Thai Customs Office at Nong Khai (Thailand)

Thai Customs Office at Nong Khai
(Thailand)

Entering into Thailand was pretty straightforward to be fair. Things were going pretty smoothly on the border crossing front. I was back on the road and heading for Bangkok where I was planning to leave Boris for a few weeks before entering Myanmar.

Well, that was the plan until about 1pm that day. The fateful email from our Myanmar tour agent broke the bad news. Trouble on the India side of the border had led to the Indian government closing the border indefinitely. Crap!! After weeks of planning it was the Indian rather than the Myanmar government that had foiled our grand plans to drive overland through Myanmar. It was a setback that was going to have more than a few implications on my plans for the coming weeks.

As I digested the news I made my way south passing through town after town. I had decided to head for the national park area of Pak Chong. As it got dark and I struggled to find a place in Pak Chong to stay. I stopped for some dinner at the night market, then eventually found the only guesthouse, only to be told it was full. My efforts to find somewhere to sleep in the darkness sent me looking for an Eco resort but I found a camping spot instead. I set up the tent in hot, humid conditions and hit the hay. Bit of bugger of a way to end the day but at least I saved myself some cash.

In the tent that evening I was pissed off that the Myanmar plans had gone south. I was hugely looking forward to this section. Now I need to get back on top of the shipping which I’d let slip! It’s was going make a mess of the next couple of weeks. My nice recovery period in Laos doing nothing for so long may well come back to haunt me!!

Spotted - Where you take you Nana if she is sick

Spotted – Where you take you Nana if she is sick

The next morning I was up early. I needed to formulate a new plan. Shipping was back on the agenda and I needed some quotes. I needed a wi-fi connection to start making enquiries again. So I headed for the former capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya. Once I navigated my way into the centre of the city of found the old town. It was surrounded by a massive moat, had a mix of old and new, along with the highest concentration of elephants I’ve seen in a long time, all wandering up and down the park avenue taking happy smiley tourists for a ride.

I found a guesthouse that let me camp in their garden as the rooms were full. The place was run by a chatty old lady called Aunty who was quite a character and seem to be on the ball. For the rest of the day I mixed relaxing with wandering, eating with sleeping and finally a beer with some travel planning. After several hours of researching I finally found a hotel in Bangkok that ticked the right boxes. I need it to be central, have a car park, be reasonable priced and most importantly, have a pool. Having never travelled to Bangkok with a vehicle before all I knew was Khao San Rd. This time I was going to stay in a place called Nana. Sounded pretty harmless to me.

Hanging my the pool with the tourists...

Hanging by the pool with the other tourists…

The first sign that things weren’t going to be quite as I expected, was when my Bangkok contact Jimmy warned me to be weary of the ladyboys. With this in the back of my mind I found my way to the Woraburi Sukhumvit Hotel. As I arrived before check in I had the opportunity to relax by the pool. It was here that it finally dawned on me where I was. Surveying the pool area I was the youngest guy around. It was full of middle-aged sex tourists. A rather concerning to me was that I seemed to fit in perfectly. On the face of it I was ticking, all the wrong boxes. I was a single white male from Europe travelling alone to one of the sex tourist capitals of the world. The fact that I drove here wasn’t really going to be a solid defence.

At the same time I made this discovery, I met my now customary travelling Frenchman. Marc, was a little different from the norm, as he had the legendary claim of once being ranked the 800th best tennis player in the world. As a former North Taranaki, under 12, number 3 ranked player, I was most impressed. While he assured me he wasn’t here for ‘that’ sort of action he regaled me with stories of local betting scams in Vietnam where he unwittingly took on all comers, while the locals were betting for, and against the falang.

Finally my room was ready, so I said my farewells to Marc, checked in and decided to go for a walk and check out the neighbourhood. It was quite the eye-opening experience!!

