Blog Image

Adventures of Auroraman and Cupcake Woman

Run Cupcake Woman Run

Thailand Posted on Fri, December 03, 2010 10:44:27

‘I don’t think you understand the severity of the situation’ – Auroraman, Bumrungrad Hospital, Bangkok

We had to travel back to Bangkok from Koh Tao the day after my accident, as I required medical attention for my injuries in a hospital. This was lucky as Bangkok has some of the best hospitals in the world, which is handy.

After a 12-hour 4×4, boat and bus ride, (don’t call me a hero), and being helped with our bags by a rather lovely Spanish/Italian couple, we arrived in Bangkok in the late evening. After having to haggle our way into a taxi that wasn’t trying to fleece us, the final leg of the journey saw us dropped off outside the Bumrungrad Hospital in the Sukhumvit area of town. I was instantly placed in a wheelchair and wheeled to the Accident and Emergency area. I could get used to this.

Unfortunately, we were too late to see the specialist about my foot, and would we mind coming back in tomorrow morning? I was happy to do this. Due to the severity of the situation, it was only right that I deserved a specialist. I nonchalantly noticed that the waiting room was showing live Premiership football. Maybe we should stay? After all, it was imperative for me to get medical attention. Yes, we should stay. At least for 90 minutes or so. I verbalised my concerns to Stannie.

A couple of minutes later we were in the hotel lobby that would be our home for the next week. A lovely hotel very near to the hospital and in a wonderful turn of events, opposite a Lebanese/Moroccan/Indian café/restaurant. I knew what our diet would consist of for the foreseeable future. Our room was large, with a seating area and sports channels showing live Premiership football (HA!). Thank you insurance company.

The next day, we were in the hospital lobby bright and early to see the specialist. I was placed in a wheelchair and wheeled up to the floor we needed to be on. I was getting really used to this. Bumrungrad has got to be one of the most impressive hospitals I’ve ever had the fortune of attending. Its demeanour and architecture is more akin to a 5+ star hotel, a bit like the ones we saw in Dubai.

The hospital has three main buildings. They consist of its own hotel, food hall and shopping centre, as well as the actual hospital. The staff treated us like Indian and Welsh bourgeoisie. I’m not sure I’ve ever got used to treatment of this manner so much in my life. I was parked in the waiting room, whilst Stannie went off on a mission to sort out our insurance claim.

I was shown into an office where the doctor could assess my situation, which if I haven’t mentioned previously, was one of severity. He asked me what injuries I had sustained. Once I had informed him, he laughed. Actual laughter, whilst pointing at my cast. **

‘Why did they put such a huge cast on you? It’s ridiculous!’

I don’t think he understood the severity of the situation.

‘I don’t think you understand the severity of the situation’

‘We’ll take a look at it now but I’m sure if everything is healing as should be, you won’t have anything to worry about’

I was in a lot of pain though.

‘I’m in a lot of pain though’

‘Mr Mohial, I think it would be easier if you trust me on this. I’ve been a doctor for a very long time’

‘I come from a family of doctors’

He looked slightly exasperated. Unprofessional. ‘We’ll take a look and take the relevant action from there’

‘I concur’

‘Concur with what exactly?’


‘Right. Nurse please take Mr. Mohial into the treatment room’

And with that he marched out of the room. **

Whilst I was guiding a world-class doctor in the procedures pertaining to situations of severity, Stannie found herself sprinting through each building of the hospital, being sent back and forth through various departments in order to sort out our insurance claim for medical expenses. Due to a factor of time differences between continents and our insurance company not being registered with the hospital, it was proving to be a most arduous task.

No sooner would she overcome one hurdle, another three would rise up against her. Looking back on it with fresh eyes, I’m so proud of the way she handled the situation. This would go on all week but she never once made me aware of the just how much hard work the insurance side of things were. A lesser person would have broken. Stannie don’t play that game.

Speaking of individuals with immense intestinal fortitude, I was ready to take the cast off my leg so the doctor and nurses could take a look at the damage. All was going well until the bandage on my big toe was coming off. It was stuck to the flesh where my toenail should’ve been. In the end, I had to prise it off myself in stages, but we got there.

