Day 36 – Fri – 10th July:
Today was another slow day. We met Ryan and went to the cinema for the 1.50pm showing of the new Terminator movie.
The cinema was very modern and busy. They had self service ticket machines but you needed a member card to use them. We started to queue for the manned till but a member of staff kept coming and drawing people out of the queue and serving them using the electronic ticket machine. He was taking cash and then using his own ‘unlimited’ staff members card (specially for the purpose I assume) to buy and print them off the machine.
The movie was very good but I like to think of it in a parallel universe as it contradicted a bunch of things from the first three movies.
It was also very interesting that we had to ‘stand for the king’, and watch a 120 second film about his good deeds around the country. Namely the laws against opium fields and various charity works.
We visited a lovely park, which we stumbled across on the off chance while on route to the night market. It was like a small Eden after the rush of the city and also not unlike Central Park. There was also a butterfly farm we wanted to visit but it closed at 4.30pm and we were too late.
In the evening we went to the ‘weekend’ night market which of course not very open as it was a Friday and they are only open from late Friday, then Sat and Sun nights. I arranged to meet the Dutch girl (whom I met on the train) here tonight and although we tried to speak on facebook we were unable to find each other in the large market.
A couple of interesting things we saw today:
On the way to the market there where hundreds of people (Thai’s), who appeared to be queueing in the street. We managed to ask a Thai girl (who was also on holiday in the city) and she said she was surprised at first too, as she had never seen anything like it but they were all waiting for a bus home. It seems multiple buses will pull up and pick them up in an hour or so.
We though they were crazy, they could easily walk a couple of streets, in the hour that they would have to wait, it was like hordes of zombies blocking the way.
The second thing was the market itself, we sat and ate our food while watching a very bad performance with three men dressed as Batman, Robin and some other strange character. They did some crazy dancing on their own constructed stage and a bunch of kids were watching them. They were throwing bangers (floor fire crackers – they just make a loud noise) down on the ground and trying to make a bit of a show for us. We didn’t bother putting anything in the donation pot.
The market also had a bunch of stalls selling toys and junk from the ninety’s. I recognised quite a lot of childhood favourites. Another thing they seem to sell is second hand shoes?
We passed, but didn’t go in, a bar with hundreds of lamps made out of old plastic and metal drums and various upcycled seats.
Day 37 – Sat – 11th July:
So the plan for the next few days is to hike in the nearest national park to Bangkok city, which is called ‘Khao Yai National Park‘.
This was Ryan’s idea but I love hiking so it was good with me.
We spent much of the morning trying to find Ryan, a supermarket and a place where the two of them could buy yoga mats to use as sleeping mats. It was all rather rushed and last minute.
We finally found Ryan and dropped back via Glur for our bags. Ryan made homemade trail mix on a counter in reception, using the stuff he had bought from the supermarket while we were looking for him. Another small downside of not having a working phone outside of wifi.
We hunted for a Tesco Lotus (the Thai brand of Tesco) and bought some more odds and ends. We then got the Skytrain to the Victory Monument station and met Silja’s friend Ryan from the USA (same name lol, this is USA Ryan in the post).
We got a bus from the small bus station next to the monument. We asked for four tickets to Khao Yai National Park and all the Thai people roared with laughter. It was a pretty universal thing so we understood, they had all had a bet on how many people were going to turn up next and where they would want to go etc.
Anyway it was 160 baht each and we filled the last seats in a mini van. These vans don’t leave until they are full and I have heard Facebook tales of people waiting for hours for the bus to fill up.
The four of us were crammed into the back row, and it was really uncomfortable, the only plus side is that the bus departed almost straight away for Khao Yai National Park.
After 2.5 hours we arrived in the town of Suphan Buri and they turned round to us and said 200 baht each for the next part of the journey. We knew that was a rip off, so we got out and walked a short way to where there was a Songtheaw waiting, nearly full.
They said 40 baht each to the park, so we got in. We chatted to a German guy and girl who where also headed to the park. The guy only had a little English and the girl even less. We waited a while for the Songthaew to leave and then it took about 40 mins to get to the park.
When we arrived they had just closed the gates and it took a lot of broken English and Thai to get them to let us in. It was 4.30pm and the sign said they closed at that time. We said that the bus told us they would get us here on time so they should let us in. I’m not sure what got across but in the end they let us in. We paid the standard 400 baht foreigner ticket price.
We also had to pay for a taxi 500 baht for everyone but then in the end just me, AUS Ryan and the Germans came in the taxi and US Ryan and Silja hired a motorbike and followed us. This is because they wanted to do some of the longer trails and US Ryan only had one day before his flight home.
Then it turned out that the Germans didn’t have much money on them. They thought there would be an ATM at the park. This was rather frustrating for the rest of us, as we had planned in advance and actually when the topic came up, everyone said they never traveled without at least 2,000 baht hidden somewhere and I travel with around 5,000 in case I cannot draw money for several days.
The taxi waited while the others went to hire the bike. Then US Ryan did a quick run with the German guy to the nearest ATM somewhere in town.
So finally off we went. Another really bumpy and speedy car ride in the back of a truck. The scenery was lovely but it grew dark about half way into the 30 min drive to the campsite.
At the main building we (me and AUS Ryan) decided to hire a two man tent and put it up and then wait for the others. You could hire all the gear there, tents. mats, blankets, sleeping bags, the lot. I only went for a mat and a pillow as I had my silk sleeping sack.
Then the others arrived on the bike and hired another tent. The Germans and me went to bed and the others took a short walk around camp.
There were deers wandering around all night poking at the tent, quite unafraid.
Just to summarise, we had to leave a copy of our passport to hire the gear and the costs for two nights are as below.
Tent around 200 baht, pillow 30 baht, mat 50 baht, then double that as those prices are per night but we split the tent fee between two so that was 360 for the gear for two nights and then the park entry fee 400 baht, one payment for any number of days.
So that is 760 baht for two nights in the park without food, the same price as a hostel so not too bad in terms of value.
Now there are a few restaurants in the park serving a limited menu but they all close at 4.30pm or earlier if there are no customers, so bear this in mind. We managed to get some really gross canned food and crisps from an elderly couple who had a small makeshift shop (table with food for sale) at the campsite.
You can hire camping stoves so I would advise bringing all your food for the trip or staying at one of the other campsites that has a small restaurant (ours just had a coffee booth).
Also trip adviser says you can do this as a day trip but I think it would be a tight turn around. Four hours each way and then the hiking as well. Tomorrow we are hiking to some Waterwalls.Next up: days thirty-eight and thirty-nine.
Previously: days thirty-four and thirty-five.