Christmas in Bangkok
After the excitement of passing my PADI open water scuba instructor exams, it was soon time to leave lovely Panglao and head to Bangkok to await Ma’s arrival for Christmas.
Leaving the Philippines was possibly our worst travel day to date and hopefully ever. We’d booked a hotel close to the airport on Mactan Island off of Cebu knowing that the traffic can be ridiculous. We’d woken early and then spent almost an hour unsuccessfully trying to get a taxi before giving up and walking to the main road in the scorching heat, massive bags in tow. Taxi promptly found we sat in horrific traffic for most of the three kilometres to the airport, me internally screaming and arriving just in time to pay A HUNDRED FLIPPING POUNDS excess baggage and another thirty pounds to leave the country. At this point I felt they should be paying me but anyway. I cried, not to get them to change their minds about the baggage charge or for sympathy, just because I couldn’t help myself. We’re at the end of our funds, I’m worried enough about money and a hundred pounds can be spent on many better things than excess flipping baggage! Our first overcharge in eighteen months, GRR BOO HISS. Crappy breakfast ordered and not delivered we soon boarded and sat in our seats next to a lady, her seven carry on bags and toddler. SHOOT ME NOW 😂 Said child proceeded to squeeze jelly pots all over itself, the airplane and Jason, who had drawn the short straw and was sat next to the pair of them. Then as quickly as the horrible day started the air hostess was moving the child, luggage and mother away from us (to two seats instead of the cramped one they were on), handing us wipes and in glorious jelly free peace we were winging our way to a lovely few hours in Singapore airport before arriving in Bangkok 🎉
Bangkok is as wonderful as it ever was, it is one of our favourite cities, the Thai people are incredibly kind and lovely, the food is outstanding and the sun is shining. Our first apartment – pre ma arrival – was a sweet little one bed in Phra Khanong in a new and super shiny condo complex with a roof pool we never made it to. We spent the week popping to Tesco, eating at our favourite places, doing pre Christmas gubbins, relaxing and buying pillows because the only bad thing about our lovely apartment was the brick hard pillows, and after many months of having not so great pillows we couldn’t take it anymore and bought our own. We had looked in the Philippines but they didn’t have any lovely ones but Tesco, ahh Tesco delivered perfection.
Friends were passing through Bangkok and we met for lunch at Tokhai, a restaurant we like where you cook your own food over hot coals. The all you can eat menu is about twelve pounds per person and boy did we get our money’s worth. Not a vegetable between us, just tray after tray of fat green lipped mussels, succulent prawns, lean sirloin and marbled ribeye. YUM! Great company and great food. After lunch we were headed back to their hotel, couldn’t find a cab and insanity descended and we were soon all on the back of motorbike taxis going a million miles (ok maybe not that fast) weaving through the traffic. 😳 Holy crap! Ahahahahahaha I’m not a big baby anymore, but maybe I am insane, no helmet and mine kept crouching down to go faster! Sheesh it was terrifying and hilarious all at once, I couldn’t even see the others my driver was going so far ahead. Some twenty minutes later we were deposited way across town, a laughing shaking much amused group 😂
And after a few more days of relaxing, job hunting and exploring Ma arrived, woohoo!
The WOW 92sqm duplex apartment we had booked and paid for ten months in advance was not available when we arrived, ARGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. There was apparently a plumbing problem, fair enough, these things cannot be predicted but we would quite liked to have known that BEFORE we arrived, you know, when it happened at least a week before our arrival. Instead we were taken to a one story 64sqm condo, a third smaller than the one we booked with no word of a reduction in price or any other compensation for the change. We had made concessions on pool size and location for the large WOW duplex, being so far from the BTS with a small pool and a small condo is not what we would have chosen at all and trying to find something else at the price we paid ten months ago, five days before Christmas and after my sixty eight year old mother travelled for twenty hours to get here? Not possible, so we were left making the best of a poor situation.
And make the best of it we did, it is Christmas after all. We wrapped presents and pottered and hugged and chatted and relaxed together, we took sky trains and river boats and ate some of our favourite foods including Hotto Bun at Tha Maharaj and introduced mum to foot massages, which despite her certainty she would hate, well let’s just say we’ve had two more since. We admired Wat Pho and laughed through a silly tuk tuk ride and marveled at Rogue One. We even got mum on the back of a motorbike taxi – only for the short few kilometres home from the train and as she was terrified the entire time probably not something she’ll do again. We spent seven fabulous hours at Chatuchak, one of the biggest markets in the World and we didn’t even get through all of it, so plan to return next week. We were incredibly spoilt on Christmas morning with a mound of presents, a huge new Osprey shuttle suitcase for me – something that can hold all my dive gear, as well as some lovely bits and pieces that we’d had on our travel wish lists and at least five kilos of sweets between us, for realsies, mum went crazy. We spent Christmas lunch at a so so hotel with lackluster Christmas spirit but spectacular food where we stuffed ourselves on yumminess, spoilt bunnies indeed.
Today we took an awesome two hour canal journey with Co Van Kessel. Our guide Tammy was great, welcoming and knowledgeable, attributes you’d think would be a prerequisite for a tour guide but it seems not always the case. We started on the edge of China Town walking through a small market were we stopped for meat on a stick (our request and in this case pork, our favourite!) followed by bamboo filled with steamed sticky rice and coconut milk, delicious! and fresh crispy rose apple. After another few minutes walk we boarded the longtail boat that would take us along the canals. Unfortunately it had to take us across the Chao Praya river first, the main river thoroughfare through Bangkok the Chao Praya is a working river full of life and waves caused by the many boats, large and small, racing along it’s muddy waters, eek! The crossing was fine if a little wet and after not too long we were entering the canal system at Bangkok Noi and seeing the first water monitors that grace it’s banks, DUDE! We all love a lizard and there were some monsters, one particularly gorgeous behemoth was sat atop a mound of leaves several metres across and was easily six foot with a head bigger than mine! It’s a wonderful journey back in time, there are no roads and houses are accessible either by boat or if they are lucky by moped along the narrow pathways that join the houses to the mainland. It’s fabulous, a watery world so removed from the traffic of the city but in reality only a stones throw away. After motoring along for a while we stopped at a jungle temple to feed the fat river fish and pet the assortment of puppies and their mums who have made the temple their home. Glorious cockerels and lounging pussy cats completed the wonderful menagerie. The tour continued along some more lovely canal before recrossing the Chao Praya and depositing us back at Co Van Kessel, an awesome tour indeed!
In the back of my mind throughout every lovely day has been my fast approaching unemployment, our epic adventure of course had to come to an end at some point and funds dwindling that point is now, well okay not now while mum is here but the 4th January when she leaves. I need a job! and not just any job. I want to be the best scuba instructor I can possibly be, I want to work with people who actually like people and give a crap about the environment, people who not only know what PADI standards are but who also stick to them and where the diving is beautiful and invigorating and mostly warm 😉 and let’s say I am hopeful such a job can be found.
But there’s more than another lovely week with ma before we need to think about that, because honestly there is so much talking and walking going on there is not much space for anything else in my head.
Whatever you’ve been up to and whoever you’ve been with this holiday season I hope you’ve loved, been loved and laughed Xx