Trainspotting in Bangkok

Thursday, July 14, 2016
Bangkok, Thailand
Yes that's right we have ended up back in Bangkok...yet again. Our own fault this time. After finally deciding on our next plans we headed back to arrange our Visa's for Myanmar. I guess a certain amount of complacency meant we have returned here when we need not have. If we had read up in a bit more detail we would have realised that we could have arranged our Visa's when we were here a week ago as once you get them they are valid for entry over a three month period from the date of issue.

Again complacency when traveling meant we made a serious schoolboy error on returning here. We got back on a Friday with the Embassy closed over the weekend. So three days later on the Monday we got ourselves up nice and early ready to catch a Taxi to put our application in. When leaving the hostel that morning we were asked what time we would be checking out.....checking out? Damn it I thought we had booked enough nights here. When we asked if they had space for the night we found out the hostel was fully booked. So we ran back upstairs, quickly packed out bags up and sat downstairs frantically looking for somewhere close to the Embassy to stay for a few nights. The Embassy closes at 12pm for applications so we needed somewhere nearby to throw our bags in and catch it in time. We quickly settled on a place without any real research other than a decent review score and went out to grab a taxi.

Any time your not looking for a taxi in Bangkok there are a steady stream of them rolling past honking their horn at you. When you need one...nothing. After stopping a few that didn't even want to make the journey to the other side of town we finally got our transport sorted. It was 11:30am now and we would be cutting it fine. As we neared our new digs it became apparent that the driver didn't really know exactly where we were headed for and couldn't see properly to read the address I had quickly saved off on my phone in Thai. Brilliant a blind taxi driver! After circling around a few streets we finally spotted our place and ran in to drop our bags off. It was now 11:50am and we still had to grab some passport photo's for Dani as well as reach the Embassy. As we ran down the street there were numerous places offering photos and visa application forms so we darted in the nearest one and as Dani got her photo's done I sat frantically filling out the photo copied application form we needed. Thankfully the woman in the shop was really switched on with the process and was slicing and dicing photo's and gluing them onto forms like a Visa ninja.

The clock in the shop now showed as 12:05pm, too late but we sprinted down anyway just in case. Thankfully as we arrived at the entrance it was still open and we were ushered in as the door was closed behind us.....phew, made it. An hour later and we had waited our turn and our passports and forms were submitted, time to relax and grab some food.

The Myanmar Embassy is located in Silom, the business district of Bangkok and I thought it would be interesting now that we had been forced to stay somewhere different for a change so we parked up in a cafe and grabbed some wifi to see what was nearby and worth checking out. You soon realise that the quality of things to do nearby is slim to nothing when in the top 10 list of best attractions in the area is the small street for food you are currently sat in, a seashell museum, a Hindu temple that we passed on the corner earlier that we didn't give a second glance to and some average shopping mall further up the road. Oh dear not the most exciting of areas then. After being ripped off to the tune of 20 Baht by the cafe as they had mis-printed the prices on their menu and despite me raising the issue with the guy he still short changed me we headed back to see what our digs were like.

Now we come to the title of this entry. Nothing to do with checking out classic Thai steam trains or sat on platforms ticking of random carriage numbers. No, think Renton and Spud and the rest of the Edinburgh crew in the well known film Trainspotting. Despite our quick checking of the review score and location, our new digs despite costing the same as our clean comfortable last place was utterly grim. The room was like a Thai prison cell and smelt like one as well. The stains on the bed sheets would have looked like a full moon party had you shone a UV light on them they were that bad. There was something distinctly bad in the air that I'm sure wasn't good for my lungs, probably damp spores with a side order of asbestos. Dani said she had spotted some local guy staying there that she said didn't look in the best of health and as I wandered past the toilets to the tune of this scrawny withdrawn individuals persistant coughing I was less than impressed to see him sat there with the door wide wide open, briefs round his ankles taking a shit in full view of anyone unfortunate enough to be walking past. What the hell!? Where had we ended up. We had booked 3 nights in this hell hole to wait until our visa's had been approved.

I couldn't take it. Don't get me wrong I've stayed in some fairly grim places before out of necessity when traveling but this one was not about to join that list. We stayed just that one night, cancelled our next two days and checked back in to our usual hostel back along at Sukhumvit. If your ever here I really recommend the place we stay at. I've used it a few times over the past several years and it's great. Good location near a BTS station so you can easily get around town and to the night life but in a nice quiet area for a good nights sleep. Great food on the doorstep, clean friendly, free coffee and a great price.

So here we are again. We have our Myanmar Visa's all sorted now which I'm looking forward to. We should have headed off today to Koh Chang near the Cambodian border for a weeks chill out but stomach hasn't been the best (probably some bug I picked up at the 'Mad Cow' hostel of doom a few days ago) and I didn't fancy risking sitting on a bus for 7 hours with no toilet so we will head off there tomorrow now.

Checking our finances now that I have access to my accounts again makes for interesting reading. We won't have enough to last us the rest of the trip. As I've said before Asia has gone up in price and the recent slump in the pound isn't helping either so we will need to find some paid work soon if we are going to last until our return flight in December. I'm not too concerned though as I'm sure something will come along as it usually does. The trip isn't playing out quite as we expected it to but it's still been great fun so far and certainly beats being back in the UK working so we can't complain. I think a realistic budget per day for a couple now is probably more like 25-30 quid as oppose to the 20 we have allowed for ourselves. 25-50% more certainly makes a big impact on your travel finances and we are starting to feel that pinch.
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