Journal Travel

The Story through Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

Where did all the tumbleweed come from?!

Sorry my updates have been a little but non-existent for a while. Truth be told, a lot has happened in not a lot of time and blogging seemed not that important.

It’s been one hell of a ride! I’ll do a quick run-through of everything in hopes I’ll write a longer post for each place in more vibrant detail (and with some pretty pictures too!).

So where did I leave you hanging? Oh yeah…

Luang Prabang, Laos
Retrospect is a funny thing. I remember writing how Laos was a weird one but when you look back on old times you only seem to remember the good things. I loved the elephants, the mountains, the sheer beauty everywhere I looked and the bakeries.

Flight from Laos to Vietnam
We flew from the quietest airport I’ve ever been to, Luang Prabang — from boarding the plane to taking off within 15 minutes. Flight time was about 50 minutes and was great. The clouds looked like candyfloss and we even got an inflight meal (albeit rushed).

Hanoi, Vietnam
Touchdown at Hanoi’s airport, pick up a SIM card and get transferred to our hotel. Drop off the backpacks and head out for food. The place is heaving. Traffic everywhere, street food galore. This is far removed from where we just came from.

We find a place next to the train tracks, sit on the children-sized stools and blindly order whatever it is they sell. The guy comes out with a portable stove, frying pan wrapped in foil and plates upon plates of raw meat and veg (and a few little extras too). It gets lit up, we start cooking and before we know it have already fall head over heels in love with Vietnamese cuisine.

The rest of the time was spent walking around exploring the streets and markets and tasting what else was on offer and holy crapdogs I discovered Vietnamese Coffee. It’s incredible. Hanoi is also where I truly learned how to fearlessly cross a road of non-stop oncoming traffic.

Sleeper train from Hanoi to Hué
Next stop was Hué (pronounced Hwey). We took a sleeper train there (14 hour journey?), it wasn’t as nice as the one from Bangkok to Chiang Mai but it wasn’t that bad. We both had top bunks (always, always, ALWAYS try and get the bottom ones!) which meant we were stuck laying down for the majority of the trip. This train has 4-berth cabins and has a door that closes and if needed, locks, all four passengers in the room. We were bunked with other travellers so not all bad.

WEYHEY! We arrived safely and almost instantly regretted our decision to stay for 5 nights after everyone we spoke to who asked how long we were staying said “Woah! That’s a long time.” and that’s coming from the people who lived there… even our hotel when we checked in. We reduced it to 2 — not that it wasn’t a nice place but because there wasn’t much to do.

Truth be told it was actually really nice, I mean, except for clouds blanketing the whole place making everything grey and also being targeted for money by some begging schoolgirls. I’ll get into more detail later but the gist of the story is that this small group of schoolgirls, fascinated by Charlotte’s blonde hair and “pretty nose” started talking and asking questions. One would shyly come over, ask a question, we’d answer and they’d run back to the huddle giggling. I assumed they were practising their English and were just curious of western faces. In part they probably were but then they started following us, picking up toys, showing them to us and then brazenly just outright asking for money by saying “mini, mini!”, over and over. The employees didn’t seem to mind this happening…

Train from Hué to Da Nang
We took a 3-hour train ride from Hué to Da Nang. Whilst waiting for the train in the station we had a few photo-ops with some Asian peeps who really wanted a photo with us. We thought it was a bit odd at first but soon realised that it was likely because we are just too damn awesome for people not to have their photos taken with us.

The train ride was okay. The blanketing clouds seemed to not want us to leave Hué as they started crying for the entire train ride. We rode round the mountains and saw our first glimpse of the sea from Vietnam.

Da Nang
We stayed in a hotel called The Finger. Innuendos aside it was a scenic place to stay. Our hotel was really far away from the city but really close to the beach. It was wet and cold so that didn’t work out too well for us. This was made up to us by being placed on a high floor looking at the colourful homes below us. If we were in the city the view wouldn’t have been nearly as humbling. We explored the city (taking a taxi there) and decided to do the long walk back, over the Dragon Bridge (where a mother and daughter pulled over their moped to get a photo with us… not even making this up), through the streets of the homes we overlook. Such a different vibe from one side of the river to the other.

