Week 2 (Fri 21st Feb - Thu 27th Feb)
Week 3 (Fri 28th Feb - Thu 6th Mar)
Week 4 (Fri 7th Mar - Thu 13th Mar)
Week 5 (Fri 14th Mar - Thu 20th Mar)
Week 6 (Fri 21st Mar - Thu 27th Mar)
Week 7 (Fri 28th Mar - Thu 3rd Apr)
Week 8 (Fri 4th Apr - Thu 10th Apr)
Week 9 (Fri 11th Apr - Tue 15th Apr)
Thursday 13th February - flight London to Singapore
After all the news this week regarding plans to target aircraft
taking off from Heathrow I must say I wasn’t particularly
looking forward to flying from there, but very little was
different from normal. Just two military vehicles and a few
extra police were visible outside Terminal 3, whilst inside
I didn’t see anything at all unusual.
Our flight departed a little late just before 1900. Many people
had told me that Singapore Airlines are excellent and I would
certainly agree - our 747 was very smart with a new seatback
entertainment system giving you the choice of 25 movies on
demand plus many audio CDs, games and Flightpath – showing
the plane’s location at all times, together with altitude,
speed and estimated arrival time.
Friday 14th February - flight London to Singapore then on to Bangkok
12 hrs 20 mins later we were in Singapore, arriving on time
at 1515 local time (8 hours ahead of GMT). The temperature
was around 30°C but we were soon on another 747 heading
back towards Bangkok, for a flight of just under 2 hours arriving
at 1710 local time, 1 hour behind Singapore.
Getting a taxi at Bangkok airport was far from easy at this
time of day, especially at rush hour on the Friday of a bank
holiday weekend. Eventually we were off, and heading along
the tollway towards the city centre, however the traffic put
paid to our driver’s desire for speed and the use of
all three lanes at once. For at least 30 mins we didn’t
move more than 100m whilst trapped in a particularly bad jam.
Eventually we were on the move again and reached the apartment
where we were meeting friends nearly 2 hours after leaving
the airport! We are staying at the “luxury residence”
Park Suanplu (www.parksuanplu.com)
- a smart tower block with very well appointed rooms, a health
club on the 5th floor and very friendly doormen and receptionists.
We have a suite with large sitting room, two bedrooms, two
bathrooms and small kitchen – all this for 3,000 baht
(£46) per night shared between four! The views over
Bangkok from our 16th floor room are great.
Later that evening we went to the superb Ad Makers restaurant
on Langsuan – live music, plenty of beer and fantastic
food. Everything we ate was delicious (having decided to avoid
both the pig’s neck and the sun-dried worm shells).
Saturday 15th February - Bangkok
A very hot day with the temperature reaching around 35°C.
We took the Skytrain from Sala Daeng to National Stadium (20
baht for 3 stops). From here we visited the amazingly beautiful
and peaceful Jim Thompson’s house. Following this we
risked our lives once more taking a taxi to the Grand Palace
– probably the most amazing sight we’ve visited
in Bangkok. We then took in the sights, sounds and smells
of a nearby market. There’s no doubt that Bangkok is
a real assault on the senses – especially smell! There
are frequent whiffs of delicious food and drains in roughly
equal proportions throughout the city. Colourful flowers are
everywhere, hanging from walls as well as in parks and gardens
In the evening we walked to the night market in Patpong 1
and later had an excellent meal. Even a really good quality
Thai meal at a renowned restaurant with 4 or 5 beers each
costs just 400 baht (£6). For a lover of Thai food this
city is quite amazing.
We finished off the evening with a boogie and a few more
beers at Ministry of Sound - 300 baht (£4.60) entry
- which by Thai standards is quite pricey. A great atmosphere,
lasers and friendly bouncers, but unfortunately a hard house
night which was not quite what we had hoped for. Quite surprisingly,
it was not terribly busy. Gave up about 0100.
Sunday 16th February - Bangkok
Another scorching day with temperatures in the mid to high
30’s C. We took a taxi to Wat Pho, another temple that’s
definitely worth a visit, and housing the reclining Buddha
(46m long and 15m high). After this we took a boat from Tha
Chang pier to Tha Orental – a wonderful way to experience
another side to Bangkok, and see some of the houses that dangle
precariously just above the water’s edge. Despite being
very crowded these boats cover the distance pretty quickly
and are a comfortable way to travel. After a short walk we
took the Skytrain from Saphan Taksin to Sala Daeng.
In the evening we ate at the nearby Shenanigans Irish pub,
then took a túk-túk to the recently-opened Suan
Lum night bazaar (www.thainightbazaar.com)
where we browsed the market stalls and had a beer before returning
to the apartment on another túk-túk.
