Song of the Day – 12:51 by The Strokes
Why? Whenever I look at a clock and the time says 12:51 it reminds me of this song
Last night ended at around twenty to twelve when I went to sleep, and today began at about half three in the morning when I woke up. I have no idea what I’ve done to my body clock but I need to sort it out quickly before I become a creature of the night. Hollie was woken up by my tossing and turning and so we decided to put the telly on for half an hour. I happened to know that the Rams were playing United in the cup, and that the game started at around three in the morning Thai time, but in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have expected to stick the telly on and find the match! We were drawing 1-1 at the time, and I managed to catch the whole of the second half, which we lost 3-1. Don’t blame me – I’m 5000 miles away, and I don’t believe in all that superstitious nonsense. Despite the result it was a cracking start to the day for me, not so much for Hollie. The trouble was I couldn’t sleep at all after that – for seven hours. It must have been the football hooligan within me that kept me up. I just sat there admiring Hollie’s ability to sleep through pretty much anything as she slept until 10am, at which time I could finally start making noise again without feeling guilty.
The one objective we had for the day was to get the hell out of Bangkok. You’re probably reading this and thinking “lightweights”, but trust me, anyone that can hack more than 48 hours in this bastion of lunacy has my respect. There were plenty of amazing sights that we have missed and might not be able to pull in to our itinerary now, but at this stage I don’t care, because we’re away from the madness. We took a taxi from Sukhumvit district where we’d stayed the night, taking about an hour to reach the south bus terminal. Not that I’m qualified to make such sweeping generalisations, but I’d say that the best way to see Bangkok is in the back of a taxi. If you can ignore the constant near-collisions and your driver’s disregard for the law, it’s possible to witness the buzzing everyday lives of the people who live there without having to fight off tuk-tuk drivers and other scam merchants. Our journey took us over fly-overs from which you could see large chunks of the city – skyscrapers camouflaged by smog, crumbling tenaments backing onto filthy canals where people eek out an existence in any way they can, and streets full of people of every creed and colour commuting to impossibly remote corners of the city. It would be impossible to hate somewhere so full of life, and I do feel a bit “lightweight” for not enjoying our first port of call enough. I don’t know if we can blame the jetlag, but right now I feel that Bangkok has taken more out of us than we have taken out of it.
The bus from Bangkok to Kanchananburi was hot. I let Hollie have the window seat because I always get the window seat when we fly (this way I can look out and check that the aircraft is not about to crash, which I find reassuring). This small luxury was immediately taken away from her when the conductress came onboard and shut all the curtains in the bus to try and keep the heat out. Our bus driver clearly had a cold, and for much of the journey it seemed that he had no hanky because he kept snorting and wiping his nose with the back of his hand, so much so that I feared that he may lose grip on the steering wheel for all the snot in his hand. Then, as we arrived near our destination he pulled a hanky out and and started wiping his face furiously with it whilst doing 80kmh on the motorway. I gripped my arm rest a little harder.
We decided to walk from the bus terminal to the hostel in spite of the scorching heat. We made our way along dusty, wonky, pavements, weaving in and out of the various stalls that occupy them during daylight hours. Whilst still bustling and vibrant, there is already a more laid-back atmosphere here in comparison to the capital city 50km away. We walked past beautiful temple complexes, glistening in their gold and red liveries with various scupltures of dragons and Buddhas eyeing you up as you make your way past. Unidentifiable species of stray dog limp around the streets here, scavenging food from where they can and scratching at fleas as you pass them at a wide berth. We walked past a proper Asian market – not one set up for the benefit of tourists – where every vegetable imaginable and many that you can’t were being sold for a song. Finally as we approached the street that our hostel was on we came upon a huge cemetery, one of many around the town containing the remains of the POWs and Thai slave labourers who perished whilst constructing the Death Railway – a sombre reminder of the cruel past that is associated with this area.
The Thai Backpacker hostel is a paradise. Set back from the main streets, it seems to be a family-run enterprise with the son of the family handling the business side of things, whilst his Mother looks on and smiles warmly at us each time we pass her on the veranda. We have a balcony out front and back and the sacred combo of air-conditioning and wi-fi that are a prerequisite for any guesthouse aiming for the custom of westerners. From both balconies you can see the arid mountains that surround the far side of the town, and all kinds of flora and fauna are rustling and scraping and squawking in the gardens around the house. We saw nine lizards on the wall of the hostel and heard the chirping of a chicada in the bushes. Creepers like the ones in Vietnam war movies hang from the trees and remind you of the fact that this whole town was probably once part of the jungle, like everywhere else round here.
In the evening we ate the best meal we’ve had in Thailand so far. I think it was called “Rung Reung”. It was like a really mild curry of chicken, coriander and shallots in a honey, ginger and lime mixture. The freshness of the ingredients is striking and it makes you realise that the things we have flown in for the supermarkets in Britain are so bland in comparison to freshly-picked ingredients.
What a difference a day makes – I can already feel the stress of Bangkok melting away and we’re looking forward to visiting the Erawan falls and the Bridge on the River Kwai tomorrow.
Have a happy Saturday.
Tommy and Hollie x