A Travellerspoint blog

Finishing up in Bangkok

Silom to Sukhimvit

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Yes, I know it's been a while since we were actually in Thailand to now write about our time there, but we have simply been having too much fun travelling to keep our blog up to date :) That, and access to reliable fast intenet isn't always easy to find. Oh yeah... And the creative electical work throughout Cambodia and Vietnam has caused chaos with our phones, to the point that Tyson's wont even turn on and mine thinks it's always 100% charged. So our apologies, but this may become more of a retrospective account of our awesome honeymoon trip which we may have to complete when we get home!

Moving away from Khoa San road, Silom was a nice change from the busy streets of the backpacker district. There was plenty of local food stalls and a night market to explore. I eyed off a few t-shirts I wished to add to my colllection and bargained my way down to $2, which I thought was a reasonable price. We only found out that the market we were visiting was situated in the middle of the red light district after walking around for 15 minutes on the first night and having 20-30 people ask Tyson is he would like to see "A Show" and that there were "plenty of lovely ladies" inside. Declining their invitations as interesting as the shows may have been we continued our shopping and stumbled on some wonderful local eateries on the street that we returned to for dinner the next two nights. Noodles, curries, dimsums, fresh juices, to name a few...Thailand truly has some wonderful food!

For the first section of our trip we had been really lucky with our choice of accommodation (having researched most on the web and checking out the rooms before we paid), and don't get me wrong our Silom accomodation was a nice enough place but slightly quirky perhaps. The small room which we had become quite accustomed to looked clean and comfy, however, there was a window shared with the room next to us, a full wall of frosted window I which you could see figures walking around. This was made worse at night when the next door neighbours left their light on almost all night and the couple on the other side of our solid shared wall decided to do some horizontal dancing (if you know what I mean). The other strange thing was an air-con that had been built into the wall so that it was split between the two rooms (with no remote to change the temperature).The bed turned out to be not so comfy and full of bed bugs so although in a good location we decided it was time to move on after a couple of nights.

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Heading slightly further out as the protests seemed to be getting more heated and clogging up every major intesection we had a few days to relax in Sukhimvit in a lovely hotel with a pool (at a great rate thanks to a last minute hotel deal). One of the best things here was...the massive Tesco next door! Supermarkets (especially overseas) are one of my favourite things to explore. Checking out the prices and strange snacking options. Not to mention the overly converluted purchasing processes for fruit and veg (three people involved before you take it to the check out). There was also a fantastic food court in the Tesco building where we both ate lunch everyday for a fraction of the price of one meal back home in Australia.

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Our time in Thailand was over for now and we then began the jouney into Cambodia. Stashing our left over Baht away and ready for the bumpy bus ride into the next country, I was sad to be leaving so quickly but knew that we still have Northern Thailand to explore later on, and that we were closer to seeing the awesome Angkor Wat (every traveller we came across that had visited only had amazing things to say, increasing my anticipation and excitement for our time in Siem Reap).

Bye for now,
Kez

Posted by TJKJ 03:21 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand silom tesco Comments (0)

Khao San Road

Backpacker capital of SE Asia

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After doing it local style at the weekend market we changed things up, booked into a guesthouse near Khao San road and got our bogan aussie traveller on. Yes, I say this because with our singlets on we toured the streets to find that there were more backpakers than local Thai people and that English was a main language being spoken. The main shopping strip sold plenty of fruit shakes, soccer tops, souvenirs and what I would call hippie pants (from the looks of all the foreigners walking around wearing them they had been doing a roaring trade). It seemed funny to us that both guys and girls were walking around in these loose elephant print flowing pants, I'm not so sure they were ment to be unisex but I couldnt imagine anyone refusing a sale, especially when most tourists pay double what they should due to their fear of bartering.

The shopping bar and resturant strip was packed and had an amazing energy about it. I thought I would have been happy to sit and watch for hours but it soon became annoying to hear drunken idiots talking about what tattoo they were about to get or flirting with the sales ladies who convinced them to buy several lazer pointers, bracelets and single roses, all for a rediculously expensive rate. So did we leave instead of getting too annoyed you ask? Well....as Ron Burgundy "when in Rome" :)

Several cocktails ($1.50 each) and beers later we found ourselves in the middle of everything. Drinking, chatting, making random friends, eating banana nutella pancakes, and probably the highlight of our time in Khao San road, meeting KFC - Kevin from Cambodia. Kevin was full of stories, telling us how he used to run the scams at the Thai / Cambodia border, what life was like for him in Cambodia and how much he liked to party. This was very evident by the buckets, and I actually mean buckets of spirits he drank all while puffing away on his shiska (which he was more than happy to offer us again and again). It was early in the morning with the music booming that i saw three of the funniest things of our travels so far.

Number one was the traffic police coming down the street which created a chain reaction of all the stalls and bars moving their entire stores off the street, getting people to stand with their drinks and quickly sliding chairs behind walls, rows of clothes that may have been a sale moments earlier folding down so fast that I could hardly believe that there was a shop there 30 seconds earlier. 10 minutes later the street expanded back out from the sidewalks onto the road and the party resumed.

