We arrive in Bangkok just ninety minutes before the scheduled departure to Phnom Pehn. It was a bit of a mad dash from the BTS to the train link. We should have been here in plenty of time, but the 07:30 bus departed about an hour late. Including ourselves there was only five passengers on the big double decker for the eight hour journey. The 500 baht fare includes a free lunch when we stop for an hour, this was when I discovered the worlds biggest bag of crisps!
The bus journey ends at a station to the south of the city, I’m unfamiliar so a Bangkok bright coloured taxi is the only option to the nearest BTS. The stop happens to be miles from the train link to the airport. After changing lines and a mad dash packed up, we get to the platform just as the train is arriving! Five minutes or so later we are heading to the airport. If we’d missed that we might have been in a spot of bother especially with it being the KP’s last day in country! Even now we still have to get to the desk on the fourth floor, thankfully we catch the lift just right and even have time to book a hotel before leaving on the last flight of the day with Bangkok Airways, again the fare is a bit over $100 one way, mine a touch more as booked it later. We arrive once again in this mad city, the King Grand Boutique Hotel is quite central near the palace. There’s no record of our booking, but they eventually confirm it and we go to the room. It’s being renovated and there’s an array of construction materials and equipment all over the place. The bellboy looks more surprised than ourselves 🙂 After a small delay we get another room, a box room with a window about 3 inches wide. We take it anyways with the hope that it’ll get sorted out in the morning, it’s gone midnight so we crash. It’s only Tuesday so we don’t feel guilty for missing a big night out.
Brekkie is cracking and a nice setting alongside the ornate pool, the selection is vast especially considering the room was $28. While we get our fuel down us for the day, the helpful reception staff not only relocate us, they succeed very well in their task. We are moved to the new half of the hotel into a huge room, one wall is total window looking down onto the pool and the other guests enjoying breakfast, a great spot for you stalkers out there ;-). It’s got a walk in shower and all that palaver, a room of this type is commonly known as the dogs bollocks, and it certainly is! It’s almost a waste to go out, but we’ve got plans. As you’re aware, we don’t like to rush from one destination to another, but this time we are staying with a purpose – The palace! In numerous visits we’ve never been! Either ran out of time, had too many beers, or it’s been closed! We wander in that direction.
It’s been a while since being in the city, hence we are not yet climatised to the friendly but pushy Tuk-Tuk drivers. Once your here a while you just ignore it as it blends into the background, all part of being in the city. It jolts us awake tho’ as we stroll through the park type area local to the mythical bird statue, a symbol of the kingdom.
Even before we get to the palace we’re informed it’s closed until the two in the afternoon, with the heat beating down we agree to return and enjoy the hotel room. Now the palace is less than a fifteen minute stroll from the hotel, even during this short distance, by the time we return I’m not kidding you, we’ve been asked if we want a Tuk-Tuk for today, tomorrow or the next day at least twelve or fifteen times. We relent and agree to taking one after lunch, but only back to the palace.
The hotel has two pools, one of which is a sizeable jacuzzi on the roof. We were going to come back in our best swimwear, but the arrival of a pair of gay women in their sixties whom we’d met in the lift earlier. We thought it better to leave them to it, and find privacy at the room, the blog needed updating anyways ;-).
Following a nice meal at the pool downstairs with our $8 bus tickets sorted we head outside to be greeted by drive who we agreed with earlier. He drops us at the road block, paying $2 for the dollar fare. It’s soon apparent the KP is dressed inappropriately so a $5 T-shirt is an addition to the $3 each fare. For those who don’t understand, at religious locations throughout Asia it is necessary for ladies to dress conservatively and always cover their shoulders. I can imagine more than a few Russians have found this bizarre! It’s not a big ask and one that should be respected. I once heard a story of a guy also from the Welsh Valleys, that whilst in Pattaya stupidly sat on the shoulders of a Budda statue! Now putting traffic cones on the head of Aneurin Bevan’s (founder of the NHS in the UK) statue in Cardiff City Centre is not comparable to mounting a Budda. Consequently he did time at the Bangkok Hilton. So we are more than happy with the quality of the $5 Palace emblazoned shoulder garment. Once inside it’s lovely, the KP is skipping about imagining how cool it would be to live somewhere like this with it’s well kept gardens and impeccable ornament buildings.
Some of the detail on the various structures is incredible, which hopefully you can see from the shots that follow. It’s an enjoyable time spent, in addition to the various structures there’s gardens, shrines, pagodas and temples. A museum also, it’s interesting to read how the king at the time hid precious artifacts in the jungle, burying them to avoid detection by the Khmer Rouge. There some great photos of when he returned to his position, or that was how I understood it as there was a minimal amount of English as I remember. Cambodia has had a very chequered past and a good bullet point summary of it’s here, not that the BBC can be trusted anymore, so always remember to take everything with a pinch of salt, or trust it about as far as you could throw Rupert Murdock!
Following the palace we wander along the front, which is nowhere near as packed as the water festival when we first arrived. It’s still vehicle free and the mood of the mainly local crowd is good, it’s a fun area. There’s a little girl having loads of fun chasing pigeons in front of the palace.
We continue along the front to the bars and restaurants that line the front, the first where we head it just across death corner, I don’t know that anyone has lost their lives there, but i’d be surprised if not. Straight up to the top floor for the sunset with a view, whilst supping happy hour bloody marys.
We need to change our plane tickets, the two month extension not being sufficient, the last time it cost quite a bit. I’m expecting it to be worse this time around. It involves numerous calls to both Air Astana & Emirates via skype at an internet cafe. Astana come up trumps it costs just 9000 Tenge, thats thirty quid or fifty yankee dollars. Emirates sound promising at first, but when I call back the person now helping out is not of equal intelligence to her colleague which results in forfeiting the ticket! It would have been daft to spend the three hundred and eighty quid needed to change the date when we don’t know when that is?
We end the night in a nice bar just along from the hotel, tomorrow is a big day as we are going to be back at the coolest place in the Kingdom! We can’t bloody wait!