Thought I’d Be Crabby In Krabi

The last night in the hotel proved to be…… interesting to say the least, and for fear of offending some I won’t go into full detail.

Evening started with a 3 hour long chat with Mike, from Scotland.. he’s 44, has MS down one side of his body, and – together with his wife – is 3/4 of the way on his round the world trip.

This guy has seen a lot, and he gave some amazing and inspiring advice, we talked about my budget and he said it’s gonna be tough and I’ll have to slum it, but it’s absolutely do-able. I always knew budget would be a problem, but after speaking to Mike he allayed my fears so long as I know to reign it in.

It was after speaking to him that I decided on my next step and the place I was going to stay for the next stage. The Pak-Up hostel in Krabi Town.

Why Krabi? Well…

Krabi picture courtesty of travelourplanet | cc

Not my photo, Photo courtesy of ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/travelourplanet/##Travelourplanet## | ##http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/##cc by
2.0##

All the reviews on TripAdvisor showed this to be the best possible place for a budget and not willing to put up with any troubles. So, booked, looked at how to get there from Bangkok and settled in for the last night at Imm Fusion Sukhumvit.

At some point a girl turned up, Lita, from Denmark but half South African.. she’d arrived with a local, Pong, both wasted. Turns out he’s a taxi driver, bottle of vodka in hand. She was pushing for him to leave and me and Mike both wouldn’t allow it so she handed over the keys to her room and let him sleep it off.

Then we all got chatting and she’s in Bangkok for cosmetic surgery, after having two kids she has stretch marks and she’s not happy with various other parts of her body, so she shelled out 200,000 baht (£4,000) and she was checking in tomorrow. After various remarks from the staff for her to keep it down, and me and Mike both trying to calm her down the evening turned out to be pretty easy going and I like to think I’ve made a couple of friends from this chance meeting.

To cut a long story short, it was 6am before we turned in, and by then a Moroccan guy and a French girl had joined in the fun. By the end of the night it was just me, Lita and the French girl left and.. well.. the first sentence of this blog says enough.

I woke up at 1pm to the telephone ringing “Hello, would you like to check out, or would you like to stay another day?” The receptionist politely asked.. I realised it was well past checkout at 12 noon and apologised profusely. She let me have an hour to get ready to check out and I showered, made ready, checked out and stayed in the cool of the hotel, recovering.

Lita joined me around 3pm, looking as red eyed as I was, we shared a hair of the dog and chatted. Turns out she missed her op appointment, the doctor wasn’t happy, but managed to get her an appointment the next day. Then the French girl turned up and we chatted some more, but I had to go and get the train down south to Krabi.

A beautiful sunset to send me off from Bangkok, turns out Thailand has air pollution too!

A beautiful sunset to send me off from Bangkok, turns out Thailand has air pollution too!

Didn’t even think of pre-booking, so I turned up at the train station at Hua Luamphong expecting a lovely choice of seats.. mistake #1, the only thing left before the 27th was 3rd class non-sleeping.. I’d already booked the hostel, and taking Mike’s advice from yesterday thought that no matter what, I’ll get to my destination through hell or high water, and even if it’s non-sleeping, I’m sure I’ll grab some hours kip.

It cost 507 Baht for the train to Surat Thani, plus a bus (I thought) to Krabi. I had half an hour to wait so I stocked provisions for the trip, grabbed a hot meal then sat and waited.

The train was called – platform 4 – I headed down to the train and must have walked past 15 carriages, 1 first (first class) 2 second (second class) and muggins at the very end in 3rd.. Jesus.. no frills indeed, and won’t be taking advantage fo the free water

3rd class sleeper train to Surat Thani

Yum, fresh as a daisy water!

After choosing the wrong seat and being ousted by the right ticket holders, I looked at my ticket and put myself down on the right seat opposite a young girl, what a wonder though to have open windows as you’re riding half way down the country – shame it was going to be dark for all but 2 hours of it.

As we set off, hawkers stormed up selling everything you’d need, so long as it was foreigner priced food and drinks – though I was determined before the end of the journey to haggle my first purchase, I’m not paying double just because I’m travelling!

Through central Bangkok, along the river, passing by shanty town living and destitution, yet everyone’s chugging along. Material possessions don’t have such a hold on these folk. Lodging, food and – well, heat! – seem to be the primary concern.. I’m envious in a certain regard for them to have such moral fortitude despite facing hardship while I’m stressing about my next iPhone contract, or that I can’t go out every other night..

On the sleeper train just outside bangkok

Beautiful tree lights just outside Bangkok

After leaving Bangkok it was pretty dark all around, such a shame because I could make out palm trees, hear us going over rivers and bridges, but it was dark and I’d have to wait until sunrise, we’d come across the occasional station, or level crossing, or some habited place, but all in all it was pretty bland.

Everyone else seemed to fall asleep, me and the girl opposite had picked up another in our booth of 2×2 seats and he sat her side so I had two to myself, then why couldn’t I bloody well sleep?? Everyone else in the coach was snoring! It seemed every conceivable position had something sticking in my back/neck/leg dead/dead arse.. No.. sleep… till Krabi!

