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2017 OCTOBER - THAILAND RAIL JOURNEY part three

TO BANGKOK AND FURTHER SOUTH

THIS BLOG IS BEING WRITTEN FROM MEMORY SO NOT MUCH DETAIL. I AM CATCHING UP ON MISSED BLOGS WHILE RELAXING ON TIOMAN ISLAND.

DAY 243 FRIDAY 6TH OCTOBER 2017

AYUATTHAYA TO BANGKOK

Today we are returning to Bangkok, we need to make just a quick stop to collect our bag that is in storage at Mango Lagoon Place, we left it there before we went over to Cambodia - over a month ago, so we hope it's still there.

Breakfast at our accommodation was the easiest for this morning, but it was more like brunch as we were not in a big hurry to go anywhere early.
I had pancakes with banana & sweet syrup 80 baht = aud $3.08 & Lyn had fruit & yoghurt for 60 baht = aud $2.31, we shared a mango smoothie 40 baht = aud $1.54.

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After eating we returned to our room to pack up the last of our stuff and I was merrily chatting on FB when Lyn asked 'what time is the train?' Just after 12 I replied, well we best get going as it's 3 minutes past now. Shit, I thought it was just 11 o'clock. Lucky for us the train station is only 4 minutes walk away - maybe 5 with us dragging our luggage. I was purchasing our tickets as the train was being called. That was close. This is only a short ride over under 2 hours to Bangkok so it really would not have mattered if we missed this one as there would be other trains we could catch today. 3rd class 15 baht = aud 58c - unallocated seats so everyone just scrambled on when the train stopped. We were just lucky with timing and managed to both get seats as soon as we boarded the carriage.

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This was the longest (most amount of carriages) and the most crowded train we have been on so far, which makes getting a seat even more lucky. There were people having to stand in the aisle, made even more uncomfortable by the food and drink vendors plying up and down the corridor.

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Not much countryside to look at out the window in this leg. Being so close to Bangkok already we drove through suburbia nearly all the way. Seeing the back of peoples living quarters, as you do when travelling by train, is always interesting. Not the prettiest of views here in Thailand as you can imagine, and some of the food preparation sights you just really don't need to see.

Our train arrived into Bangkok station just a little late due to the fact we were delayed at a couple of stations, think we had to wait for oncoming trains to clear the tracks, because as soon as they passed we would move on. As we are only spending one night in Bangkok we decided to purchase our onward ticket while here at the train station. There are special ticket windows for advanced ticket purchases so we had to take a number and a seat and wait our turn. 10 minutes later I was at the counter handing over cash for our ride out of Bangkok tomorrow. Lucky we did buy the tickets today as 2nd class was already sold out, so 3rd class it is for us again.

Leaving the station building we are prime targets for taxi touts and drivers. These buggers refuse to use the meters with us, they quote a stupid price and don't seem to care if you walk away. I guess they know that we need the transport so this is one of the rare places where they stick together and do not give in to a reasonable price. I suggest to Lyn we go out onto the main road and flag down a taxi away from these sharks. This has worked in the past, but did not go so well today. I few stopped but would not agree to use meter and would not agree on the price we wanted to pay. This was not looking good, we even got so far as to load our bags inside a taxi only for him to remove them once he saw the address.

We moved further along the street, still prices quoted were crazy 200, 300 even 400 baht. We know the distance in a meter taxi is only about 70 baht so it was hard for us to give in to a more expensive price. Eventually, we had to, and climbed into a tuk tuk with our bags at an agreed price of 100 baht = aud $3.85. This was worse really because a tuk tuk should be cheaper than an air con taxi, but this guy was the only one who agreed to take us for the maximum that we wanted to pay. Worst part about travelling in a tuk tuk is you get all the traffic fumes right there in your face. Lucky the ride was only about 15 minutes and he dropped us at the front of Mango Lagoon Place, where our bag was hopefully still in storage and where we hopefully would be able to get a room for the night.

Prices are a bit higher here in Bangkok and due to the facts this was where our bag was, we knew this place was clean and they had a room with 2 single beds we gladly paid the 900 baht = aud $34.65 they asked for.

Up in our room we had air con and a tv with English speaking channels! Small things satisfy us!

We had been looking forward to having ribs and roast potato for dinner, from the restaurant attached to our hotel. The old man was again in the alley way bbqing and we were not disappointed with the meal for 160 baht = aud $6.16 each. Washed down with Bangkok priced Leo beer for 110 baht = aud$4.23.

