The Ultimate guide to
The Ultimate guide to
There must be some very sharp bends on the railway line between Bangkok and the Malaysian border because during the night I very nearly fell out of my bunk twice. It`s 8am. Friday 20th February and I`ve just had breakfast, my bunk has been been converted back into seating and I`m watching the world go by. Well, Southern Thailand anyway, as I continue this leg of my journey which I started yesterday at 14.45 from Bangkok to Butterworth (Penang) on the Malaysian border. There`s still 5 hours to go.
However, let me backtrack a little to continue my previous post recounting the second leg of my flight from Dubai to Bangkok.
Sitting beside me on this flight was Sanna, a 30 something year old Dutch lady and fellow traveler on her way to Australia via a few days in Bangkok. We struck up conversation and shared the odd story as you do. Sanna told me that a few years ago she`d been to New York. I`d been there too in the early 2000`s just after the twin towers disaster I told her. Armed with this knowledge she quickly shoved her passport in my face which I opened wondering what I was going to find. She told me she`d had a boyfriend over there and that his ex girlfriend had been so jealous and possessive that she`d reported Sanna to Homeland Security as a suspected terrorist. Sensing that I was a little confused about what this had to do with the passport she`d handed me, she said, "Look at the date of birth". I did. It revealed her birthday was 11 September!
Apparently the homegaurd agents had interrogated her, satisfied themselves that it had all been a mistake and she made some new friends in employ of the US government.
I was a little dismayed that Sanna hadn`t invited me to stay at her place as had almost happened on the previous leg of the flight. But then again, I hadn`t told her I had a few hours wait overnight again when we arrived at Bangkok airport. And she was almost 30 years younger than me. :)))))))
Arrival time at Bangkok airport was, according to my ticket, 12.25am. With this knowledge in mind and the knowledge that it takes ages to get through customs and collect your baggage at Bangkok airport, I thought that I might as well just book the hotel for the following night but inform them that I would be arriving early in the morning. My thinking was that it would probably be 3am before I could get away from the airport and so I would book the hotel from 8am thus giving me just 5 hours to kill, a couple of which could be filled with some airport filming. As it turned out, the flight arrived early and it took less that 10 minutes to clear customs and collect my baggage.
The other consideration was that, travelling on the cheap, as I am, I wanted the most cost effective method of getting the 20 odd miles into the city from the airport. The hotel email suggested the airport express bus was the cheapest and it would drop me off just around the corner from the hotel. But it didn`t start running until 6am. When I asked at airport information where I could get on the bus, they told me it had stopped running 5 years ago!
Following a brief and pleasant encounter with three young lady assistants at the airports Boots the Chemist who I asked to wave and say "Welcome to Thailand" into my video camera, I decided to get my head down with a few others on the benches in the arrivals area.
The next morning I walked down a level into the airport basement to catch the 6am airport train. It`s cheap but it doesn`t take you all the way into the centre of the city. Perhaps I`ll just walk the rest I thought.
Bangkok is a huge, sprawling city. At 7am it is heaving with early morning commuters and traffic. I tried to get my bearings but, even though it was probably less than two or three miles to my destination near China Town in the heart of the city, I just couldn`t seem to be able to follow the map. On top of that was my rucksack and handbaggage were beginning to take their toll. I gave in, hailed a taxi and it cost me less than 100Baht (£2) for the half hour journey to the front door of my hotel.
After checking in I intended to take a quick shower , grab a couple of hours sleep and then go exploring the neighbourhood and possibly go further afield and explore a few of the major Bangkok temples and other historic attractions. As it happens, I laid down on my bed and fell into a deep sleep. When I awoke it was 3pm.
Too late to go further afield, I decided to take my video camera and explore the international backbacker tourist centre known as Koh San Road and the other streets around my hotel. Vibrant and full of atmosphere but probably little to do with Thai culture.
Next morning I had to get to the railway station in good time to get my ticket down to and across the Thai border into Malaysia.
Footnote: As of writing this I`ve now completed the whole journey and am now sitting at a table in our communal room on a farm in the middle of rural Malaysia about 1 and a half hours by road from Kuala Lumpur. The near 24 hour rail journey started ok but my first problems arose when I departed the train at Butterworth (Penang).
I`ll tell you what happened next time.
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