Thursday 8 November
Ferry from Douglas an hour late so we don’t arrive at Heysham until after midnight. Stay at a new Holiday Inn Express at Preston the standard of which far exceeds the norm for this type of hotel. You could fit three people in the shower it was that big!
Just make it for breakfast with three minutes to spare and then off south on the M6 stopping at IKEA for a free coffee and a look round. Yes, we were tempted with a few things as well.
Near M50 turn off of M5 get a call from Phillip to say they are both in the local casualty! This is not a good start but thankfully the splinter and septic finger were treated quickly and they were back at their house an hour after we got there.
As one who has ( as far as long haul flights are concerned ) been brought up on a diet of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, the flight with Thai Airways was a revelation with food and drinks in abundance.
Sunday 11 November
Bangkok airport is not really taken in at 6am but immigration and arrival formalities quickly passed and out to be met by our guide. Boy is it humid.
Arrive at hotel, Ariysam Villa, at 8am so room not ready, understandably. However, hotel pull out all stops and we are in bed asleep by half nine, waking again at midday to get to the Sunday market at Chatuchak.
Thousands upon thousands of stalls selling everything you ever needed and everything you didn’t even know you needed.
Thoroughly worn out so dinner in hotel which was good quality although staff did have some strange ideas on what items were and when to serve them.
Monday 12 November
Visit to The Temple of the Emerald Buddha today via, again, overcrowded sky train and water boat. Lots of others had the same thought and it seems to in places resemble a Disney theme park for the number of people. Thankfully no rides though and a walk around reveals the utmost beauty and ornateness in the Temple grounds. Taxi back took us through many streets where gold Buddha’s are for sale, some as tall as a room.
Tonight’s meal is booked at “Cabages & Condoms” which sounds an interesting choice for 4 60+ year olds! As it turns out the food was good although sitting at a table which had row after row of differently coloured condoms under the glass table top was a unique experience and one that I would probably never repeat. There is a social side to all this as it is run by a charity promoting safe sex in other parts of the country.
Dinner finishes early and off by Sky train to a late night market selling everything from fake watches and Jimmy Choo handbags and shoes. The market is in an area that would in most other cities be called a red light area and we were bombarded with invites to meet the girls and those men who thought they were girls, watch kick boxing matches between men, girls and those who didn’t really know what they were as well as the gay bars. Needless to say we beat a hasty retreat after looking at the market stalls and called it a night.
Tuesday 13 November
Off for a ride on a long tail which is a speedboat with a very long tail at the back that had the propeller attached to it. A three hour trip for four cost about £77 and we were taken around some of the backwaters to see houses on stilts, river vendors – we obliged, had lunch at an orchid farm after looking around the farm although most were not in bloom, sadly. A fascinating experience to see how some others live and make a living. There were even some shops that had only a water frontage and a few boats occupied by little old ladies off, presumably, to do their shopping.
Finished tour at Memorial Bridge, making our way through the flower stalls and onto the electrical market, the clothes market and out onto a gridlocked road which scuppers our plans to go to see a golden Buddha that Phillip says is good. The flower stalls were often worked by women threading flowers onto sticks for selling on, possibly to hotels or bridal parties. The work involved is amazingly intricate and probably very time consuming.
Water bus back exceptionally over crowded but we made it back in one piece via the sky train and in time for a swim and some more insect bites! Last minute change of plan and we eat at Hotel again to save on shoe leather!
Wednesday 14 November
Our last day at this lovely hotel, Ariyasom Villa, we shall be sorry to go. An early start and a Sky Train journey to National Stadium for 20 Bhts to visit Jim Thompson’s house and a well thought out guided tour for 100 Bhts each, bargain. An American who fell in love with Thailand after WW11 and was involved in the silk industry. Sadly he was lost in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia in 1967 but his work lives on in many silk shops in SE Asia.
After lunch, off into the perpetual traffic jam that is Bangkok towards the airport and a nice relaxation two hours waiting for the plane to Hanoi.
Overall, Bangkok was an interesting and bustling city as one would expect but with a charm that needs further exploration especially in the eating out arena. The downsides are the traffic and the lack of escalators / lifts to the sky train.
The business class seats on the way to Hanoi are even more spacious than those from London to Bangkok, I can’t reach the seat in front with my legs.