Like many travellers, Bangkok was the first place I set foot on Asian soil back in 2009. As a result, I have a bit of a soft spot for it. Landing at 11pm from a chilly Hong Kong, I stepped off the plane to be caressed by Bangkok’s welcome warm humidity: it felt good to be back.
I was struck by a few changes though; to get into the city we boarded the shiny new Airport train (cue old lady voice) – back in my day we had been at the mercy of Bangkok’s taxis. Speaking of taxis, as soon as we arrived at our local MTR we were offered a taxi ride to our hotel for a flat fee of ฿300 (about £6). Good to see some things never change! We politely declined his kind offer (and a subsequent price drop) and flagged down another cab which took us to our hotel for ฿60 (just over £1) using the meter when we asked. I don’t remember it being that easy to get a taxi to use the meter last time!
The first time I came to Bangkok we checked off most of the essential sights such as the Golden Palace. All are spectacular and well worth a visit, but I didn’t feel compelled to revisit them. Instead, we ticked off a few “travel admin” tasks such as cash exchanges, laundry and passport photos. Backpacking is just one long river of glamour, folks. Glamour and the logistics of washing pants.
Laundered underwear complete, we set about re-immersing ourselves in my favourite thing about Thailand: the food. You don’t have to be very intrepid to find great food in Bangkok; we walked down the next road to our hotel and sat at the nearest street food stall and, wearing our biggest smiles, pointed to the food on display and nodded. The smiling vendor produced two steaming plates of pork and tofu fried with beansprouts. Total cost? 80p each.
We revisited a few favourite restaurants from our first visit (including one located in a car park!) as well as the fantastic Queen of Curry which, as the name suggests, does a damn good curry.
We hit Bangkok in early December – just in time for the Kings Birthday (sadly he was too unwell to participate in celebrations). Advised by Lonely Planet that the King’s colour was pink, I donned my pink vest top. This was an excellent excercise in Why You Shouldn’t Blindly Follow A Guidebook…
After eating our way around Bangkok, it was time to head onward to our next Thailand destination: Trat.
Trat is a small town on the way to the South Cambodian border, which is how we found ourselves there for a night. It is a charming little town with some lovely guesthouses. We stayed at the Residang Guest House and had a great time walking to the bustling night market, where we gorged on street food as the sweet old ladies selling stuffed pancakes and fruit shakes chuckled at our attempts to speak Thai.
Craig also treated himself to a £2 much-needed beard trim, which was done by a committee of Thai hairdressers until they were happy with the hair levels on his face – a great spectator sport.
If you are in the area, or fancy a stop on a journey elsewhere in Thailand, you could do a lot worse than Trat!