More markets, more walking, more colours, more smells. Beautiful. Time to take the taxi to Hoi An.

Taxi from Da Nang to Hoi An
It took like half an hour. Really close, nothing to report.

Hoi An
Now, for travellers who like exploring places on foot, this is an ancient city made for walking! Aside from the barrage of women who follow you asking to take a look in their shop (only down one or two streets), this is a lovely place. The cakes, the coffee, the lack of scooters and cars and oh man, the Vietnamese doughnuts! Ring doughnuts, red bean filled doughnuts, coconut (real, shredded coconut) doughnuts, peanut (real, crushed up peanuts) doughnuts and the not-to-be-forgotten deep fried banana pancakes. Also more Vietnamese coffee. Damn that stuff is good.

We walked along the river, visited the night market, ate at an amazing restaurant (Vy’s Market Restaurant & Cooking School), rode bikes to the beach (still cloudy but the first beach of our journey!) and then headed back to Da Nang to board our next sleeper train.

Sleeper train from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon)
Same 4-berth cabin, same top bunk situation. The only changes were our fellow bunk-mates below. A few times actually and this time locals, probably commuting. Also I saw a mouse peeking at Charlotte from the luggage storage by her head… for the sake of a good night sleep I didn’t tell her until morning (and I made sure it was gone because I’m an amazing travel buddy).

Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon)
The locals call it Saigon, I call it a place for some retail therapy! Shopping malls galore and with Christmas approaching what a better time to hit the shops. After the disconnect from good old materialistic capitalism I needed an prebuilt ecosystem of commerce and eating. We browsed the shops and enjoyed the artificial lighting but in the end the only things we bought was junk food were food related items.

We were there for Christmas and we heard that Christmas Eve was celebrated by the Notre Dame Cathedral. They weren’t kidding! Hundreds, no, thousands of people lined the streets. Cars jammed in human traffic, people with spraycans of snow, vendors selling food. It was great! That is, until the spraycans of snow were turned on us. Kids chasing each other with cans, spraying and laughing. One sees us and for whatever reason gives a cheeky spray, cautiously waiting to see our response. We laugh, he does it again. Oh, and now his mate does… oh look, there’s like 5, wait, 10, oh crap… 15 or 20 kids surrounding us spraying snow! Not at each other, just us! All in good fun of course. We escaped with massive smiles and somehow a celebrity status as girls and boys pulling is left and right to get photos with us. Like, really, what is it with all these photos?

Then we hit up Dunkin’ Donuts for some good eats getting a lot of looks questioning our moist appearance.

Christmas Day rolls around which is a weird one when you’re not with family. The receptionist calls us and tells us they need to come in, we’re curious as to why but seconds after hanging up the phone there’s a knock on the door and two extremely happy Vietnamese girls. “Merry Christmas!” They roar as they stampede into our room with a plate of fruit, a luxurious looking box, a bottle of champagne, a rose in a vase and a letter we’re not allowed to open until they leave. Still dazed and confused I open the letter — those cheeky monkeys — miles away from home and my family still surprise us with gifts on Christmas. Inside that box was some classy cheesecake with Merry Christmas written on it. It tasted so good and maybe the champagne was thinking for me but I really missed home.

We explored the city more, walked by the river and checked out some local cafés, took countless selfies with Christmas Tree’s, visited the War Remnants Museum (recommended if you’re near), ate more doughnuts (or donuts) and then prepared for our next country. Cambodia.

