Sunday, 13 February 2011

BARMY BANGERS

Bangkok.... well, what can you say?! There's no where that matches it for the backpacker in terms of ease and convenience, crazy sights and lots and lots of fellow travellers. We must have been here dozens of times before, and have seen most of the main "sights", but we always find more interesting things to do and see each time, in addition to our old favorites.

The best find of our time here (take note fellow travellers- if you haven't already found out!), was a great new area to stay in. It's not too far from the evil necessities of the Khao San Road area, but a world away in terms of peace, quiet and atmosphere. No doubt before too long it will be discovered, and taken over by the Khao San crowd, but for now it's quaint, more "Thai" feeling with some old wooden buildings and no hassle. If anyone's interested, ask us for details!


Our new area Bangkok
 Funny video of Richard crossing the road:
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSatpxPKG7g

One of our favorite things to do in Bangkok is cruise the huge Chao Phraya river. For 14 Baht (around AU$0.50), we can travel about an hour, all the way to the northern most stop, along the way enjoying river life and cool breezes. This time we also discovered the khlong trips (khlongs are small water ways). We were a bit disappointed, however, as apparently the khlongs are basically open sewers, so, understandably, the locals don't want to get splashed, and as a result, there are tarps up the side of the little speedy boats, and we couldn't see a thing!


Khlong boats


We did, however, use the khlongs to get to one of the more unusual destinations in Bangkok- Lai Nert Park. One of the big hotels in town has a shrine set up inside the grounds which, for some reason, locals have begun to worship in the hope of becoming more fertile. They leave phallic-shaped lingams stacked up everywhere as offerings, which is a strange sight to see (in Thailand, in India it would be quite normal!), and Sally made sure she touched nothing!


Lingam shrine

So many lingams!

Another odd sight was the restaurant at the local charity Cabbages and Condoms (family planning awareness people) that we dropped in on. They have set up some curious models to promote the idea of safe sex (desperately needed here). We loved the Christmas-y theme to the whole affair!


Rubber man, with condom decorated Xmas tree

Condom decorated Santa

Other enjoyable ways we spent our week in Bangkok were:
  • lazing in the park near the river, keeping cool, reading the papers and watching the sunset aerobics (always more entertaining watching other people exercise!)
  • visiting the MASSIVE (35 acre/8,000 stall) Chatuchak Weekend Market. Not needing anything in particular, we wandered randomly (very dangerous!) and ended up in the fish breeding area, where huge carps were selling for AU$1000 each!!
  • climbing the impressive, golden Wat Saket- a temple with a great 360 degree view, and our only temple visit this time in Bangkok ( we know we quickly become "wat-ed out"!)

Pra Athit Park

Aerobics by the river


From Bangkok we took, what must be a record for us, six buses to reach Trat, a coastal town near the Cambodian border. It should have only taken one bus, but that's another story! We spent 2 nights here before heading to Cambodia.

Another funny video of Richard in Trat:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wekS5CVHOys 

Sunday, 6 February 2011

PRACHUAP KIRI KHAN- Bringing in the Year of the Rabbit -Thai style

On the way up to Bangkok from Ranong, we stopped in a Prachuap Kiri Khan, a small-ish, quiet-ish seaside town, which we really enjoyed. Being Chinese New Year, we found the backpackers hotels totally full, and after a long search, totally lucked out and ended up up in a massive seafront hotel, in a proper hotel room with WIFI, TV, hot water, air-con, white sheets, toilet paper- the works for AU$12!! So, we decided to stay on a few days and spoil ourselves. We walked to nearby bays, fishing villages, and 400 steps to a hill top temple (our huffing and puffing confirming my suspicions we had been lazing around beaches for way too long!!)

Cute monkeys playing at a temple:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1W9qDw8byo


Fishing boats

View from hill top temple

Chinese New Year beach art


We were lucky enough to experience a fantastic Chinese New Year's celebration in town, with a huge parade with locals dressed in a variety of regional costumes, singing and dancing through the streets. Later that night there was a sound and light show telling the history of the area (in Thai, but we got the general gist!), and heaps of food, games, markets and fireworks.


New Year's parade

Drummers

Gorgeous costumes

New Year's parade

New Year's parade


And so, onto the big smoke.....

On the bus