After spending way too much time in front of the laptop in the last two days, I finally made plans for my remaining trip. And to tell you the most important part first: I will see beaches and islands! But let me start a bit earlier.
First Steps Alone
Two days ago I arrived in Bangkok early in the morning after taking the overnight train from Chiang Mai again. I then got the hotel that was already booked for me as the last part of the whole trip to the Mirror Foundation. The rest of the day I started my planning phase and did not do much else really. For one thing I was pretty tired as I did not sleep very well on the train and then the hotel was pretty far away from the city center so that there was not too much to see in the nearer distance. It started to get more exiting on the next day, however.
Yesterday I left the hotel, said goodbye to George and Lydia and finally began my own trip which was not planned at all until then. The planning phase began with finding another place to stay. On the one hand this is pretty easy as there are nearly infinite options to choose from in Bangkok. But then the location should be not too far afield, the room clean but not too expensive, etc. I decided for a guest house in walking distance to the main train station. Luckily, it turned out to be a good choice. While it was just five minutes away from the train station it was really quiet. The room was furnished very minimally but the whole house had a nice atmosphere with a lot of wood used for the furnishings. The shared bathrooms proofed to be very clean and were partially located outside under open air. Among the other guests of the fully booked house were young backpackers as well as families with children. Altogether, this was a nice start into the last big part of my trip.
On that day I just took a walk through the area around the guest house only to find myself just in the middle of Chinatown after a while. Funnily enough, after strolling through tiny alleys I found the exact route I took on my first day through Bangkok during our guided tour. I finished the walk with dinner at another street restaurant without any menu I could read. This time I just got mixed vegetables with rice. Very tasty, but I thought I had ordered something different. After I finished dinner I saw a camera shop just next to the restaurant. As it looked quite old, I entered it to see if the owner had any used camera equipment that I may need. He indeed had some old lenses but they did not fit onto my camera. The shop owner tried hard to make them fit but luckily he stopped before something broke. We then talked a bit about cameras (he praised the quality of Leica and he also had an old Leica M3 protected by a showcase) before I headed back to my bed.
Doing Things the Old-fashioned Way
Today I got up quite early to get everything done in Bangkok. Yesterday I already made some further plans that included booking my trip to the islands. Unfortunately, that did not work as I intended. It could have been really easy: Book the trip online, pay by credit card and everything would have been settled. My credit card provider decided to not make it that easy. During the payment I was forced to register to a new security feature called SecureCode. It works in that way that you get a SMS with a TAN every time you use your credit card online, just like online banking. If you register for that, however, you only can do one single transaction. After that, you will have to wait until a letter is delivered to you that contains some additional registration code. I do not know where it went wrong, but I never got a SMS so I could not finish the payment.
Long story short, I decided to just go the office of the agency to do the booking directly there. The office was near the Khaosan road, the single most touristy road in Bangkok. I could only stay there a couple of minutes as it was just too annoying to be approached by TukTuk drivers and guys that wanted to sell something all the time. After some looking around I found the office I was looking for and five minutes later I had the receipt of my booking in my hands. If it just had been as easy as that in the first place!
I walked half of the distance back to the guest house. It is funny how fast you can get out of the tourist areas. Only ten minutes of walking brought me to parts of the city where I could barely see other Western people. I enjoyed another meal which I ordered by pointing on it—this time a delicious soup—and made by way back to the guest house.
An Ambitious Plan
So here I am now, sitting in my hostel room in Ayutthaya after more less fleeing from Bangkok. While I really liked to stroll through Bangkok and especially the Chinatown area with all the little alleys, the constant noise, the bad air and the high temperatures were the main reasons while I left Bangkok so soon again. I arrived here this afternoon after the cheapest ride ever: For the train I payed the tiny amount of 15 Baht for 80km and about 2 hours in the fan-cooled third class wagon. The ferry to the old city of Ayutthaya set me back another 4 Baht totaling in 19 Baht (~ 0,50€) for this trip. But this is just the first step of my ambitious plan.
I intend to stay in Ayutthaya another night so that I have a full day tomorrow to explore the city by bicycle. After that I will take another train to the Khao Yai national park where I will get a one and a half days tour through the park. If I am lucky I will get the opportunity to see some wild animals and enjoy nice views. After that I will go back to Bangkok just to take a bus/ferry combination to the islands. I decided to go Ko Phangan as my “base” from where I can do other trips if I want to. After relaxing on the beach for four days and possibly doing a trekking trip on the islands or visiting the neighboring islands I will head to Bangkok where I have one last day before I fly back to Germany. So you here you have it, this is my plan for my remaining time in Thailand.
Of course I will keep you up-to-date with my plans as soon as I arrive at my stations or if anything should change. Now I will go to bed early so that I can start my tour through Ayutthaya tomorrow in the morning.