Thailand: 2nd May – 14th May, Bangkok & Khaolak.
After disembarking from one bus at the Cambodian-Thai border, we collected our bags, and slogged our way through two passport/visa checkpoints. Just to paint a picture, they were approximately a kilometre away from each other, and the outside temperature was approximately 6,000 degrees Celsius in the shade. Not to mention, foreigners had to go up 30 stairs to get to the Thailand registration office. Those hand held fans came into their own that day, let us tell you.
After that we waited outside in the scorching sun, with 10 other sorry souls, waiting for the worlds smallest bus to come pick us up.
That’s right guys. The next six hours were to be spent crammed in an at-full-capacity mini-van, with negligible aircon and no radio. We got to know each other real well, real quick.That’s how we met Jamie and Carlos; two little cuties from Brisbane. They’d been travelling together through South East Asia, before settling “somewhere in Europe” using their dual citizenship working visas covering the next five years. “Five year visa?!?”, we hear you say? Yeah, we thought it was pretty damn rude, too.
The boys had already been through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, with their next scheduled step to be Nepal. Due to the horrible situation in Nepal (the first earthquake had just happened), they postponed their trip. Jamie was saying how they still wanted to go, and help with the relief efforts and cleanups, but also didn’t want to be a burden on the Nepalese society, as more mouths to feed and more people to find shelter for. Here are the most clever 21 year olds we’ve met in a long time, ladies gentlemen.
We all tumbled out of the mini van at Khao San road; where Jamie and Carlos proceeded to lead up to “Thailands Best Pad Thai”. Big call guys; but we’ll give it a whirl. We’d like to say, that after trying copious amounts of Pad Thai over the next twelve days (twist our arms, why don’t you?), only once did we find a Pad Thai that even came close to the Khao San Road magnificence.
After sitting on the curb and devouring our pad thai; the boys went and bought scorpions on a stick.
They even let us share their scorpions; who said chivalry is dead? Saved us finding an excuse not to eat a whole one of our own too. Winning at weirdo food life.
We parted ways, they headed for their luxury hotel suite. After taking us to where all the taxis congregate, they even offered us theirs to go first instead of being left to fend for ourselves. Awwww. It’s Okay boys, we’ll be perfectly fine! Or so we thought.
Ashleigh was halfway through putting her bag in the back seat when the stupid driver decided that when the door was open and someone was half in the taxi was the opportune moment to start driving. She nearly had a whole heap of newly broken bones to add to her current collection.
After somehow arriving at our hostel injury free, we sat at the bar of Bodega hostel that night (it was recommended by our friend UK James from way back when in Xi’an), sipping on cocktails and celebrating a seamless transition into Thailand. Thats when we started looking at all the giant receipt ribbons pinned over the bar like badges of honour…. and wait a minute! … That’s James!!
The waitress even remembered UK James, and proceeded to tell us all the stories she had of his stay there (evidently he’s a huge fan of drunken nudity) and then showed us a photo on her facebook page that she took of him half naked, mooning the camera. Stay Klassy UK James!
Not long after that, we received a video message from Jamie taking us on a video-tour of their magnificent, double room apartment suite; complete with them wearing white robes and photos of the pool. We watched, with accompanied “oh my god”s and general outcry as everyone in the bar clearly wondered what the hell we were doing.
The next morning, we caught the skytrain to the giant Chatachuk market. Once again we didn’t buy anything that we had to carry; just a plethora of fruit, including mango and sticky rice from the best dressed vendor lady in history, and then sampled the local coconut ice-cream.
That afternoon, we met the boys for The Avengers 2. It was so hot, we needed air conditioning, didn’t want to go shopping and were seriously craving some Marvel, so it was win/win/win as far as we were concerned.
We spent our last morning in Bangkok at one of the biggest shopping centres you’ve ever seen.
We spent the whole time rationalising what we *could* buy, and what we would therefore throw out in exchange.
After that we made our way to a lovely domestic flight and headed to Phuket (price difference) found our hotel transfer and headed to the lovely beachside town of Khaolak for the next ten days, to spend Katia’s birthday having fun in the sun with a pool-access hotel room all to ourselves.
We spent the next ten days getting to know the local area, wandering down to Bang Niang Market (which is on every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday nights) for excellent local “street” food and general shopping. This is where we bought quintessential Thailand baggy pants in preparation for India, tried Thailand’s Second Best Pad Thai, and made friedns with the people at the Shakes and Cocktails hut, convincing them to make us Banana Shakes (frozen smoothies) with a metric tonne of white rum in them. Best. Idea Ever.
It was during one of these escapades, we met two awesome couples (Steph and Toni and their hilarious husbands) from Coffs Harbour who were having some strange, highly alcoholic version of “long island iced teas” that basically looked like vodka with lemon. They proceeded to show us photos AKA brag about their amazing beachfront villa, with private pool overlooking the ocean. After a lot of fawning and cooing, we broke the news that we weren’t actually coming home for another 9 months and are in fact on an 11 month around the world trip. That’s when Toni’s husband exclaimed that we had well and truly won that round and that they’d brought out all their cards way too early, and had nothing left to play. He seemed pretty impressed about our “lay-in-wait” technique! We then proceeded to list AKA brag about the forty countries we intend on visiting ver the next year.
They were all so lovely, and we all had a good chat about Khaolak, their travels, our travels and then Toni shouted us a round of our new Banana Daiquiris (which was so lovely) and were on their way to dinner at their amazing resort.
We went for beachside dinners, worked on our tans, swam in the sun and read a few too many books. Katia’s birthday was spent in stellar surprise style. After giving hugs and presents and upsidedown-written birthday cards (Ashleigh’s fault on that one; it all looked the same on the inside!!);
Sam and Ash organised a surprise breakfast table set up, which the Fanari Resort staff were more than happy to help with.
The hotel staff also knocked on our door with a suprprise fruit platter later that morning. So sweet.
And we went for a wonderful dinner at Smile Restaurant in Khaolak proper, a French-Thai fusion restaurant owned by a quirky Frenchmen named Franck, who seemed to have an aversion to shoes: a perfect trait for the person hosting Katia’s birthday dinner! Via email, Franck had helped arrange a surprise birthday cake; and he exceeded our already well met expectations by bringing out several novelty money-boxes from god knows where, for Katia to choose one as a birthday present.
We spent the rest of Khaolak in much the same fashion as Ladies of Leisure; deciding one day to name our Giant Backpacks, considering they’re a huge part of our lives right now.
Introducing, from the left: Shaniqua, John Candy and Big Bertha; Formally known as Katia’s bag, Ashleigh’s Bag and Sam’s Bag, respectively. Honestly guys, it is the best, most hilarious idea we’ve ever had.
We sadly said good-bye to our pool access room, and bundled John, Shaniqua, Bertha and ourselves into a mini van; time to fly to India!