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After dinner we returned to the same massage/nail salon to have a manicure 150baht = aud $5.77. So now our nails are back to looking lovely and cared for. Just before the ladies finished our nails, I suggested to Lyn we should have a foot massage 120 baht = aud $4.62 while we wait for them to dry. So a great pamper session for less than aud $10 each!! Makes up for the overpriced beer.

Back to our room we rescue our bag from storage and I must admit there was a little part of me that was surprised that it was still in the storage room. And another little part of me was hoping that it was not there as now we have more weight to carry. lol The bag was still totally intact and looked untouched, still we decided to wait until the morning to open it up and tackle the question of how we are going to carry it all.

More English TV, watched a few non-descript movies, before going off to sleep.

It was supposed to rain today, but both on and off the train we did not see any.

So we have now travelled from Chiang Mai to Bangkok on an assortment of trains.
Chiang Mai to Lumpang 53 baht + Lumpang to Phitsanulok 48 baht + Phitsanulok to Ayutthaya 168 baht + Ayutthaya to Bangkok 15 baht = totaL 284 baht = aud $10.97 each, approximately 700km.


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DAY 244 SATURDAY 7TH OCTOBER 2017

BANGKOK TO HUA HIN

Our train is not until 1pm later today so we head out for breakfast. We go to the Green House Restaurant at the other end of Rumbuttri where they serve a great tomato & egg dish called ‘shakshuka’. We ate here a few years ago and keep meaning to come back to have it again, but always seem to run out of time, so made special time for it this trip. It was delicious as we remembered and served with real bread & butter – washed down with a coconut shake total 332 baht = aud $12.83.

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Getting a taxi to the train station was again a challenge, however we managed to find one that would take us for 150 baht = aud $5.79 , no one wants to use a meter when you can rip off a tourist.

Today we are traveling to Hua Hin.

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We had 2nd class tickets and sat in an aircon compartment, it was a pretty comfortable 4 ½ hour trip for 152 baht = aud $5.87.

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The hotel I booked for the next 3 nights was walking distance from the train station so we dragged our luggage down the street a few blocks and finally found it. Hotel Ansu 630 baht = aud $24.34 per night including tea & toast breakfast. Didn’t realize it was a cave room, with only a tiny window in the bathroom to the outside, but with air con, TV & hot shower we didn’t mind. The location was good also.

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Hua Hin is known for its seafood night market and our hotel was just 2 blocks so we went out looking for dinner. Unfortunately, the seafood is priced the same or more than it is as home so we gave it all a miss and had a huge pork chop that was cooked on the BBQ served with a big baked potato – excellent.

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DAY 245 SUNDAY 8TH OCTOBER 2017

HUA HIN

Today we went to the beach, walked about 7km along the length of Hua Hin Beach. Stopped a few times for a swim, the water was lovely clean and very warm, like a bath. It was very hot so after a cooling off in the air con of a 711 we cheated and caught a songthaew back into town for just 5 baht = aud 19c.

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That night we ate at a Dutch restaurant – it was delicious and a nice change from the Asian food we have been eating.

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DAY 246 MONDAY 9TH OCTOBER 2017

Today we hired a motor bike to do a little bit of exploring. Just south out of town we found a fishing village with lots of shack restaurants selling seafood which was much cheaper than the seafood we saw in the night market. We ear marked this place to come back later for dinner.

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We stopped and had a swim at the beach on the other side of monkey mountain.

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And stopped at KFC to have our addicted to ice coffee.

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We decided to ride up to Cha Am which is about 30 km up the north coast, first stopping at a petrol station to fill the bike with fuel, always get motorbikes empty. The bike had been playing up all morning, being hard to start but now after putting in the fuel it would not start at all. The young guys who pump the fuel did their best to get us going again but the bike did not want to start. They even put in a different battery from one of their own bikes to see if that would work. Of course it didn’t so we were stuck with a no go bike. The guys helping us did not speak any English but we managed to convey to them to phone our hotel where we hired the bike from and advise them it was not working. We waited for an hour before deciding to walk back to the hotel as no one had shown up to replace the bike as yet. Back at the hotel they had sent someone out but of course we had the key so they could do nothing. Long story, short, the bike was kaput and we were refunded our 200 baht hire fee so we could hire another bike from the place next door. No refund was given for the fuel we had put in the bike as suddenly no one spoke or understood English. It was only a couple of dollars so we did not worry too much and had lost 2 hours of time already.

Rode along the highway up to Cha Am which looked like a really really touristy place even compared to Hua Hin. But definitely more aimed at the Thai tourist. We stopped and had a swim because it was so hot but the beach was not half as nice as it was in Hua Hin.

