So our adventure started on 15th January 2017 at Heathrow airport where we boarded a plane to Hong Kong (11 hour flight), we then had a two-hour layover and boarded a plane to Bangkok (2 hours).
We travelled with Cathay Pacific and our journey was very easy. Everything was on time, the seats were comfortable, the food was pretty good, we had a large array of in-flight entertainment to choose from and free alcohol so red wine/ beer… to help us sleep of course! Despite this, we both only managed to sleep for a couple of hours throughout the whole journey. But it was enough as we arrived into Bangkok early evening so we didn’t have to stay up long to counteract the struggle with the time difference (7 hours ahead of UK). When we arrived at Bangkok airport security was very busy but they actually opened up the diplomatic entrance and we managed to shuffle through there where we were given our free visa on arrival for 30 days. We found the carousel for our luggage and just as we were walking to it both our bags came around the corner together! No lost luggage and we couldn’t have asked for an easier introduction to travelling.
We got a taxi from the airport, where you have to get a ticket and then go to the number of the platform where your allocated taxi arrives. We made sure we asked for the meter to be on (it is a lot cheaper this way), had money for the highway toll and the 50B airport surcharge. The journey to our hostel (in Khaosan Road area) took about 40 mins and cost us about 400B. It was a brilliant introduction to Bangkok and the traffic. I had not realised how big the city was either. The traffic looks manic and crazy initially with lots of vehicles being over lanes or cutting into lanes as well as millions of scooters with hosts of people/ things on them weaving their way through the traffic. However, the traffic does seem to flow together and each person is aware of who is moving where slowing to allow them in or moving out the way.
We arrived at our first hostel- Born Free on Samsen soi 7 in Khao san road area about 5 pm. We were greeted by a very smiley Sam who was very helpful throughout our stay there. We were pleasantly surprised with our hostel it was very clean, there were a couple of showers for each dorm of 11 and there were some really nice communal areas (although we found the hostel lacked a bit of atmosphere being quite quiet).
After checking in we quickly walked the 10 minutes to go and explore the craziness of Khao san road. The walk there introduced me (as Dave had already been to Bangkok) to its sights and smells. You walk down the street and you are greeted with great and interesting smells from street food, then next you can be hit by the smell of rubbish and sewage that is piled up on the streets next to the stalls. The wiring hanging over the streets is mental and it is quite impressive they get the electric to work. The city is always busy with both locals, tourists and traffic. To cross the street you have to just walk across confidently when there is a slight gap and hope the traffic slows for you, which it does tend to. Even on larger streets when there are lights for you to walk traffic can still turn left so you have to walk and hope for the best! It is surprising how quickly you get used to crossing traffic in this manner, though.
Suffice to say that Khao san road is definitely crazy. Filled with English tourists (generally) drinking buckets of cheap alcohol and Chang beer, neon lights, street food and competing bars playing loud house music it was interesting to witness and walk through but not somewhere we wanted to spend a lot of time.
We were also very glad that our hostel was a good 10-minute walk away so it meant that it was quiet!
We also explored Rambuttri which is the street parallel to Khao san road. The influences of Khao san road are creeping into this street however it is still more focused on good cheap Thai food through is restaurants and street food. We managed to find our first Pad Thai meal for 40B (approximately 9p). It is easy to see why so many people live on Pad Thai when they come to Thailand due to it being “aroi” (delicious in Thai) and so cheap. I am sure it will become a staple of our diet in Thailand if we need a cheap, nice meal.