Monday 17th February - Bangkok to Pak Chong
An exceptionally hot day – the car thermometer showed
39°C during the journey from Bangkok to Pak Chong. About
a 2 hour drive northeast of Bangkok – arriving mid-afternoon.
Saw a couple of huge geckos on the outside wall of our friends'
house – and there are several small lizards on the inside
Went about 20 mins down the road for dinner to an excellent
restaurant (the Khao Yai Villa), where we ate outside, but
undercover. Had a fantastic Thai meal, with 2 beers each for
250 baht (£4). The resident cat took a huge interest
in my White Snapper. We also had thai green curry, red curry,
chicken with cashew nuts and a few other delicious dishes.
Tuesday 18th February - Khao Yai National Park, Thailand
Up at 0630 and our friends dropped us off at Khao Yai Garden
Lodge, just down the road. We then set off on a full-day trek
in Khao Yai National Park at about 0830. We travelled to,
and around, the park in the back of an open-top pickup truck.
The cost of the whole day was 850 baht (£13). Apart
from us there were also 3 very pleasant couples, aged about
the same as us, from Cologne, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Our
guide, who was determined to show us everything possible,
took us on three separate treks throughout the park during
the day, travelling between each one in the pickup truck.
The first trek was through some quite dense jungle, seeing
a variety of trees and an eagle overhead. We could frequently
hear gibbons calling out above us, but never saw them! The
temperature was bearable within the undergrowth, but once
out in the open it was baking hot.
We stopped off near the visitor centre about 1200 and caught
sight of a couple of giant squirrels in the trees above.
The second trek was the hardest, starting off on the path
overlooking the Hew Suwat waterfall (used in the film “The
Beach”), then down to the river and along the gorge,
crossing the river at several places. Saw great hornbills
and thousands of beautiful huge butterflies. We returned the
same way and stopped by one large waterfall for a swim. The
water temperature was lovely.
Had lunch at a small place in the middle of the park –
not a high-quality meal but very edible and just 70 baht (just
over £1) for the two of us including drinks. Saw a monitor
lizard (about 6 feet long) and sambar deer nearby.
Our guide asked if we needed to be back by 1400-1500 which
was the original plan and when we said no, he decided to continue
the trip for the rest of the day! We then drove a long way
(at least 30 kms) and en route to the next trek starting point
we saw lots of monkeys sitting alongside the road, and up
in the trees.
The third trek was about 2 kms walk to the Haew Narok waterfall
– then 185 steps down to the best viewing point. Back
up again to the top, from where there are superb views down
the long valley below. Also saw a number of colourful birds
in the trees.
Went out for another good Thai meal in the evening.
Wednesday 19th February - Pak Chong, Thailand
Just down the road from our friends' house is The Jungle
House where there are a number of captive elephants, as well
as ostriches, a turtle, peacock and lots of chickens running
around. We started the morning with an elephant trek for ½
hour. Our elephant was 35 years old and very obedient and
incredibly sure-footed. We trekked through the forest, along
the river and back to the Jungle House, where we then fed
bananas to the elephants – and one of the guides put
a harmonica in the trunk of one of the elephants, which then
proceeded to play it and dance (as only elephants can).
Had lunch in Pak Chong at the Riverside restaurant, then
visited the market – a wonderful experience seeing all
the food, flowers and hustle and bustle. Not being a touristy
place at all, we were the only westerners around – all
the market traders were incredibly friendly and smile a lot.
A sign showed the temperature as 40°C.
In the evening we went to the Texas Saloon restaurant in
Pak Chong – all things cowboy reside here, in fact according
to a sign behind the bar “If you ain’t a cowboy,
you ain’t shit” – so now you know! Food
was excellent by the way.
Thursday 20th February – My birthday –
Thailand & Singapore
Had a leisurely morning then set off towards Bangkok. On
the way we stopped off to look at a huge white Buddha on a
hillside. Temperature 35°C today so we didn’t climb
up to the Buddha.
Flight to Singapore on a Singapore Airlines 777 left at 1540
and arrived in Singapore at 1845 local time (1 hour ahead
of Bangkok). Caught a taxi to friends who live close to the
middle of Singapore. They presented me with a delicious fresh
mango birthday cake soon after we arrived!
In the evening we went to the cafes just below the apartment
and had a lovely meal in a very traditional atmosphere –
beef noodles, and chicken and beef satay sticks with spicy
peanut sauce. Mmm, yummy! Wonderful smells of garlic, ginger
and spices all around us.
Jump to: Week 2 (Fri 21st Feb - Thu 27th Feb)