahahahahahahaha”, I shouted, as I swung the electric bat of death around the room. “Crack”, “pop”, “fizz”, “snap”, were the sounds echoing from the walls of our new home. I couldn’t even see what I was killing, but anytime I moved the bat from side to side, it lit up like a Christmas tree, killing hundreds of the blood sucking buggers with each fell swoop. Their deaths filled the room with a pungent singed hair scent, but it didn’t bother us, too long had they caused us pain over the last 7 months; now they were getting what they deserved. The girls then took it in turns to scan the room, each feeling joy as the bat cracked with the death of another mini vampire. We were then able to walk about our room in peace. We each took a shower to freshen up, then sprayed the room with repellent, before heading out for food.

• Stupidly we took bags of laundry with us, thinking somewhere might actually be open at 9pm during Songkran. It turned out there wasn’t. We caught a red truck to the night bazaar for 20 baht each, and began looking there. We came up trumps once again, but it wasn’t a complete waste. Sarah remembered hearing good reviews of a place called Soho Hostel from our friend Duncan. We checked it out, as apparently they had cheap accommodation. It was about the same as anywhere else, it was only cheap if you bought a package deal with them, e.g a bus ticket to Pai, or a day trip. They wouldn’t even take our laundry unless we were staying there. In the end, we went back towards the night bazaar for food, with our clothing in tow.

• We managed to find a lovely local restaurant opposite the sea food restaurant Sarah and I used to eat at during our last visit. Massaman was the dish of the day for the three of us, with Anna ordering hers a little more spicy. After we ate, we wandered around the market stalls for half an hour. It sucked, at the start of our arrival there was talk of visiting the cinema, but because there wasn’t anything on that late, I was now walking around the market. Talk about disappointment, I think I need some guy friends again. I guess by comparison to other visits, half an hour is nothing. We paid a quick visit to a 7Eleven for water, then caught a red truck back to Mountain View Guesthouse. At least the driver knew the way this time.

• When we got back, I made a very patchy Skype call to my mum. The Internet was good, for as long as it lasted, but it continued to cut out throughout the conversation. That little saviour of mine back home had managed to fix the banking crisis I was going through. Claiming a man at the bank told her, the reason my credit card stopped working was because it “timed out”. According to this man, if you make a transaction three times in a row, and it doesn’t get acknowledged by the bank quick enough, it can time out and freeze. The guy could see all the transactions I had tried to make, and everything was back to normal. God bless Janet Howe, the Lightning God.

• Time was getting on by the end of the phone call, and I was feeling really tired. I returned to the room to find Sarah and Anna looking up new accommodation. I joined in and eventually we found somewhere, but by the time we had finished, and had gone through the evening rituals, it was getting on for 1am. I was too tired to think, let alone write about my day. I chose to leave it for the following morning, and I collapsed in bed, going into the deepest sleep I had been in, in a while.

20130421-023502.jpg

20130421-023513.jpg

20130421-023522.jpg

20130421-023530.jpg