Coach from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia
We boarded the coach and settled down for a 6/7 hour coach ride from Vietnam to Cambodia. We go through the border, a lot of standing and waiting and such, finally get Ito Cambodia and stop for lunch. Get off and go inside a terrible place with terrible food and terrible people, pay over the odds for chicken and rice (and crushed up bones), pay, don’t get change, ask for change, “tip!”, I say “no tip!”, get change, give a tip, have it ungratefully laughed at (but still taken), eat, board the coach and hope I don’t get food poisoning. Half way there we get pulled over for a random police security check, an hour of worrying after we’re on the move again and get to our accommodation above Jay’s Diner.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
We arrive, settle down and get out for some food happy to reach our new destination. We find a place to eat and strike lucky as it’s really good, unfortunately I receive some really bad news and try to hold it together for the rest of the night. The next day we visit the Killing Fields and S-21 Genocide Museum. Interesting, moving, heartbreaking and inspiring. If you’re in Cambodia I’d suggest going out of your way to visit those two places. So far Cambodia hasn’t been the happiest of places, in fact, it’s quite eerie. The rest of the time was spent exploring, visiting night markets, eating, drinking and booking our bus ticket to Siem Reap.

Coach from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
Cambodia doesn’t have trains and we’d heard the buses are okay and the roads are fine. Liars. The internet lies! Who knew? Long story short and I’ll definitely be posting the longer story up — we almost die when our double decker coach drives off the road, down a hill almost tipping! We get stuck at a 45 degree angle thankfully because of a small mound that got wedged under the front bumper. We hitchhike the rest of the way with two Australians (thank you for stopping!), two Germans, a Russian, an Italian and a Dutchman. The driver tries and stops us from leaving but we had a hard time trusting the coach before it left, let alone now. We stop for food enroute and get to Siem Reap.

Siem Reap
We arrive in Siem Reap (barely) and Charlotte gets her stuff stolen. I don’t know why but Cambodia really doesn’t like us! We ask the hotel staff a out the police and they say it’s closed until morning so Charlotte does what she can (blocks her sim, sets her devices to auto format when they connect to the internet). It’s not been a good day. The next day we go to the police station to get this sorted. We go in, start talking, I get asked to leave, Charlotte gets interrogated by three Cambodian police officers shouting at her that they “DON’T BELIEVE YOU!” because she can’t prove she was pick pocketed. They refuse to file the report even though they write it out and refuse to investigate further. Today isn’t so good either. I email the UK embassy in Cambodia. No help either. The next day we get and recover by the pool and relax before visiting Angkor Wat on our last day in Cambodia (also New Year’s Eve). The next day we fly to Bangkok because screw getting anymore Cambodian busses! Flying was pretty scary as well as more Asian planes went missing a day or so before.

Flight from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Bangkok, Thailand
Flight time was about an hour. We land in Bangkok and don’t make the same mistake of booking a taxi inside the airport like last time and instead go outside and get a taxi from the taxi rank (still convincing them to turn on that damn meter!).

Bangkok, Thailand
We decide to stay closer to the action this time. The first place had no windows and terrible service so deciding we want to stay in Bangkok longer move out and check in to a 5 star hotel for a change — The Berkeley (always check hotel websites directly, I got a cracking deal). Another reason for the lavish accommodation was for a solid internet connection and some extra space to I had some freelance work come in. Bangkok consisted of poolside pizzas, shopping mall exploration, Starbucks, work and room service. I love room service. These things can’t last forever though which is why we decided to head over to Phuket.

Flight from Bangkok to Phuket
Only animals and insects are supposed to flap their wings to fly — imagine my surprise when I look outside of the plane window and seeing it think it’s a bird! The turbulence was horrific for the entire journey. Landing was cool though as we come in so close to a beach that you think it’s going to land on it. It doesn’t. Still lands on a runway.

We check in at the AllStar Guesthouse which is in the perfect just-off-the-main-road location and has a really great host. We’ve finally landed somewhere consistently sunny! We get drunk the first night and explore the markets a little. The rest of the time was spent eating, sunbathing and swimming in the sea. We were by Karon Beach and we’re lucky enough to watch the sunset over the sea while laying on the sand. Southern Thailand wouldn’t be Southern Thailand if we didn’t visit an island so we head to a still relatively untouched place called Koh Yao Noi by speedboat.

