Our amazing backpacking trip to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia - part 1. (Arriving in Bangkok)

Bangkok Travel Blog

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The visa section at the Bangkok airport.

Travelling around South-East Asia

 

“Once upon a time there were three brave travellers who decided that it was time to leave their homes and to go to explore a bit of South-East Asia”, I could start my blog with.

The Independence Monument.
Like in a fairytale. During our 3 weeks backpacking trip around Thailand, Laos and Cambodia we experienced some amazing moments so that I really felt sometimes like being in some kind of a fairytale.

But I should start from the beginning. In 2004 I participated on an University exchange program on the Tsukuba University in Japan where I met students from all over the world. This way I met also Mit from Laos, a really nice guy who attended together with me the course of “UN policies”. The funny thing about our friendship is that though we knew each other from the class we haven’t interacted much till my farewell party. That night when he helped me to carry a Thai girl who underestimated the strength of alcohol in her little body we became real friends. And it stayed this way for the next 3 years as we kept the contact by e-mail. Mit returned to his country about a year later and started working for a Japanese organisation in the Lao capital Vientiane.

Arriving at Khao San in Bangkok, the tourist and backpackers road. Unusually empty as it was early morning.
He suggested me a couple of times to come to visit him in Laos and I promised to do so one day. It was winter 2006 when I definitely decided that this day should come soon. Mit meant a good time to go to Laos would be April, it might be hot and humid but I would get the opportunity to see the Lao New Year celebrations. No doubt, the heat and the humidity was a price I was definitely ready to pay. Couple of weeks later I had found even 2 friends who were ready to join me, my friend from University Pavel and my college Sergej who is actually Russian but he’s from Latvia. Well…because of his Latvian passport and no official staying permission in Slovakia ( he doesn’t need it for god sake, we are all EU citizens now) he couldn’t get a double entry visa at the Thai embassy in Bratislava. They told him to get it in Latvia, but of course we didn’t have time for that. At that time we had no idea how much troubles will all this cause during our trip. We just waved up when we heard he could a visa after the arrival in Bangkok at the airport, no double entry visa though.
On the way to our hostel.

It doesn’t make sense to tell you about all the preparations for the trip, the main thing was that we were prepared when the D-day arrived. We flied with the Taiwanese Eva Airlines from Vienna International Airport to Bangkok directly, an 11 hours flight. I have to admit that we were more the satisfied with this airline, as for me they are better then most of the main European ones.

 

It was early morning around 6am local time when we suddenly landed in Bangkok.

On the way to our hostel.
Tired, a bit sleepy but fine. Sergej had to get his Thai visa first and he was obviously not the only one, the queue we saw was quite long. Suddenly it took about an hour to get it, me and Pavel almost fell asleep while waiting, haha. Then we passed the passport control and hurried to pick up our luggage. But then the shock. The belt for the luggage from our flight was already empty and stopped moving. We looked at each other and then around us. Oh please, we just hoped our backpacks didn’t get stolen right on the beginning of our trip. It took us some minutes but after we ran around we suddenly met an employee who seemed to know where our luggage could have ended. Nearby was a little office where they put the suitcases and bags which haven’t been picked up. Fortunately ours were between them.

Now we had everything and could finally leave the airport. In Bangkok we were supposed to meet with Christine, a Vietnamese-American girl me and Pavel met during our trip to Egypt the year before.

Pavel at our hostel.
She sent us in advance by e-mail how to get by bus to the city centre and then to the

youth-hostel we would stay all together. All we had to do was to follow her instructions. The first airport bus brought us only to some sort of bus station, but here we easily found our connection bus.

Little bit later we were heading direction the city centre of Bangkok and my eyes were catching through the window the first impressions of this Asian country I heard so much nice things about. I can’t really describe it, but from the first moment on I knew that I would like Thailand. It was a feeling, innocent and quiet, but it was there. I saw the people outside moving around and I started to realize what made me feel that way…most of the people were smiling.

Sergej playing with a cat in our hostel.
I could see on the faces of most of the Thais beautiful, unforced, happy smiles. The best welcome I could have imagined.

When we arrived by the Independence monument the nice lady who sold us the bus tickets gave us a sign to get off. From here it was supposed to be already close to Khao San road (the famous backpacker street). It was only 8am but it was getting already hot and humid. We crossed Khao San which was quite empty at this early time of the day and turned right. According to a map I had we were supposed to arrive soon at Phitsanulok road where our youth-hostel was located. Remark, distances in huge cities (like Bangkok) might appear smaller on maps. The same happed to us, some of the side streets weren’t even marked on our map. Every time we saw another street on the right we expected it to be ours, but we got disappointed again and again.

Pavel buying fruits.
Suddenly we reached it, completely wet of our sweat because of wearing our backpacks and the clothes we had in the plane.

We checked in and I asked for Christine. The girl at the reception told me that she left a message that she went to the coast and that she’ll return on Tuesday evening. It was Monday, no problem, we planned to get a bit accustomed to everything till she would return. A quick shower, changed cloth and we were ready to go for a first sightseeing. And we wanted to arrange the visas for Laos as well. We just walked the same way back to Khao San road, but this time we made little stops any time we saw something interesting. Pavel has been to Thailand before and he told us that we had to try the local fruits they sell on the streets. It didn’t take long and we found a fruit vendor woman. She had a little coolbox on wheels with a table on it.

