The only other thing I really wanted to do in Sangklaburi was a boat ride, but the weather looked bad again. Other activities like jungle trekking were out due to the shoulder. I want to visit this place again in the dry season when the water level is low and you can see the towns the reservoir sunk, so I can have my boat ride then. Unsure of where to go next, I decided to head back to Bangkok in the poor weather and see if any of my friends on their travels were back in touch. With some help from the locals I found the well-hidden bus station and got a comfy aircon bus back down to Kanbanchuri. The sun emerged so I got a nice view descending past the reservoir.
We arrived about 6pm, just in time for the national anthem to come over the bus station loudspeaker. It plays in public places at 8am and 6pm and everyone is expected to stand. Bear in mind that Thailand is incredibly patriotic, it’s against the law to slander the royals, there’s pictures of the king everywhere, even in people’s cars and the royals are almost worshipped. I watched some people literally leap off their seats as the anthem came on and stand. I played my part, it’s considered offensive not to stand. People weren’t at attention but still they weren’t doing anything else like reading. It was all quite bizarre, but I guess the Thais grow up with it. I wonder how they feel about it? It’s just a normal part of life for them I suppose.
I found a bus from the same station leaving for Bangkok and grabbed a bag of fried grubs to eat whilst I waited. I’d always chickened out of these on Khao San Road but I was hungry and determined to try some, they’re supposed to be quite tasty. True enough, they were very light and crispy and strongly flavoured with herbs. Pretty good!
The bus took 3 hours and I arrived at night in a big bus terminal in Bangkok with only a bus number to go on to get to the centre. Of course in classic travel fashion, turns out my info was useless. I asked around and with sign language got directed to a bus terminal. Got on a local bus to Khao San road and helped out some distressed German backpackers on the bus who had no idea where they were and escorted them to Khao San. Checked into a grotty little room on Rambuttri Soi, as it was Saturday night all the good places were full. For 200 baht (4 quid) in the centre of touristville you get what you pay for and it was noisy, smelled of nasty drains, had a boarded up window and a cockroach scuttered around to keep me company for the night.
Spent half the day in a café chilling out on the internet trying to dodge Bangkok’s intense heat and humidity. I was researching where to go next. I wanted to go to an island to rest for a bit as after a week and a half of travelling with little sleep and the bad shoulder I was physically and mentally exhausted. Unfortunately most of the little quiet islands don’t open their resort doors until November so I went to a travel agent, one of Mark’s friends, for advice on a quieter island that would be open. She recommended Ko Chang which I’ve visited before, and Ko Tao, so I decided to head there. Supposedly one of the best dive and snorkel places in Thailand too. I booked an overnight bus and boat to the island.
Whilst I waited for the night bus I wandered around the area near Khao San Road which I knew quite well by now, taking photos. It was Sunday so a lot of Thai people were around enjoying their weekend. The parks were full. I walked by the riverside and found a small community living rough under the bridge, right by the sandbags used for preventing flooding.
In the big park by the Grand Palace, there were a group of performers with spring legs, skateboards, 1-wheeled roller skates and other contraptions, making a film. They did some impressive stunts and it was fun watching them bounce around!
I got a reflexology foot massage and suffered excruciating pain as the guy dug into my sole repeatedly, and then used a metal rod to press (hurt) pressure points in my foot. Weirdly the other foot was fine, maybe the first one was super stiff. Ran into Mark and h family randomly whilst I was getting the massage and said hello. From the massage seat on the street you could watch the world go by, and also some massive bats which were flying around from some nearby trees. Some of the black ones I saw in the distance were about the length of my arm, no joke! To be honest I didn’t feel any better after the massage, the non-reflex one I’d had the other week had a better effect!
Then it was onto a double decker coach with a bunch of Thais, Chinese and westerners for the long bus journey. The bus was decent and I managed to get some sleep. We arrived around 5am at the mainland pier of Chumpon and waited another few hours for the Catamaran to Koh Tao.