Day 34 – Weds – 8th July:
I packed and left the Bounty Resort in the taxi I had booked yesterday.
The taxi turned out to be the hotels own service and car. The manager (I think) whom I had spoken to before, drove me. She spoke to me briefly, again (very common) she thought her English wasn’t very good, but I said it was. And our conversation touched on my travel plans etc.
She kindly dropped me off at the ticket companies office (which was also next to a bookshop). The office didn’t open until 9.30am so I had to wait in a cafe until it opened.
Now I was sure that I had my ticket I went to browse the shops. I popped into the bookshop (of course) but is wasn’t a very good one. The hammock shop was also not the same one described in the blog but it was ok and had the hammocks I was looking for. I bought two, one, one man in purple and one large (same as the hotels provide) for two people (I actually posted the larger one home, read this post).
I sat and waited for the ferry at the pier. There are three different companies supplying the island, Songserm, Seatran and Lomprayah and they all run at different speeds.
I got a little lost in Thong Sala on the way to the pier but I managed to ask for directions in Thai, Merry and Sherry would be pleased with me (my Thai Language teachers).
They were playing the classic Mr Bean episodes on the boat again. I like these but I have been on several ferries in the last few weeks and they just seem to play the same DVD over and over. I think is it the only disk they have.
I had to wait for the night train to Bangkok at Surat Thani as it was delayed by two hours. I bought some meat skewers off the street and a fruit smoothie and then sat in a posh western cafe above the station for a couple of hours. While I ate my meat skewer a very hopeful looking dog came and sat opposite me and gazed at me.
Tip: I followed the locals to the street stands when buying food. I think speaking a little Thai helps but I managed to get some great food for next to nothing. 25 baht for a strawberry smoothie and 20 baht for a large meat skewer thing.
At the station a random Thai man came and chatted to me for a while. He wanted to know where I was going etc. I think they are just curious and I didn’t mind but he also wanted to know how much I paid for my train ticket etc. He was probably interested in what level of commission the tour company had given themselves, but I bought directly from the train station.
Day 35 – Thurs- 9th July:
In the morning I woke up early (read the end of this post for more about the the night sleeper train and pictures), and ate a little food I had put by the night before for breakfast.
As we neared Bangkok I struck up a conversation with a Dutch girl (from Holland) and she told me that she just had a couple of days in Bangkok as an intro to Asia to reduce the culture shock on her next stop which was China or Singapore.
We had an interesting discussion about learning foreign languages and I mentioned that I was learning Thai and she said ‘ok’, and I think she was thinking a few phrases not properly and was quite surprised when I got out my workbook etc to show her.
She said that it is always hard to express yourself in a foreign language, even if you are fluent. It is partly because you have a limited vocabulary and have to supplement words for easier ones. Much like a dyslexic person does when they cannot spell the word while writing. Some of the original meaning is lost along the way.
We decided to head to the hostel she had booked and I had nowhere to stay so I thought I would have a look at it too. She wanted to walk, which I was happy to do, but as usual everyone we asked for directions said it was impossibly far for anyone to walk (see day 23 of this post for walking and Asian culture).
In the end a nice member of the railway staff said we could get the number 35 bus (I have only just started using these and they are awesome and so cheap). So we flagged one down and paid 7 baht each. But even with my limited Thai is was crazily hard to explain where we wanted to go. A young Thai (19ish) helped us using her iPad but no one could really understand where they where going. I really can’t understand how they cannot know their own bus route and streets. My sense of direction isn’t brilliant but I do know what street I am going to in England. And I may be exaggerating but I do believe I have seen Thai people look out of the window (like I have been doing), see that they have gone past and then get out at the next stop and walk back. Like they don’t even remember their own home stop?
In the end the conductor gestured for us to get off and we walked in what we thought was the right direction. We asked many people and in the end we spoke to an awesome Thai lady (and her mother) who had lived in a England for a few years and spoke excellent English. She gave us directions and then a leaflet for some Christian Belief spread the word thing. I am using it as a bookmark.
Anyway we reached ‘Boxpackers’ which was her hostel and she checked in. It was 600 baht a night and I was being tight as I was hoping for nearer 400. We did stop for their continental buffet breakfast however, for about 150 baht which was alright.
Sijia messaged me and let me know where she was staying and did I want to join her. She was staying in a hostel called Glur Bangkok so I decide to go and meet her. I arranged to meet the Dutch girl tomorrow night before she left for China. I pointed out some good spots for her to visit in the city.
Glur Hostel advertises itself as a ‘new design hostel’ and there are a few like it in Bangkok. This new style dorm room features ‘pods’, which can be anything from complete pods, wooden or plastic enclosed boxes or just beds with curtains. It is a twist on the traditional dorm and I really like them. Glur is a mix of box and curtain, with three sides of the bed up against the wall and the front being a curtain, see picture.
The hostel is very narrow and on six floors: the reception which is also the coffee shop and restaurant, the common room floor, which features sofas, a breakfast bar and a common fridge, the next floor is the female dorm and is pink and also has its own name (I can’t remember), and then there is the shower floor, then the ‘tuk tuk’ the blue themed floor which is a mixed dorm, and finally there is ‘the pad thai’ a yellow themed floor that also hosts a mixed dorm.
The dorms are very nice with only 12 beds/pods in each room. You get given a key card which had a sticker on the back explaining the floors and a real key for the lock box under you bed. A very large roomy box and the beds at roomy too, even the single beds (upper is single and you can get two people in the lower bed), are very wide.
The only thing I didn’t like at first (I am used to it now, sneak peek, I have since gone back and stayed at Glur again) was the 18 degrees air con in the dorm rooms. For someone who has now adjusted to Thailand temperatures and has been living in a fan room for the last two weeks, it was too cold. But they supply duvets so it was ok.
The shared fridge is also awesome. There is a shelf of things you can buy, they are labeled with prices and then they add it too your bill (like a mini bar), the next shelf is included in the price of your dorm room, and has bread, jam, and soy milk in different flavours. The next shelf is labeled ‘foods not for shared’ (bad translation) and is where you put your own food, and then the top shelf is where you put food you don’t want any more and is a free for all. This is labeled ‘food for other travellers’.
Also included in the price is dried cereals and oats and instant coffee and iced water.
There is also a cabinet full of pens and tape, labelled something like ‘get your bag ready for the road’ and in one corner of the room there is a tub where you can put clothes, toiletries and travel gear you no longer need, for other people to take.
Anyway is is a nice place.
After a shower Silja appeared and said hi and updated me on what was going on. After she had a rest and I made use of the food in the common room, we met her friend Ryan (from Australia) in the reception. We got the Skytrain to the Victory Monument stop where there is a famous (well known really), Jazz bar called ‘The Saxophone‘.
It was nice and the music was good, although more blues style rendering of modern pop songs than jazz and the killer was the drinks were extremely expensive! And it was a bit like the sky bar (read day two in this post), as the place was so popular you couldn’t sit and take up space unless you were ordering drinks.days thirty-six and thirty-seven.
Previously: days thirty-two and thirty-three.