Saturday, 31 May 2014


Saturday - 31/05

Vietnam to Bangkok

We spent the two days in Vietnam catching up on admin and preparing for our trip to Thailand. After much debate and concern from family back home, we decided to brave the political unrest in Thailand. We had spoken to many other travellers that had just come from there and we were assured that any tourists were not in danger and the only places that were affected were the bigger cities.

We flew from Hanoi to Bangkok feeling rather delicate from the festivities of our last night in Vietnam. Laurenz (who we met in Ho Chi Minh and had motorbiked the whole way up the country) had joined us in Hanoi for our last night and we had to celebrate our reunion.

We had not yet found a place to stay in Bangkok but luckily we had made friends with two British brothers from our backpackers who conveniently were on the same flight as us and attached ourselves to them.

But they also got something out of the deal as Dan had dislocated his knee in a freak fire limbo accident a few days before as so we became his personal trolley dollies! 

Luckily Asia is similar to Africa in the sense that a taxi will hold as many people/luggage as required. Guess that meant that Joy had to bare and suffer the petite weight of Roxy on her lap the WHOLE way! 

We headed to the boys' hotel which had a rooftop pool and took the time to relax and enjoy our first look at the Bangkok skyline.

After regaining our strength, we hailed a cab to the famous Khao San Road (the heart of backpackers in Bangkok) where the boys helped secure us appropriate accommodation. 

Sunday - 01/06

Settled into our new accommodation and met a fellow South African who had been working at the backpackers for 6 weeks, Oom Bill (short for Wilhelm).  He was thrilled to be able to speak his mother tongue, Afrikaans, once again.

Oom Bill and "the girls"
That evening he took us to one of his favourite eating spots, which he knew was cheap and suitable for a South African budget. We tried a bit of curry and Roxy discovered that red curry, however mild, was not to her taste! It gave us peace of mind chatting to Oom Bill as he assured us that it was safe to be in the city centre as tourists and by declaring Marshal Law, the country had actually been made safer.

Monday - 02/06

Unexpected Cultural Day

After declaring that after our many Pagoda visits in Vietnam that we were not going to enter another one, however in Thailand they are called Wats and even though they are pretty much identical to Pagodas, we had to find this our for ourselves. We were told that one of the best ways to get around the busy city was to take a boat around along the rivers and canals. Luckily there was a pier near where we were staying so we took a little walk to Phra Athit Pier (Pier N13) and bought an all day tourist ticket for 150 Baht, which allowed us to get on and off at as many stops along the way as we wished until 7.30 pm that night.  

Roxy in front of the Phra Sumane Fort on the walk to the pier, which is one of only two forts remaining that were built to protect the city from invasion  

Joy at the pier dock - unfortunately it took us a few missed boats to figure out how to board them and which side of the dock allowed us to travel in which direction, but we eventually got the hang of it   

Outside one of Pier N15 (one of our wrong turns) we found a school of holy catfish, which the locals would feed and we were told that it would be a sacrilege to ever catch one 

Our first legitimate stop was Tha Chang Pier (N9) where we hoped to see the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha.  It usually is 500 Baht to enter the Palace but since it was a special Buddhist celebration that day, we hoped we could get in for free. This was not the case and as such we took a sneak pic from the outside.

We were hailed a tuk -tuk by a man outside the Palace who claimed to be a University lecturer and told that the tuk-tuk could take us around to the sites for only 10 Baht.  We had read about all the tuk-tuk scams but he advised us that due to the unrest in Thailand, the Government had subsidised the tuk-tuk drivers and that was why the fair was so cheap.  Regardless, we were still on high alert - being well trained Safas.
Our first stop was the standing Buddha, which was the tallest we had seen and worth the drive.