The Bangcockney Bar (Bangkok, Thailand)

The Bangcockney Bar
(Bangkok, Thailand)

Cripes, what had I stumbled into. It’s was a sex tourist street. I couldn’t be further removed from the Khao San Rd backpacker style. This was more middle aged spread style, with young girls swooning around old men with grey beards and big pot bellies. Barely a western woman to be seen. I’m was hanging with the older, more moneyed generation. One that I didn’t feel I qualified for but looking in the mirror, I worried that everybody would seem to think I fitted in perfectly. Gulp!!

It hadn’t occurred when checking the reviews from other solo travellers, why this area might be so popular. For me it was central, priced reasonably and had a pool. Here I was the target, predatory eyes were on this piece of fine Kiwi flesh and dollars signs were appearing. I only hoped that I wouldn’t succumb in a weak moment. I mean it had been a while since I’d been with a girl. The expedition had taken all my focus since I’d split with my last girlfriend. The only thing worse than succumbing in a weak moment, would be succumbing in a weak moment for a ladyboy. Oh, the shame. I was still a tad embarrassed by the incident back in 2000 in Phuket, when we thought it would be entertaining to get an exotic dancer and our two negotiators came back with, unbeknownst to them, a lady boy!! I mean if they could make the mistake, maybe I could too!!

I crashed and had a nap that afternoon. It had been a surprisingly dramatic day. I ended up staying in my room watching Star Wars movies that night. I was too afraid to go out on the street.

I wonder what they teach at Topsy Turvy Interntational School (Bangkok, Thailand)

I wonder what they teach at Topsy Turvy International School
(Bangkok, Thailand)

There were two main activities I needed to completed in Bangkok before I could depart. One was collecting my second British passport, with my newly minted India and Pakistan visas. It had been sent by the lovely Julia at the Visa Machine in London, to my local contact Jimmy in Bangkok. The second was to pick up and install the new suspension springs for Boris I’d had sent from Australia. I tried my luck getting the springs early but was told to come back as planned on Thursday. So it was off to see Jimmy and collect my passport.

The Likely Lads - Dom, Jimmy, Leon and me (Bangkok, Thailand)

The Likely Lads – Dom, Jimmy, Leon and me
(Bangkok, Thailand)

Jimmy was an ex-pat businessman running a successful Tefl business in Thailand. He had been out in Thailand for over 10 years, now had a family and was loving life in South East Asia. On the introduction of a mutual friend via Facebook he had become my local man on the ground, helping me with vehicle parts enquiries and my passport. Top work from a bloke I’d never met before. Having spoken to him about his business and his approach I have to say that they sound like the people to talk to about teaching English in Thailand. Check out the website if you fancy a change of work life experience. And more than the usual two week escape. They have a longer term teaching program and support system in place for anybody that wants to make a difference. The website is: www.teachabroadthailand.com

The bright lights of Soi Cowboy (Bangkok, Thailand)

The bright lights of Soi Cowboy
(Bangkok, Thailand)

What started as a simple passport pick up, morphed into a couple of beers with Jimmy and his work colleague Leon. Several beers later in morphed yet again into a big night on the town with the ex-pats. Show me something in Bangkok I’ve never seen before, I said. What I got was two slightly inebriated Scotsmen playing Doors covers live with the band at the Irish bar in Soi Cowboy. Classic!! If I thought Nana was an eye opener, Soi Cowboy was blinding. It was the bright lights of the upmarket red light district in Bangkok. We finished off a few more beers before a late night Thai takeaway and a slightly wonky stumble home. The gents definitely showed me something I’d not seen before. It was a top night out.

Suffice to say I slept late the following day as I felt very rough. I was glad I didn’t have my ‘say yes more’ shirt on last night. I would have got myself into serious trouble. Many months travelling with a truck and a teddy bear have left me weak to any sign of the female form. And Bangkok certainly has a lot of female forms to tempt a young man.

Bangkok is the dangerous place to be for a lonely man… 🙂 Therefore it was time to go!!