Buddhist Temple.
I pointed with the finger on a pineapple and she took it out of the ice and cut it into smaller pieces. What happened next was a feast for my taste senses. That was the sweetest and most delicious cool pineapple I’ve ever tried before. There’s anything better to refresh in a hot weather. We continued our way to Khao San, meanwhile it got quite lively. It felt like we left Thailand and entered a special zone ruled by backpackers only. Most of the buildings here were either bars and restaurants or hotels, travel agencies and shops. We entered on of the travel agencies and asked how much it would cost to get the Lao visa and how long it would take. First we checked the prices in a couple of agencies and then chose one. We paid the fee and left our passports there, the guy in the office promised us that we could pick it up the following day after 4pm. Satisfied we went to get some lunch in a restaurant nearby.

During the afternoon we took a boat tour on the river Chaopraya and walked around as much as the hot sun allowed us.

A golden statue.
OK, I should admit that it wasn’t a normal touristic boat tour. We just took the boat used as public transport one way, got out after a couple of stops, walked around a bit and took a boat back. Whatever, it fulfilled what we were looking for, haha.

We got back to our hostel to have some rest, we still felt a bit sleepy from the night spent in the plane and the time difference to Central Europe. Sergej saw somewhere that there were some thaibox fights going on that evening. And according to the flyer he found the prices weren’t that bad. That would be definitely an interesting thing to see in Bangkok. The only problem was that as we found out the fighting arena was relatively far. At the time we left the hostel there was no other chance to be in time then to catch a taxi. We stopped one and asked how much it would cost to get there…200 baht…hmmm, we had no other choice and got in.

Sergej and Pavel discussing where to go next.
The fights were supposed to start at 6pm, but unfortunately we forgot Bangkok’s traffic rush-hour. It was crazy, we were coming forward in meters even if our driver tried some tricks to shorten the track up. We were already 15 minutes late when we suddenly arrived. In the moment we got out of the taxi there was immediately a Thai girl offering us tickets. We read on the flyer that they should around 300 baht per person, but she was asking us 1.200 baht!!!!! 4 times the normal prices. Because we were foreigners of course. I just hate it when people are trying to rip me off and my 2 friends thought the same way. No thaibox show for us tonight. The girl wasn’t even ready to negotiate, it looked like they were making enough money without us anyway.

We were quite lucky anyway, because just few meters ahead we found something like a little open air amusement center.

The river Chaopraya.
There were even loads of stands offering Thai food so we decided to use the chance to have a good dinner. There was a special system to buy food here, we had to buy tickets first which we used then to get our food. Don’t understand why they made it that complicated, but I was already too hungry to think about it too much. At least we had a little live show on a big podium in front of us. A Thai boygroup was singing famous hits of other bands, they were pretty good actually. After dinner we did a walk into the park next to this place. For being in such a huge and busy metropole the park looked really peaceful. And beautiful as well with its lake.

We couldn’t believe our eyes when we passed by something like a little open air fitness centre. Young slim Thai guys were training hard here and showing each other their muscles. OK, let’s just pass by quickly, hahaha.

Sergej as a monk.

It was dark and we were quite tired. But how to get back to our accommodation? We thought about taking a tuktuk, one of these motorcycle rikshas we saw everywhere. They are very famous and popular all around South-East Asia as far as I heard. We have spent already quite a lot of money that day so we decided to get either a cheap tuktuk or leave it for another day. I have to admit that it took as a while till the 6th or 7th tuktuk driver agreed to drive us as close as possible to Khao San for only 30 baht. Till we met him we were already walking for almost an hour so we passed a big part of the distance by ourselves. Our driver was a pretty crazy guy, several times I thought I might fall off the tuktuk the way he was driving. But honestly, it was fun anyway. Even if I had to force my fingers to unhand the seat when we suddenly stopped.

Back in the hostel, it was already around 11pm, I found a note on the door to our dormitory.

On the river Chaopraya.
It was Christine, she was already back and resting in her dormitory room. I went to find her and there she was, we greeted each other warmly. Actually she planned to come back tonight, but she confused the days, she thought it would be Tuesday already. Crazy girl. We sit down in the common area together with Pavel and Sergej and discussed what the plans would be for the next days. 

 

 

 

 

 

skydiver says:
I know, I wished we have had more time to go to Malaysia and Singapore as well. But we had only 3 weeks unfortunatly as we all three have fulltime jobs already. And I wanted to meet my friend in Laos. :)
Posted on: Apr 03, 2008
Rachelsc says:
Hi, I'm Rachel from Malaysia. You wrote that you were in Thailand in 2007. You should've extended your trip south towards Malaysia and Singapore. Most people do that, I think. :)
Posted on: Apr 03, 2008
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The visa section at the Bangkok ai…
The visa section at the Bangkok a…
The Independence Monument.
The Independence Monument.
Arriving at Khao San in Bangkok, t…
Arriving at Khao San in Bangkok, …
On the way to our hostel.
On the way to our hostel.
On the way to our hostel.
On the way to our hostel.
Pavel at our hostel.
Pavel at our hostel.
Sergej playing with a cat in our h…
Sergej playing with a cat in our …
Pavel buying fruits.
Pavel buying fruits.
Buddhist Temple.
Buddhist Temple.
A golden statue.
A golden statue.
Sergej and Pavel discussing where …
Sergej and Pavel discussing where…
The river Chaopraya.
The river Chaopraya.
Sergej as a monk.
Sergej as a monk.
On the river Chaopraya.
On the river Chaopraya.
The heat around noon is just too m…
The heat around noon is just too …
In the streets of Bangkok.
In the streets of Bangkok.
Somebodys dinner?
Somebody's dinner?
The Thai box stadium.
The Thai box stadium.
Me...
Me...
Thai specialities.
Thai specialities.
Pavel and me having dinner.
Pavel and me having dinner.
Some fitness training for Sergej.
Some fitness training for Sergej.
Christine presenting tropical frui…
Christine presenting tropical fru…
The boss of the hostel?
The boss of the hostel?
Bangkok
photo by: Deats