One night in Bangkok (so far)


‘Bangkok, Oriental setting
And the city don’t know that the city is getting’  Chess

It probably does actually.  The original lyrics are about a chess game between Russia and America at the height of the cold war.  That’s far more dramatic than the sleepy arrival of an increasingly pink English person.

It’s my first day here, it’s 20 past eight and soon I’ll be heading back to bed.  I hadn’t managed to sleep much on the flights, I got maybe two hours altogether. So there was a long taxi ride, got dropped off on the wrong road, so had a little wonder around the busy streets asking bemused looking Thai people to direct me to the right road.  Eventually I got here, had a sleep, a shower and then went off for a walk around the city.

I dozed off on the plane watching Philidelphia (Jet Airlines has a Denzel Washington special video list) and this was what greeted me as I woke up.

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Further along this was the sunrise:

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Obviously there’s a lot of political unrest at the moment.  There are protests, elections being disrupted, people being hot, so I am quite wary as a lone female traveller, but not really any more so than I would anywhere else. One guy was trying to encourage me to go with him to the tourist information as he would get some money from the government for taking me, but the tourist information is near the parliament where it’s all going on, so I politely told him no.

I took a walk to the river, got some street food – two skewers of unidentified meatballs and two of barbequed squid with a spicy dipping sauce in a plastic bag.  It was really tasty, but not great if you don’t like spicy food.  But then if you don’t like spicy food, maybe you shouldn’t come to Thailand.

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I bought my ticket for the boat and waited on the floating pontoon.  There I met 4 English girls on their own adventure – Fiona, Lily, Kate and Laura (Sorry if Laura’s not actually called Laura.  Really should have written things down!)

Lily has eagle eyes and spotted someone who may or not be famous.  He is.  I took a sneaky picture, as you do, then he and his friends headed our way and he got chatting.  He’s been bitten by a lizard and suggested making sure that we head to a decent elephant place when we go north.  And because it’s what I do, I got myself a picture.  So here you might recognise Dominic Monaghan from Lord of the Rings and Lost.  I’ll ignore the fact that I look like a beetroot.  I’m acclimatizing.

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The sun was setting s the boat headed down the river so no great pictures yet, but I’m going to take it again tomorrow morning on my way to the Siam Museum, The Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

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And I’m standing on a platform,


…and now I’m staring from a plane. 

And all the trees roll back beside but I’m so oblivious
To the dark, to the light, it’s all the same


And it makes me fly

 

Apologies to The Sundays

 

Well I’m nearly off.  Was a bit stressed this morning heading to the airport.  I’ve realised I’m wearing almost exactly the same clothes as I did to fly to Tanzania, but this time I’m on my own.  And they’re calling me to board….

Leaving on a jetplane


Two weeks ago I arrived in Mwanza.

I had spent two weeks visiting family and friends, didn’t get to see all of them unfortunately, but still managed a fair few.

My flight from Heathrow was leaving at 19.20, Mum wanted to be there in plenty of time so after bacon sandwiches with my sister, niece and nephew, we set of at 11am.  That should have given us a fair bit of time, but there was a large accident on the M40.  At this point we realised we had no map so called my step-dad for an alternative route, which actually took us an hour and looped us back to where we began again.  Mum found a garage that sold a map of the whole country, not just Milton Keynes or Oxford and we made our way down arriving at 2pm.

Unfortuntely we couldn’t check in my bags until 4.30ish so we stopped for a cheapish 3 course lunch and waited for check in to open.  The night before I had packed and repacked my bags hoping to get them all within the allowed 23kg weight and when we finally got them through to the conveyor belt with built in scales it seemed I had managed to get them about right.  I had left behind most of my teaching books, and I realised later most of my clothes, but who needs them anyway?  I gave Mum a hug and we both managed not to cry as I went through security.

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Because I had tried not to put too many valuables in my hold luggage, my hand luggage was packed with a computer, two hard drives, a jewellery box, torch (not sure why) and spare clothes.  It didn’t make it through the scanner and had to be searched by a Portuguese security man who said it was just because it was so full that it looked dodgy on the scan.  He asked if I minded him searching it then kept apologising when he pulled out pairs of spare pants (clean of course).  With that over I set off through the terminal to meet another new teacher, Suzie.  She said she would wait by Accessorize and I said I was wearing a spotty top.  We managed to find each other within 2 minutes, which was rather handy.

Over the course of the next few hours waiting to board the plane we found a few more new teachers and watched as the storm I had spotted when I arrived moved closer and closer, eventually enveloping the airport.  It was only after we had boarded the plane that the pilot announced that we would be delayed for take off by one and a half to two hours.  Not too much of a problem – I played peepo with the small child in the seat in front.

I didn’t sleep much on the plane.  It got too hot, but I watched ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ which has confirmed my belief that I should be Judi Dench when I grow up.  Or Bill Nighy.  Either would be fine.

When we arrived at Dar es Salaam I managed to take a couple of pictures of the Indian Ocean from the window of the plane…

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and then waited in a gaggle of people for my entry visa.  I was sat at the back of the plane whereas all the others were up the front together and so I met the others we collected on the way.  We now consisted of Suzie, Emma, Emma, Vicki, Phil and Joe.  As we gathered our mountainous luggage, went through the next section of security and queued for an age to check in for our connecting flight we met Sandy and Vlad – Sandy is teaching art and Vlad is a pilot – and Stephan the new French teacher.  We had some minor hassles with weight limits and language barriers, but soon we were sitting waiting for our flight to Mwanza that was delayed by two hours.  Not a problem.  Time to get chatting, have a drink and eat chips with hot sauce.

 

Eventually our plane came and we were flying again, this time with complementary cake and a brochure outlining Mwanza’s night life options.  When we arrived we were greeted by a selection of the school staff and driven to our new homes.