Phuket to Koh Yao Noi
We left our guesthouse and caught the local bus to Phuket Town, from there we were asked by everyone where we were going and everyone pointed to the same bus (by bus I mean small truck with two wooden benches drilled either side in the back). Finally get to the pier, and pay the little extra to take the speedboat over the Longtail boat to Koh Yao Noi.

Koh Yao Noi
We arrive and get taken to Suntisook Resort. We get a little wooden hut, no AC, mosquito nets above the beds, hammock outside. This place is great. It’s such a modest hut and there’s nothing to do unless you hire a scooter and drive a while to the town.

The family who run the resort have a restaurant which we ate at at least twice a day and after eating there and hiring a scooter and eating at the rusty table of a vendors house I can honestly say that it is the best tasting food I’ve had in Thailand. Roasted Duck Soup, Noodle Soup with chicken, vegetables or shrimp, Papaya Salad, Massaman Curry with steamed rice. Urgh. Incredible. Our hut was just on the other side of the road to a beach which overlooked mountain islands in the distance, when we found out that the sun rises behind them we made sure to wake up extra early to catch it and I have to tell you, it was the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen in my life.

Koh Yao Noi is a tiny island where the people are mainly Muslim. It’s just north of Koh Yao Yai and is still untouched. The people are friendly, the food isn’t westernised, there’s not a lot to do so relaxation is at a maximum. I doubt it’ll stay this way for long as once everyone gets wind of it it’ll end up like the rest of the tourist inhabited islands. Actually, I should probably just delete this whole section.

Longtail boat from Koh Yao Noi to Krabi
The Longtail Boat is a wooden boat driven by an engine in the rear which has a long pole coming off it with a propellor on the end that drives the boat. We had the pleasure of boarding it and riding up close and past those distant island mountains that we saw from the shore as we made our way to Krabi.

This is where we currently are, staying in a nice condo with a balcony that sees the sun set. We’re a walk away from the main areas but it’s nice. It’s peak season here but it seems really quiet still and the prices compared to everywhere else are the highest for food and drink at the restaurants. Lucky for us this is the first place that has cooking facilities (and a rice cooker!) which we’ve already taken advantage of. We’ve taken a long walk along the beach, seen hundreds of tiny crabs (is that why it’s called Krabi?!) and are excited to beach it up while we’re here. From here we head to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia before landing in Singapore where we’ll leave South East Asia and start the second half of our journey though Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

One last thing — I try and upload at least one image a day to my Instagram which makes it the most up-to-date place to follow me around the world. So what are you waiting for? Follow me!


Two-Day Slow Boat: Chiang Rai, Thailand > Luang Prabang, Laos

[images for imageless posts coming soon. It turns out the internet in Laos is not too hot]

A note to people in Chiang Rai who book any tours or trips with ‘So Good Travel’… Don’t. Everything we did we were late for (that means shitty leftover buffet food) and the driver was openly and proudly hungover as he was driving us from place to place, though he was a nice guy.

Anyway, waking up for the 6am minibus to the border we were left hanging about until 7 worrying if it was gonna come or not at all. Eventually it did and we were off on a 2 hour death ride to the Thailand/Laos border. The driver at one point — thinking everyone was asleep — put his palms together and prayed before slowing down round a curling mountain road. Probably praying nothing was driving on the other side of the road as over here it seems road markings are more of a suggestion than a rule.

We get to the border and do the passport process at the first border control section, then get on a coach that takes us to the Visa section, wait for a bit before being ushered onto a Tuk Tuk that takes us to a pointless stopover just past the border in Laos for an hour or so, seemingly just so we can buy snacks and drinks before the boat as they said there wouldn’t be any on there… they lied.

