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Bangkok - Hilarious, Fun Times With Friends

sunny 37 °C
View Travels on KyleMac's travel map.

We were dropped off just outside of Khao San road – the main tourist district. Literally 5 minutes of being in Bangkok I was approached and offered ‘sucky sucky’… twice. This is even while wearing my full back pack and discussing with Kirby where to find a good cheap hotel – Bangkok certainly doesn’t disappoint! We struggled to find any reasonable hotels/guesthouses/hostels that were less than $20 per night. We had to settle for a windowless (though nicely furnished with an ensuite, it also had air-con but that was necessary as much for cooling as it was for accessing oxygen – refer to ‘windowless’) concrete box for 450 baht ($14) per night.

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^^ Insane traffic

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^^ A Bangkok alley :)

We were pretty tired by the time we arrived, found a hotel, and ate so we just checked out Khao San road quickly. It’s definitely the place to be if you want fake I.D’s, fake university degrees, dodgy tattoos, dirty prostitutes, drugs, or corrupt tuk-tuk drivers; A real culmination of all the uncivilized things that years of gross backpackers bring to a district, and we can’t wait to share it with Ellie and Steven in 2 days :)!

We missed our first morning in Bangkok because our pitch-black, windowless, air conditioned hotel room fooled us into thinking it was still night time when in fact the clock was proudly in the PM.
After brunch..? we made our way to the tourist information centre to see if we could pick up a bus timetable. Apparently there is no bus timetable, and you are just meant to know where the bus is going according to the number and colour of the line painted on the side of it – so no buses for us. Luckily the taxis are cheap (around $3 to anywhere in the main part of the city), the trick is to make sure they turn the meter on; otherwise they will demand some extortionate amount when you arrive at your destination. Upon stepping outside of the tourist information centre we were greeted with a freckled, 70 something, homeless bum…literally. An old homeless man was completely naked doing a shit, into a green bucket…thank you Bangkok, thank you.

On the 27th we headed across town to the Indian Embassy to apply for our Indian Visa’s, this was also the day that Steven and Ellie were arriving so we were very excited to soon have someone else to talk to, haha :). The crap part of the day was that when we arrived at the Indian Embassy we found out that we were supposed to fill out the visa forms online, print them, and then bring them to be processed! Pain in the arse. Feeling beaten we decided to not waste our trip all the way across town and instead checked out a couple of the massive shopping centres. We ended up in Centrepoint Shopping Centre (which I think we also have in Aus?) and watched the new X-Men movie (a real version, not pirated- who’d have thought in Thailand, right?).

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^^ A fort....I forget what it's called

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^^ Tuk Tuk

That night, after a quick feed at a local street stall back at Khao San we prepared our Indian Visa apps for the next morning and met up with Ellie and Steven; Woo hoooo, familiar faces! Things quickly got out of control as the ‘buckets’ disappeared into us and we went clubbing in Bangkok until 4:30am.

Three and a half hours, a quick spew, and a raging headache later, I found myself handing my Indian Visa application in at 8am. Wow, clubbing was a bad idea!

We didn’t have long with our friends so I had to embrace the hangover and do the touristy thing. We walked through the street market outside of their hotel, apparently it’s the popular place to pick up a dildo and some Viagra, literally on the footpath, once again Bangkok living up to its reputation.

Ironically we also visited the Buddhist temples; Wat Pho, and Wat Arun, and took an hour cruise through the canals of Bangkok for 200 baht per person ($6.50), I dunno if that’s a good deal but it sounded alright so we just did it.

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^^ Beautiful temple architecture

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^^ Amazing mosaics on this stupa

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^^ Change a couple baht into a million coins - each coin is a prayer

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^^ Gong!

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^^ The giant lying golden Buddha

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^^ Climbing the stupa

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^^ Bargaining for the canal ride

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^^ Houses line the canal

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^^ Ellie and Steven :)

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^^ Feeding the fishys

We then caught a taxi to Gold Mount where we enjoyed beautiful views and watched a lightning storm roll in from the horizon. We should have known that with giant clouds full of thunder and lightning, it would also rain. But like deer in the headlights we sat hypnotised by the storm until it started pissing down rain all over us and there wasn’t a taxi in sight! Idiots!
I volunteered to wrangle a taxi and stood out in the rain. After I was sufficiently soaked a taxi pulled up to where the rest of the guys were waiting in the dry, didn’t I feel like the good Samaritan, once again..Idiot!

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^^ Praying for hangover healing

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^^ Murals decorate the walls

All in all though the day was awesome, the hangover wasn’t too intense and after a hard day site-seeing we headed back to Khao San and feasted like Kings (and Queens). I hope the rest of our time together is as good as the first night/day :).