The second was when we were watching the Australian open on tv and having to drink out of tea cups and shake containers. Why you ask? No, its not just a quirky Thai thing, it was because of the elections. On voting or pre election days the sale of alcohol is prohibited. But in true Thai spirit (never say no to a chance of a sale) they had found a way around looking like they were selling it.
The last was watching Tyson and Kevin havin a calf off. Yep, Kevin thougt he could compete with the Priddle calf genes hehe.

We had a great time staying in the backpacker area but when I think back about our time we could have been anywhere in the world, it didnt seem like authentic Thailand and whilst it was a lot of fun I was happy after a few days of partying to move to another suburb (Silom) in Bangkok and enjoy more new experiences.
Kez

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Leo beer promotion lady at the bar called "golf bar cocktails very strong, we do not check id"
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Our new friend Kevin from Cambodia, all of us looking a little chirpy
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Posted by TJKJ 07:27 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok Comments (0)

Amphawa floating market

Weekend market for locals

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As the weekend was fast approaching we decided (well I did, as I thought there could be some good shopping involved) that visiting a floating market would be a great oppurtunity to see some more of rural Thailand. Instead of choosing one of the main "tourist friendly" markets like Damnoen we made our minds up to try our luck at Amphawa.

Backpacks attached we made our way to the bus station to get a mini van to Amphawa, this proved to be a little challenging in itself. The train network in Bangkok was amazing! Clean, air conditioned and always on time (with most trains arriving every three to five minutes-something that i could only dream about happening back home). This made it easy enough to get to the bus station, however after trying to read many different signs written in Thai, and several mispronounced attempts to speak in thai we managed to purchase a ticket for on a mini van to what we hoped was the right destination. What we didn't realize at the time was that we would be elbowed out of the way by locals upon boarding, forcing us to take the only two seats left at the very back on the mini van. Normally this wouldnt worry me, but the back seats were higher than the rest, meaning if you wanted to look out the window you had to crouch down to get a glimps of the countryside, all whilst sitting with our backpacks on our laps (so glad we packed light and small packs as it could have been much worse!).

Arriving safe and slightly stiff in Amphawa our first thoughts were to find somewhere to sleep for the night. After walking around town a lovely lady came to our rescue offering us a place to stay (we would have stood out so bady, anglo foreigners with backpacks walking the streets did not seem to happen too often round there). The room was right on the river front and came with mosquito net and padlock for the door, perfect for a good nights sleep after exploring the market. The market was fantastic! full of fresh produce, seafood, traditional snacks (also fairy floss to my suprise) and hundreds of thai people. Both sides of the river were packed with permanent stalls and whilst there was little to no english spoken that didnt stop us having some amazing food and drinking with the locals on the balcony whilst watching the energy of the market until the late hours.
It was well worth the mini van ride and I would highly recommend it as a place to visit for anyone staying in Bangkok.

Kez

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Posted by TJKJ 01:07 Archived in Thailand Tagged market thailand floating amphawa Comments (0)

Backpacking begins in Bangkok

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Although we felt like zombies arriving in Bangkok after a full day of travel it had sence of familiarty about it, stange as i've never been to Bagkok before. The smells, the food stalls, ubundance of motor cycles carrying whole families, carts selling fresh fruits all cut up and ready to devour, yep, it was good to be back in thailand.
The first couple of nights were spent in Sukhimvit (soi 38) a peacful area that seemed to have many expats. I had an amazing green curry that cost a total $2 followed by a 50c orange and pinapple juice. The location served as the perfect base to explore central bangkok, wat pho, and the royal palace without being too close to the protests (which blocked ever major intesection througout the city).
The protest sites appeared to be calm by day, with majority of people sitting around eating food and chatting. The only way of telling that it was out of the norm were the masssive stages in the middle of the intesections from which music and speeches were constantly broadcasted, and the somewhat creepy use of whistles by the protesters to show their support.
More of Bangkok to come,
Kez :)

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Posted by TJKJ 00:26 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok protests tourists sukhumvit Comments (0)

Luxury in paradise

Boracay

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We were so excited to be heading to Borocay. It was a destination we had only heard good things about, although i can't say we were thrilled with needing a Domestic flight to Kalibo and then a 2 hour Bus from Kalibo to Cataclan, before a fifteen minute ferry to the island and then finally a short bus to our hotel Regency Lagoon. The bus ride although a little bumpy was worthwhile, as we got to get out of the city and see some of the small towns along the way - one of those interesting sights was that of the many Cock (Rooster for the kids at home) farms producing Cocks to then fight in many of the arenas which are also televised on local TV.

Kerrin had certainly done her research for the hotel, although we weren't right on the waterfront we were located in Station 2 right in the action and only a short walk or buggy (provided by hotel) to sister resort where we had access to beds/towels/pool and prime location on the beach. When we first saw the water on the white sand beach we were absolutely blown away, photos just don't do the deep blue water justice. The water was a great temperature and we spent most of our time in the ocean rather than in the pool at our hotel - the view may have also had something to do with this.