They waited for everyone to stop spending money and put us on the Tuk Tuk again to take us to the boat which because of all their shenanigans meant that the boat was already full and everyone was waiting for our group — because of this, our first 6 hour boat journey we had to sit at the back.

AKA the engine room.

This space wouldn’t be legal for cattle. Sitting in the same room as an old diesel engine pumping fumes right into the boat (also the most contained area on the boat) which probably did 40 years of lung damage and on top of this the engine let out a constant deafening noise all encapsulated in the only section walled off with only a couple of windows for ventilation.

I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

The icing on the cake? All these fucking people came to the back (moving away from their well ventilated area) to smoke, so now we’re sitting in a people sized ashtray as well.

The whole experience was terrible.

Finally deaf and hard of breathing we arrive at the stop-over village Pakbeng, where no one really cares about anyone because they know people are only there for one night. The restaurants had nothing on their menu and took an age to bring is anything, if at all (we ordered a dessert which never arrived).

A small stroll getting off of the boat and we book accommodation — not bad but the least comfortable place of the trip so far.

Ready for bed and an early alarm prepared to get good seats I nod off with my game face on for the morning.

Day Two

6am the alarm goes off. I get up, get ready — we’re off. Walking down the street we grab some boat snacks (Double filled Oreos, banana chocolate muffin and banana cashew cake. Awww yeeaah!).

We did it! We get to the boat way before everyone else and have a choice of seats, so we get some in the middle. Not at the front where it gets crowded and not at the back where satan himself lives. We set sail with perfect open views of the Mekong River and it’s exhilarating mountainous glory.

Day two was much better, enhanced only by the pain of the day before. Luckily this was the longer leg of the journey, about 7/8 hours, so we travelled in relative comfort, and despite getting a tan on one half of my body, the journey was nice. Give me a window seat and a good view and I’m a happy guy (or a dog).

Off the boat and about 5 minutes later we get ripped off by officials short-changing for a ride into the city. Finally we make it to Luang Prabang are dropped off at the Night Market.

We scope a few hotels and happen to find one a with a balcony and a bath… do we? Hells yea we do. Just one night. Okay, maybe two. We stay for three before finding another local hotel (Vietnam Visa issues — possibly a later post).

At the night market for a bite to eat it’s noticeably different from Thailand’s markets and a nice gimmick here is the 1 plate, 1 time buffet. For about a quid you get a bowl that you fill up with whatever noodles, rice, veg, spring rolls, tofu, etc, etc that you want which they’ll fry up for you.

Our hotel is really close to the Night Market so no need for a Tuk Tuk but that still doesn’t stop them from trying though.

“Tuk Tuk?”

“No thanks, just walking”


“It’s good weed!” He says shuffling his eyebrows up and down as he puts a hand in his pocket.

“Ah… No thanks”.


Getting lost in Chiang Rai

We stayed 5 nights in Chiang Rai at a hotel called Na-Rak-O — pronounced locally as Nalak-a which we were told is like “cute with an ‘a’ added to make it cuter”. This made a lot of sense as there were random cuddly bears hanging around behind the curtains.

The hotel was nice. A big double bed on a concrete slab, a shower room with a toilet and as we found out on the last day — an awesome spot to watch the sunrise.

Chiang Rai seems fairly new to the tourism boom. Initially it seems like a hotspot for tourists but spend a few minutes walking in any direction and it’s happy smiles, waves and curious stares again from the locals. I’m not sure many visitors venture too far out from the centre.

We arrived by bus and when we got off we had an ordeal finding the hotel. The tourism officer told us to go left as we leave the bus station following the road to the traffic lights where we turn left, but there were only traffic lights to the right. We walked a bit and returned to her to confirm that it’s definitely not right as that’s where the only traffic lights are. She got a bit moody that we questioned her and insisted we go left.

We did. This is where the story begins.