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Rode out on the Cha Am Jetty to see the big squids.

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Rode on the highway back to Hua Hin before dark and headed straight to the fishing village to have a fabulous seafood dinner of oysters, scallops & clams.
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Posted by Cindy Bruin 00:20 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok Comments (0)

2015 MAY THAILAND - OVERNITE TRAIN AND ONE DAY IN BANGKOK

Yep, Bangers is like a furnace!

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Tuesday 19th May 2015 (day fifteen)

Our overnight train journey went unhindered and surprisingly for the first time we have travelled on the overnight train it arrived into Bangkok train station on time at 6.50am. No one wants to be arriving into a big city at this hour in the morning, no one wants to be woken up earlier than this on the train so the beds could be converted back to seats for the last hour of the journey. No one, especially not me! I had the privilege of sleeping in the top bunk on the train and instead of a gentle rocking to sleep as would be comforting I was jostled from side to side in my narrow bunk. Did manage to sleep a little but the cabin lights are left on all night and the curtain rods are just below the light so my little compartmented area was bathed in light the entire night. Thankfully my eye mask (thanks Jan) did cut most of it out, but with the flashes of light and the body shaking it was a bit like sleeping in a noisy disco.

We had dinner on the train for 170 baht = $6.80 (no beer) which was served to us at our seats at 7pm. By 8pm the stewards were chomping at their bits to set up our beds and after this was done we had little choice but to try and sleep. I guess they know that the passengers are not going to get a fitful nights sleep so they send you off to bed early. And the fact that there is not beer being sold and it was dark outside so nothing to see, so what else are passengers going to do?

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We have the day to amuse ourselves in Bangkok before our flight out at 9pm this evening. We head outside the station, dragging our luggage in search of a taxi to take us to our usual haunt to wile the day away. Of course the usual offenders come up to try and hustle us into an overpriced cab with fixed price of 400 baht = $16, which immediately dropped to 300 baht = $12 when I gave them the ‘we are not fresh off the plane’ look. I want a meter taxi I exclaim and immediately my luggage is dropped (taken minutes earlier to aid me when they thought they could rip me off) and the offender walks away mumbling. Sorry mate, not your lucky day today, I have been here before.

We deposit our luggage into a metered taxi and the driver speaks absolutely no English! Which I must say is pretty rare for a Bangkok taxi driver. Sometimes I despise my own arrogance when I come to these countries and expect the locals to be able to understand me speaking a language that is foreign to them, but it had been a rough night and I was tired. To make it worse we had no idea where we were going, well I mean we did know, but did not have the address or anything to give this poor guy. We just rattled off the name of a hotel that we know it in the area we want to be taken to and automatically presume this and every taxi driver will know where every hotel in Bangkok is located and understand the pronunciation we are giving him. I think he was happy to have a fare and drove off, I guess he would figure out where we wanted to go as we were driving. With a few broken words he asked us for an address or phone number to locate the hotel but we did not even have that to give him. Bloody hell, not very organized was I?
Just a block from the station our taxi stopped next to a tuktuk and the driver asked him if he knew where we wanted to go and after I repeated the hotel name to him he yelled something at the driver and gesturing with his hands waving us on. We felt like we were heading in the right direction, like we know Bangkok backwards, NOT! Then I remembered the name of Khao San Road, which is a well know tourist area and once I told our driver this street name he seemed to recognize it and drove with more confidence in our direction.

We did reach our chosen destination with little more fuss and the meter read less than 90 baht = $3.60 - bit different to the 300 baht = $12 the amount the original taxi driver wanted us to pay. It was still early and our first stop was to find some breakfast. We headed towards our usual Bangkok office (a restaurant where we spent a lot of time at last visit to Bangkok using the internet), but unfortunately it was closed down for renovations. How dare they! A few steps up the alley we found another place to sit and have something to eat. It was still only 7.30am and we had the whole day to fill in before our flight. It was worth our while to get a room so that we could have a shower and somewhere to re-organize our luggage. I did a bit of a walk around pricing some rooms (while Lyn sat guarding the bags :-/), we only wanted a room until 5pm but all the hotel receptionists advised the price was the same for half a day as it was for a full day with overnite. We settled on a room at the New Siam 2 for 600 baht = $24, worth the money to be able to shower now and again before we departed for the airport and a safe place to leave our luggage for the day.

