I traveled to Bangkok in February, 2013 so base all my opinions in this review on that time period. This is my experience but obviously others may have a totally different experience. Feel free to let me know yours.
It was the first country on my long trip of 9 months that year, so was full of enthusiasm.
Plus I had moved with my wife, Farah, from Wanstead in London to Pudsey in Leeds 3 months earlier. I had for 3 months been, without the use of any machines, tending to 30 acres of ancient Oak woodland and repairing the boundary fencing to protect it.
Basically, by the time we started travelling I was a physical wreck after whacking my hands with sledge hammers, getting ripped apart by barbed wire and sometimes having to repair the same bit of fencing three times in one day…not because of animals breaking it.
We had a much bigger problem with the boundaries which I would learn about the hard way in later months and years but you can read about that elsewhere later.
Anyways, getting through Bangkok Airport was a strange experience then again every international airport has it’s own brand of insanity…this one had very pretty officials, boys and girls, who were very, very smiley and high pitched together with an arcane system of filling out forms and maze upon maze of queuing. So, got to Bangkok central not too flustered but not exactly that relaxed. Still pretty grateful to be there and not lugging fenceposts on my back in the snow!
Farah gets travel sick but was okay when we got to our room at the hotel/ hostel. I can’t remember the name of it, it was cheap, clean and about 500m from Khao San Road of The Beach fame.
What I do remember was the seafood in Bangkok! On the first night there we went to a lovely place on the river where they served amazingly tasty and massive prawns, buckets of them! Buckets were had 🙂
Cold beer with ice cubes in it too, which sounds weird but in Asia is quite normal and it didn’t take much to get used to. The Chinese food market place there is pretty good too with again, lots of seafood. You get to sit on plastic chairs all the way down the street and rub shoulders with locals and other tourists, lots and lots of other tourists.
This very quickly became a theme throughout Thailand, absolutely loads of tourists! I found the amount of tourists directly correlated to the quality of service or just generally how people interacted with you. When in extremely high density areas the service was bad and people rude. No more so than the journey to Koh Tao which was an epic of vomit ridden journey of madness together with generally unhelpful people. I’ll get to that later…
So, we did the Khao San Road thing. You have to go there really…it was my first experience of such a street. It is replicated all over Asia and seems to be specifically for the worst type of drunken/ messed up western European/ Australian/ New Zealand/ American/ Israeli/ Indian tourist. Gangs of these obnoxious people roam around Khao San Road doing what they do best. Shouting, fighting, grabbing women without consent and trying to drink more than his or her mates.
We sat in a generic bar and watched people go by in relative safety.
I won’t bore you with exactly what we did just how we did it. We kept to relatively quiet places where locals went apart from the Chinese market which we really wanted to see. We were gonna scope out some sites but to be totally honest, I hated the packed areas full of rude people. Other people who have been there may say differently but I just did not like the place.
The problem I had was that if like us, you were travelling on a budget the local people in those areas were pretty much just as bad as the rude tourists.
Case in point, booking our trip to Koh Tao. This entailed queuing up at the bottom of Khao San Road being shouted at, ignored then pushed and bags ripped then herded into various queues. Followed by waiting on the streets nervously wondering which coach to get on, constantly asking in pigeon Thai, much to the amusement of the locals, what was going on.
When we finally got on the coach it was actually okay but this was to obscure the impending horror of the crossing to Koh Tao by ferry.
We arrived at the pickup point after hours of travel on the coach at about 3 am, again pushed, shoved, shouted at to move and sat down in the ferry. The calm lasted for, I’d say about 10 minutes into the journey…
Then a woman to our right projectile vomited into a black plastic bag, then someone behind us joined in, then in front and finally to our right. As mentioned before, Farah suffers from travel sickness and she couldn’t hold on anymore even after taking medication, so she started to eject the previous 24 hours of seafood, beer and assorted delights.
There was a bunch of German lads sitting near us and they were all laughing at people being sick, making fun of Farah with me trying to hold her together.
Then one by one they fell silent and you guessed it, followed suit. Laughs turning to sombre looks then contorted anguish and finally mouths clamped shut began squirting out chunks of last night’s burger/ kebab combo.
There were no lights on, as the cabin crew had thoughtfully turned them off to allow people to sleep! Haha, sleep!!! Mwahahahahahaaaa, laughs maniacally.
It really felt like they hated us, to be honest.
All you could hear were groans and splashing sounds punctuated by infrequent hurried footfalls when some poor soul decided to try and escape, only to slip and slide on the shared contents of the passengers’ stomachs. They would eventually get to the back of the ferry where they all succumbed to the increased movement there and continued to vomit even more over the back.
I have a pretty strong stomach but after 4 hours of this, I was on the verge of losing it. Poor Farah was clinging onto me for dear life! Bless…
Anyways, we did manage to get to Koh Tao at about 7 am.
I thought it couldn’t get any worse…I was very, very wrong.
If you want to check out what happened next see my review of Koh Tao.