Our holiday started on Christmas Day. Both Gemma and I had to work crimbo eve and were both shattered after it so neither awoke early Christmas Day. After a lovely Christmas dinner I had managed to eat more than my fair share of brussel sprouts. I weighed up the fact that I had a 12 hour flight to Thailand with the uncomfortableness of the sprouts. But I also weighed up the immense humour taken from smells that would be annoying all the single middle aged men that tended to frequent Thai Airways. We got to Heathrow fine, and dropped the car off at the Holiday Inn. Gemma had prebooked a room back in February, which enabled us to leave the car in the car park for 2 weeks costing only 25% of the cost of using a BAA car park.
Terminal 3 is a dump. For those of you in the know terminal 3 is full of 30 year old low grade drywall partitioning with a floor to ceiling height of about 1.8m! Ok well maybe not 1.8m but the tall guy behind me had to keep ducking when queuing for the check in desk. We managed to invent an interesting game too. It’s called ‘Definitely’. It involves queuing for the check in desk and picking out which men in the queue are on their own, and if they are. What are they doing going to Thailand. If it is suspected they are going to Thailand to frequent the go-go bars ‘long time’ then they are referred to as a definitely. There were a few families dotted around and a few couples but there was more than expected definatelies. And they didn’t hide the fact either. In fact some couldn’t have made it much more obvious. But that is another matter.
In the queue there was this guy who was the spitting image of Essex FM disc jockey Martin Day. He had the same smug prat look about him and even the mullet. And he just kept looking at me. I’d look up and there he was 3 people in front of me just staring at me. I was starting think that I should threaten him with a pair of hairdressing scissors to get him to stop. He wasn’t a definitely but still pretty creepy.
Anyway, we got on the plane and all the flight attendants clasped their hands together and bowed. Took me off guard a bit, I just nodded and said “aight”, which to them is probably quite rude. Our seats were great. We were only a couple of rows from the back meaning there were only 2 seats to a row. So we had just Gem and I in a row, with no other annoying people asking to go to the toilet at 3am. So I load my bag into the overhead compartment and something catches my eye. Martin Days damn mullet just 5 rows in front of me swishing round like he owns economy class. I don’t think he saw me so I sat down very quickly before he stared at me for 12 hours.
So, we have great seats. Polite flight attendants. Free Drinks. 2 meals. Pretty damn good. As I am congratulating myself for not actually getting all this but just being lucky. I hear “Waaaaaaaah”. Turn round and there is a kid across the isle from us crying her eyes out. Bollocks. 12 hours, haven’t even taken off yet and there’s a kid 3 feet away crying like she’s just soiled her pants.
After a minute she shut up. Later with hindsight Gemma accused the mother of drugging her. I ridiculed her at the time for that opinion but the more I think about it the more it seems true. A 3 year old child crying her eyes out on the plane. Then her mum gives her some ‘food’ and she doesn’t even sniffle the rest of the flight.
The flight itself was a nightmare. The seats were not comfortable. They were fine to sit in but as soon as you want to do anything else they are not so comfortable. If you want to sit and sleep for 12 hours in the upright position and maybe even in a slightly reclined position then be my guest. If you are like me and like to sleep on your front or sometimes on your side then good luck. I think I must have slept about 3 hours the whole flight. That was in-between listening to the ipod and the guy behind snoring for Britain. I managed to drink copious amount of beer to, to assist my sleeping pattern. I think the stewardess had a thing for me because they stopped serving alcohol about 5 hours into the flight but she kept sneaking me cans of Singha. The beer kicked in eventually and I slept the last couple of hours. Though I kept being woken up by a now lesser drugged child. Her name was Charlie and she was the cutest kid I’ve seen in a long time. Though she did have annoying habit of asking stupid questions:
“Why aren’t you wearing your seatbelt?”
“Coz the seatbelt sign isn’t on”
“What are you doing?”
“Listening to music”
“Where’s my one?”
“In front of you”
“Why aren’t you wearing your seatbelt?”
And so on. Poor little sod threw up just after we landed. This added weight to Gemma’s drug theory. She asked “Are you alright Charlie?” Charlie just looked up with sad puppy eyes and big bottom lip sticking out and shook her head.