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First up we again emptied the contents of our 2 bags onto the bed and repacked them. Our flight to England allows us 20 kg checked luggage each and these repacked bags were just a kilo or so over. Not too bad.

Showered and refreshed we headed back out into the steamy Bangkok day in search of a manicure. We returned to a place we had visited on our visit to this city and paid the going rate of 150 baht = $6 each for an manicure while relaxing in an air-conditioned room. Yes it was very hot in Bangkok as per normal.

After this little piece of pampering it was time for lunch and our last Thai meal was taken in one of our favoured street stalls, 165 baht = $7 - boy are we going to miss these prices in Europe.

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Another shower and soon it was time for our airport transfer. We waited on the side of the road for our minivan that fought through heavy traffic to take us to the airport. Thankfully we took the 5 o'clock shuttle and not the 6 o'clock one as this would have been too close to check in time.

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My least favourite part of travelling is airport check-ins as I always freak out we have too much luggage and today was no different. I think the stress is warranted as we do usually have overweight luggage.

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Turns out we did have a few kilos over our 20 kg limit each, but the Jet Airways attendant did not seem to care about this fact. Phew! Stress gone.

We had an overpriced meal at the airport before boarding our flight which was flying via Mumbai, India so you can imagine the nationality of the majority of passengers.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 06:15 Archived in Thailand Tagged train bangkok chiang mai overnight sleeper Comments (3)

2013 SEPT THAILAND - STOPOVER IN ASIA

Breaking the trip to Europe, stopping a few days in Thailand and Malaysia.

sunny 30 °C
View 2013 Sept ON THE WAY ASIAN STOPOVER on Cindy Bruin's travel map.

Hello all,

Well, Lyn and I are off on another great adventure.

This is just a warning email, to advise you I will be sending out blogs of our travels. If you do not want to receive these emails please let me know and I will remove you from this email list - or you can just delete the email when you receive it.

We will also be posting photos on Facebook if you are interested, if you are not yet a friend of Lyn's or mine and wish to see the pics just send a friend request and we will accept you.

itinerary:

Firstly we fly to Asia for a quick couple of days stopover before continuing on to Holland to collect some stuff in storage. We then fly to France where we are going to attempt a 120km kayak trip down the Dordogne river and a very long cycle ride from the Atlantic to Med. Travel south through Spain then over Morocco where we fly out of Casablanca mid November! Back to Asia for more adventures but will fill you in on that later.

Cindy & Lyn.

Sunday 1st Sept 2013 (day one)

Up at sparrows fart! Dawn was just cracking as we drove down the coast to Coolangatta airport. Not the best time of the day for me and I was trying very hard not to be grumpy after only a few hours sleep. There always seems to be last minute things to do, so, I'd had a late night.

Made it to the airport in plenty of time to check in, our combined baggage was 30.3kg - we had paid for 30kg so all good there. Big thank you to our lifts to the airport and going away party: Cobi, Lizzy, Miss Robyn and Mitchell. :-)

Our flight departed 10 minutes late and it was a pretty uneventful 7 hours 50 minute duration. Lyn and I both had requested aisle seats and as the plane was not completely full, we also each had a spare seat next to us. I only dozed a little as the woman sitting directly behind me was snoring very loudly - so loudly in fact she could be heard over the incessant drone of the engines mounted on the wing outside the window we were near. OMG was that Lyn sitting behind me?

Singapore: we had a quick 2 hour stopover but due to flying with an el cheapo airline aka scoot! we had to go through immigration, collect our baggage, clear customs, re-check into the next flight, again go through immigration and then find our departure gate. Or the alternative was to pay $20 and all the leg work would be done for us we, would just be able to walk directly from the arrival gate to the departure date. You guessed it we took the cheap option - hey we had been sitting for over 8 hours and needed a brisk walk anyway.