After being to Phuket and Penang, Borocay certainly had a similar but different feel. This is probably due to the fact there were more Korean/Japanese/Chinese and Russian tourists rather than white westerners wanting to get smashed every night - however, I'm sure if you looked you could have found that as well here as we did see a few pub crawl tshirts which I'm sure would have passed through the Hobbit bar - a bar where only "short statured" people work and despite my own lack of height, I still probably had a metre on most of them!

Kerrin was a bit disappointed with the markets, the tacky souvenirs, pens, Ray Bans, waterproof cases, wooden Catholic artefacts, braiding, magnets and henna tattoos got a bit repetitive but we didn't care that much as we weren't really there for that. My biggest disappointment came when Chelsea banged in three against Man United at a Sports bar in front of 30 of the only English blokes on the island. Unfortunately my lack of Korean meant I couldn't converse with my fellow Man United fans!

There was a heap of watersports on offer if you wanted it, but considering we can Kite surf any day of the week on Altona beach we decided to give it a miss and had done the jetski things on numerous occassions. We tried our best to break our "honeymoon" budget of $100 per day (between us) but even after a massage each, lunch, coffee (they may have been for our alias Jason and Karen), a seafood dinner and several San Miguel Lights the highest we got was $87. The D'Talipapa seafood market was sensational, we had a great time picking out fresh and live seafood to be cooked by many of the restaurants nearby offering a cooking service at half the price of what the restaurants on the waterfront were offering. We had a sensational time in Borocay and would go back in a heartbeat, this was the end of the luxury budget and accomodation though and after leaving Borocay at 7am and arriving Bangkok at 10pm we were ready to start SE Asia on a Shoestring.

Posted by TJKJ 03:52 Archived in Philippines Tagged beaches philippines paradise borocay Comments (0)

It begins, we are off!

Manila

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Manila
Where do we start? After months of planning, many years putting off travel due to work, study and other commitments - we've finally bit the bullet and we're away on an adventure. For me I think the strangest things will be having to live out of a backpack and not going back to work for a while!

We kicked off our trip staying at the Armada Hotel, which was in Malate within walking distance to Manila Bay as well as Rizal Park and Intramuros. However we quickly found out from walking along the waterfront to Rizal Park, that white foreigners are probably best to catch taxis everywhere as we became target to a number of blatantly obvious pickpocket attempts. Once we got used to this, despite the traffic it was a fairly easy to get around. Each traffic light stop was an interesting experience, with each taxi driver making sure our doors were locked so that beggars and car sellers/vendors (who sold everything from papers to drinks to hat racks!) could not open the doors to hassle us. A large number of Filipinos get around in Jeepneys, but we stuck to the taxis as we couldn't figure out how they worked and the lack of air conditioning was certainly a turn off! The highlight for us was probably Intramuros a closed off city within the city that used to be occupied by the Spanish. The country appears to be heavily influenced by its Spanish background in addition to America. We were surprised to see that every second kid had a basketball in his hand rather than a soccer ball and the American food chains, baseball caps and the 1km line at the United States embassy (which was huge).

Although we are on a backpacker budget we spent a fair bit of time at the local malls, first we went to SM City Manila which was an interesting experience with the Males and Females put in seperate lines to go through security which included x-ray machines and pat downs. We seemed to get lighter treatment than the locals though. We then went to Mall of Asia one of the largest malls in the world, so large that there was an ice rink right in the middle as well as thousands of shops aimed at expats and tourists hoping to snap up a bargain.

Day three we went to Greenbelt, which is located in Makati. Although a much smaller and older shopping centre than Mall of Asia, the five wings were seperated by beautiful gardens and had an awesome entertainment area which we stayed at sipping cheap cocktails and cheap San Miguels! We enjoyed our time in Manila but after three days we were certainly pining for some beach and luxury in Borocay after everything we've heard about it.

Posted by TJKJ 23:46 Archived in Philippines Tagged philippines manila Comments (0)

Counting down the days

Honeymoon here we come!

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Some people say that your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, one that you will remember for years to come...... is it bad then to be just as excited about our honeymoon as I was for the wedding itself?
Sure, there was buying the dress and picking the flower, theme, hair, table decorations, wine and food selections but that has all past. The new excitement for me comes from reading travel blogs, checking out lonely planet guide and planning our trip to SE Asia.
Even before talking to friends or travel agents we had made our mind up that 5 month in Asia would be much better than 5 week in Europe or the US. After all, there comes a point in ones life where they are not willing to rough it and backpack around, sleeping in dodgy hostels, eating street food. I know I for one am not too far from this point. Its only a matter of time until there is a mortgage to pay and kids on the way, it's now or never. Let the adventure begin!
Kez

Posted by TJKJ 02:26 Archived in Australia Tagged planning getting_ready Comments (1)

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