Sunday, February 7, 2016

Bangkok and Beyond in Thailand---January 2015


My flight from Hong Kong was smooth as was my clearance through the Thai Immigration and Customs. After loading up with Thai Bahts ---now 36 to $1USD--I rode the Air Link rail downtown Bangkok with a connection to the Sky Train which dropped me off within three blocks of my hotel.

While in Bangkok, I had planned to meet up with another traveler, Flo, a German, who I had met and traveled with during my 2014 Trans-Siberian Train adventure. I joined him and others at an interesting and fairly new international restaurant area with walking streets ---it was like a Disneyworld venue. We got to this complex by taking the Sky Train to the Sakan Taksin stop by the Charya Phyra River and then took the free ferryboat down to it.

 

After that evening, I toured around to many of my favorite spots that included Wat Po with its amazing gold clad reclining Buddha, the Grand Palace, Chinatown and its markets, the amazing high end shopping malls, and the Jim Thompson house.

I then began my travels to the Thai-Cambodian border at Hat Lek, by first visiting Pattaya, Ko Samet, and Trat. The Sky Train dropped me off at the Ekami bus station where I planned to catch a big bus to Pattaya. Instead I accidentally got a ticket for 130 Baht---$for a minibus only because I thought the only difference between the other bus was that it was leaving 20 minutes earlier. I am not a big fan of minibuses because they are more crowded and the drivers generally fancy themselves as Le Mans race car drivers as this driver did.

 

When we got into Pattaya, he had us get out at a place I was unfamiliar with. Fortunately there were sontaguus---small pickup trucks with padded benches running the length of the sides---the cost to ride to my hotel areas was 20 Baht--less than $1USD.

 

The Sawsadee Pattaya where I usually stay was fully booked by a big group of Russian tourists so I ended up at another Sawsadee Hotel called Sunshine which was just 500 Baht per night---$13.90 USD. It was clean, convenient, with WiFi, A/C, TV, and hot water with pool privileges at a nearby Swasadee Siam hotel. While at the pool one day, I got caught there for about two hours while this downpour continued. This time of year these rainstorms occurred almost daily.

 

Here is the ferryboat pier where most of these boat take people to the nearby Ko Lan Island where there are long stretches of white sandy beaches, water sports and many restaurants and hotels.

 

On the way back from the pier is the infamous "Walking Street" where you can find all types of go go bars, girly beer bars, massage parlor of all types, and restaurants. Lots of Chinese and Korean tour groups parade their groups through here.

 

During my stay here I saw this televised Chef contest with duck as the featured ingredient.

 

I then caught a minibus for 350 Baht---$10USD--to Ban Phe along with a ferryboat to Ko Samet. During the entire bus ride the rains were heavy and continuous until we got to Ban Phe. After boarding the ferryboat, the rains started up soaking everyone on board. My rain jacket kept my upper body dry, but my pants got wet. All of my backpack items stayed dry thanks to all of my ziplock bags I used for protection.

 

The boat went to the Malibu resort where instead of getting off on a dock we were met by some sort of plywood and styrofoam built landing craft. It did not quite get to shore so I took off my shoes and socks, rolled my pants and jumped into the high tide surf.

 

Very high tide on the way to Ao Pudsa.
 

It was then on the beach trail north past two beaches to the Ao Pudsa Bungalows. With the high tides the the vertical rock garden had been partially washed away by the crashing waves. Unfortunately I was not able to get one of the beach front bungalows as I had always gotten before and the daily price had gone from 700 Baht per night to 1000 Baht---$28. I decided to just stay a few days and then continue my travels toward Cambodia instead of staying a week.


View from my bungalow.

 

 

The trails on Ko Samet are now much cleaner than my past visits. Maybe they are realizing that trash along the Park trails is not something tourists want to see.

Sunrise as the rock garden is hit by the high tide waves.
A new statute by the White Sands beach with the older statutes are up on the overlook.

I caught the first boat back to Ban Phe and then got a minibus to Trat for 250 Baht. I was able to get a noodle soup breakfast before the minibus arrived which already contained three ladyboys from the Philippines who were living in Thailand for quite some time. They were funny and friendly and were really pleased when a young Brit guy got on board. Others joined us until the bus was full for our trip to Trat.

 

After getting dropped off at the Trat night market area, I found my way to the Klong Riverside area that was full of guesthouse. I stayed at the Resdang Guesthouse run by a German-Thai couple and the cost was just 350 Baht per night--$10 USD.

 

There were just a few things to see in Trat----the night market, the Riverwalk, the Chinese temple and the Buddhist.

 

 

After two days it was another minibus ride to the border town of Hat Lek. This cost 120 Baht.

I first walked to the Thai Immigration and Custom offices which just took about 5 minutes to get stamped out of the country. I then walked a short bit to the Cambodian Immigration and Custom offices which was a totally different situation.

 

 

 

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