We thoroughly enjoyed Thailand. Virtually everything went to plan, and, often, our expectations were exceeded.
After falling on our feet at the Golden Triangle, we caught the plane to Bangkok, and then hired a taxi to Cha-Am, ostensibly AU$70 and one hour south. However, the trip took nearly two and a half hours. The Holiday Inn was really nice, but seemed to be in the middle of nowhere – there was no sign of the village that seemed to show up on Google Earth, when we booked on the internet.
After an excellent breakfast and the first morning spent lying around the pool, we went to catch the only shuttle bus to Cha Am town, 7km to the north. We baulked at paying for what we felt should have been part of the service, and trekked out to the road and caught a local bus.
We had thought about catching the train back to Bangkok, so we walked down to the station. The good news was that the fare was only AU$1. The bad news was that it was third class, and took more than five hours, and the only train through went at 2.30pm each day. We decided to hire a vehicle.
Two motorcyclists took us down to Cha Am beach, which was interesting. It is obviously popular with the Bangkok lower middle class, who all seem to own twin-cab utes (pick ups for non-Antipodeans). There were a few reasonable restaurants, and a lot of cheap accommodation. The markets had nothing of interest, so we had lunch, walked around, and then realised that there seemed to be no taxis. We eventually found a bloke with a van, whom we also hired to take us to Bangkok in a couple of days’ time.
I went for a walk out to the main road early on the second morning, and turned south for a couple of clicks. There was a road leading back into the beach, and here I found the missing village, 200m south of the hotel. It had the usual proliferation of cheap restaurants, “massage” places and Nepalese tailors. Over dinner that night Helen and I discussed the reasons why men with partners frequently seem to come to Thailand, without the afore-mentioned partners – a newly-found interest in Buddhism, perhaps?
The four days at the Holiday Inn were very relaxing, and, thanks to the hotel itself, some beachfront restaurants and the village, there were plenty of places to eat and drink.
Our van took far less time to make the trip back to Bangkok, unless you count the 45-minute queue for autogas at, apparently, the cheapest such facility in Thailand. The Centrepoint serviced apartments were wonderful, although there was a small problem with the smell of cigarettes in the room – even though smoking is prohibited inside Bangkok restaurants and bars, the hotel had no non-smoking rooms. Everything else (facilities, service, location) were excellent.
Most of our time was spent somewhere up Silom Rd. We perused the markets up to Patpong in the evenings. Two streets along, parallel to Patpong, we found a side street with really nice restaurants. After we had settled in, the first evening, Helen realised that we were one of the very, very few heterosexual couples in the area. The food and drinks were good. Both nights, we cruised the Patpong markets, and the second night, we had a drink at one of the bars that have sprung up around the sex shows.
One “gem” that we found was right beside the adjoining Shangri La Hotel. I realised that the street up to it must end at the river, and there seemed to be some sort of shop there. We found that there was a public jetty, and an entrepreneur had set up a small bar was perfect for watching the sunset over the river.
Even though we have been to Thailand several times, it seems that, this visit, we realised what a truly excellent holiday destination it is.