After the standing Buddha we were advised by a local Thai man that as it was school holidays that we should pre-book our accommodation in the islands at the Bangkok Reservation centre. After our tuk-tuk driver had taken us to this Thai tourism centre and booked all our accommodation for the next week, our tuk-tuk driver tried to take us 'shopping.' We were immediately on high alert and refused to be taken anywhere! [The deal in Bangkok is that the tuk-tuk driver will take unsuspecting tourists to a back alley jewellery store and pressured into buying fakes in exchange for petrol from the store].  He obviously had never encountered stubborn, savy and strong-willed Safas yet - as we blatantly refused, even though he was very persistent.  We flatly told him to drop us off at the Reclining Buddha and we would go our separate ways.       

(Roxy being the very superstitious type took this pic of the tuk-tuk driver before the trip as insurance in case anything did happen).  


Joy getting rejuvenated by a water feature within the Walls of Wat Po.  

Joy imitating the reclining Buddha, which is the biggest one in Thailand and lies 46 metres.

The soles of the reclining Buddha's feet are embedded with beautiful patterns in Mother of pearl.

Visitors to Wat Po can buy coins and place them in the various jars that surround the perimeter of the Ordination Hall.   

Another less impressive standing Buddha that we found in an a joining room within the Wat Po walls.

We headed back to the Pier and headed to China Town which is off Ratchawongse Pier (N5).  We found it to be just like any other market, but bigger.

Later in the day, we decided to take a different canal boat which is only really used by the locals Pantip Plaza (a mega electronics store).  It took us ages to get to the little boat 'station' with our map that only showed 60% of the streets and asking many locals for directions to a boat station we often doubted even existed. In the end it was really cheap and effective - only 20 Baht one way, and speedily got us to where we needed to go.

Pantip Plaza was five stories high and had all conceivable types of electronics. 

Impressive selfie on one of the many escalators. 

Roxy on the ride back on the canal boat - not everyone can get a seat - especially red-heads. 

The high speed canal boat. 

We jumped off at the last stop and navigated our way to the main river and happened to stumble upon the Golden Mount. We were completely spent from the day's activities and did not feel like climbing the 344 stairs to get to the top - but since we are completely self destructive humans, we just did it!

 Joy and Rox in front of their respective Chinese Spirit Animals - the Snake and the Dragon.

Posing at the golden-leafed tree 

En-route to the top of the Mount 

We had heard many whispers in the dark about a fabled pink Fanta that is only available in Thailand.  We couldn't believe our luck when we found it half up the Mount - what a spiritual journey of note - we had to try it!
Unfortunately even though Joy was clearly super excited to try the new flavour, it did not live up to her fuss-pot standards. 


We couldn't resist being naughty and ringing the gongs  

so many stairs............
Finally, we reached the top and got to enjoy the splendid view of the city


On our way down we happened upon the Sitting Buddha - the last of the three to complete our day.

It was quite a rush to get back to the tourist boat before it closed - especially since we couldn't find a reasonable tuk-tuk and we were too stubborn and stingy to pay any extra- so we walked the ENTIRE way instead (idiots!!) However, our delayed departure proved worth it as we were rewarded with the most spectacular sunset over the river.

Wat Arun 

Tuesday - 03/06

Last day in Bangkok 

As our Blog had reached 1001 views and Joy had been nominated to eat the repulsive scorpion by her good mate Keke, we hit the main strip of the backpackers area - Khoa San Road, in search of the 'delightful treat'   

Before Joy had to do the deed she decided to line her fragile stomach with the tradition Thai dish of Pad Thai, which was amazing as it contained noodles, cashew nuts, veggies, bean sprouts and chicken.

 Joy did complete her scorpion-eating challenge, with some help here and there.  Check out the 'Scorpion Eating Challenge Post' for the details.

We had booked a night bus to the island of Koh Tao, so we said farewell to Oom Bill, headed for the station (along many dodgy alley ways - which ignited visions of horror films in our minds) and popped our sleeping pills in preparation for the 17 hour journey ahead of us.

Last glimpse of Bangkok from the seat of the night bus 

Joy all smiles at the START of the journey :)