We follow this road for about 10-15 minutes hoping to come across some traffic lights, we finally did and from here were told to go left, so now we’re walking along a highway… this can’t be right but she was insistent so we continue and take the next left again. Walking down a dimly lit street a pair of dogs come charging at us aggressively barking their faces off. Luckily there was a chain fence separating us! Dogs are usually quite relaxed around people here so maybe not many people come to this part. We carry on and hit another main road. This definitely isn’t right. We see a Seven Eleven so pop in for directions.

Not a word of English to be spoken or understood.

We were lost in Chiang Rai with a language barrier and no internet. We show them the map but they’re confused and of no help. We leave and stumble on a hostel. Thank you Lord! We go in and they upgrade our shitty black and white printout map that we were given at Tourist Information to a colour leaflet that they draw directions to our hotel on. They were confident so we were happy and left smiling.

They didn’t have a clue.

An hour and a half pass and I hate Chiang Rai.

Further into unknown territory with no one on the streets we see a buffet restaurant. We chance it.


“Little bit!”

That’ll do. We show the map, we explain we’re lost. The waitress gets the manager. The manager gets the waiter. The waiter gets the cook and there’s another waiter hanging around. There’s like 5 of them — two on Google Maps and three looking at the leaflet.

There’s a lot of talking. Luckily the place wasn’t that busy and they were more than happy to help. 20 minutes / half an hour of running about they figure something out. They’ve pinned the hotel down and know how to get there. They try to explain the road we’re on but quickly give up, opting for a more fail-safe solution…


The cook and the waiter are ushered outside and given directions. They get on their scooters and the manager looks at us all like “This is happening. Get on”. We’re standing there with all our travelling gear and are like “Yeah. It’s happening”. I thank him and the waitress, offering a tip and they profusely decline so instead we shake hands.

With no helmets and no hesitation we jump on.

Okay okay. Some hesitation. Shit was getting real.

Charlotte and the waiter on the scooter behind, me and the cook leading the pack. Weaving in and out of traffic, holding onto the bike and our bags simultaneously; we turn up at the first set of traffic lights the Tourist Officer told us was the wrong way! Two minutes later — literally two minutes — we’re there. Only accepting a handshake before their departure they leave us and we check in with a relieved smile on our faces.

I love Chiang Rai.

Journal Lifestyle Travel

Drowse Exhibition, Bangkok






The malls in Thailand are surprisingly tourist-free. It wasn’t until half-an-hour of strolling around the place we realised we were the only western faces there! There seems to be a pattern forming with this happening. Anyway, this post isn’t about the mall but the walk to it.

We passed this yellow building which we didn’t initially notice but instead noticed the sign with a roughly written ‘Drowse Exhibition’ on it. We stare at it for a few moments before this guy walks out with an enviable moustache and all around cool-person persona. He invited us in to look at the gallery. We oblige and enter the building. He takes us through a door and up a set of stairs… the place looks abandoned – uh oh. We go up another flight of steps and here we are, at this really intimately sized exhibition. Some really nice work on display and talking to our moustached mate (his work on display behind us in the selfie), find out he’s actually an art teacher for the lessons taking place on the ground floor. He takes some photos of us, we get a selfie with him and we all leave best of friends, well, Facebook friends. And we liked the Facebook Page.

Journal Travel

Wat Pho: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha









In Bangkok (well, Thailand in general) there are temples EVERYWHERE. Temples to the left, temples to the right, temples where you’d expect them, temples where you wouldn’t expect them… they’re everywhere and if you walk anywhere you’ll likely encounter a few of them. The thing with temples, as a traveller, is that they can get kind of samey samey (“same same”).


There are a few temples that stand out – like Wat Pho (pronounced What P-oooh) – Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Yes it’s full of tourists but for good reason. There’s an incredibly huge Buddha just kicking back in this building!

