21-22.2.2017 Bangkok to Koh Mook, Koh Muk, Ko Mok…… whatever…

As usual we are leaving Bangkok early evening so have a whole day of wandering, killing time, until the overnight bus takes us to our Thai island paradise.

Rucksacks packed, amazingly there seems to be some space in it again…. damm….. I could have bought one more sarong or maybe some flip-flops, or just one more hair product from Boots…..😁

We find the curry rice stall we looked for yesterday. There are many curries on offer, we are a little flummoxed as to which to choose until a friendly Thai guy from Chang Rai explains the dishes to us and also confirms this is one of the best curry rice restaurants to eat in.

We order the sukothai noodles, green curry with rubbery fish balls and a mango and shredded pork salad. The sukothai noodles are really good, sweeter then we would usually go for, but great, but the pork and mango salad is ace, salty, chilli, and sour. Our Chang Rai friend explains he studied hotel management in Hastings 1969-1973, hence his excellent English.

We wander round the back streets, through a new backpacker area, full of street stalls, laundry shops, suit shops, hostels, and the usual backpacker support systems. It is less full on than our area, so has been ear marked for our next (!) visit.

More wanderings occur, and we find ourselves in a coffee and cake shop down Pra Athit road, how does this happen?  I go overboard on chocolate ordering iced chocolate shake and triple chocolate mouse, Guy has cup of tea, and white chocolate cheesecake. It is sugar heaven…..really good…..we enjoy this luxury and the air con.

Still with time to kill we go back to ours for wi-fi and blogging.

At 6pm we once again find ourselves in the Pied Piper routine, although the guides seem genuinely confused at our destination of Trang. Most people are off to Ko Samui or Krabi. Neither of which are near Trang, or actually near each other. 

A reggae coloured bus pulls up, we all pile on, luggage is stored according to where you are going, seats on the bus are allocated the same way. The bus is old, tired, no air con, no comfy seats. We are getting too old for bus travel.

Guy looses a number of chess games against his phone. I drift in and out of uncomfortable sleep.

We arrive at Surat Thani at 6.30am. We now have to pay more to get a minivan to get to Trang in time for the 1.30 ferry. Other people have done a 4 hour dog leg of a journey to get to Rangong. Thailand used to be well organised in tourist travel, but now the numbers of tourists are so many and the destinations so varied that I feel it doesn’t work to do your trip via a travel agent on Khao San if it isn’t the normal routes, or sometimes even if it it!!

We get this minivan to the next minivan station which will take us to Trang. The lady driving is holding her second child herself, he fidgets and plays with the driving controls. I look away. She leaves us in charge of the kid, he cries, I have to be maternal……..I am not sure who looks most scared……

We get another mini van to the ferry port. It is showing a Hollywood Eric Banna film on catching the Taliban. We are over tired, especially me, and having that in your face at close quarters is quite disturbing. We miss the public ferry by 10mins. We pay 600 THB (£15) for a personal boat to Koh Mok, it actually isn’t completely overpriced, and we arrive about 5 mins after the public ferry. The scenery is stunning and we start to relax, it is 1.30, we have loads of time to look for accommodation.

Clambering onto the pier, we sweat our way down the long pier. I get a Sprite and wait for Guy as he goes to check out guesthouses for us. Sometimes feminism needs to be put to one side and I embrace the role of a kept woman.

Despite finding accommodation near the port we decide to go to the other side of the island. The port area has no real beach and what there is is covered in rubbish. It is not the paradise we were looking for. 

We get a ‘taxi’ (motorbike with side cart) to the other side of the island to Had Farang (literally Foreigner Beach) where the big resort has beach bungalows for £40…. Luckily we find cheaper bungalows for £20, which considering their state is expensive, but it is the view we are paying for. 

We dump bags, locate swimmers, throw them on and skip into the warm bathtub temperature, clear Anderman sea. It is beautiful beach and we forget our gripes and tiredness and drift around.

I have a Daniel Craig moment…….😂

 Guy takes many, many sunset photos.

We eat at Mayhow, a small family restaurant off the beach. The massaman and Penang curries are tasty, the Chang is cold.

 

Happy Holidays 😋
 

20.2.2017 Bangkok, one last night

It is our final full day in Bangkok, as always we are sad to be leaving, having had such fun and good times here. Every morning as we pass our reception, invariably there is always someone asking to extend their stay by one more night, the thought of leaving this vibrant city is hard for most people. We do not extend our stay, even though we both want to.

We are heading for a holiday on the Thai islands, travelling is exhausting business (ahem…😂) so some beach time is needed. We have just under a month now until we fly to Australia (for more travelling) so need to make the most of it.

