I’d always fancied going to Asia, but as I’ve mentioned to loads of people in the past, it’s never a place I’d fancied going to on my own for some reason. Time waits for no man, as the saying goes, and I finally decided that includes me too, and if I didn’t get off my arse and go, I might not ever get around to it.
So on February 14th 2011, off I went…
Arriving in Bangkok airport I was, as you might imagine, quite excited! I’d been sat next to this bloke from somewhere down south for the Manchester to Bangkok flight, we’d had a bit of a laugh and drinking session on the flight, shame I can’t remember his name now. We both made our way to customs and joined a very long queue. Quite a posh airport I thought. All the customs officers were wafting AK47’s around and were quietly intimidating. We all had to have a photograph taken of our eyeballs as we passed through passport control, mine was probably out of focus because I was laughing and jiggling up and down. The process went smoothly, if very slowly, and for the first time I was finally in Thailand… on my own!
After we’d cleared customs, realising that we were both staying at opposite ends of the city (He was off to Khao San Road, how original), we said our goodbyes. I jumped in a clapped out taxi and agreed a price of 400baht. I showed the driver my Google map print out, how organised I felt at that moment. Then I immediately realised that, obviously, my driver not only didn’t speak English, he (obviously) didn’t read English either. Let the comedy commence. As we were driving along the highway, I peered out of the window at the Bangkok skyline in the distance. I tried to work out in my head what 400baht was in GB pounds, a custom that would last my entire time in Thailand, my best guesstimate being 1000baht was ‘about’ twenty quid, roughly.
As we moved further up the road, I could see a mass of traffic ahead, queuing to get into the city. I monitored what was going on in the distance, the car suddenly began to splutter, and I felt a bit nervous. I looked over the driver’s shoulder at the dashboard to see that there was absolutely no petrol in the car, and the oil light was flashing. Oh shit! Knowing that he probably didn’t understand a word I was saying, I said, ‘might be a good sort of an idea to fill the petrol tank up’. He just grinned back at me through the rear view mirror, showing off his blackened teeth. It was at least another 40 minutes until we eventually found the hotel I was staying at. He got lost twice, couldn’t read the hotel location that I’d written down because it was written in English, which amused me no end. We ended up ringing the hotel, where we got full instructions in the native language. Onwards!
I stayed at the Sathorn Saint View apartments. The building was in the old quarter of Bangkok and was perfect for me, I wanted to experience that side of town. I’d been told about the place by my friend Paul (Dodger) who’s lived there for years after jumping the old ship Britannia over a decade ago. For about 1000baht a night I was in a top floor apartment with a balcony looking out over the city, it was great. I hadn’t seen Paul for almost twenty years and was thrilled when I picked up his little note at reception. It was really excellent to see him again, and we drank to that several times over!
The next three days I trawled around Bangkok on foot. I thought the whole place was absolutely amazing and felt like a child in a toyshop. For the first half a day, bad navigation skills and map operator error had me riding around aimlessly on the sky train until, by mistake, I finally found the river. After that, there was no stopping me. I went just about everywhere between Khao San Road and where I was staying via the river ferry and on foot. I had a ball with my camera, just a few of the shots here; I’m putting a book together of the whole series. I can’t wait to see more of Bangers next time I’m there. I’d like Thailand & Asia to become one of my regular destinations. Now I’ve had a quick look, I’m hooked!