Boris' get new springs (Bangkok, Thailand)

Boris’ get new springs
(Bangkok, Thailand)

The next morning I checked out of my hotel and headed for my 4×4 dealer to get the rear springs upgraded on Boris. It took an hour to go 10 miles. Bangkok traffic is a nightmare!! I made it to the 4×4 store by 12.30 and settled in to wait for the arrival of my springs. They provided lunch and a coke which was great. By 2.30 I was done and said my farewells.

Rush hour Bangkok Traffic (Bangkok, Thailand)

Rush hour traffic in Bangkok
(Bangkok, Thailand)

There was no time to lose. It was Thursday afternoon and I had an appointment with my Dad and the All Blacks (NZ Rugby team) in Kuala Lumpur in 48 hours. 1500 kms and one border crossing lay in front of me. My race south started slowly as it took 1.5hr to get out of Bangkok. The traffic was ridiculous!! By all accounts it was the norm. Once I’d cleared out of the city the pace increased. By 6pm I’d made Hua Hin the upmarket beach resort near Bangkok. I drove around town getting a feel for the town, beach and a good place to wild camp for the night. Once I spotted a place I spent the rest of the evening wandering about street markets, getting some food to eat and waiting for the darkness to settle so my camping spot would be quiet upon my return. I got an early night. Setting up the tent in humid conditions left me hot and sweaty once I got into the tent. I drifted off dreaming of air-conditioning units…

Hua Hin Beach at Sunset (Hua Hin, Thailand)

Hua Hin Beach at Sunset
(Hua Hin, Thailand)

After a 6.30am start I treated myself to a Starbucks coffee and muffin for breakfast. So often a regular part of the day in London, this way the first time in 4 months I’d had one. It was my treat to get a big day on the road underway. I spent the whole day driving the 750 kms south the Hat Yai. It was a lovely day until the very last hour or so when the seasonal rains came pouring down. On the edge of town I took the opportunity to book a room with my iPhone. I then drove directly there only to find they were fully booked. A note of warning. Booking.com isn’t always the most up to date with its system. Not to worry though as the hotel found me a cheaper place just down the road. I checked in and took all my equipment up to my room to relax. It had been a 12 hour day in the truck.

30 minutes later I was busy looking for the passport that I needed to cross the border into Malaysia the next morning. I religiously kept it on me and it wasn’t on me. Ah… Hmmm… Now where could it be. I searched the room, the car, and the car park, all while it was raining. Surprisingly I stayed calm throughout the whole process. Even the thought of having to drive back to Bangkok didn’t send my toys out of the pram. I figured I must be slowly losing it. Lastly I thought I’d better tell the front desk to keep an eye out for it. The receptionist looked at me like I had a screw loose and she reminded me they had it. You gave it to me when you checked in, she said. Ah right. Well that’s good news. I went straight out for a beer. It was needed.

Departing Day - Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur (Hat Yai, Thailand)

Departing Thailand Day – Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur
(Hat Yai, Thailand)

I was up and gone by 6.30am the next morning. It was a big day. I had to get to Kuala Lumpur to meet my Dad for this birthday and to watch the All Blacks play Australia in the rugby. It was important stuff and I needed the day to go smoothly. All 525 kms of it!! The Thai border came up fast and then was gone two minutes later. Stamped passport and signed customs exit documents. Easy. No doubt, Malaysia would be just as simple…

6 Responses to “Thailand – Changing Plans, Racing the Clock and Bangkok Dangerous!!”

  1. nice one time life adventure! I’d love to duplicate it!

  2. Very Good

  3. That’s the sort of advencher I would love to go on, I would think that alot of guys, would say the same, I’ve been in Hua Hin for 3 months, I will be returning to the UK on the 26 of this month, if I had the spodulies, I would of payed you, insted, of flying back, As you don’t see much in a plane flying at 47,000 feet, dose one?, Any way, have a save jerny back, maybe, you might, write of your home trip?

    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Maybe you will have the opportunity in the future to do a trip like mine.

      I will be blogging all the way home just like I have all the way here. If you would like to follow just subscribe in the follow blog box at the top right of the page.

      All the best
      Jon

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