We arrive not really knowing how big this “big buddha” was. Charlotte had to cover up in one of their fashion highlights (by highlights, I mean like the pens. It was neon green.), a surprisingly slimming dressing gown. As we entered we saw the sheer size of this thing. My photos don’t do it justice. Almost 50 feet high, over 150 feet long and covered entirely in gold leaf except for the base of its feet which is mother-of-pearl has intricate toe-prints(?) and ‘laksanas’ illustrations.

After walking the length of the Buddha, we had to walk back up the other side but hiding behind the statue were 108 pots where the idea is to put one coin in each pot as you walk back up, making a wish for each pot. 108 symbolises the 108 positive actions which lead to Buddha perfection. I’m not sure if covering yourself in gold leaf and laying on your side all day is apart of the Buddha perfection ladder, but it definitely should be.

Still in awe at the size of this thing and donating 20baht for the coins necessary to complete the wishing pot coin dropping strip (which I made it to the end with the exact amount of coins needed – a lot of people seemed to fall short or have too many. I think that makes me pretty special. Maybe I should hang out with this guy more often), we head outside to discover that Wat Pho isn’t just about the reclining Buddha. Outside was the home to beautiful buildings, monuments and statues. We walked around for a couple of hours, constantly discovering new areas in places we thought we’d already explored. It’s a lot of fun and a lot to look at so worth taking a camera.

The most surreal part – seeing the quiet, spiritual and often reserved Monks getting super smiley and school-boy excited over taking selfies on their iPhones with the Buddha in the background.

Worth the 100baht entrance fee and includes a free bottle of water.

Journal Travel

Chatuchak Market, Bangkok


Covering over 35 acres with more than 15,000 stalls — I’ve just stepped into the biggest market in Thailand.

If you’re in Bangkok when the weekend market is on, visit it. It’s awesome. It’s so big that every time you visit you’ll get lost in another section you didn’t know about before. The scale of this place is huge and I didn’t quite realise it until it came time to leave.

Dropped off by taxi outside a few stalls I’m thinking, this is a nice market, just like most of the others I’ve seen. A few minutes later after walking past those initial roadside stalls I realise it’s bigger than I thought, but still not as big as I eventually found it out to be.

Anything you need to buy, this place has it at a price you can haggle. Leatherwork sections, bag sections, clothing sections, food sections, illegal animal sections, furniture sections, section sections, every section you can think of and we also saw a magician.

It’s the kind of market where you can come to Thailand with nothing but a passport and a bit of Baht and buy everything you need to stay here for as long as you want.

It’s a nice concept.

To the holiday goer with an empty suitcase, I say to you, go crazy. Myself — as a man with a single hand-luggage sized backpack I had to show more restraint, buying only a T-Shirt, small day bag that holds a camera, passport and sunglasses (The North Face, faux style), a smaller sack on a string (for carrying just my camera and some money), a couple of leather bits and some super airy, lightweight shorts.

Walking through this market, I think we circled the same set of stalls a few times. Every direction seemed to take us to the same place. After navigating our way finally out into the main strip we had our first taste of pork on a stick (so. freaking. great) and Mango with Sticky Rice (also great).

Fed and ready to head out we start walking in thee direction we think is right. We start to see a whole bunch of new stalls and a guy selling the cutest puppies out of a box. This wasn’t the way we came in? We continue walking, hoping to reach an edge so we can find our bearings. There are signs that tell you section numbers but as the Internet has destroyed my long term memory, I’d forgotten our starting point.

An hour later and after seeing a man spinning around while pouring a drink from one container held as high as his head into another by his hip we finally found an edge to cling on to. We were saved!

Half an hour later we finally hit the road we came in on and with no taxis willing to charge on the meter we decide to walk a stretch of it.

Getting lost on the highway we give in to a Tuk Tuk driver who takes us home.

Journal Travel

The Long Walk to Khao San Road

The smell of jet-lag is in the air but we were up and fresh to cease the day. We decide to walk to Khao San and see what all the fuss is about.

