Thailand travelogue – Bangkok

22 – 24 October – Bangkok

What a fantastic fusion of East and West! So much like the Jakarta I grew up in, and yet bigger, better, busier, more successful! I think if I were to sum Bangkok up in a word, it would be Cyberpunk. There’s this fantastic blend of local dirty streets and towering steel and glass skyscrapers, and there’s a sense of Bladerunner, especially at night. Continue reading

Thailand travelogue – Cultural tourism

21 October – Culture

Today we decided to do some more “cultural” tourism. We didn’t want to spend the whole day out and about, with an early flight to Bangkok the next day, and so chose activities that seemed close to Kata, were reasonably well advertised, and (we hoped) relatively interesting.

Orchid Farm

Verboten!This is a private business run by a European (judging by the warning signs, a German?) primarily for the purposes of exporting the delicate flowers, and (I assume) supplying them to local businesses. I think that they charge the pittance for entry as an easy supplement to what must be a lucrative business.

There is not much of a display explaining much about orchids, how they are grown, let alone a guided tour. As such, we were out in less than 30 minutes. Even so, I got some exquisite photos. Continue reading

Thailand travelogue – A day in paradise

Note: This post was really hard to write. I was very tempted to just link to the photos I took and let them speak for themselves. Very tempted.

20 Oct – Phi Phi Island

That's a pina colada. In a pineapple!

That's a pina colada. In a pineapple!

Owing to a “headache” brought on by the activity pictured to the right, P did not join me for today’s activities. She apparently went for a walk, got massages and had a good time on her own. I know she likes to have some time on her own, so that was fine. But she did miss out on some awesome sights. Continue reading

Thailand travelogue – Familiar and surreal

18 October (cont) – Schnitzel and shooting

We returned to the hotel so P could make extensive use of the day spa (which she continued to do on subsequent days). I’ll admit that I did, too. It was literally a hop, skip and a jump from our room, and really cheap. I got a great massage and skin treatment out of it. Sure, I probably could have gotten the same on the beach or street but this was so much simpler.

For dinner, we headed up to Patong, which is kind of the equivalent of Kuta (for those who know Bali). The popular beaches, the tourist shopping, the bars, the red light district… and the ping-pong shows (seriously, be careful about that link). Anyway, we did none of that. Our driver, recognising that we were just out for dinner and not interested in any “action” dropped us off at Jungceylon, a large shopping mall with the promise of picking us up in a couple hours.

We wandered the shops for a bit, then settled on a german restaurant for dinner. For a total of about $30, we had drinks and two all-you-can-eat buffet meals of vaguely passable standard. And then I saw it: “First shooting range in shopping mall in Thailand.” Out of morbid curiosity and the need to prove something to myself about my convictions on gun control, I felt compelled to try it out. Continue reading

Thailand travelogue – Kata

17 October – I’m on a plane!

I always forget how exhausting sitting around with nothing to do for eight hours can be. Maybe time has just mellowed my memory, but my flights on Qantas and Singapore Air between Sydney and Jakarta were nowhere near as depleting or annoying. The food was tolerable, but they managed to run out of chicken (does anyone voluntarily take the fish, ever?) before reaching our seats. Between movies (on demand, which is a nice improvement over the last time I flew), I got some nice photos out my window.

We arrived in Bangkok, crossed immigration/customs without any issue and shuttled immediately to our connecting flight to Phuket, which seemed to take almost as long. By the time we arrived, it was past midnight but our hotel transfer was awake and waiting for us. And then, the real journey began! I think P would have preferred to pass out until we got to the hotel, but the local driving was hair raising, even by my standards which were hardened in the peak hour madness of Jakarta. Lane markings aren’t even a guide, let alone a rule!  It’s as though everyone in Phuket is a part-time rally driver out to perfect their speed curves on the main streets. And yet, despite (or perhaps because of) all of this, traffic flows for the most part safely.

Finally at the hotel, we checked in and collapsed without any further incident. After the cramped confines of airplanes, the king bed and soft pillows were a welcome comfort.

18 October – Kata

We definitely chose a great hotel in the Centara. How do I know? Because when we woke up and opened the blessedly effective blackout curtains, this is the sight that greeted us: Continue reading