Friday, 8 November 2013

Bangkok on a nice day

Thursday 7th November 

Some times you have to sit back and be the traveller and sometimes you have to be the travelled. Today I am the traveller and my dear Carol sits with me snapping away with her cameras as always. She is I think looking for that illusive perfection that can be captured on film and maybe find that moment and hold it forever. I guess that this is the aim of the artistic photographer over the wedding photographer, a wedding photographer has t deliver the goods for a couple on one day while a photographer like Carol is always looking for that moment and will be looking for that moment for ever. The ones she does capture are in my view beautiful, she is good at her art and on long journeys like this one today, it will keep her occupied for the several hours that the train takes to reach our destination.

Not our train, no really!

This is a table of lies and miss-information!

Woo woo, I am a train!

Our first Mantis

Today we leave the delights of Tara B&B, the company of Nort and the other girls who made our stay in Kanchanaburi and are now sat on the train, for them the sausage factory of guests and travellers continues and a new couple will sleep in what we called our room, maybe make love in our bed and let us hope that their stay is as precious as ours was. AS we have said many times already Tara was special for us and we loved our time there for as long as it lasted, but we are at heart travellers and it is better to leave while the heart is filled with the joy of a place than to grow tired of it and wish to move on. Had we stayed much longer maybe we would have grown weary of the place that we loved so much.

As Pad Brat (army child raised in married quarters) I am well used to moving on and making new friends, but sometimes it is with a bitter sorrow that we move. In truth we know nothing about the people who made our stay so welcome adn this is as it should be, they should not lay their hearts on the table for us to scrutinise. They should be distant, they should leave the tourist thinking that their time was special when for the tour worker it is just another tour on the rota, another set of faces to learn and understand in the short time that we have with them. To mark our stay as special for us, Nort gave us two mugs, printed with the Logo of Tara and because our time was special, they will be treasured. The cynical part of me that has worked in travel thinks that this is just the usual ploy to spread the word of Tara and increase business, by making us feel special. Maybe they give mugs to every one, maybe they do not. But the truth for Carol and I is that it was special and we will treasure those simple gifts.

Would we recommend Tara to our friends? Yes, I think that we would because our stay was so lovely. Had we had the same stay in the UK it would have still been special (albeit considerably more expensive!), so what emerges is that Tara was a beautiful place for a pair of wandering travellers to stay and rest. Also the Milk Shakes are to die for!

The train back to Bangkok was laughably late, not just irritatingly late, or annoyingly late, but in the realms of Virgin trains agonisingly late. The train was supposed to leave Kanchanaburi at 14:40. We checked out of the hotel at 12:00 and sat in the bar for brunch until 13:00 when the bike taxi that we had ordered arrived. Our plan was to find a place out of the sun and just wait for the train for a an hour or so, this did not work out because the train was so late that I managed to have a sleep, Carol spent close to sixty Baht going to the toilet and we saw a Mantis take up residence behind the mirror of the ladies toilet.

I got so bored waiting for the train that I went exploring and found the following interesting animals. There was the inch long black ant scurrying about its business, there was the large weevil sun bathing on the rail, there was the discarded pretty snail shell and a dried up centipede. I saw butterflies and birds and dragon flies all while we sat bored in the station. finally at close to the time our ticket states that we will get into Bangkok, our train arrived and this is where I am now sat, waiting to get back to the Roof view hotel in the smelly quarter of Bangkok. Tomorrow we go To see the tailor and find out how well our clothes have been made. Custom made clothes, bought cheap like the rich Western imperialists that we are, I feel no shame.

Friday 8th November

Feck me, what a night...

The train was so horrendously late that when we finally got into Bangkok it was dark and it was also pissing down. This was not a bad thing, the rain has damped down the stench considerably and it is almost nice to walk around the city. However there are several places that still have that delicate aroma of a badly dug latrine! What is nice though is that with the stench gone, you can smell the food being cooked in the many places that allow tourists into their homes, porches, gardens or window seats to eat "exotic foreign food". The local Thai people must tire very quickly of travellers getting pissed and trying to out do each other with hot curry mixes. They do smell lovely though as you wander past.

The journey from the station to the hotel was a nightmare, first we were hassled by an irritating Tuk Tuk driver who would not take no for an answer and kept trying to fleece us for as much cash as he thought we had. We finally got rid of him and got into a taxi with a driver who was probably doing the driving having finished his homework and having some time before he had to go to bed for school in the morning. As I understood taxi driving as a profession, it is a requirement that a taxi driver must have a car or suitable vehicle and must also have a sense of direction or at least be able to read a map. Our teenage driver could provide only one of those prerequisites! We got hopelessly lost and it was only thanks to Carol's sense of direction and then her sat nav that we were able to get to the hotel at all! Once checked in we climbed into bed and discovered that the Thais had stolen the mattresses and replaced them with ironing boards. Sleep came eventually, but it was a hard fight and I kept banging my knee on the edge of the ironing board mattress every time I turned over.

Breakfast this morning was scrambled egg on toast. Coffee and tea were free, but a juice or coke was an extra 16 Baht. So we yummed that down and buggered off into town, which now smelling only like a slightly dirty gents toilet was almost pleasant. What does make this trip though is our interactions with the Thai people, who are on the whole lovely (although Tuk Tuk drivers may get a hammer to the face next time they try to force me to pay vast sums of cash to drive me a few hundred meters!) and the place is quiet and peaceful with out fights breaking out or the like. As I keep stating, the only poor behaviour we have seen has all been performed by tourists and this can cause us some embarrassment.

So it was off to the tailor for us and a custom made set of leathers for Carol and a skirt and top for me. Hers looked lovely, mine however makes me look like a high end escort. I need to get some New Rock boots and a bit of Goth make up to set the scene a little better.

Leathers colour matched to her bike... I am saying nothing!

Does my worship of Satan look big in this?
As well as picking up our clothes, we also had a bit of a wander about in the not so smelly part of Bangkok and it was so nice that we have decided to go out for dinner later.

On of the things that does get to me a little is the poverty here, as a tourist we are bringing in much needed wealth to an otherwise poor nation, but you know it is pretty bad when people have to live like this.

A sad and sorry shanty built on rotting wood struts above the polluted river 

The Tuk Tuk, one of the plagues of pedestrianised areas.
Leave me alone, I am just too hot!