We got up bright and early (allowing extra time to find a cab that would use it’s meter) in hopes of getting to the Myanmar Embassy about an hour and a half before it opened at 9 am. If we could get our applications in early enough we could get same day service and not worry about getting them later in the week. We weren’t the first in line and by 9 am I’d say there were about 50 people lined up. We quickly got the forms filled out and handed in and within about an hour were looking for a metered cab home. Whew!
I spent the afternoon beside the pool dozing and swimming and getting a nice red strip of burn just above my bathing shorts and up my belly a bit….just what I need a red neon stripe to outline my chubbiest area. Lol We grabbed another cab back to the embassy and were taken on a little tour of the city that we didn’t ask for. As we passed our turn we mentioned it to the cab driver who ignored us. UGH! We went so far out of our way that our meter almost doubled. James had me get out first and paid the cab what it cost us in the morning and explained why. The cabbie didn’t even bother to protest, just took the money and left which likely means he knew what he was doing and also that we knew. Picking up our passports took about 10 minutes and we were back in a cab. I think we could have taken local busses but we weren’t quite that prepared and cabs are fairly cheap. This guy took us on a different route but through back streets and shortcuts and at one point we passed a temple like structure in the middle of a round a’bout. The driver took both hands off the wheel and prayed a little prayer before taking the wheel again. Really?!? Whatever that prayer was could not have been as important as KEEPING YOUR HANDS ON THE STEERING WHEEL IN BANGKOK TRAFFIC! Once safely back on Koh San Road we grabbed a wood fired oven pizza to go and again took cover in our hotel room.
We counted 23 parasailors up at one time, and this is low season
We squeezed an early morning swim in (lol 8 am ish) before leaving to catch our 9 am minivan to Pattaya. We’d decided if we could get our VISA in a day we’d try to get out of Bangkok and seeing as though I’d skipped the seedy areas of Thailand in the past I thought it’d be fun to see first-hand what everyone was talking about. Also Pattya was the closest beach from Bangkok. At the pick up spot we got met by a guy who walked us to the end of the street and asked to wait a “few minutes” in the park. The few minutes ended up being almost 45 and the park had a family of rats living in it! OMG! I almost had a nervous breakdown and somehow kept from hyperventilating. Once in our minivan we drove around Bangkok picking up then eventually dropping off more than half the people we’d picked up. By this point it was 11:40 and we were told it was a 9 am departure getting into Pattaya 2 hours later. Sometimes being a tourist feels a lot like sheep being herded.
Pattya’s beach ended up being disgusting and we didn’t set one toe in it but we stayed at a cute little resort like place that was wonderful. We were far enough away from the main strip to be have peace and quiet but close enough that James could walk (I fell asleep early the first night so he went to have a look at the night life). We checked in early enough to have a full afternoon beside the pool on loungers that were shaded by huge palm trees. We swam, read and relaxed. It was so nice.
Susan's caption - Asia needs more of these signs
James' Caption - Customer satisfaction guarantee in front of a Pattaya establishment
Well rested we decided to see the town and visit the beach so we rented a scooter from the hotel. Our first stop was SUBWAY for lunch. Amazing! (James’ Note: With all the lady boy prostitutes walking around, I was a little nervous about what I would get when I ordered a footlong). We walked along the beach and decided it was too dirty to swim in so walk around instead. It was pretty seedy. A barefoot very high girl carrying a king can of beer and covered in open bleeding sores was walking the strip as well. No one really paid her much attention and I noticed that she wasn’t the only one that stood out. What a mix! One thing that did surprise me was that at 11 am the bars were relatively busy with young cute girls and men already.
I think by 1 we were back beside the pool in loungers reading and sipping wine (gin & soda for James). The hotel had a buffet dinner and pool party for its guests and we ended up drinking, swimming and laughing into the wee hours. What a fun day!
We had a wonderful sleep in followed by a greasy English breakfast which is just what our bellies needed after a night of drinking. Around noon we caught motor cycle cabs to the local bus station, back to Bangkok!
We checked into another Koh San Road Hotel that had a roof top pool, had a swim and treated ourselves to McDonalds for dinner. It would be a few weeks before we saw fast food again and got our fix. I could barely sleep the night I was so excited to be going to (back to?) Myanmar.
Our flight wasn’t until the evening so I got one last lounge beside the pool and a very hot shower before we had to catch our minivan shuttle to the airport. We had a bag full of clean clothes, meal bars, a few snacks and our Myanmar VISA’s; we were ready! As we were walking out of the hotel a slightly drunk young guy carrying a very large stuffed bear asked James to kiss his bear. HaHa James of course growled at him but as I walked by I turned and blew him a kiss. The guy got all excited until James, still growling remarked “She just gave your bear herpies!” The guy was very confused. I hit James but had to laugh.
We met at the minivan pick up spot and were met by a guy who walked us to the end of the road (dejavoo?) where we were asked to wait a few minutes. Oh no! A few minutes ended up being almost 45 and we were having a fit. Nothing was keeping us from that flight! Just as we were figuring out how to grab a cab with 49 Baht left our minivan pulled up. We all piled in and slowly made our way to the airport. The traffic was horrible. Luckily I was sitting next to a very chatty guy from France. Him and the girl next to me talked the entire way, or rather talked, signed, spelled with our fingers on the seat in front and used the girls oh so handy tiny picture dictionary (can anyone figure out how to get one of those to me?) The guy from France, Bob, was deaf and the chattiest guy I’d met, even chattier than me. (James’ Note: Susan spent half the ride calling him Frank, since there was some misunderstanding when he tried to spell out with his hands that he was from France. I could have corrected her, but I was too amused by the looks he was giving Susan, when she replied to "I'm from France" with "My dad is named Frank". It seemed a bit of a non-sequitur to everyone in the van but me, who's used to Susan.).
Once at the airport we checked in and sat nervously awaiting our flight.
This Thailand entry is a bit small so I thought I’d add a few interesting facts.
You can barely go a block without seeing a 7-11 and according to wiki there are about 6,000 7-elevens in Thailand, half of which are in Bangkok making Thailand the 3rd largest numbers of stores after the US and Japan.
The ceremonial name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit, and translates to "The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city. Locals shorten it to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or Krung The.
As of today the news reports that the fighting at the Thai-Cambodia border death toll has hit 18 and while we were in Thailand 6 of these deaths occured. At least 50,000 people on both sides of the border have been evacuated since April 22 from the worst border clash in decades. The relationship between the two countries has been strained since a 900-year-old temple, Preah Vihear, was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008. In 1962 the World Court ruled it belonged to Cambodia, but both countries claim it. It is sad to visit these amazing countries and know that while we are sitting by the pool sipping wine not far away fighting is going on. It is not only a horrible ordeal for the people living on the border but it is rumoured that the fighting is actually damaging the temple and area around it. I hope they can solve this soon.