Just a short 2 hour flight from Singapore to Bangkok had us arriving at 7pm local time - wow a long day. As soon as the plane door opened we were slapped in the face with 30+ degree heat and that familiar 'aroma of Asia'.
We caught the airport shuttle to the bus station as my extensive internet research had advised we could get a public bus to the street near the hotel I had pre-booked for the next 2 nights. Of course this information was either all bullshit or the bus had stopped running just this day or for whatever reason they were trying to explain to us the end result was there was no bus. Next alternative was to get a minivan to Monument Square and get another bus to our destination from there. As this was the only option we took it and it was cheap enough at 40baht ($1.40) each plus an extra 40baht for our luggage which took the seat of a person anyway so fair enough. Arriving at the huge roundabout that is the Monument Square our minivan driver pointed us in the direction of the public bus that would continue our journey. He must have read our minds cause he suggested perhaps we should take a taxi from here - assuring us it was not much only about 100 baht ($3.50). Yep that sounded like a great idea and we soon flagged one down who offered to take us for 200 baht ($7.00)- what?? that's like double!! I offered him 150 ($5.20) but he declined so I told him to move on. Seeing our dilemma the bus driver came to our rescue and flagged down a taxi and started loading our luggage telling us this is a good one. When I enquired about the price the taxi driver gave me a rotten toothy grin and pointed to the meter - good. I handed him our hotel reservation so he would know where to go and he hand signalled (this man had very little knowledge of the English language) that he could not read it. He could not read, not due to lack of education, more lack of eyesight! I offered him my pink rimmed glasses which he took with a smile but they proved to be not strong enough so Lyn handed him her stronger lenses and this seemed to do the trick. Off we drove into very heavy traffic but before long our driver had produced a half pair of glasses (just one lens still attached to one arm) and was lowering his head to the dash board trying to see something thru this tiny piece of glass. He looked at me with a worried, panicked look on his face. With limited English all he could do was point at the dashboard and say hot, hot, very hot. Now I guessed he was not talking about me (come on - no one can look hot, hot, very hot after a 10 hour flight) and when I looked at the temp gauge I realised it was the car that was hot, hot, very hot. Luckily we made it to our destination and although we had a bit of a walk through the pedestrian only street we were happy to have made it. The meter read just 71baht ($2.40). We gave him a 100baht and left him with the hot, hot, very hot car.

Finally we made it to the hotel and of course it looked nothing like the pictures on the internet or the pictures displayed outside, but we did not give a toss at this stage. We had arrived! and now it was time to get something to eat. Nothing very exciting for our first meal - bbq & potato Thai style ($5.00) we were happy.

We had a short walk around Khao San Road, we met up with Lyn's son Patrick who is over here in Thailand at the moment on an extended holiday. He also had an long day traveling up by road from Koh Samui.

It was now after 10pm local time which meant it was around 1am Oz time so we were well and truly knackered. Time to crash, literally.

Of course on the way home we had to stop for a half hour foot massage.

What a big day! welcome to Asia.

Cindy & Lyn

Monday 2nd September 2013 (day two)

Had a great sleep on a pretty hard bed, but fabulous pillows!

I thought it was 10.30am when I'd first woken up, obviously my eyes had not yet focused as it was much earlier. I realised this as we had showered and dressed and were on the street looking for breakfast and it was just to turn 9.30. Guess it must have been 8.30 when I first looked at my watch! Not problem as we are not on any time schedule today anyway.

It was hot already and Bangkok was starting to come awake. Dropped of the clothes we wore yesterday to be washed. Crazy not to here, it only costs 25baht (85c) per kilo. There will be plenty of time later in the trip for hand washing.

We found a random place to have breakfast and sat deciding that we might not do anything special today. And just as well we had decided that, as that is exactly what we did - more of the nothing rather than special!

We met up with Patrick again and sat around catching up on what he has been up to. Went for a bit of a walk - checking out alternative hotels for our next stopover in Bangkok. We had pad thai for lunch from a street vendor for 50baht ($1.75) each. A bit of a walk around and before we knew it, it was 4pm and time for a relax back in our air con room.

Surfacing again at about 6pm, it was decided it was time for another foot massage before we had some dinner. Wow this holidaying stuff is just full of huge decisions of what to do when. Feeling relaxed and refreshed we walked a little way down the soi (lane way) and had dinner at one of the many makeshift restaurants. Clams cooked in sweet basil and green mussels filled the spot - never mind that the fried rice came after we had finished eating the shell fish - welcome to Asia where all the components of your meal will not be served to you at once!

Again a quick walk around, we managed to find the place where I stored some luggage last visit and are planning on using them again. We are leaving some stuff here as we only need to take minimal stuff with us to Europe for the bike ride. At 5baht (20c) per day, this seems like a good option for us. So now it was time to go back to the room and sort out what to take and what stays behind. Not a task we were looking forward to, but a necessary one. By the time we finished it was close to 10.30 and after such a hectic day we were ready for bed.

We don't seemed to have done much in the day and 2 nights we have had in Bangkok but this was just a break up stopover. We have been here before and it was just too hot to trot around doing touristy things.

Tomorrow we head just a little north of Bangkok to the city of Ayutthaya.

Cindy & Lyn

Posted by Cindy Bruin 20:37 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok Comments (0)

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