A Travellerspoint blog


Bangkok Flooded!

The Last Entry Before Home

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I've been spending my final few days in Bangkok doing a lot of wandering around and shopping, buying some things I didn't want to haul around earlier in my trip, and basically spending too much money. I even ate at Subway today, the first time I broke down and ate fast food. As I was walking down Khao San Road earlier today, I noticed the skies were getting progressively darker, and some street vendors had begun to cover their goods with plastic. It was obviously going to rain, but I've never in my life seen rain like this.

It started innocently enough, just sprinkling, but within a couple minutes it started really coming down. This has happened before and it's fun to watch, everyone scurries to find cover and watches the rain pound down, and then it suddenly stops ten minutes later. But this time it just kept getting progressively more violent, and some vendors were struggling to keep their tarps in place. So we're all waiting and waiting. Ten minutes, twenty minutes, there's no end in sight. By this point, I've realized that Khao San Road itself must be lower than the surrounding streets, because water is starting to pool up faster than the storm drains can swallow it. The water keeps creeping up, getting closer to the top of the curb until it disappears and the entire street is just a pool of water. It was six inches deep in the middle of the street, probably a foot and a half at the edges. Some vendors had a fair bit of their merchandise ruined, and there was a bookstore that had a whole row of books on the bottom shelf get soaked. But in true Thai fashion, no one was angry, and I'm sure it wasn't the first time it's happened. It also thankfully cooled everything down. Usually a day spent walking around Bangkok means a shower and a change of clothes by the end of the day. It was definitely a sight though, and just when I thought all the excitement of my trip had passed me by. Some pics:


Khao San Road incapacitated.


There goes the curb ..


The stranded street vendor!


Unrelated, but I wanted to post it. On the flight from Colombo to Bangkok.

Other than my first flood experience, not too much has happened. I met up with an American guy last night that I had travelled with for about ten days in Vietnam. He was on his way back from California to South Africa, his adopted home, and we randomly managed to meet up again. That'll surely be the last familiar face I'll see before I go home, now only two days away.

I remember eating breakfast on my first morning in Bangkok four and half months ago, and I couldn't even fathom what it would be like to be going home. I've wandered through five countries, seen things I'll never forget and met amazing people that have succeeded in making the time I've spent here the best of my entire life. A handful of them I wish I could take back home with me, and I find myself cursing the fact that some of them I will probably never see again in my life. Thankfully we have the internet. As for myself, I'm sure I've changed, but I'll save that judgement for everyone back home.

So that's it. This is the last entry. Hopefully I'll get around to seeing everyone within a couple weeks, as I'll be in Abbotsford probably until March when I move back to Van and find a job. Thank you to everyone who found the time to read this, leave comments, send me emails and good wishes; it helped ward off homesickness like you wouldn't believe.

So thanks again and I'll see you all soon!

Posted by sam.m. 18:37 Archived in Thailand Comments (3)

Back In Thailand

Only six days to Delhi

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I guess it's been a few days since I last wrote. My apologies. But Happy New Year!

After flying back to Bangkok from Hanoi on Boxing Day, I made my way to Koh Chang, an island off the coast of Thailand, near Cambodia. I had plans to meet up with the Aussie and the Kiwi I had met over Christmas in Hanoi. We didn't book ahead based on the travel agent's recommendation that there would be 'plenty' of accomodation on the island for New Year's. This was dumb. We got there on December 30th, and found that the entire island was completely booked out, and the only room available was at this woman's house for 1000 baht (about $30). Since there was three of us, it wasn't that expensive, but when we got there, it was just a space in her living room with a couple mattresses on the floor. No door. We moved into one of her crappy bungalows for the same price on New Year's Eve, and then bolted the next day.

New Year's was a good time, though. We went to a backpacker's place called the Treehouse on Lonely Beach, and it was overflowing with people, but very, very relaxed. There was even a fireworks show. My sandals got stolen though. Either that or I was too drunk to find them at the end of the night. But it wasn't a big deal, I think I paid 55 baht for them, which works out to less than $2.

