Bangkok Bound Baby

After a month of puttering around in Bali, it was finally time to continue my travels. I was bound for Bangkok, baby! I know, I know . . . you immediately think of scenes from The Hangover Part 2. But, c’mon, really? How long have you been reading my blog?

When I arrived at Don Muang Airport, Marilyn met me at the Arrivals hall and we continued to our hostel together. She had traveled around Thailand for a few days ahead of me and would have so many interesting stories to tell. I couldn’t wait to see her again!

At the Bangkok airport, I worried I wouldn’t see her if the crowd was anything like the one in Bali. Luckily, there weren’t as many people and taxi drivers surrounding the exit so I found her easily.

What helped me single her out from the crowd was the massive backpack she was toting. I nearly fell over laughing at how humongous it looked on her! Now, Marilyn isn’t a big girl. She’s petite and can’t weigh more than 110 pounds (less than 50 kgs), but I swear her pack had to be pushing 53 pounds (or about 24 kgs)! She even had a rolled up painting attached to the side.

Together we managed to get on the airport bus that would shuttle us to the nearest BTS station. The BTS or Skytrain is Bangkok’s mass transit system that efficiently and effectively moves people through town. It’s a wonderful and inexpensive way to travel within the city. It allows you to avoid all the taxi and tuk tuk drivers who constantly seek your business.

When we arrived at Mo Chit station on the Sukhumvit line, we bought our BTS tickets and hopped on the train. At Siam station, we transferred to the Silom line and road until the Wongwian Yai station. From here it was a short walk to our accommodation, U-Baan Guesthouse.

Joy operates U-baan Guesthouse and is really funny and sarcastic. She’s full of advice and her English is good. Her hostel is in a regular neighborhood, which gives you great insight into how locals live. Joy is also open and knowledgeable about many parts of Thailand. She’s familiar with backpackers and their interests so her suggestions are usually spot on. I’d definitely recommend her place if you’re passing through Bangkok.

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Filed under Accommodation, Thailand, Transportation

A Night Out in Kuta

Unlike a lot of the tourists coming to Bali, I wasn’t interested in the nightlife, alcohol or any of the other more sinful vices that are abundantly available. In fact, I tried my best to avoid Kuta and its infamous reputation. But, I’m also a curious little cat so, with Reena by my side, I hit up Sky Garden, a multi-level dance club just to see what all the hype is about.

We arrived early enough to take part in their really cheap buffet. The food wasn’t anything spectacular and the unlimited alcohol that accompanied it was even less remarkable. But, for the price we were paying, the food was filling and cheap.

Midway through our feed, Praveen, Reena’s friend from school, joined us. He was in Bali on a family vacation and hadn’t seen Reena in years so it was great for them to catch up.

As the night wore on, we ordered more drinks and tried to talk over the pounding bass. It was difficult. We stayed on the top deck of the Sky Garden because there was a slight breeze blowing. The music got better the longer we stayed. People around us also got more tipsy, but I guess that’s how it goes. The crowd consisted of a high percentage of tourists with some locals in the mix for good measure.

As we left the club in the wee hours of the morning, we debated what to do next. If we took a taxi back to the hostel at this hour, it would cost us an arm and a leg. No taxis ran on the meter at this time of night, and we didn’t know what the right fare should cost. However, it was still several hours before the sun came up at which time the taxis turned on their meters.

As we sat on the curb eating our ice cream, drama that is inherent in Kuta erupted around us. Behind us it appeared as if a few guys were starting a fight. Other guys (maybe bouncers but it was hard to tell) strongly encouraged them to leave. Obnoxious belligerence ensued so we moved up the road away from the action.

At our new perch atop a short concrete wall, a white guy who was clearly drunk and/or stoned lay across the lap of a local guy. The local was trying to get the guy to go home, but he was clearly no match for the strength of the intoxication. Shaking his head, the local said his “friend” had too much to drink and patted his back. Circling around like vultures honing in on roadkill, two or three women of dubious reputation shared their concern for the guy. I can only hope that the local was telling the truth about being this guy’s friend and that the he woke up with all his money, credit cards and organs in place (I joke about the organs but the money and credit cards are probably a real concern).

As things around us got more and more sketchy, we decided to head home. I think we’d had enough excitement for the night. We hopped into a off-meter taxi and paid nearly double what we paid at the start of the night, but in the end it was worth it. Sky Garden and Kuta were fun but not something I had to ever do again.

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Filed under Accommodation, Indonesia, Nightlife

Happy Days at Happy Day Hostel and Guest House

After a splendid two nights surrounded by rice fields, Reena and I returned to the heart of Bali’s tourist area. We avoided Kuta and opted for a place in Seminyak called Happy Day Hostel and Guest House.

We were expecting to book into a dorm room, but the hostel staff suggested we stay in a one-bedroom apartment instead. The price per person for the apartment wasn’t too much more than the dorm room, and after seeing the place, how could we say no?

The one-bedroom apartment was huge, especially since there were only two of us. It had a full kitchen, living and dining area and patio. Located to the right of the entryway was a full bath. Best of all, the air conditioner blew cold! It felt like we were staying at an expensive vacation home and not at a hostel.

The staff at Happy Day Hostel and Guest House were really nice and very friendly. When they saw us, they asked how our day had gone or suggested things for us to do.

After Reena left, I stayed there for another week but moved into the dorms. The dorms were clean and spacious and the air conditioner ran all the time (unlike at some other hostels). I was able to do a load of laundry (by hand as they don’t have a machine) and the staff even shared their lunch with me one day. I had a nice time at Happy Day Hostel and Guest House and would stay there again.

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Filed under Accommodation, Indonesia