There is a 3 hour time difference between Dubbo and Bangkok, of course there are other differences of a significant nature but this morning 3 hours seemed important. Awake at 5.30am and it felt like I’d slept in, of course I hadn’t, never do, and TMM (remember him) has the same issue, our bodies think its 8.30am. Anyway after a major sleep in we finally get on the street and head to Phanfa Pier with no idea how the rough plan will work out. The plan is to catch a ferry down the Bobenae Klong (canal) to Siam, walk to MBK Centre for breakfast, price Thailand sim cards, shop for camera bits and bobs and get the lay of the land, head up to the Erawan Shrine via air conditioned shopping centres then walk back to the klong and get the ferry back to Phanfa Bridge Pier. Then rest, then head to Khao San Road to find a place to watch Ireland beat the All Blacks (tick) and the Wallabies beat England (fail).
That was the plan. Now reality. First thing was TMM has to get some Thai Baht, there is a bank on the other side of the 8 lanes of traffic on Ratchadamnoen Klang Road outside the little hotel, TMM buggers off into the traffic, no care for his ageing travel companion, only to find that his Combank Travel card won’t convince the bank ATM to spit out cash. Serves him right. He does secure some cash using another card, however, he was sweating a bit. But, it was very hot and humid, just sayin!
We cross back over the road, then over a bridge to where we think Phanfa Bridge ferry pier is, we can see it after a tuk tuk driver trying to secure our business points it out. The pier is not easy to spot, its sort of crumbling with some young women in blue shirts and platform thongs (the foot variety) with pink flowers on them, they suggest that the crumbling dishevelved ferry clunking against the pier is the one we have to take, I’m not convinced so ask “is this the ferry to Hua Chang?”, the reply and a smile “yes yes, doan warly, is ok”. She was right, and we fly up the klong, wallowing in other ferrys bow waves, missing walls by centimetres, I poke the Gopro through a hole in the plastic roof only to nearly lose it to low level pedestrian bridge. The girl in the blue shirt and pink thongs ( I guess Bankok Ferries have these a standard PPE for staff) gives a a nod when we get to Ha Chang Pier. Its taken no time at all, we jump off while the ferry is wallowing, little concern for public safety, walk through a dark ghetto out into the street. MBK is about 5 minutes walk away, bloody amazing that it worked out. The ferry fare, wait for it, is 11 thb (baht) = 50c each.
To balance out the risk management, seeing we’ve survived the ferry we decide that the air con of the MBK KFC is a suitable place for a risk free breakfast. We buy a 59 thb (baht) light raincoat = $2 at a cheap shop as a backup to our gortex coats that are for heavy duty rain. The 4th and 5th levels are for phones, cameras, electronics, hundereds of stalls and we find a very helpful lady who explains what we should do, which we will do, but tomorrow morning. A coffee at Maccas, and the coffee is good but we have to order using the same f…g machines we used in Sydney, lucky we know this stuff inside out by now.
The weather outside is hot and steamy, getting steamier by the minute so the walk along the elevated walkway beside the major shopping centres of Siam Paragon and Central World we duck inside for short relief from the steamy Asian heat. Erawan Shrine s a tiny shrine but clearly important, there are lots of people, security and as usual in Thailand there are people selling things like garlands off flowers and incense. There are also some traditional dancers, beautiful Thai women in beautiful dresses, dancing to traditional live music.
As we walk to what we think is the Pratunam Pier, Dale finds some clever hair bands for his daughter that are clearly a bargain, but that will be determined not by him however. The Pier is where its supposed to be, girls in blue shirts and platform thongs man the pier and the boat and after we pay our 11 baht each we belt down the klong heading towards Phanfa Bridge and if we miss diembarking its the Chao Praya River for us. We’re deposited at Phanfa Bridge Pier much wiser and I now consider us to be seasoned klong travellers.
A short rest and a cool shower, then its off to Khao San Road to watch the rugby, if we can find somewhere that is televising it. Khao San Road is quiet in daytime hours compared to last nights pulsating episode inducing laser light shows and nightclubs and bars BUT we do find a bar that has Ireland smacking the All Blacks on a screen so I know we’ll get the Wallabies v England at 4.55pm. No word on whether Thai security has an alert out for Kiwi’s with razor blades trying to cut their wrists. Some food and a few drinks and the Wallabies don’t quite make the grade, so we head off to explore the alley ways and streets between Khao San Road and the Chao Praya River. The heat is opressive, my glasses are constantly fogged (I did say fogged!), my cap is soaked in sweat, and as the day wears on my feet get a bit sore. We wind our way all the way down to the river, after TMM has a failed negotiation on a small person handbag, he needs his Aunty with him, he’d be leaving no handbags behind if she was here. The Chao Praya River is big, there are ferries, huge barges, small boats and floating debri on the river. As we wind our way back through the back streets and alleys we come on a bit of a horror scene, a crowd with traffic blocked and an ambulance/paramedic working feverously trying to resucitate somebody. Not a nice scene and we can’t help so we dodge around it, and back into Khao San Road for a largish container of Fanta to rehydrate. I do think then that the ambulance could have been for a Kiwi supporter after the All Blacks loss, but maybe not.
As we get back to the hotel, another shower, wash a few clothes, and listen to the tropical storm pounding outside, we got home just in time.
Tomorrow we head back to MBK Centre to get Thai sim cards, then a 3 day BTS Skytrain Pass at Siam Station and the catch the train to Chatuchuk Week-End markets where they have about 12,000 stalls and sell everything from sofa’s to snakes.
Ciao from Pauolo for today