A few Google searches later and our ‘holiday’ destination has changed from Koh Phi Phi to Koh Mook, it is less touristy and more relaxing and still on the way to Kuala Lumpur, our flight departure point.

We book an overnight bus and get on with the important business of eating as much street food as we can. I fail to find a curry and rice restaurant I had researched, but we did find a fried stuff on a stick stand, and purchased a few sticks of unidentifiable stuff which turned out to be crab, chicken, fish balls all slathered in a chilly sauce. Crunchy, tasty and spicy. Perfect breakfast.

A coffee fuelled me, and we had a walk around the block and saw a really tasty looking rice, holy basil and chicken/pork stand. We must have walked past the spot a few times and missed it, or the opening hours were erratic. The wait of 30mins was worth it, we lost about half a stone dehydrating whilst waiting, and put it straight back on with a huge plate of food, drizzled in Thai chillis. Addictive.

We needed to shop…. two sarongs and a hammock later and we are ready for the islands…..

A siesta and a couple of beers later we have dinner in Joy Luck Club, a eclectic little restaurant who do a sour massumum curry with roti and hard fried salmon with mango Som Tam which is spicy and tasty.

Home to pack, trying to fit everything in without splitting the rucksack.

19.2.2017 Bangkok

A slightly dull head greeted us on opening our eyes. 

We met Paula and Dave for a Chinese brunch, noodles, wontons, and more. It was delicious.

Find farewells were made in a bar and they set off to the airport. It was really sad to see them go, we had looked forward to seeing them so much, although they had ruined our traveller kudos points by having trolley bags and a Vietnamese hat.

We need a holiday to get over it all …..😎

The rest of the day was spent slowly drinking cold shandy, with a pepperoni pizza for lunch and trying to find a beer at a reasonable price on Khao San road. 

With Chinese for breakfast and pizza for lunch, evening food had to be Indian Curry and a Bond film (Spectre) was the evenings entertainment.

18.2.2017 Back in Bangkok

We had both got to sleep just before we were supposed to wake up…..4.30am. We were all awoken to get up, get the beds made back into seats and sit for an hour, trying not to be grumpy about having got up so blooming early.

Once at Hualamphong station (not Humpalong station, as was cited in first edition of this post), we waited half an hour for a 53 bus that never showed, our bus info was clearly out of date.

A tuktuk ride later we were in early morning Banglampoo, again just after the street cleaners, and waiting for someone to check out so we could get into a room.

The plan was to catch up on sleep and then meet Paula and Dave at 3pm. We had some chicken on rice, checked in, showered, tried to sleep, couldn’t manage it. We rearranged to met at 1pm and had a great afternoon catching up and drinking beers, cocktails, whatever came our way. 

17.2.2016 Chang Mai to Bangkok

Safe to say we are both a little tired, or ‘fluffy’ as Rodney would say. We pack rucksacks as best we can. Mine is starting to look overstuffed.

We are sad to leave the hostel, it has been a little oasis here, so clean, fresh and the sitting area so welcoming. It is nice to stay somewhere that feels nice, even though it is well within budget at £11 per night. 

Packed and out of the room, we go to Blue Diamond for coffee, full English breakfast, tuna and avocado salad and cinnamon toast. Yes, we did order too much and were totally over stuffed (just like our rucksacks) but it is such good food. Plus we are on an overnight train, so who knows when we will eat again 😋.

We are needing coffee, so go to a cute little cafe that serves us an expresso and macchiato and we watch telecom cables being put up in the street.

We go to buy some bargain citronella to blast the mossies away, however last night’s chili tea is making itself known in my tum, so I dash into a friendly hotel to use the facilities!!!!

Our train is at 3.30 so we get a tuktuk at 2.30. We had been told not to pay more than 150 Baht, so were shocked when the guy asked for 100 Baht. We instantly said yes and clambered into the tuktuk, lugging our unwieldy baggage with us. A quick, traffic jammed ride away and we were at the station, looking at our train, dumbfounded at the sign which said no drinking on the train. Guy has sweats wondering how he was going to do an overnight train with no booze…..I was quietly happy to have a night off.

We climb aboard and settle into our seats for a slow, sedate rocking ride to Bangkok. 

The time is spent catching up on blogs / diaries, playing with new phone and staring out the window.

Dinner is courtesy of the dining car. Amazingly this first one we have used, and it is tasty, roast duck red curry, chicken with cashew nuts, soup and rice.

Sleep is hard to come by, the air con is set to freeze mode and bright lights kept on all night. 