After New Year's, we decided to find some much needed quality accomodation and found an awesome place on the opposite side of the island. It was like a hotel, but it was built over the water connected by a long pier. We spent six days there, rented motos virtually every day and explored the whole island, finding beaches no one went to, navigating dirt paths that these scooters were absolutely not designed for, and generally just lying in the sun. We also took a boat on one of the last days to a smaller outlying island that had a very picturesque little beach. I admit that I shaved my beard off before I got to the island because I didn't want to be disgraced with a beard tan, but it's coming back in nicely, and by the time I get back to Van (which isn't too far away now), it'll be full again.

I'm back in Bangkok again, this time for almost a full week before I leave for India next Sunday, the 13th. I'm pretty excited to see a culture completely different from Southeast Asia, and I've heard many people simply cannot handle the culture shock India provides. I'm reading a fantastic book right now called Shantaram, a true story written by an Australian that broke out of maximum security prison in the 80's, escaped to India, lived in a slum, fought in an Afghani war, acted in Bollywood, and ultimately got caught and spent more time in an Aussie jail. It's probably the best book I've ever read and it has great insights into Indian life. Apparently it's being made into a film starring Johnny Depp. As for my trip, I actually fly into Colombo, Sri Lanka and spend a night there first, before flying to Delhi the next afternoon. I'm hoping I'll get a chance to look around the city, but they're not giving me a visa, so I'll probably be confined to my hotel room. I'm planning on doing a full tour of the state of Rajasthan, in the northwest of the country. Apparently there's a ton of culture there, and the Taj Mahal is just east of Rajasthan in Agra. I've only got three weeks, and I'll be back in Bangkok again on February 5th, before flying back to Vancouver on the 9th.

I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed; it's already been three and a half months, and the next four weeks will surely pass quickly. I'm glad I went away for so long though. If it had only been two months, or even three, I don't think I would have been as satisfied as I already I am. The time allowed me to get pretty homesick at one point, and then plenty of time to work through it to the point where the last three weeks have been some of the best of the trip, simply because I appreciate being away.

Some pics, I haven't taken a ton lately, so there's not much to choose from:


This was the little peninsula beach on the smaller island next to Koh Chang. There wasn't a soul around but us.


Another empty beach we took motos to. The dirt path to the beach was downright dangerous at one point, which made it so much more rewarding to get to.



I've been reading that there's some bad storms hitting the West Coast? Do you guys have snow or what? See you all soon ..

Posted by sam.m. 16:00 Archived in Thailand Comments (3)

Christmas in Hanoi

I miss Vietnam already

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Merry Christmas! I guess this is a couple days late, but it doesn't matter.

I arrived in Bangkok late last night, a day later than expected. I wish I was still in Hanoi.

I arrived in Hanoi on the 18th, and my original plan was to go to Sapa in the north for a couple nights before heading to Halong Bay for a couple more, and then back to Hanoi for Christmas. Well, plans change, as they have numerous times on this trip and when I got to Hanoi, I just wasn't really interested in taking another long bus ride to Sapa, so I just stayed put in Hanoi for a few days before heading to Halong Bay on the 22nd. I saw some sights and generally relaxed. I met some Welsh people and we made fun of each other's accents for a few days over ridiculously cheap Bia Hoi, the local brew, which goes for 2000D per glass. The Vietnamese currency is the dong, and the exchange is 15000D for $1. Do the math and a glass of beer goes for about 15 cents. Pretty awesome. It's definitely not the best beer in the world, but come on, 15 cents.