**The doctor and I took a look at the injuries so we could make our diagnoses. We both declared that the broken toe needed just a strapping, and the big toe was healing very nicely with little or no chance of infection. ** Great news. I was very pleased about hearing…diagnosing….this information when I spied the nurse pouring iodine onto a swab and slowly bring it down onto my toe….

By the time Stannie managed to find out where I was and came to the treatment room, I had been calmed down and was in a good mood due to the lovely new cast I had been given with its own special shoe. As a kid, I have never broken anything or needed any sort of special support for an injury (that I can remember), I was living a childhood dream.


We went back into the doctor’s office, where he said to rest up and come back every other day to change the dressing. So we made our journey back to the hotel, picking up some hummus, Lebanese bread, yoghurt, salad, Peshawari naan, garlic naan, daal, rice, paneer, samosas and a vegetable bhalti. After that Stannie ordered some sort of aubergine dish for herself.

Now I won’t bore anyone with the exact details of our week spent in the hotel and visiting the hospital every other day. It would make for monotonous reading. To summarise our 7 days living in the lap of luxury we:

· Watched six full seasons of The Office: An American Workplace. Twice.

· Ate a lot of Lebanese/Moroccan/Indian food. Sometimes for lunch and dinner. The hotel provided breakfast.

· Visited the hospital a couple of times. Mainly just to be wheeled around the buildings.

· Ventured out twice. Both times to shop. Both times the trip was cut short due to my injury.

· Watched some football.

· Stannie spent a LOT of time visiting the hospital on her own and on the phone to sort out insurance.

· Watched six full seasons of The Office: An American Workplace a further two times.

· General relaxation and non-movement. Mostly on my part.

Cambodia was calling at the end of our week’s stay in the hotel. But first I needed to get the all-clear from the doctor in order to fly and travel around a country with primitive medical facilities compared to that of Bangkok. The toes were healing nicely. Having an iodine-clean no longer made me want to amputate my foot from the rest of my body and nervous system. I was good to go!

We had been looked after incredibly by the Bumrungrad hospital and staff at the FuramaXclusive Hotel . As has been the case everywhere we have been on our travels, the good people of Thailand made sure our care was their absolute priority. If you’re going to have an injury of utmost severity as I did, you couldn’t be around a better hospital or hotel to recuperate (Bumrungrad is actually top in a host of ‘best hospitals globally’ polls). Thank you.

The best thing about being temporarily disabled is how quickly you are ushered away from the general plebeians around you and taken into priority areas, which is mostly evident at the airport. What was normally a tedious task of waiting around in queues, being herded into departure lounges, buses etc hardly made a dent in our schedule as we were whisked to and from areas we needed to be. Next time you’re at an airport, make sure to take some crutches.

Onwards to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for the next part of our adventure. How I was going to deal with being incapacitated, only time would tell. We settled in our seats (at the very front row of the plane, of course) and took off.

‘Baba, have I ever told you that I come from a family of doctors…?’

** Some of the events and conversations marked may have been slightly exaggerated or reconstructed for comedic effect. Others are outright lies…

S+R xxx

The One Where Cupcake Woman Saved Auroraman

Thailand Posted on Sun, November 21, 2010 07:57:39

‘Dammit! They think I’m waving at them!’ – Cupcake Woman, adjacent bay to Black Tip Resort, Koh Tao, Thailand

Today was the day. I was definitely going to experience my first taste of swimming with sharks in open water. After the disappointment of the previous days’ snorkelling trip, where bad weather prevented us from diving in marine hotspots with guaranteed sightings, I was determined to follow up on some advice given to us by a fellow traveller a few days previously.

According to our oracle, the bay next to our resort, a mere 25-minute snorkel as the , er, crow flies, was teeming with sprightly reef sharks and barracuda, as long as we were patient and carefully trod water for a short time.

I should have heeded the first warning sign given.

