Saying goodbye to my best friend at Dubai airport was horrible, it’s too often that we have to say goodbye to each other but she has a fantastic life in Dubai. Every time I visit, I can’t help but think I’m doing something wrong in the UK, she has the right idea here! With long walks along the canal at night with her adorable happy dog Alf, viewing the lit-up skyline of Dubai from her apartment balcony, including the world’s tallest building ‘The Burj Khalifa’, and the mass of incredible food joints Dubai has to offer, it makes me feel as though life in the UK is somewhat boring. Dubai is expensive but we kept it low key and used our time there to have a bit of R&R knowing the weeks to come were going to be tiring.
With our relaxing mini break in Dubai over, we anxiously jumped on the plane to Bangkok. It was another night flight which only meant one thing… no sleep, again! It was also very turbulent giving me mini panic attacks throughout the journey. Emirates provided great food and entertainment though so when we were approaching Bangkok and the screen in front of me displayed a happiness questionnaire, I selected happy. I had clearly jinxed us as no more than 5 minutes later the plane began to descent and landed with a great thud making a noise as if something, other than wheels, had hit the ground. The plane then started to rock side to side and when all sets of wheels had eventually hit the ground, the pilot had the plane swerving all over the runway. This was it I thought, this is how I was going to die, any minute now the plane is going to roll and blow up. As I let out a worried squeak, I grabbed Lewis’ leg and arm and clung on to him with my eyes shut for dear life… I was probably overreacting a bit as the lady on the other side of Lewis was laughing, albeit anxiously too but when the plane finally came to a halt, I felt so relieved and realised I had slightly over-dramatised my impending death in my head.
Once we were eventually off the plane of doom, we hitched a very bazaar taxi ride to our hostel ‘The Blue Chang’ where we had booked a 4-person dorm room. The very old lady at the front desk spoke a little bit of English and we immediately asked her to book us a bus for 3 days’ time to Cambodia. She made a call to a guy and 5 minutes later she said ok and told us to be at reception for 8.15am on the Sunday. This lady was never to be seen again but I’ll explain a little about that later.
We were then shown to our bedroom by a young guy who spoke very good English and seemed very competent (later discovered he wasn’t at all), he took us to a private double room, I was so relieved thinking we had been upgraded… but no, no, he had just made a mistake. He obviously wanted to give us a taste of what we were missing out on! Just as we got comfy we were removed and directed to the dorm room that we had to share with 2 Chinese guys that stank of fags, one of whom had a shaved head with one long plat in the middle and spoke like he was a South American gangster. He casually said to Lewis ‘you are so nice, your wifey is lucky homie’. I found this hysterical, Lewis luckily replied, ‘I am the lucky one’… I have him well trained. The two Chinese guys were super nice though and very respectful of us which was great, as being our first time in a hostel I was very nervous.
The toilet situation was not that great, they seem to have wet rooms everywhere in Asia and so the toilet gets soaked every time you have a shower, not to mention there is no airflow, so when trying to take a no.2, you feel as though you are going to pass out from the static hot smelly air circling the bathroom. Lewis is great though because if a bathroom is dirty, he will go in before me and clean it up a bit so I can shower and brush my teeth without having an OCD attack.
Bangkok itself has two very different sides, when the sun sets it really comes alive. The streets are lined with food stalls and bars are crowded playing loud music and offering cheap beer and cocktails. Luckily our hostel was off the beaten track so very quiet at night but only a 10-minute walk to the famous Khao San Road. I have always loved city life and a good party, so for me Bangkok nightlife was brilliant, you still had the horrible smells but the night scene and Nutella Banana Creps made up for it! Plus you can’t see all the dirt at night 😊! I fell in love with Bangkok after sunset, grumpy Lewis isn’t a city boy though so didn’t enjoy this at all.
In the daytime, not only is it very hot and humid but it stinks! Every time you walk past a drain, you feel like gagging. Not only the drains but the strange combination of smells from the food stalls… fish, chicken, god knows what else… I love food but this didn’t smell nice! Even the ice lollies were rancid, we saw an old man selling some for 20Bhat (45p) so we bought two to find out one of them tasted like spring onions! The one great thing about Bangkok is the Pad Thai, you can get this from one of the street food stalls and it actually tastes really good and only costs £1, so a very cheap tasty meal.
We did take a walk to Wat Pho Temple to see the reclining Buddha which was quite a pleasant 45-minute walk, the temple was pretty cool but we were a little unimpressed. After seeing the ancient temples of Egypt (Luxor temple, Abu Simbel, Karnak, Valley of the Kings) this was a bit of a let-down. This probably makes us sound a bit spoilt but we were just expecting something so much greater. I did however love the Buddha’s and miniature gardens, I found these very peaceful amongst the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.
We only visited a small part of Bangkok so I can’t speak for the rest of the city but certainly the backpacker epicenter is not a haven for anyone with OCD.
Luckily we were only in Bangkok for 2 nights, so on our last morning we were packed up and in reception well ahead of the pick-up time for our ride to Cambodia. We sat there waiting, 20 minutes went by, then 30 before we asked the young guy (good English speaking one who took us to our room on the first day) ‘where is our bus?’. He replied, ‘I am not sure, I don’t know which company she booked with’, she being the very old lady we saw on arrival but never saw again. I responded with ‘can you find out? It was supposed to be here 15 minutes ago’, he tried to make a phone call but no answer. By this point, I knew it wasn’t going to show and the man on reception was useless, offering us no information at all and just kept shrugging his shoulders. The devastating look on Lewis’ face was exactly how I felt… another night in the cigarette smelling room and another day walking the smelly streets of Bangkok. To make matters even worse, the hostel wanted to charge us double the booking price to stay an extra night. This was not their fault, we booked via Agoda where we had a discounted room rate but I refused to pay any more than we had the previous nights. In my opinion this was their fault and to make matters worse, we couldn’t get a refund for the night lost at our hostel in Cambodia. He kept saying ‘I am only work here, I am not the manager, old lady is manager, she only change room rate, not me’… ah that figures! ‘Where is the old lady?’ I asked, ‘she not here and not here tomorrow either’… great! After a few awkward silences and us refusing not to pay a premium, he eventually agreed to take the lower rate from us. By this point my anxiety had climaxed and I was exhausted, I felt like crying because the one thing I didn’t want to happen, happened. This whole ‘go with the flow, don’t plan too far ahead, stop worrying’ approach was not working for me, had I let myself worry about the bus the day before like I usually would have, I would’ve probably checked with the hotel and all would have been fine!
We immediately trekked to Khao San Road and found an STA travel agent who booked us a ticket to Cambodia. This morning we were so glad to finally be leaving… again. We used Uber to book a cab (so we knew it would show up) and off we went to the bus station. The government bus is actually quite cosy, a little cramped but air-conditioned, the seats recline and they chuck in a free bottle of water and a snack. The only downside, there are two Chinese girls sat behind us who are constantly sneezing… all I can think about is the contaminated air circling around the bus. I think at this point, the best thing to do is fall asleep so I can stop worrying.
Cambodia here we come!!