Halong Bay was stunning. Unfortunately the weather didn't completely cooperate, and it was raining the first day and pretty cloudy the second, but no bad weather can corrupt Halong Bay. The bay has hundreds upon hundreds of huge, jagged limestone formations that jut out of the water. My pictures don't justify it; it's so vast and beautiful. I wanted to go on a three day, two night tour, but the tour company forgot to pick me up the first day, so I settled for a discounted two day tour. Not that big of a deal. The one night I spent on the boat was really fun. Besides one Vietnamese family, there was a Brit, a Norwegian, a Swede, a Danish couple, three Americans and me. We played drinking games and sang Vietnamese karaoke until the wee hours and it was one of the funnest nights I've had so far.

After Halong Bay, I went back to Hanoi for Christmas. This being my first Christmas away from home, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the whole thing, but I luckily met a big group of great people, and it was very memorable. I spent Christmas Eve at an Irish pub called Finnegan's. It was packed to the brim and everyone sang Christmas songs the whole night. I spent it with a group of Irish guys, an Aussie and a Kiwi. Most of them were staying at the Hanoi Backpackers' Hostel, which is the only dorm available for travellers. I wasn't staying there, but I was lucky enough to run into them, and I found out that they were having a big turkey dinner the next day on the roof of the hostel. This was plenty good enough for me, and I spent the majority of Christmas Day eating turkey and drinking free beer with all the other transplanted travellers that happened to be in Hanoi.

I was supposed to fly back to Bangkok on Christmas night, but I forgot my passport at the hotel when I went to the airport (hotels in Vietnam require you to leave your passport with them, and I was in a rush), so I missed my flight. Luckily a flight to Bangkok from Hanoi is dirt cheap, and immigration didn't even charge me for overstaying my visa when I left on Boxing Day. So now I'm back in Bangkok, and I miss Hanoi and the rest of Vietnam already. Hanoi has a ton of character, and coming back to Bangkok is a real letdown. I don't think I realized how much I liked Hanoi until I arrived in Bangkok, and I instantly missed the bustle of the streets, the chilly nights, the suicidal nature of crossing the street, and of course, all the wonderful people I met that made Christmas so memorable. I was really enjoying Vietnam and I won't hesitate to go back there in the future; it's been my favourite country.

Here are a few pics:


Hanoi at night. While it only has half the population that Saigon has, the streets are much, much narrower, and it's much more intense. I initially liked Saigon much better than Hanoi, but after spending over a week in Hanoi, it completely grew on me.


Sunrise in Halong Bay.


The Christmas party at the backpackers' hostel.

This will probably be my last entry until after New Years, so Happy New Year! Thank you for all the Christmas wishes!

Posted by sam.m. 10:40 Archived in Thailand Comments (3)


Ancient Ruins

sunny 30 °C

After spending one night in Ayutthaya (a fairly eventful night, as I'll explain), and touring the ruins around the city, I hopped on a bus and headed further north to Sukhothai. Sukhothai was also an ancient capital, and the ruins here are much more well preserved than Ayutthaya's. But first, my night in Ayutthaya.

I was having a meal at Tony's Place, the guesthouse I was staying at in Ayutthaya, and one of the cooks, an older lady, told me there was a party happening later that night at Chang House across the street. I had nothing else to do (obviously), so I decided to check it out. It started off quite slow, three Thais were playing American covers (Beatles, Clapton, classic rock stuff), and I was sipping a beer in the corner. Actually, the night before in Bangkok, I found a bar with a couple Thais playing basically the same covers, and they were fantastic. But back to Ayutthaya. Slowly the place started filling up with foreigners (the Thais call us farang), somewhere around 60 people, and it was getting rowdy. A guy sitting at the table in front of me saw the maple leaf on my bag and it turns out he as from Kelowna, but he hadn't been home in a couple years. He had met an English girl in Australia, and they were travelling with her brother. So I'm sitting there with two Brits and a Canadian, arguing about the superiority of hockey over football (soccer), and a mic started being passed around and people were doing some karaoke while the Thais played up front. It eventually became known that I could play guitar, and when I absolutely refused to sing, they very publicly urged me to get on stage and play something. The whole bar is egging me on at this point, so if I don't do it, I look like a total pansy. To make a long story short, I went on stage and played a couple songs (instrumental) to a bunch of drunk travellers. It probably helped that we were all drunk, because they loved it and I got a huge ego boost out of it. Good times!

