The land of smile

     

Ah, now where were we? Oh yes, Heathrow airport, Saturday 21 November, with the grim reaper looming in the corners of my frightened little mind. Such fond, fond memories.

As you might have guessed I did not die that day. Rodney nearly did though, when he rocked up at the airport 30 seconds before check-in was due to close. I could have strangled the bar-steward. Fortunately for Rodney the nice lady from China Southern Airlines, perhaps sensing a relationship was hanging in the balance, decided to take the opportunity to upgrade us before sending us on our hurried but merrier way. 

I’ve never been upgraded before, not when travelling independently of my mother at least. She gets upgraded all the time because she wears a Breitling. One little flash of that bad boy and people fall over themselves to improve her day. I’ve never understood why people who could clearly afford to pay the extra are always the ones to get the upgrade when the paupers (that’s me) get exactly what they paid for. But on this occasion the little guy (that’s me too) won.

The intense hatred I’d felt for Rodney moments before dissipated and I returned to the important business of being afraid. I read somewhere that if there is a bomb on your plane you can expect it to be detonated within the first 20 minutes of flight. I read somewhere else that hijacks tend to take place within the first 45 minutes, that airline pilots are currently “buckling” under unacceptable levels of pressure, that most plane crashes are fatal, and that we sold some very high tech missiles to some very bad people who may or may not be looking to blow a passenger jet out of the sky. 

All of these terribly interesting factoids combined with four hours of ‘fierce turbulence’ (the pilot’s words) to ensure the upgrade was totally wasted on me. The entire flight (or two flights if we’re being pedantic) was horrendous with my thoughts veering off to a very dark place that I hope never to return to. It took me a few days of living it up in Bangkok to recover. Once back to my old self I resolved to stop reading the news and to stop asking Google morbid questions. My life has improved considerably as a result. It’s not cool to be afraid.

Originally we weren’t going to include Thailand in this trip, but the flights were dirt cheap at £370 return so we decided to risk it for a biscuit. 

When you arrive in Bangkok there’s a big sign at the airport welcoming one and all to ‘the land of smile’ (singular). I’ve actually never found Thailand all that friendly in the past. Outside of the resorts where folk are paid to be nice to you, many people always seemed quite discontent and well, a bit rude. It seemed that the regular influx of obnoxious foreign tourists over the years had wiped that singular smile off the nation’s face. 

I’m not sure what has happened since my last visit but I’m pleased to say it’s smiles (plural) all round in Thailand at the moment. Rodney reckons they’ve all been told to ‘smile or else’. I think it has more to do with their booming economy. Or perhaps it’s us that have changed. Whatever the reason, people were so lovely to us it warmed the cockles of my heart. We had such an amazing time that we’ve decided to return for a handful of weeks at the end of the trip.

Anyhoo, without further ado here’s the lowdown on our vanless travels from Bangkok to the Andaman coast…
   

We arrived in Bangkok in time for Loy Krathong, an annual festival where people gather to pay respect to the goddess of water by releasing lotus-shaped rafts, decorated with candles, incense and flowers onto the water. We spotted a kid in a rubber ring a bit further down the (heavily polluted) river collecting the little rafts and handing them up to his mum so they could be resold. Waste not want not! I guess he missed a few though because the next day the sewers were on fire…
 

We randomly met up with an old school friend of Rodney’s and got happily inebriated on the Khao San (when in Rome)…  

  

My favourite way to get around Bangkok is by boat. It’s about 25 pence per trip…

 

Day two and Rodney is already bored of me photographing his every move…

    
 

Coconut pancakes, cheap and delicious, food of the gods…   

Peach tea, not the best…
 

This artsy shot serves no purpose other than to demonstrate Rodney’s size in comparison to a pigeon…
  
  

We took a sleeper train from Bangkok to Trang during a dramatic electrical storm and got no sleep. I shotgunned the top bunk…

  

 

We spent three days on ko tarutao and were attacked by sand flies, mossies, monkeys and jelly fish. And it was so hot we could barely stay awake. Paradise is dangerous!…

 

  

Rodney’s starter…

 

Rodney made me trek through the jungle up to this viewpoint in the 37 degree midday sun. My one and only (fake) smile of the journey was captured in this sweaty photograph…

   

We heard conflicting stories about this holey rock. Initially we were told that if you pass through it with your sweetheart then your love will last forever. However, a sign nearby suggests that it will simply ensure a long life, with no mention of love. Rodney decided to go it alone choosing longevity over love. He scraped the back of his head on the rock moments after this photo was taken. I suspect the scar may last a good old while…
 

 

It used to be dodgy old ferries that took you to the islands, back in’t day. But these have mostly been replaced by new speed boats on the andaman coast. This was us heading to Ko Lipe. You can just about make out the holey rock that Rodney hit his head on in the distance…

 

We sat on the same spot on Ko Lipe every evening to watch the sun go down. It was awesome…  

  

 

His mouth keeps saying that we can’t get a dog, but his happy dog-loving face is telling a different tail…

 

I stopped counting after 50 bites. Still don’t know how they kept getting in…

  
  

 The only person I’ve ever heard complain that the sea water is too warm (except for climate change experts I suppose) is Rodney… 
 

That’s me in the middle, enjoying a nice warm bath, no complaints…

 

 

Pad Siew, food of the gods…

  

It was just over a quid for this iced coffee, so an expensive treat. But the nicest iced coffee we ever did taste…

 
 

Woof…
 
   
 

And finally, a bit of Thai van porn, because this is still a blog about vans…

Bangkok bar

  

 

Not really a van but I reckon I could just about live in one. Trang tuk-tuk 

  

Malaysia blog coming soon!

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4 thoughts on “The land of smile

  1. I have been to Bali, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur myself… just giving you a suggestion why not come and visit the Philippines (perhaps on or before the elections starts in May!) 🙂 I am sure you will love it too.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I have some followers from PH and they blog (brag) about it and yes it is beautiful without being bias haha! Unfortunately I haven’t been to some places there like Palawan & Bohol etc.

        Like

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