Tokyo guzzler: Days 120-135 – Christmas in Thailand

‘Boys will be boys’
‘What you see is what you get’

Regular everyday phrases that, in Bangkok, have no meaning or relevance whatsoever!

For Christmas this year we decided to do something a little different. Christmas in the sun and warmth on the beach somewhere. We did plenty of research on where we’d get some guaranteed sunshine and finally opted for Thailand. So we rolled into Bangkok and spent 5 nights there, before heading to Koh Samui for a further 8 nights over Christmas:

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Mount Fuji, en route to Bangkok, this time minus the clouds. I’m looking forward to climbing this during 2015.

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Mountains just to the west of Tokyo.

Bangkok smells. It’s very different to anywhere I’d been previously. It literally reeks of shit everywhere. The traffic situation is unbelievable. It seems like pretty much anything goes. In fact, it would appear to be a race for most drivers. We had a couple of rides in the infamous “Tuk-Tuks”. Our first driver was mental, weaving in and out of the traffic at all speeds, shouting “TUK-TUK TURBO!” repeatedly at the top of his voice. It’s fair to say he was loving it. However Maz and I nearly shat ourselves! Despite this, I still gave him more than our negotiated price. There’s some real poverty in Bangkok (there’s also lots of obscene wealth which is odd when you see these opulent buildings and palaces next to shacks full of families). Anyway, despite getting the price bartered down, I felt a bit guilty because it was such a small amount that he wanted, so I ended up giving him near enough the original price. This was a recurring theme throughout our stay in Bangkok:

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TUK-TUK TURBO!!!!!! This driver was mental. How we didn’t crash I’ll never know.

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Biggest mall I have ever visited. I was on the verge of tears by the time Maz was ready to leave.

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However, in the massive shopping mall in Bangkok lies this haven for men. A place to hang whilst wives and children fill their boots with shops galore. FIFA multi-player for the suffering male shopper who can take no more punishment.

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Anyone need a brush or a broom from the mobile shop?

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Merry Christmas! A huge Christmas adventure land, just around the corner from an area of pure unadulterated filth! An adult adventure land, so to speak.

In terms of the legendary Bangkok nightlife, we had 3 pretty dirty nights out. When Maz suggested we catch a ping-pong show, I was more than happy to go along. I mean, I love ping-pong, I have my own bat and sweat bands. So when I turned up at the club expecting a game, I was shocked to discover just what a Bangkok ping-pong show entailed. However, after a little gentle persuasion, I was fascinated by the results! In fact, the place we went to was pretty poor truth be told, although there was one woman who could do an impressive trick with some plastic darts and some balloons a good few feet away. Mesmerising! We also visited a lady-boy club. Again, an eye-opening experience that Alan Partridge would have relished:

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Down by the river, waiting for our boat to arrive….

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Here she comes, our fine vessel. We were ripped off badly due to our complete inability to barter, but it was still a fun trip.

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The boat trip went past loads of housing on the river. Sobering to see the poverty some people were living in.

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More housing.

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And more.

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It looked like the set from a Hollywood disaster movie. Shocking.

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Much like the cars, the boatmen were very keen to get everywhere as quickly as possible. Which was a problem because the water kept spraying over us both. And the water was filthy and smelled dire. We had a bloody good scrub once we got back to the hotel!

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China Town, from the back of our second Tuk-Tuk.

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After hours of trying to persuade several Tuk-Tuk drivers to take us to the palace (they were adamant we need to to go via “chops” [shops]), we finally made it. Sheer opulence.

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Thai Dad’s Army. These soldiers were bloody useless. All over the place in line, each one looking at the next to see what they needed to be doing.

I must say that, despite the raging smell, I loved Bangkok and wouldn’t hesitate to go back. The nightlife is cracking. I did however feel sad for a lot of the locals. There seems to be lots of poverty in city and for a few quid you can get or do pretty much anything you want over there. There are lady-boys everywhere, which I was kind of expecting but nonetheless was fascinated to see in person. There are also a lot of middle-aged to elderly expat British males over there, either with young Thai brides or ladyboys on their arms. That too was interesting to see and didn’t even remotely put ideas of a happy retirement in Bangkok in my head! Oh no…..

Anyway after 5 happy days in Bangkok, we flew down to Koh Samui to celebrate Christmas in a more relaxed setting:

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Our resort on the day we arrived. No one was there – pure heaven!

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The view from our balcony. It was a beautiful hotel in a very secluded location, away from the smell of Chaweng Beach.

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Christmas day “entertainment” on the beach. I use the word entertainment very loosely though. It was beyond bad, which I guess made it a little funny in the end. The best part of the evening for me, however, was after everyone had retreated to their rooms in anticipation of the incoming storm. The heavens opened and I saw a young woman – in her haste at trying to avoid the teaming rain – fall into a pond. Maz says I let out an almighty roar, as if City had just won the FA Cup.

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Koh Samui sunset.

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Is that a man out at sea?

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Apparently so. Maz seemed to think he was fishing, but I like to think he had a cooler box of Singa beer in tow.

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“Universe of Happiness” at Chaweng beach. What the photo doesn’t convey is the foul stench of shit roasting in the midday sun. Smelly smelly place.

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Chaweng Beach.

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Photo taken just moments before I got hit by a falling coconut.

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Who does that manly-looking blue concoction in the foreground belong to??

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Errr….guilty. Thankfully it didn’t stain my insides, as happened in Tenerife a few years back. Not a pleasant experience…

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A stroll along the beach with a monkey. And by the looks of it a human clothes rack.

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Beach seller selling Christmas hats. Bizarre if you’ve never experience Christmas in the sun before.

Our holiday in Thailand was awesome, although it was sad to be away from family at Christmas time. And I certainly missed my mum’s Christmas dinner, and the infamous post-dinner living room hum.

(As a side note, I toyed with the idea of renaming this post as “Bangkok guzzler” for a one-off. However I thought it’d probably be safer not to in the end. I may end up getting a great deal more hits from disappointed deviants delving the depths of t’interweb for unsavory filth!)

One final shout out for Cathay Pacific, the Hong Kong-based carrier we had the misfortune to fly with. Whilst taxiing on our initial flight out of Tokyo, we got to the runway but then had to turn around due to a “technical problem”. Not what you want to hear on the speakers after a year of plane incidents. The pilot then proceeded to tell us that we’d be refueling before departure. Which begged the question, did they just forget to fuel the plane in the first place?! Then on the way back, they managed to reduce Maz to tears (yes, seriously!) when the miserable cow at check in decided we couldn’t sit together, even though we were at the airport 3 hours before departure! Thoroughly pleasant lady she was. Thankfully we managed to get it sorted once we got to the gate – the plane wasn’t even full! And to cap it off, whilst sat on the runway at Bangkok, moments before take off, the co-pilot decided it’d be a good idea to come down to the back of the plane and move a row of people out their seats so he could inspect the wing out the window. He then moved further back to move another row of people, again to look at the wing. Confidence-filling actions from Cathay Pacific just before a long flight. I think we’ll give them a wide berth in the future….

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