Sunday, 14 February 2010

The first visit... Bangkok and Koh Samui

After being convinced that Thailand is a great place for two single blokes to go for a holiday (ok, didn't take that much convincing really!) the flights and hotels were booked through my mates travel company.

He had a long-haul specialist who had been to The Kingdom quite a few times and we sat down with her and ended up with a direct flight with Thai airways (something I won't be doing again) four nights in the Majestic Grande hotel on Sukhumvit Road Soi 2 and ten nights in the Samui Natien Resort in Chaweng on Koh Samui.

As the departure day approached I did more and more research on the internet and read all kinds of horror stories about guys who went to Thailand, fell in love with the first girl that smiled at them and ended up losing all their money!

Let's be honest, if you can't get a smile in Thailand then there's definitely something very very wrong with you!

Then there were tales of 'monsters' named 'tuk tuk drivers who would offer a trip to various tourist attractions which would turn out to be 'mysteriously closed' on that day and take the unwitting travellers into a gem shop where they would be convinced of the fact that they would make a lot of money if only they would give them their credit card details and the owners would 'promise' to send valuable jewels through the post!

Big city, locals scamming visitors....sounded familiar to me! Sounded like London! Anyway, I wasn't going to buy any diamonds or rubies and I wasn't going to give any ladies any money, irrespective of what they could do with a ping pong ball!

Long haul flights are crap, I don't care what seat you've got, first class, business class, economy, you're sitting on a tube with fucking great engines strapped to it hurtling through the air. It's not pleasant.
The staff on the Thai Airways flight did their best to make it better, they served nice food and as many cans of Beer Singha as I could manage. But it was still 13 hours of being shaken about and trying to decide if it was engine noise or Rick snoring that was keeping me awake!

'If there's a next time' I said to myself, 'in-direct flight' might be longer overall but at least you get a leg-stretch somewhere.

Anyway, after what seemed like a month, we started our decent to Suvarnabhumi airport and I started to get excited again. Nearly woke Rick up, but thought better of it as he had stopped snoring for some reason and I was reluctant to start him off again!

Airports are airports and, being smokers, our focus was, grab the bags, get through immigration and straight out the nearest door for a smoke.

Forward recon (as I had been christened by Rick) had been fore-warned about taxi touts and how they had the powers to ruin your trip right at the very beginning, but, as with so much of what is written about Thailand.... turns out it's bollocks! I mean, some little geezer trying to get me to pay over the odds for a cab just isn't going to happen, and even if it did, worst case we'd pay £40 for the cab instead of a tenner. Not the end of the world really.

Reminds me of a guest list queue at a club when someone in front of us was giving it 'do you know who I am?' when he found he wasn't on the list and wasn't getting in for free...apparently that completely spoilt his night, where I prefer to think it was my mate stepping up and giving the bouncer £20 quid to 'let him in for fucks sake, we're all thirsty here mate' that really took the edge of it for him.

So, out the door for a fag and the Bangkok heat hits us...we're definitely in a very different part of the world!
Two big grins as we soak up the usual sounds and sights of a busy international airport but with that distinctive Asian 'twist' to it all.
Over to the small table, get the taxi ticket Bt400 (Eight quid for two of us.... didn't really seem worth trying to find something for Bt50 less, like some people seem to think is worthwhile) Honestly, I found a thread somewhere where someone explained how, with quite a lot of fucking about, to get into central Bangkok for Bt50 (£1) less than the 'rip off' taxi!  I mean, you've just spent thousands of Baht flying there...anyway...each to his own, I won't start ranting!

Off into the traffic on the expressway and into the city and after about 20 minutes we're pulling into the Majestic Grande and doors are opened, cabbie's handed a Bt500 note and told to keep the change. Hey, if a two quid tip means I'm a mug.....I'm a mug! Considering a cab from Heathrow into town would be the best part of £50 I reckon a tenner for two of us is pretty good.

Salutes from the car park boys took me by surprise a bit as I didn't really know who they were and their uniforms looked like South Koreans soldiers in the 38th parallel de-militarised zone but it was smiles all round as the four star Majestic Grande looked pretty impressive.

I've stayed in four stars on the Italian Riviera and this was at least two stars better in appearance.

Checked in no probs, fella playing piano in the lobby, all the staff smiling and wai'ing profusely lending credence to the 'ex-pats of old' vibe. A thought passes fleetingly through my mind that I should be wearing a white linen suit and having my trunk taken out of the Bentley. Notions of Empire quickly banished, me and Rick are normal blokes who don't treat hotel staff like servants. I carry my own gear and so does he.

After checking in, the plan was to shower and have a bit of a kip but looking out of the 21st floor window with Bangkok spread out below means that 20 minutes later we're heading to the hotel bar to see what's what.

Oh, by the way, Bangkok is not really Bangkok. Thai people refer to it as Krung Thep or Krung Thep Mahanakhon the full name, is....LONG!
Here it is;
Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit (Thai: กรุงเทพ มหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุทธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

No comments:

Post a Comment