Friday, 2 December 2011


So what can I say about Bangkok...well, it is vibrant, exciting, crazy, cultural, busy, populated, alive, noisy, fun and most of a great place to be. As soon as we hopped off our minibus here, I loved the vibe of Khao San Road, this is the main backpacker area of the city. The big neon lights, street vendors, music and food stalls welcome you down a street filled with life. We ended up staying in a cell style room, with a bed and fan and nothing else, but it is was cheap for the area so we opted to stay a good few days.

Our first night, we headed out to a bar and took some chilled time to sit back and people watch, this is when we ironically bumped into two friends we had met in Sihanoukville in Cambodia, Emma and Gillon. They where staying with their two friends who live in Bangkok, so within a couple of minutes we where all huddled around a table drinking Chang Beer. As the night went on, we ended up on the main street, sitting on baby sized plastic chairs and drinking 4 rum buckets...this was not a night we could remember finishing! In the morning, John woke up and sort of remembered he'd bumped into the kerb, to which we now know, he broke his big toe, cut a chunk of flesh out the top of it and nearly removed his full nail. I felt sick even looking at it, plus felt bad as he was in so much pain. As we are travelling, the first response is to self-help treat it, so we spent the next few days mending the wound and keeping a close eye on it.

The next day we recovered all day long and the day after, as I wandered into a bar to ask for ice for John's toe, I heard a familiar voice call out 'Laura'. As I swooped around, it was Ronnie Smith and Karlie Laffin, two friends from back home in Kirkby. They are in Thailand for a month on holiday, it's crazy as a couple of years ago, I was on holiday alone in Australia and Ronnie had gone on holiday around the same time with his friends over there, strangely I was in a bar in Cairns with some backpacker friends and I heard that familair voice call out 'Laura' all those years ago...madness. So, we spent the next couple of days have a lovely time with Ronnie and Karlie, catching up on conversations, visiting Chinatown and I spent a cultural day out with them. We visited the Grand Palace and temple and explored the city on foot. The architecture and style of the whole city is mixed, you have traditional Thai structures correlated in spaces with new contemporary buildings. What I found so special was that this week is the King's 84th birthday, so the whole city was being illuminated by draped fairy lights on every single street and open space, so the city became a magical aethetically pleasing location. I adored it all.

We finally opted to head South, so we shopped around checking out prices and companies to travel with, as we have heard of so many scams and robberies taking place. We opted to book at our guesthouse, as the people seemed genuine and the price was near the expensive end rather than cheaper so we knew by paying more we sort of felt more safe. We headed off on our night bus, I knew my backpack under the bus would probably get looked into, anyways, I felt calm as I knew nothing in there is worth taking, I only have clothes and toiletries really. I kept all my important things, documents, money, camera's and things on me in my mini backpack. It was a seat coach so we settled down and I put my backpack in between my legs and dozed off to sleep. Looking back upon it, this bus was literally pitch black, they'd closed all the curtains too, so the visability was perfect for somebody to sneak around. Through the night, I thought I'd felt my bag move, so when we both looked it was there in between my legs with the rain cover on, just as I'd left it. We arrived to a place, sort of in the middle of nowhere, where they quickly threw off our backpacks and the private bus zoomed away. Luckily, we noticed within 5 minutes that in my mini backpack that had been in between my legs, they had somehow taken my camera and been into my purse and taken all my money. John reacted furiously at first, went over to the manager man of this place and demanded something be done, he was aggressive and upset. The man reacted not too well to this and was quite aggressive back, that's when I walked over and tried to calm things down. I find it strange in this situation; I am usually a person who will cry at anything, if I am upset, angry, happy...anything! Yet, here I was acting rational, calm and not crying. I went into the man's office and spoke to him and said can he get the bus back, get somebody on the phone to sort this out or phone the police. Within minutes, I was talking to this random Thai woman, I explained to her to keep all the money but what I want is my camera back and if not, I am not leaving this place and I will have the police here soon enough. She explained that she would 'chase' the bus and see if my camera was there to return. We waited over two hours, the manager man was also in on the scam, as he was asking me strange questions and I kept friendly with him, as though I knew he was helping me but I really knew he was probably in on it all too. Then, as our minibus arrived to take us the boat, a motorbike man appeared out of nowhere and low and behold in his basket was my camera in it's bag. We where then frantically ushered onto the minibus to reach our boat in time. Once on the boat, we explained to a Thai woman there, she was so angry as she mentioned this so called private bus company does this everyday to people. The previous day she had two young German girls this happened too and the day before a French guy, who had his bag on his lap and they still managed to take his camera and wallet. We mentioned about the police but she informed us that nothing ever happens as they always pay the police. She was really shocked and surpised that we had our camera given back, as she says they never give anything back once it's taken. In a way, I am sort of thankful the money was taken as it was a large amount and I think if that hadn't of been taken, I would never have seen my camera again. Me and John where absolutely devasted, upset, hurt, angry and most of all sad. Through my whole journey, I have never really had one bad experience, all the people I have met and the means in which I have travelled have always been fine, yet this one experience has impacted my whole experience of travelling. I know I must forgive in order to move on, in a way as the days are passing I am more being able to, it is hard but I am trying. Thailand is a lovely country, it's just I am finding it hard to see past this now, so every person we look at suspiciously and I am constantly on alert now.

The week hasn't got much better, as John's toe was getting worse yesterday, we visited a clinic to ask for advice and they told us to go the hospital straight away. So, another hour journey in a taxi and we arrived at 'Bangkok Hospital in Ko Samui', this place was more like a swanky hotel than a hospital. It had all contemporary fixtures and fittings and we literally did not sit and wait once. After spending the day there, John had a broken big toe, he received a local anaesthetic in his foot and the toe nail removed, then infection treated and finally foot dressed and anti-biotics prescribed. The two hours of treatment set us back over 200pound, but in a way I keep saying health is so much more important than money. Especially when travelling, you need to take extra care and I would rather him get well sooner and know that we did the best choices by going to a sanitised, clean hospital for treatment.

After coming back a little deflated, we have both had long talks and now trying to be positive and move on with our travels. As I am an explorer at heart, I know it is the small minority that have impacted us, it could literally happen anywhere in the world. So, I am holding my head up and trying to enjoy the rest of Thailand as much as I can. We are spending the couple of days resting, as John's mobility is limited, I like the idea of having time to rest, recoup and reflect. Hopefully, as the days pass, we will feel more happy and perhaps even feel excited for our next adventure over to which the Full Moon Party awaits us!

Wandering around Chinatown in Bangkok

View down the street in Chinatown

Some of the food on the Chinese Market...I dare not eat this!

John enjoying his green shu mai

In the middle of Khao San Road, heart of Bangkok

On the rooftop pool, overlooking the city

Ronnie & Karlie at the palace

Me at the palace, on our cultural day out

I love this picture, a fish in a tiny pond in the middle of the palace

The colours and architecture are beautiful to observe

The exquisite detail and work into the palace is inspiring

One of the tapestry painting's within the palace

I chuckled one night, guess which one is my drink...the beer! John's toe in background too!

The fateful first night, after 4 buckets, a broken toe...we purchased this hat

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