10.2.17 Leaving Bangkok on an overnight bus.

Tonight, at 7pm, we head to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, so we pack, shower and checkout at the last minute. The hostel charges us 11p to store our bags all day.

We walk round the corner onto Pra Athit past ‘fresh orange’ lady who never failed to shout at us whenever we passed her in the last week. Past Jaywalk cafe, the beef noodle bar, the pork on rice street stall, the coffee stand, seamstress number 1 working away on her old singer sewing machine that is familiar to us as pub tables. Past the Malay curry house, the barbers, the wonton noodle shop, the quaint coffee shop, the mobile papaya salad lady and her constant queue of customers. Past 7/11, KC Guesthouse and seamstress number 2 who is always chatting to the duck blood soup stall holder  on the other side of the pavement. Finally, 200 metres later, we arrive at our breakfast destination, the chicken on rice stall. On the way we have avoided pot holes, open drains, steep curbs and uneven concrete despite being distracted by endless interesting diversions, more than my memory has listed above. This city is so vibrant, with so much going on which is why it enthuses me and I love it so much.

Al has  boiled chicken on rice and I have fried. We perch on small plastic stools and on the metal table are bowls of chopped chilli and ginger and an urn of sauce. It tastes of soy, ginger, chilli, garlic, fish sauce and my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I apply it liberally over my chicken and munch away. I’m not quite sure how a dish as simple as chicken on rice can taste so good but it does.

We have a coffee at the quaint shop and watch mobile papaya lady carefully make up her dish in a huge mortar. She carefully tastes it, adjusting the flavour to her customers requirements which is maybe why she has so many.

We wander about, giving up on shopping as we normally do and focusing on food which we always do. We end up in a cafe where falafel and hummus is ordered with coconut shakes. Tamarind and coconut for me and chai Indian spices and coconut for Al. The shakes are very good.

We are just killing time and we know it, so we go back to the hostel and sit in the cafe and blog and write diaries all afternoon.

We decide to eat before the overnight bus but somewhere familiar where no unwanted after affects have occured so I have a pork noodle soup and Al has mataback.

We sit in the park opposite and watch the sun go down over the Chaopraya until a fitness class with very powerful speakers moves us on.

 We go to the travel office at 7pm and wait for the normal minivan to pick us up. Times have changed though and around 7.30 the Pied Piper of tourists turns up and he gives us a sticker each and we follow him on foot as he gathers more and more people from various accommodations. There are dozens following him by the time we arrive at a coach park, where in the darkness, we can see dozens of people already waiting. We stand around for about an hour watching bats swooping around nearby trees. At 8.30pm two full coaches take people south and at 9pm its our turn. Its a semi-organized bun fight as we try to board three coaches. We manage to get assigned the last two seats on the posh looking double decker and are amazed to find they are fairly near the front.

We leave, the lights go out and I read till 11pm. At 1am we stop for food but we only share a drink and we head north into the night.

9.2.17 Bangkok Seafood Market

Our last full day in Bangkok and we went on a mission for seafood in the steps of Rick Stein.

Coffee required first at our lovely little coffee shop.

We watch woman with the papaya salad ‘shop’ making papaya salad for her clients. She tastes each salad she makes, sometimes the clients taste too and adjust accordingly.

And see tuk tuk drivers waiting for their next client.

A 2 hour journey across Bangkok last, via river boat and sky train. This city is big and not easy to get across unless you get a taxi or tuk tuk and the usually involved tough haggling and being ripped off!!!!

You can’t miss this seafood place, especially when lit up at night. But it was 1.15pm and we were the only people in this massive restaurant. It must be ace to come at night when it is full.

The deal is you pick your fish and seafood, vegetables if you want them, pay for it, then have to pay more for the cooking style, then more for the beer, then more for the hand towel. It is not cheap. But we had the biggest and sweetest prawns ever, two types -king and freshwater, black pepper crab which was superb, and the best tasting tom yum with prawns so far. It was proper messy, get your fingers sticky food, and we loved it. 

The Asahi beer was a palette cleanser….

We then were supposed to Skype home, but were stuck miles from hostile wi-fi so went to Starbucks with the excuse of using their wi-fi, Guy had an iced chocolate which was lush, I had an iced milky tea which was disgusting. I keep forgetting to ask for hot tea with no milk!!!! Their wi-fi didn’t work so we made our way home to try again via skytrain and river boat, passing a Wat with fireworks going off creating an atmospheric photo opportunity.

Snacks for tea as we were still full from lunch. Guy’s was personalised by me 😋