03.2.17 Into Bangkok and Chinatown

Slightly bus lagged we got to Ko San road at 6am, just as the streets were finished being cleaned. We checked in at our ‘usual’ abode, unsurprisingly the room wasn’t free, we waited an hour and it was, result!

We cleaned and I tried to rest, but Guy was desperate to get out and immerse us in Bangkok. We hit the uneven pavements, avoided the odorous drains and persistent tuktuk drivers.

Everywhere is adorned with black and white ribbons in remembrance of the King, most Thai’s are wearing all or part black clothing, the markets are full of black clothes. Books of remembrance adorned with beautiful flowers, usually white orchids and are seen as soon as we crossed the border from Laos and in manyĀ buildings around Bangkok.

Guy sampled some foods, it was great to see our old Chinese friends, Boazi, for breakfast again!

There are changes here, there are loads more boutique hotels now, an Ibis is being built, even Ko San road is becoming gentrified. We are trying not to see this as a bad thing, are not begrudging of the youth of today who travel with little fear of cockroaches crawling over their faces / toothbrushes or the experience of a (dead) rat in the ensuite to keep them company. The fact you can see groups of young american kids lounging by their hotel pool is wonderful. There are about 3 Boots shops, so all progress is not bad šŸ˜.

We slowly get used to being back in throngs of traffic, shiny SUV’s are everywhere, horns beeping but drivers courteous of road crossings, which is a shock to us!!

After more wandering, Guy allowed us a siesta.

Post siesta we got a river boat to China town and had another wander round there. It was quiet, too early for food stalls, although did snack on sausages and bananas. It was quite interesting seeing Chinese shops again, selling now familiar teas, herbs, dried fishes, with the odd endangered species thrown in.

We may have also had a cool drink to help cope with the hot, humid weather.

Back to Ko San road area and we came across Magic Max’s Thai restaurant, where Max comes and does magic whilst you eat his lovely fish and greens.

Guy assisted, put a cigarette out on a blokes t-shirt. No burn mark to be seen. Max is good!!!

We were about to go home when we got chatting to a southerner who had shunned his roots to live in Manchester and a neonatal nurse from Chicago.

02.2.17 Don Det, Laos to Bangkok, Thailand

Its mixed feelings this morning, sad to be leaving the relaxing tranquility of Don Det but exited to be heading to the bustling Bangkok, one of our favourite cities in the world.

We catch a boat across the Mekong to the mainland, then walk 300 metres to the bus station where backpackers congregate before the 2 hour bus journey to Pakse. Once there, we are dropped at the Green Paradise travel agency where we wait with four Malaysian guys for a minivan to the border. One arrives with only four seats, so another is called and as it is empty, we tour around Pakse picking up people before finally heading to the border.

A guide meets us from the van and takes us to be stamped out of Laos. This process involves swapping your passport for a ticket, handing the ticket and 10000 kip in at a separate window where a second ticket is issued, then returning to the first window where you get your passport back.

With our guide leading, we walk down the road, through a tunnel and into the Thai immigration building. Entry forms are filled and stamps issued and we are in Thailand. Our guide then bundles us into a tuk tuk and within 5 minutes we are at the bus station where we swap our ticket for an overnight bus ticket. The whole process was pretty smooth for a boat, bus, minivan, tuk tuk journey and all the Green Paradise people were very helpful.

The bus is a double decker and we are sat downstairs behind the drivers cabin. We set off at 6pm and curtains are drawn and lights turned off straight away. I can’t sleep yet as it only 6pm, so I continue to boost my phone’s ego by allowing it to beat me at chess. Eventually I get tired and I start to drop off and the lights come on. Its 1am, obviously time for food! Despite the hour, I enjoy our complimentary noodle soup and red drink but I’m awake again and struggle to get back to sleep.

At 5am, the lights come back on and we are at Bangkok main bus station.