After 7 hours attempting, and around 2 hours of broken sleep, I thought sod it there’s no chance, and pulled out the pad and paper to draw and while away the hours.. The hawkers had stopped out of respect of people sleeping so there was only one or two people awake. I was in and out of the vestibule because you could smoke in there. Amazing – open doored train, one jolt and I could have been out into the fetid parallel ditches!

As it got closer to Surat Thani, the dawn broke.. excited as I was on the right side to see the sunrise, I hit a storm, pissing it down and clouding over the first chance I’ve had at seeing a far East sunrise. Ah well, plenty more to come I suspect.

Storm brewing in Southern Thailand

Storm brewing

The daylight did give me an opportunity to take some photos of the scenery I’ve been missing out on all sleepless night, varied from relatively opulent houses, to beautiful temples, to jungle and to destitute.

Southern Thailand destitute houses

Destitute houses en-route to Krabi

Southern Thailand more opulent houses

One of the more opulent houses en-route to Krabi

Finally arrived at Surat Thani at 7:15am 45 minute wait for the bus to Krabi. The usual cries of “tuk tuk?” or “taxi” as I left the station for a cigarette and towards the bus station. Queue was pretty big, so there wasn’t enough room for me on the first – luxury air conditioned – bus, instead I was bustled onto some rusty, suspension issued, cramped, leaking, ugly ass bus from the 1940’s.. I was surprised the suspension could handle the 40 bags loaded into the back seats.

Bus 1 lasted around an hour, then we hit an intermediate bus station to pick up people coming from the south, and headed to Krabi on a different bus (the same bus, we had to get off and unload our bags only to be told this was the right bus) – then to the stunning XX pier for another interchange onto a minibus to Krabi – 2 hours and a final interchange to Krabi town.. the 1 luxurious bus I was hoping for, and advised would be the case thanks to an online source I won’t mention – turned into 2 buses, 1 minibus and a taxi to Krabi.. still only 557 baht all-in, but sheesh. This journey took longer than my flight from the UK to Thailand, including Vietnam
stopover!

BUT! The icing on the cake, Krabi town is a lot more sedate than Bangkok, with promise of short journeys to the most beautiful beaches and islands – I’ll check them out tomorrow, for now I’m relaxing again, doing my washing and not thinking what is going to come next.

How To Lose 500 Baht In A Bangkok Hotel

Here I was, cursing the drunken Welsh tourists yesterday and I have to eat my own hat today..

Last night I was jet-lagged, body-tired, but also excited about being in Thailand. I’d had a few beers – nothing to make me drunk, not by a long shot – couple that with the above and taking some sleeping tablets to knock me out and I was set for a great nights sleep.

Woke up at 5:45 am, the air con was making noise like a windy Lincolnshire night and blissfully cold, but something wasn’t quite right.. I turned over and saw something out of the corner of my eye, felt for it and felt wet – God I hadn’t wet the bed had I?!?! Gingerly sniffed my hand and found it to be beer (phew..) I’d done the old ‘falling asleep with a bottle of half-full (always the optimist) beer in my hand’ trick and paid the price.

White linen, when confronted with Chang beer, goes dark grey!! I was slightly freaking out that it had stained the mattress, so I stripped the bed and sighed at least some relief when I found it hadn’t. I put all the linen on the floor with the towels so it looked like I was being helpful, rather than hiding the evidence.

My sheets at the hotel, after being washed in beer

The linen had to go!

That’s not the worst of it.. Overnight it seems the weight of my laptop on the rather fragile bedside glass-topped table was too much, the 500 degrees heat it puts out the fan probably didn’t help either, it had cracked in two pieces..

Shit!

I tried everything, putting the two pieces together so that you could only notice it side-on, cunningly placing the bedside lamp over it and running the power cable right over the crack. I resigned that I’d probably have to tell someone, but that it didn’t need to be right then, at 6 am..

It was like that when I found it, honest guv

Look, you can’t see it at all!

This also came after a night where I asked for the usual 2-for-1 Chang beers, put one behind the bar, and came back 2 hours later to an innocent look from the person who I thought had served me, calling me out for being a liar! I know I have a bad memory, but these were beers 3 and 4, way before forgetting time.. She gave me the freebie, but when I went back later to get beers 5 and 6, she – via a handy local translator – thought I was asking for 2 free beers, I said that I was prepared to pay for both, of course, but this re-ignited the earlier conversation and I was left with bowing out and saying I’d only have the one, for the 2-for-1 price.. sigh..

I intentionally came on this trip to be respectful.. and In the first two days I’ve vandalised my room and nigh on insulted the staff!

Oh but still, lesson learned and check out the pool, nice!

View from my room to the pool, it's just the right temperature after a hot day out.

View from my room to the pool, it’s just the right temperature after a hot day out.

After watching Nacho Libre badly dubbed in Thai, I went down for breakfast because I couldn’t sleep after all the stress, and – if anything – the air-con was too cold! Breakfast looked decidedly dodgy, all fried egg and salad and some weird meats with noodles.. croissant it was! Did something quite stupid and had the juice and a coffee – not sure if juice is okay to drink if you don’t know the source, so I won’t be doing that again.. 120 Baht (£2.40) for two mini croissants, some juice and a coffee – not that cheap, won’t be doing that again either..

