Bangkok: Although I have been to Bangkok before this time it feels different. The people are not as nice and there seems to be more of them trying to rip me off. After arriving at 6am we are taken by a man who gets lost along the way to our hotel where I spend the next two nights with Kate and her parents. The Chateau de Bangkok is not impressive in the foyer but this is a good thing because when you get to your room, you are more than impressed as your expectation is surpassed. Marble bathroom, bath sheets, roof top pool and steam bath (big fan as always). It’s not bad.
The entire day herein is spent at Chatuchuk – The Weekend Market. As with most markets you can buy almost anything here. The only difference is that is is the size of about ten football fields – massive! Most of the stalls divided up into logical categories, even the pet shops, and although I didn’t actually find these I am still feeling overwhelmed at the fact that I didn’t even see half of it. I buy some gifts and after many hours we head back to the hotel for a rest.
Similarly the following day is spent at more markets and at MBK – one of the biggest shopping centres in the city. It is a department store like establishment with air conditioning (bonus) and is set across seven levels. For some reason I am drawn to handbags and purses today and I find a reasonable Bally bum-bag and Mulberry purse. I guess because you don’t really travel with a lot of luxuries you tend to get excited at the prospect of seeing a whole store of them. Shopping in Bangkok is expensive compared to other places and because the exchange rate is giving a hiding at the moment I walk away feeling less than ordinary and know that this will hurt my bank balance. Funnliy enough I don’t spend as much as I thought and after a mishap with a taxi driver who proceeded to kick us out of his cab we end up at Patpong night market. There are three rows of the same stuff but it is all patronised by the girlie bars. This is the first time I have been offered a ‘pussy menu’. Not that I am surprised by this but they just don’t give up; and this is coming from a female point of view. I feel sorry for the male population being dragged to this part of town by their female partners, I can only imagine how you feel. We all meet up at the corner and have a lovely Vietnamese dinner in a nice restaurant then catch a cab back to the hotel where I pack my bag. I bough a new pair of shoes tonight as one of my cheapy pairs from home has finally worn through. Farewell faithfuls.
I rise early in the morning to been farewelled by my lovely surrogates and head to the airport. I buy a baguette for breakfast and a watch with an alarm as my phone has been stolen and my current $10 watch only tells time. It is a good bargain I think and possible the first useful thing I have found in duty free. ASia Air offers free seating so I shadow the priority seating guests and get on the plane third in line, window seat up the front thank you very much. The flight is quite good and only takes 1hr 50mins from Bangkok to Hanoi direct. Upon arrival at Hanoi airport I run into a fellow backpacker and we agree to share a cab, only to be accosted by a rude mini bus driver. But it is only $3 and he does drop me off where I have asked to be dropped off. Alas I have arrived.