On to Sukhothai. When I got off the bus at 1130pm last night, there was one other backpacker at the station that had arrived from Chiang Mai, which is further north. He was a German guy named Alex, and we ended up sharing a room (only $2 each!) and touring the ruins together today by bicycle. Probably one of the best days so far, just cruising around a rural area exploring ancient temples and ruins. I got sunburnt, but it was a fun day. I have a ton of pics and I really wish I could post a whole bunch, but this site only allows a certain amount per month. These hardly do it justice, these ruins were amazing and we spent five hours going through them all. Here are a few:


This was one part of Wat Mahathat. A wat is a Buddhist temple. Wat Mahathat was huge in itself, but only a fraction of the ruins in Sukhothai.


One part of the Sukhothai National Park.


A row of Buddhas.


This was in one of the Wats on the outskirts of town. It was huge.


There was no way I could pass this up. Poo Restaurant in Sukhothai.

I'm staying in Sukhothai for one more night, and tomorrow morning I'm leaving for Chiang Mai, the major northern city. I'm planning on doing a trek, and I'll spend about a week there before I head into Laos.

Thanks again for the comments. Go Canucks Go!

Posted by sam.m. 16:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (3)

Back in Bangkok

Heading North

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After a long, 12 hour bus ride from Surat Thani, I'm back in Bangkok. I arrived at 530am. I wanted to stay longer on the island, but I knew I had to get going. The Thais that owned the guesthouse were very nice to me, they even made me a sandwich for the road and gave me a coconut shake for free before I left. They also took whoever was staying there snorkelling for free. We went up to the furthest northwest corner of the island to a place called Mae Haad, and it's got the best snorkelling on the island. The fish have no fear, huge schools of fish just swarm and swim around you. The area was very picturesque, there was a sandbar that connects a small island about 200m away. Didn't have my camera though.

I did take a couple pictures of sunsets while I was there. Even though it rained virtually every day there, it always seemed to clear up long enough to go snorkelling in the afternoon and for the sunset. After that, clouds would roll in bringing heavy thunderstorms. We got a lightning show every night.


This was the view from my bungalow.


This was down at the beach on the second last night. It was low tide, so all the rocks were exposed.

There was a couple from Winnipeg staying there who had been teaching English in Southern Thailand for the past six months. They had also been in Asia for over a year and didn't seem to be very interested in returning home. Pretty reclusive people though, hard to talk to. I hung out mostly with a German couple, a Danish couple, an Italian guy and a Belgium guy. Really nice people. The Italian was about as stereotypical as it gets. Very loud and animated, thick accent. I also met another Canadian couple from Victoria on the bus ride back to Bangkok. Like me, they were just starting out on their trip, going all over Southeast Asia. I sat next to an Israeli on the bus named Guy, and he taught the three of us a card game to pass the time.

I'm only spending one night in Bangkok this time, and I'm heading to a city called Ayutthaya tomorrow, about an hour and a half north of Bangkok. It's the old capital of Thailand and there's some ruins to see. After that, I'll go further north and eventually land in Chiang Mai, the major northern city, before I head into Laos.

I was planning on going to Burma near the end of my trip, but since that situation is a bit tense right now (I don't even think they're handing out visas anymore), I'm playing with the idea of going to India. It's super cheap there, but it all depends on how I feel come January, so we'll see.

I miss Vancouver! I was able to listen to the Canucks beat up on Edmonton last Saturday (Sunday morning for me), so that was a nice homesickness killer.

Hope everyone is well!

Posted by sam.m. 11:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (3)

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