The walk is only about 3km but as we were walking shiny thing kept distracting us turning a ~30 minute walk into nothing short of a few hours. Despite this is was actually way worth it. We visited lonely temples, beautiful streets and after straying through a wooden-stepped tunnel we hit a river crossing. The scene was amazing. Waters in the bay were green with floating plant life and ferocious rippling as countless catfish (way too man for the space they were in) we’re attacking bread crusts a little Thai boy was throwing in. A boat came and picked up the people, the boy ran out of crusts and we continued to the famous Khao San Road.

Stark white rooftop needles grab our attention and again we’re sidetracked down another street where we find ourselves in the Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand. White lion sculptures surround white buildings encasing golden statues that sit within a tranquil garden.

We carry along up a main road and come to an open gate this gate was big and it had a few guards so we did the tourist thing and gestured as best we could to one sitting down “can we go in and look around?”. When confusion left his face and the look of understanding stepped in, he shunned us in and carried on reading his newspaper.

We stumbled upon the floating palace, well, not quite — we still had to walk all the way down to the river. So we did, along the way seeing a two-foot reptilian beast, the largest I’ve seen in the wild, stare at us and scuttle away behind a fallen log. I wanted to get a photo but his stealth moves were next level.

We got to the end and saw the rooftops of what we assume was the floating palace, though there were guards with real guns this time and some chains set up around the viewing area so we turned around for the final leg of our journey to Khao San Road.

A couple more temples later (these things are everywhere), and we come to a bridge where we stand overlooking a modest river seeing first hand the rich/poor divide of Bangkok. It’s a view that evokes emotion. Not happiness, and perhaps not quite sadness — something more inquisitive. A why? A how? A hope for change that’ll never come?

To think if we simply got a taxi we would have missed all of this.

Then finally, finally, Khao San Road!

What a load of bollocks.

Tourist haven, tourist food, tourist merchandise. It may as well have been Camden town with just a few more lady boys, suit sellers and self-entitled “Gap Yaar” hippies!

Okay, the Patthai noodles were pretty good. If you’re in the area it’s worth a look just because it is Khao San Road and it’s known — but if you miss it, you can find a strip just like it in every other country.

Journal Lifestyle Travel

Bangkok: Day One

After sleeping for more than 15 hours (well deserved by the way), the day was pretty much gone and we left to explore at roughly 5 o’clock, Thai time. We were still foggy eyed from the trip over and didn’t want anything too strenuous so we did what we do and went shopping.

Anywhere new we go, we like to walk places to get a feel for the area and really explore… 8km later and we hit CentralWorld, this crazy big mall that houses a whole lot of stuff over 5 enormous floors. I’m not gonna lie, the walk knackered me is probably part of the reason why I when it came to ordering a beautiful chicken noodle soup from a street vendor outside (it was a lucky dip whether we got a chicken foot or something, er, meatier), I managed to spill half the bowl scalding my wrist. If that wasn’t enough I also dropped my fresh pomegranate juice breaking the bottle and spilling it everywhere. If this all happened at the same time then perhaps it would have been a forgivable passing moment, but the 5 minute interlude means I’m probably just an idiot when tired.

The food began to digest and I was feeling myself again. Charlotte and I began to explore the mall. We looked around for a bit and then stopped for some coffee at Black Canyon Coffee. I was going to get my usual black Americano but the menu was really persuasive and instead I ordered an Iced Hazelnut Frappucino and Charlotte got a Watermelon Smoothie. Both were great and we head off to explore more floors. The mall closed at 10 so we head out where we wandered through the swanky bars on the lower floor with a cheeky ice-white Lamborghini peeking from around the corner. This definitely wasn’t where I parked my car and we found the exit only to be greeted by a 25 foot, inflatable Snoopy surrounded by another 40/50 mini Snoopys. Some sort of tribal ritual possibly? More likely a marketing stunt? Either way we took some photos before hailing a taxi to take us back to our still-warm bed.

This taxi driver — like the first one — couldn’t find our hotel either.

Day Two: Khao San Road.