Finally arrived back in Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong train station, then got the Metro, changing at Mo Chit, to get on the Sukhumvit line train to Punnawithi station. This was where the room I’d booked the day before was supposed to be.
I got off and walked up the road, heavy bags in tow, got around half a kilometre before giving in and realising it wasn’t that way at all – stopped and asked in one of the ever-present 7/11‘s for ‘Merlin’s Lodge‘, they were none the wiser. So I walked back to the BTS station and found the nearest café with WiFi to hole up in and take stock.
It was then – when my emails started working – that I got an email from Merlin’s Lodge saying HostelBookers.com had cocked up the booking and the price I was quoted online was based on two people sharing, so twice the price, and would I like to cancel the reservation. I agreed and started looking for the next place instead via TripAdvisor.co.uk.
A highly rated, inexpensive guest house called Soi 1 Guest House was recommended as a place without tourists and for those seeking the true nature of backpacking – result! I finished my coffee and hopped onto the BTS for 8 or so stops to Phloen Chit.
When I arrived, still not very clear where in relation to the station my guest house was, I asked the nearest security guard. He pointed me in the wrong direction, I realised when I crossed the road. So I crossed back over and avoided asking him again and took the road my map appeared to show as the right one.
Half way down it closed off to a private residence, so I asked the lady peeling fruit outside her house where to find the right Soi (side street), she motioned over the road and one more road up. So I walked, and walked, and walked and walked and walked – about 1 kilometre in total. Realising once again I had the wrong road I holed up in a quaint little restaurant for a shake and to gather my bearings. The lady was right, it was one street up, but not the other side of the road.
I was buggered if I was going to walk down that long ass road again, so I hailed the nearest taxi and tried to show him on the map. He didn’t speak a word of English so he passed his mobile to me to speak to the controller who gathered where I was going and told the driver.
After 20 minutes or so I was outside the rather unassuming Soi 1 Guest House. The fare was 55 Baht but I had 53 in coins, or a 1000 Baht note.. he balked at the note so he caved to the 53 Baht.
I walked in and up to the 2nd floor reception, met a beautiful Thai girl behind the counter called Jenny and asked pleadingly if there was a room. Result! 8 man dorm and one bed left, so I took it for 400 Baht per night, stuff trying to find cheaper, I was knackered and needed a shower.
She showed me to my room and I met the residents, all Aussies and Americans, so guaranteed good chat and a laugh. One Aussie, Sebastian, was looking for a local arcade to play some games, I asked if they had pinball and it turns out they did. So after showering, chatting and introducing, and then hearing an almighty bang outside that turned out to be the power transforming giving out to the heat and needing repait.. 5 of us headed to the MBK mall in National Stadium, a ride to Siam, change, and one more stop.
On arrival, it’s huge! 7 floors, 1 clothes, 2 iPhones/tablets/gadgets, 2 food, 1 camera porn level and 1 entertainment. After checking out the food floor and grabbing a photobooth moment with the crew, we headed up to the top floor to play arcade games and most importantly – pinball!
30 Baht, and 5 games later I secured my nickname in potentially Bangkok’s only Pirates of the Carribbean pinball machine, scoring the Davy Jones high score! Farang or not I’m still kick-ass at pinball!
Some of the crew had headed down to eat, and when I’d finished, me and Sebastian also headed down for some Thai food before heading back to the guest house around 5 to chill out before a night out on the town.
I’d had enough though, worn out from my journey up, and knowing if I went out I’d come back at 9am, I grabbed an insanely expensive beer from the guest house reception (80 Baht, double and more than I’ve been paying before) and sat in the common room catching up on Facebook and chilling out. By the time the others had woken up I’d moved onto Black Label and coke for 100 Baht, reasoning it was less expensive in the long run (wrong!) and we all sat and gathered talking about stereotypical Brits, Aussies and Americans.
Most went out around 10/11, leaving a few of usleft to chat more in depth about the respective cultures. David, the guest house owner, and officially Thailand’s first guest house ex-pat owner, had turned up to chat and give advice. This guy – apart from trying to push us all on his pub crawl for NYE the next day – was stuffed full of amazing advice, not just for Thailand, he’s been everywhere. He also strangely has a Dutch twang to his accent!
After whiling away the hours, and drinking David out of Jonny Walker, I crashed for the night around 2-ish. Woke up around 10am to pack up, grab the minivan to Hua Hin from Victory Monument roundabout and join Peter and his family for a few days.
Despite the driver’s 120km/h driving, he was actually quite good and managed to get me to Hua Hin central around 2:30pm. I holed up in ‘The Shed’ guest house for a long deserved pineapple shake and texted Peter’s phone to tell him I had arrived.