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 03:39 Archived in Thailand Tagged markets taxi thailand bangkok friends san fun wat_pho wat_arun khao homeless tuk buckets fake_id fake_degree prostitutes gold_mount Comments (2)

Hanoi

sunny 33 °C

We arrived in Hanoi this morning around 5am and were greeted with the usual thousand taxi drivers swarming around the bus to take us into the city centre (about 15 minutes drive). We knew the drive should only cost around $3 and we told the taxi driver who was gunning for us that we weren’t stupid and we knew how much it should cost to which he replied with a nod and a smile, so we hopped in.
Twenty metres later the illegal taxi meter was already at $2 so we hopped out onto the busy streets to find a more reputable source of transport. It wasn’t long before we found a more legit taxi to take us the entire way for $3.
The morning was made worse as I was suffering diarrhoea for the first time this trip, although I thought I would get it much sooner than day 22 which is a good thing I guess :).

We were only spending the day in Hanoi before taking the overnight train to Sapa, so we decided to check out the Ho Chi Minh museum.

The museum was not what either of us expected. It was more a trippy, artist’s version of the national heroes life. It is hard to describe, there were bits of factual information describing important key events in Ho Chi Minh’s life which were accompanied by various forms of art, whether it be a painting or sculpture or whatever. It was pretty cool. The best bit was walking around the room that contained all of the messages and presents that various governments had sent Vietnam after they won the war against the West, some interesting countries sent gifts!
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^^ Fruit platter in the Ho Chi Minh Museum
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^^ Metaphors were everywhere
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^^ Kirby with Ho Chi Minh
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^^ Beast in the museum

We also tried to visit the mausoleum to view Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body, but unfortunately it was closed, although still well guarded!

Instead we headed off to Jade Island in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. The Ngoc Son Temple on the island is small but still beautiful and it holds the remains of an ancient 200kg, 6 feet long giant soft-shell turtle that was once thought to be extinct, although a month before we arrived they had been rediscovered in the lake! (Didn't take photos of it for some unknown reason...doh!)

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^^ Burning incense at the temple
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^^ Lady selling face masks

Before we knew it time was up and we had to head to the train station to catch our locomotive high up into the mountains of North West Vietnam to visit the tribal peoples who call Sapa home.

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 01:43 Archived in Vietnam Tagged taxi museum illegal hanoi turtle ho_chi_minh ripoff rip_off ngoc_son_temple jade_island Comments (0)

Ho Chi Minh

sunny 34 °C
View 1st Day Mekong Trip & Ho Chi Minh on KyleMac's travel map.

Before we knew it our time in Darwin had passed and we were at the airport. A few security checks and some teary farewells between Kirby and her mum and we were sitting on the plane ready to leave Australia behind.

We were on an international Jetstar flight and to my disgust there was neither a movie playing nor any entertainment available due to the entertainment system requiring “maintenance”. Thankfully my trusty laptop full of movies kept us going for a few hours :)

It was 9:15pm when we arrived at Ho Chi Minh airport and we were greeted with a long line from the visa collection desk. While we were waiting for our visa’s to be processed two old ladies sitting in front of us were approached by an airport official. I must add that everyone working in the airport looked like they were in the military (maybe they were), decked out in their green outfit covered with stars and medals and a face equally cold they were quite intimidating. The ladies were promptly told that the paperwork that they had provided the officials was actually not an official visa approval letter and that on the system there was no record of an approved visa for either of them. The ladies tried to argue that they had booked this trip through a travel agent and they were told by the agent that everything was arranged, but they were met with a pitiless stare and told that they had to leave the country before even entering it. Luckily though another option arose and they were able to stay at the airport hotel overnight and pay for a visa application to be processed the next morning (not sure how much that would cost but I’m guessing it’s not cheap). After witnessing this whole ordeal a slight feeling of impending doom encroached on my happy demeanour as I hoped that all of our paperwork was correct. Thankfully our names were called and we headed outside to breathe our first breath of fresh Vietnamese air – although with 5 million motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City, it wasn’t that ‘fresh’.

Before we headed overseas we read plenty of books that talked about transport in Asia and one in particular suggested to use the metered taxi as they are regulated and far less likely to rip you off. We knew that the ride to our hotel should cost around 300,000 dong and the moment we exited the building we were confronted with a man who offered to take us to our hotel for 500,000 dong in his private car, we said no and headed over to the taxi rank. The taxi we took had a meter but it was obviously faulty because by the time we arrived at our hotel it was sitting at 1.3 million dong. It only took us 30 minutes within Vietnam to get ripped off – WooHoo :)

When we walked inside the hotel we were greeted by a smiling woman who promptly told us there was no vacancy. Luckily we had booked and payed a deposit already. After a quick search through her book she kindly informed us she had no such booking written down and there was not a bed for us. We showed her our receipt from the transaction and she called her boss, Mr. Kim. When he arrived he apologised profusely and took us to one of his other hotels and is letting us stay in an air-conditioned room with a private bathroom for the same price.

It is now midnight and fingers crossed our first day in Ho Chi Minh will be cheaper than our first 3 hours :)

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 04:20 Archived in Vietnam Tagged me taxi hotel vietnam ho-chi-minh ripoff Comments (1)

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