I’ve been in Thailand for a week now. I landed in Bangkok and decided that I would spend a week in the city. That was a big mistake. I’d booked an apartment prior to coming in Thong lo area which cost £250, so not a nightmare.
Having never been to this part of the world I wanted to explore the big City for a while. I like to walk and explore and feel the city and the vibe of a place. What I very quickly found out is this that no one walks. Even the locals don’t really walk and that’s because of the oven heat and the most saddening part, is the pollution. It’s really bad. You can taste it in your mouth. It fills your lungs as I’ve never experienced before. So when you see Asian people walking around with face masks you know why. It’s not a germ thing. I assume that Japan or major Asia city is the same.
After walking for a good three to four hours you will be completely soaked in sweat and you will be wasted. After a few days of this, I found out that the best way to get around was on the train which covers a good part of the city but not all. My favourite was by canal boat. It takes you into the old part of the city and connects you to the main river Chao Phraya. My last day there I took the river cruise which is really cheap.
Of course, the major sights were explored such as the Grand Palace but they were completely mobbed. For me, I like to try and find the hidden city which I did on foot. Walking into slum areas along the canal footpath getting strange looks for the looks as to why the tourist is here in our back yard, but never once did I feel in danger. In main I think Bangkok is a safe city. The danger comes in the form of the bars, Tuk Tuk drivers and certain restaurants looking to cash in on Tourist. They will rip you off in a heartbeat.
The other thing is the sex trade and middle-aged European white men looking for sex or a young Thai girl.
That made me feel a little ashamed to be white and middle-aged. Travelling on my own which I know is not the norm, I felt people were looking at me like that. Look here comes a man looking for sex and or bride and to tell you the truth it made me feel bad. But you can not hide from the truth. You see a lot of that in Thailand. Lots of middle-aged to older white men with Thai girls. Maybe its true love or deep pockets.
Time to get out of smog filed Dodge.
So I’d seen some of the city and I’m sure I could have seen a whole lot more if I’d researched it better. My copy of Lonely Plant guide to Bangkok got a light reading for inspiration but in the main, I got a flavour of the place. I’d planned on going to Chiangmai but the heat in Bangkok was so much that I felt it was time to hit the beach instead of more city adventure so I booked a Flight to Phuket.
I got into Phuket at about nine at night and took a cab to Patong beach where I’d booked a hotel for a night. Checking in I got into an argument with the receptionist as she wanted to hold on to my passport or give them 2000 that as a deposit. After a game of bluff where I said that I was off unless the changed their mind about the whole deposit thing, I went to my room. Very tacky place. I walked down the Patong road where all the sex bars are with girls and men are offering you a free drink if you coming into their bar. Girls dancing on podiums wearing close to nothing. It’s a sight for the senses. Within half an hour of being in Paton, I knew this was not the place for me. I managed to make my way to the beach front and got speaking to a Spanish guy with his Italian wife who lives in Southgate North London. We chatted as we walked and it was nice speaking with what a called a friendly couple. After we split a went into a bar and asked about other fewer tourist areas. Karon Beach was chosen as the place I’d go in the morning. The next day I walk around getting one last look at Patong and got ripped off for breakfast. They changed me 200 Bhat for a one egg omelette. As I said before its not the thefts that will get you. Negotiating a taxi is hard work. Example. I have changed 800 bhat for an hour-long drive from the airport to the hotel. Seems fair. The drive from Paton to Karon Beach is about 15 max 20 mins and every taxi stand/driver want 500. Also now of them want to go on the meter. There are metered cabs but getting one is a different story. In the end, I got a taxi for 250.
So far my stay in Karon at the Kata Tranquil Villas has been ok. And learning my lesson from overbooking my stay in Bangkok I’m only booking a day or so at each place. I’ve booked two days at a different hotel closer to the beach at Karon Beach and maybe I’ll move to a different beach but for now, I’m chilling at Karon in the hot sun with a cool sea breeze.
What I’ve learned so far.
- Don’t book a hotel for too long. You might not like it or the area.
- Don’t trust the bars or restaurants. They will rip you off. Also, make sure they have their prices displayed.
- Don’t trust a cabbie.
- Learn to negotiate with a smile
- Last, of all, put it into perspective. Don’t start negotiating over 50 or 100 Bhat its about £2.00. Some of these people are poor and just looking to make a life.