After spending an hour standing in 3 different queues for immigration we got the bags and went through to arrivals. There was somebody there with my name on their board. I think I nearly wet myself. I actually had my name on a board at the airport. We went over and were led out to a taxi. Well it was being used a taxi but it was a very nice Mercedes. 30 mins later we pulled up at the Dusit Thani hotel. Now I knew it was a nice hotel with lots of stars but it really was nice. The concierge got the bags out and I went to tip the taxi driver. I had no small notes. I hadn’t had the chance to break a note yet, so I gave him 500 baht (£10) and said “Have you got any change?” I’ve read in numerous places that a 20-30 baht (40p-60p) tip is the normal. Anyway he turned round with his hand in his pocket, so I picked up my bag off the floor and checked they had the suitcases inside. I hear the click of a door and vroom, he is gone! The cheeky sod thought I was rich enough to tip him £10!!!!! Nice one Luke. The concierge just shrugged. I couldn’t believe he just took the 500 baht and drove off. Obviously pissed off now we were taken up to our room and as awkward as it was me and Gem ignored the bellboy until he got the message and left. I feel awkward about it but I just got screwed out of 500 baht by a cab driver I was not going to make the same mistake again. Once I did have smaller notes I made sure I tipped the staff so to make up for ignoring the first bellboy.
The room itself was gorgeous. It was on the 8th floor of a skyscraper, with a balcony overlooking a park to the left and another skyscraper to the right. Not a great view but better than most. The bed was enormous. I could have used it as a trampoline. The bathroom was the weirdest thing. The bath was nice but the wall was glass. From the bedroom you could see anyone in the shower clear as day. If you wanted privacy there were blinds on the bedroom side you could shut. But even then you could still see in. It was strange. New and cool but still strange.
We dumped the stuff and went for our first culture shock of the holiday. Just outside the door was a street market. For those of you who have never experienced it before the easiest way to explain it is this. Imagine a typical English market. Now instead of having it in a market place, place it along the curb of a street. Both sides so there are only the width of a person to walk down. Now imagine every market stall holder is a small Thai person who insists on smiling at you and asking….. no telling you, you need new shoes, or a new watch. It certainly is a shock but also quite disturbing. You cannot walk anywhere without being hassled non stop. Hassle this hassle that. I swear you could be dying from a heart attack and they would be saying “Ooooh big boss you dun wanna die in that crappy t-shirt. I have good one in your size.”
I also had a market stall holder tell me he has my size of any shirt. He called it ‘Elephant size’. Needless to say he got told in a polite way to go fornicate himself. The food stalls in Bangkok are awesome. But by awesome I don’t always mean good. There are many types of meat in all forms of servings. You can walk past 4 stalls with 10 yards of each other ranging from a fantastic smell that lifts you off your feet to another smell that leaves you gagging wondering how long the body was dead before they cannibalised it. There are plastic tables and chairs in shop doorways and paper table cloths. It was something quite strange to be walking down a dingy side street with a family eating on plastic chairs from a street vendor.
We walked around soaking it up and found that on the same block as our hotel was a McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Subway and Starbucks. Thousands of miles from home. But yet the fast food and drink still rule. I had been warned about this but I had to see it with my own eyes to properly believe it.
We managed to purchase 2 things from the stalls that evening. I bought a Mont Blanc pen for £14. Normally hundreds of pounds these were selling obvious fakes. I took a chance and forked out the ash for one as I’ve always wanted one. I went on a Mont Blanc user forum and checked to see how good it was. And it passed all the tests so as far as I’m concerned I’ve got a top notch pen which can’t be told from a real one for £14. Result. Gemma purchased a silk scarf for £1. Which was very nice and felt amazing. Which I suppose being silk, it’s supposed to.
On that first night we didn’t eat out on the street. We went the hotel in the restaurant. It was hell. Over priced and over serviced. I took 2 mouthfuls of my beer before they came to the table picked up the bottle and refilled the glass. I am shocking with chopstick and seeing as we are in Thailand I have made a promise to myself that I would learn to use them. Well on the first night it didn’t go well. I ordered a dish with rice and I must have spent 15 mins just trying to eat the rice. But I didn’t give up and am still trying to perfect the art.
There were tuk tuks everywhere. Tuk tuks for those of you who don’t know are death-traps. They are very scary looking. It is basically a motorbike with a trailer on the back that you sit in. There’s no seat belts, no handles to hold onto, and if a corner is taken too fast you got to watch that you don’t slide off. I think the best way to describe it is a Delboy 3 wheeler but with no sides and a death wish. Anyway the tuk tuk we got didn’t really know the route and took us back to the hotel 5 mins away via a dual carriageway. Now the scary part of this is that the tuk tuks like to weave in and out of traffic. Meaning that when the other traffic on the dual carriageway was braking, our river accelerated. What kind of moron accelerates into braking traffic? Well apparently all tuk tuk drivers do. You are smirked at if you don’t weave in and out of traffic.
Anyway, after nearly dying on a dual carriageway in what can only be described as a tin can, with no crash helmet, seat belt or anyone fat to land on we got back to the hotel, had our photo taken in front of it and went upstairs to hold each other and cry while emptying out our pants.
Spud you never fail to amuse me :)
Ahhh thanks. Sorry I only jsut seen this. Thanks for the compliment. Even after 4 years it’s nice to reread the blog. I would 100% reccomend it!