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Temporary final destination: Bangkok
Patong (Thailand) to Bangkok (Thailand), June 2011

Slowly we travelled northwards from Southern Thailand to our temporary final destination: Bangkok. From Bangkok we fly for the third time during this trip to the Netherlands, to meet our family and friends again. And we are looking forward to it. We experienced our visit to Patong, the most well-known and busiest beach destination on Phuket island, as strange but enjoyable, despite the fact that we were very sceptical about it before we arrived. Patong attracts more than a million holiday makers every year, which must have stripped every Thai character from this destination was our expectation.

And that assumption was true. Don’t come to Patong, and probably also not to the other beach destinations on Phuket, to taste something of the Thai culture. And, oh yes, you’d better also don’t come to Patong if you want to find a deserted beach, want to enjoy a quiet environment, if you get irritated by seeing loads of old western men with young Thai women on their sides, or expect to meet friendly local people. Because there are rare. If you decide to come, it is wise to bring a healthy dose of distrust and attentiveness, because many people try to empty your pockets. Hundreds of little companies and individuals are hunting for your cash, often by overcharging you or delivering fake and inferior goods and/or services. Even the local McDonald’s tries to earn some extra money, by consistently charging you for large sized French fries while they deliver you a medium one. But also western people join the scams. Many westerners skim the town on scooters in search of inadvertently tourists, to involve them in local dubious real estate projects (apartments, villa’s, etc). So, be warned.

Meditation ? ....... or just listening to music
But again, this doesn’t mean that Patong is a terrible destination. If you have the right expectations, it can be a fun place to see how other people enjoy their holidays and how western men are desperately looking for their young Thai chick. We enjoyed our stay. If you see some humour in the fact that you are offered more than hundred times a day a massage and tuk-tuk, and that every restaurant owner tries to get you in his restaurant, than you will be fine. But after a week, we had enough of it and spent some more days in unattractive Phuket-town, before we hit the road again. Our next destination was Ranong, a border town, close to Myanmar. This town is popular with western backpackers or long-stay westerners with Thai women who need to have their Thai visa renewed. It is easy to book a daytrip in Ranong, which take you out of Thailand for a couple of hours (to Myanmar). When you come back again, you get your new visa at the border. For us, Ranong was just a stop over on our way to Chumphon.

Chumphon is a typical Thai town. Not very beautiful, but a great place to taste some real local culture. There are no sights of real interest, but the town is friendly and has some great places to taste local food. We found a small restaurant serving lunches to Thai’s who work in that neighbourhood where we could taste several of their typical Thai curries for less than a Euro per person. The weather wasn’t very great and for that reason we decided to spend some extra days in town to enjoy the great food. Chumphon was also the town where Edwin got an ear infection, which resulted in a brief visit to the local hospital (see also the column: Hospitalized for an ear infection?!?). After our visit to Chumphon, we took the train to our last destination before we arrived in Bangkok: Petchaburi.

Bangkok, city of life

Petchaburi is famous for its high density of temples, but we have to admit that they didn’t make a lot of impression on us. Maybe we have seen enough temples in the last couple of years. We also tried to visit the historical palace on the top of a hill in the centre of town, but when macaques tried to attack us because of our bags, we decided to retreat. These monkeys are spoiled by the huge amount of local tourists who visit this hill and feed the monkeys while climbing to the top. However, we visited the place outside the tourist season, and that meant that there were no tourists to feed the monkeys. And when some monkeys tried to get the food themselves, which they thought was packed in our backpacks, we cancelled our visit to the historical palace.

A short final train ride brought us to Thailand’s capital city: Bangkok. We have been here for almost a dozens times before, so we exactly knew where to go. As before, we decided to take a simple room in the White Lodge (550 Baht = € 13 per room per night), located in an alley close to the MBK shopping mall. We love this area in town, because it is in the middle of the centre, well located near the Sky Train and far away from the “Khao San Road’ backpacker’s ghetto. We didn’t have a lot of actions left, only a visit to the dentists was high on our list. The last time we visited the dentist for a regular check-up, also in Bangkok, was almost 18 months ago, so it was time to go for a visit again. We were a little bit nervous, but that wasn’t necessary. The dentists didn’t find any dental caries and after a dental cleaning session, we are safe again for at least a year. We did some last shopping, packed our bags and are waiting for our flight back home. We really look forward meeting everybody again. And where do we go after our visit home? We are not sure yet, but we probably go for the Caucasus countries.


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