Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Return to Bangkok

Friday 21 January: The scene from the open-deck on the Lambian 3 fast-ferry to the Thai mainland is a delight and after a short bus ride I'm at Hat Yai Junction awaiting the train to Bangkok - it's great to be back on the road again. In Hat Yai I just have time for lunch, a haircut, shave, face massage and a large jug of Tiger beer at the Swan Inn before the Special Express sleeper departs for Bangkok.
Saturday 22: I'm in a top-floor room in Bella Bella House with fast Wifi and views across the rooftops of Watchanasongkram Wat - it's a good option and only a short stroll through this busy local temple takes me to the hubub of Khao San Road.
Monday 23: A three-day wait for my Burmese visa means it's time for repairs - new turnups on my trousers and a new zip on my day pack.
Tuesday 24: Visiting the infamous Patpong Road in Silom on the other side of town, I can't believe how tacky it is. Even the swish Rose Hotel, where I stayed with my girlfriend Katherine in the mid-1980s, looks old and glum now, dwarfed by a new Meridian Hotel tower block next door. In the evenings I relax on Bella Bella's balcony drinking Chang beer and watching YouTube music clips from the late 1960s to the early 1980s - what a wonderful era to have to have lived my informative years through.
In Langkawi island I bought Australian backpacker Peter Moore's book, The Wrong Way Home, to find out how he journeyed overland from Indonesia to Darwin without flying - he flew. Not much of a storyteller, he seems to have just had his blog printed and called it a book, but his 1999 bus ride description from Taftan on the Iran border to Quetta in Pakistan sounds the same as when I took it ten years later:

". . . I reclined on my seat and tried to sleep, but it was as if I had been strapped into a vibrating massage chair that had somehow acquired a mind of its own and subsequently lost it. I gave up all hope of sleep, held on tight to the handles and concentrated on not being tossed into the isle . . . the road got worse. It wasn't a bus I was riding but a bucking bronco determined to not only throw me off, but also turn round and trample me once it had . . .
By the time the bus crawled into Quetta I felt as though I'd gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson."

Wednesday 25: I pick up my visa, swap Peter Moore for a Lonely Planet guide book and print out my 120US$ Air Asia return ticket - tomorrow I'm up at 4:00am for the 7:20am flight to Yangon and Burma, a country, like Iran and China, with a paranoid government that blocks access to social networking websites. Blog updates will have to wait.
Return to Bangkok photos.

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