Showered after breakfast and wandered out, the road looked way too suicidally busy to risk crossing

If you're contemplating suicide, try Bangkok's road crossings

If you’re contemplating suicide, try Bangkok’s road crossings

I went further down the road to find a crossing and came across a 7-11, they’re all over the place in Bangkok and I know where I’ll get my shopping from in future.. 8 Baht (16p) for water and 10 Baht (20p) for a bottle of juice (of unknown flavour, it was orange coloured) didn’t check the beer prices but I imagine they’re a lot cheaper than 100 Baht.

Sadly on the way back I witnessed one of Thailand’s big problems, stray dogs.. they’re everywhere, seriously, they don’t seem to bother anyone and no-one seems to bother with them, each one that goes unspayed/neutered though, leads to an exponential increase year after year.

Stray dogs are a huge problem in Bangkok

Just one of many, many stray dogs on the streets of Bangkok

Dogs aren’t the only ones either, stray cats everywhere, though I’ve seen more dogs.

Stray cats are also a big problem in Bangkok

Kitty taking respite from the beating sun

I loaded up the day’s trappings, camera, meds, cash monies etc.. and because of the Skytrain’s 30 second walk from the hotel I thought I’d take a random trip into the centre.. 40 Baht (80p) for a 9 stop ticket, not too bad, not amazingly cheap though either – clocked the Tesco Lotus nearby, will check that out later, looks massive – hopefully I can get some flip-flops there, cause I sure in hell can’t find any anywhere in central Bangkok..

Got on the air-conned Skytrain and found it to be as rammed as the tube, but at least it was cool and I guess rush hour at 8:30 am, then took the 9 stops to Siam. Siam is pretty touristy, you can tell where the tourists go because it’s slightly cleaner and you see more English language everywhere, I’d always thought Siam to be a magical sounding place (turns out Thailand was called Siam before ’39 and after ’45 to ’49.. learn your history Matt!)

Street art in Bangkok

Street art exists in SE Asia too

Street art in Bangkok

More street art in Siam

Seeing only modern looking, English speaking outlets dismayed me a little, but when in Rome – I had a coffee at a rather plush looking coffee shop with free wifi and noticed the cup summed up my journey.

My inspiring coffee cup with an awesome quote

“Welcome to your place, escape from all your worries, sit, relax, sip and surf”

It put me in high spirits to see this obvious portent, I checked the map and planned a route due West towards the river, this was the route I actually took:

My route map in Bangkok, Thailand for the 2nd day

Route that I took, a bit haphazard I’ll grant you

The route I took, kind of on purpose, led me down the real Bangkok streets – you can tell because there’s no English language on anything.. As cities go, it’s not at all like London, it’s dirty, it’s not clean lines and straight angles, there’s loads of vendors on the streets – mostly selling food – and there’s extremely few chains of shops. The power lines are overhead, not underground too:

Overground power lines in Bangkok

Wouldn’t like to accidentally dry my clothes on one of these lines

And there’s an insane amount of shops that put a smile on my face every time:

Goldsmiths are famous worldwide

Halfway round the world, I’m famous!

All-in-all, apart from the odd looks at this ‘farang‘ in their midst, the people were pretty nice – I got stopped a few times by people not trying to sell me anything, just for a chat. This is exactly what I wanted to see, not the polished temple floors, the sanitised hotels or the McDonald’s’s – I wanted to see gritty urban life.

Then you look at the type of shops there, after wandering a while you see so many moped/scooter repairs, parts and sales shops, hundreds of furniture outlets, countless manufacturing places that you get a sense of how they’ve built their economy.

Bangkok petrol prices are cheap

UK drivers beware, the 29.79 baht (60p) per litre is under half what you’re paying in the UK, jealous much?

It’s hectic, it’s noisy, the smells range from tantalisingly tasty, to obnoxious chemical/petrol/industrial smells – there’s something so enthralling about it all. It leaves you wondering just how it all works there. After doubling back on myself, having insane crotch rub from the badly chosen jeans for the day and 4 hours walking in the 33 degrees, I had to go back to the hotel. The closer I got, the more worried I was about the broken glass table..

Imm Fusion Sukhumvit Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

Back at the Hotel Imm Fusion Sukhumvit

Made it back to the hotel, past reception without an “Excuse me” straight up to my room and noticed the cleaners were on the same floor as my room.. went in and the bed had been made but the table was moved! Resigned myself to going down after a shower to explain. Didn’t even get in the shower before I got a call from reception saying the cleaners had busted me, so I said I’d go down after the shower, cash in hand to say sorry and pay for the damage.

So there you go, that’s how you lose 500 Baht in a Bangkok hotel – just leave your laptop on and fall asleep.

It’s around 5:30 pm here (10:30 am UK time) and I doubt I’ll be heading out again today, I really need to get my act in gear and work out whether I’m staying in Bangkok another day (at a cheaper hotel/hostel/guest house) or heading down to the islands, maybe I’ll eat out later, check back in a couple days for the next instalment if my laptop doesn’t melt.