Bangkok is now part of a very elite group of places – Auckland & Bangkok – that I have travelled to three times on the trip. It is also, touch wood, the last place I’ll be visiting before I head home.
I don’t know if I’ve got a big sign painted on my head saying that I’m open to being ripped off… but it certainly feels that way this time! I have somehow, despite arriving at the best time for finding a room for the night, ended up in a bit of a dive. It’s clean enough but it’s next door to a massive pub (the Khao San Centre which has an Irish pub upstairs – some of you might know it?) and my room is on the fourth floor. Good exercise, I suppose. I went around some places I’d stayed before but they were very unwilling to give me a single room and all wanted me to check into a double room with aircon for fifteen pounds a night… far nicer than I need!
I’m not really planning on doing very much – just to be drastically different to the past few weeks! Well, that’s maybe a lie. I’m shopping. I’m not quite sure what for… but things are pretty reasonably priced here so I’m having a look around.
A little story. I went shopping last night (mainly because the shopping centres have really, really nice food halls – not the cheapest places to eat in Bangkok but they’re really, really tasty and have food from all over Asia). Hailed a tuk tuk and asked to be taken to the shopping centre. About two minutes into the ride the most almighty thunderstorm you’d ever seen in your life started. Massive, massive forks of lightning lighting up the sky, the loudest thunder I’d ever heard (I actually for a splitsecond they were about to coup again or something), it was all incredibly dramatic.
My tuk tuk driver turned around and was going on about the BOOM BOOM, did I like the BOOM BOOM? I told him I liked it very much and it was much better than we have at home, which it was. He kept on turning around and going on about the BOOM BOOM and I just smiled a bit and watched the storm as we edged through the traffic.
After a while, I realised the journey was taking longer than I thought it should and I didn’t recognise where I was. We drove through a market and into a sort of concrete clearing with awnings. I was getting ready to make a run for it (which would have been pretty funny, running away from a lean Thai in the rain, wearing flip flops) and he turned around, announcing that we’d reached the boom boom lady. Realising that we’d had a slight (insofar as ‘slight’ means ‘major’) communication barrier I told him he’d made a mistake, take me to the shopping centre or I’d report him to the tourist police. He took me there but got his revenge by abandoning me in the middle of a traffic island. Luckily it was still raining heavily so I could walk through the parked cars, climb over a railing and shop a bit. Even so, 1-0 to me.
Had a similar (well, not really as scary) experience this morning. The driver wasn’t happy at all to just take me where I wanted to go. Did I want breakfast? No, I’ve just eaten. What are you doing today? Shopping. I take you to Pattaya, you can buy good ladies there*. No thanks. (*Let’s just put the distances here into perspective. Imagine getting a taxi in Roath, asking to be taken to Howells in Cardiff. Why are you going to Howells? To go shopping. It’s closed. No, it’s 10.30, it’s open. No, today is a special holiday. No, it’s not. Why go to Howells? You can buy better ladies for less money in Birmingham. I’ll take you to Birmingham…)
Got there in the end, after he’d tried to sell me everything under the sun and had come up with a thousand reasons why I really didn’t want to go to the place I’d asked for. When we arrived, I paidfor the 80B bill with a 500B note. I was hardly shocked when he informed me that he only had 300B change with him. 1-1.
(I’ll have to get some sort of public transport tomorrow to get to the hospital to try and con them into jabbing me before time… I suppose that those journeys will be the deciders?)
Apart from all the taxi troubles, I suppose everything’s alright. I don’t know anyone in Bangkok – part of me half wishes I did know someone to go for a quiet drink tonight with, since it’s the last night of the entire trip but part of me has really, really had enough of the Freshers’ Week conversations you have everytime you meet someone new – What’s your name? Where are you from? Where have you been? How long until you go home? What did you think of Place X?
I think I’m ready to come home now… truth be told I have been since I left Pai but I’m glad I didn’t come home after my grumpy week in Ayuthaya/Lopburi/Phitsanulok as Chiang Mai was brilliant. At the very least I’m going to find myself a very nice place for dinner tonight and spend maybe five pounds on my (sort of) last supper.
Difficult to know what to do tomorrow – I’ll need to leave Bangkok at about 7pm. I’m going to have to find somewhere to leave the bags for the day – I’m not sure I trust the receptionist at the current place so I might just pay for the room for tomorrow night. Failing that, the Israeli Guesthouse did have a luggage storage room but it’d be nice to get changed and have a shower before I get on the flight. It’s very, very strange to think that there is only really one or two more posts from Thailand, one or two End of It All posts from the UK and then it’s time to consign the whole thing to memories… I was thinking earlier… Newcastle seems ages ago (about three months), New Zealand seems even longer ago and New York seems like another lifetime ago… even though it’s just six months.
Anyway. I’m limping to the finish – I think they’ve just waved the chequered flag – read all about me crossing the line sometime soon.