The last stop of the holiday saw us in Thailand, the place I had been most excited about since booking.
The flight and customs process through the airport was incredibly smooth, which for the most part satiated my airport anxiety, and we emerged at the other end remarkably unflustered. However, leaving Bangkok airport was a touch disillusioning. It’s not at all that I was disappointed with the city more so than all the information I had been fed until then didn’t add up to what I was seeing. One thing that did match was what I’d heard of the temperature. Stepping out from the air conditioning inside to the taxi rank a few metres away nearly put me straight to sleep from the heat!
The first few days were rather slow, balancing much needed rest with the expected exploration of the area, which was admittedly rather lacklustre. Besides the few 7/11’s scattered around, there wasn’t all that much to see in our immediate proximity. The first night we walked a long way along a narrow and precarious path adjacent to a river right in the middle of town, which we later discovered has ferrying services running up and down, but we didn’t take advantage of.
In Thailand thought, there really is only one mode of transport that you absolutely must take, and that is the famed tuk-tuk. They’re often quite cheap to moderately priced, and on the busy Thai streets, drivers are often unafraid of snaking through the gaps in the traffic to get you from A to B in record time. It really is a lot of fun to take a tuk-tuk, which for those who may not know, is an open-air rickshaw which at a squeeze can fit four passengers in the back. Hold on to your friends and belongings though, there are no seatbelts or doors to anchor everything down, but no fear, if you merely stretch out your legs, you’re at no risk of falling out given the confined space.
On February 2nd, we visited a few galleries, but the highlight of that day was probably in visiting the Old Customs House, which is a filming location in Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love. Great news for two of the people I was with, whom both adore Wong Kar-Wai and his films, and who both delighted in recreating stills from said movie, but since I hadn’t seen it yet, could only help from the images they showed me. Besides that, I spent more time taking photos of the abandoned building which has a lot of character and history behind it’s cracks and rotten window frames, as well as the numerous stray cats in the area.
That weekend, my favourite part of the holiday began when we hit the road and then the seas to get to the island of Koh Samed, a very tiny island (classified by the Thai government as a National Park) with glorious white sand beaches (click for 10 second video!). Obviously, we spent the full span of the days we were there at the beach, alternating between lounging around in the beautiful sun and splashing around in the sea.
We took every care to avoid mosquitos, but sometimes it’s not enough. We found this out after sitting out front of our hotel room only to go back inside to find the room absolutely buzzing with dozens upon dozens of the little parasites and spent the rest of the entire evening swatting them down. Even without aircon, it’s best to leave the doors shut, no matter how sheltered the building complex.
Returning to Bangkok saw the exploration of more galleries, museums (including the ghastly “museum of death” actually featuring numerous dead bodies on display), temples, and cinemas and later in the week the departure of two of our party.
In the final days, the two of us left visited a very nice aquarium, a popular beauty and makeup shop that we don’t have in England, and a very bleak zoo with distressed and upset looking animals in enclosures far too small. We also stumbled upon a cinema that as we found it was selling tickets to an imminent screening of The Godfather which was very nearly sold out and neither of us had seen. What else could we do but rush in and scrabble over tickets! Being abroad for so long, the two of us began to lag a little, biding our time as our final flight inched towards us. In the days before we were due to leave, we found ourselves in a comical and coincidental stumble into Bangkok’s Korea-town, which may well have been what we needed to tide us over.
Finally, after three countries, four islands, and a million and three galleries and museums, we boarded our final flight to our home away from home back to Seoul. Surely, I’m all set on the holiday front for quite some time!