Actually. Before I go on, I feel I should explain why swimming with one of the most successful predators on this planet is so dear to me. Since the age of six, I have fed my brain with general knowledge about sharks in a most voracious manner. I could rattle off the Latin names of most of the big-hitters to you, the reader, and if you gave me a couple of minutes, I would more than likely remember some of the D-listers too. Yes, I’ve just categorized sharks into their popularity. That’s what happens when you ‘read’ your other half’s discarded Heat magazines.

From largest down, Whale Sharks measure an average of 8-12 meters, concluding with Cookie-cutter Sharks, which measure up to 50cms. If you were to question me on what the largest shark in recorded history was, I would reply that it was a Whale Shark, measuring 12.65 meters (I haven’t checked that statistic in a few years, so I may have just mugged myself off there). The heaviest Great White was over 3,000lbs and in all there are around 360 species of shark and counting, with a measly 30 of these considered ‘dangerous’ to man.

These species have been around for 400 million years, with very little change in their evolution. That’s about 399,900,000 years before early, Neanderthalic Man first grunted and bludgeoned its way around the planet, if memory serves. Their only NATURAL predators are Orca’s and bigger sharks. Have a think about that the next time you want to order sharks fin soup at the local oriental…

Hopefully I’ve painted a small picture of just how enthused I am by these creatures. Some may find it geeky, but I’d rather feed my brain with fact, figures and general knowledge about our planet and the universe around us than worry about the performances and voting prowess of someone-or-other in some ambiguous, moron-inducing reality ‘television’ programme….leave it there Ram, leave it there….


The first sign that the day’s events would take a turn for the worse was when, after much brute force and ignorance from my part, I managed to break the clasp connecting my snorkel to my mask.

That’s it. It wasn’t meant to be. God despises me and I want to go home.

Stannie, as she does so patiently well, managed to placate the thunderstorm brewing in my cranium. That was until her gear, which she had unselfishly offered to me and to which I had graciously accepted after protestation of intense magnitude (I snatched it off her) broke. In exactly the same manner as mine had previously.

That’s it. It wasn’t meant to be. God despises me and I want to go home.

After a brief demonstration of how the snorkels could still operate sans clasps, and gentle forehead stroking coupled with soothing, ‘Poor little bunny’s, we travelled the short distance to beachside. There was a strong breeze blowing along with the clouds causing an overcast haze in the sky. In spite of this the sea current ebbed and flowed in a calm fashion, which surely meant near-perfect visibility.

I’d already resigned myself to lying on the beach, grumbling and spending the hours reading a bit of Stephen Fry (excellent, by the way), when Stannie called out about 20 meters from shore.

‘The visibility is better when you get further out’.

Bless her; she wasn’t going to let me give up on my dream. Although…Hang on…Technically. Technically. The events that conspired are mainly her fault…Just saying….

My dilemma now was whether to bask in the solace of my grumpiness all day, or make the final push and instigate an exclusive encounter with the elusive sharks. We snorkelled up to the edge of our bay. The water was a lot deeper than I expected and looking to our left, all we could see was a murky, blue expanse.

I could make out the coral formations on the sea bed. There was little other sea life but I took this as a good sign that sharks were in the area. Or it might’ve been because of the gargantuan, chugging engine running from the dive boat ahead of us.

Oh for fu….

As we got closer to our destination, we stopped at a large rock breaking the surface. I was pretty much dead inside by now, petulantly grumbling under my breath about how this was everyone else’s fault but my own. With the dive boat engine still bellowing like a Jason Newstead bass line, we decided to swim to the rocky shore of the bay to decide what to do next.

Climbing onto the jagged rocks, I realised we’d swam quite a distance. Therefore, I deduced that we should carry on to the main area of the bay via the unwelcoming terrain.

‘It’ll be quicker…’

No sooner had I taken my first tentative steps, disaster struck. I went from a vertical position to crashing into the rocks within a second. A further second later I came to my senses and surveyed the damage. Head. Check. Arms. Check. Chest/midriff/back area. Check. Right leg. Check. Left leg. Ah…I couldn’t see my left foot, which was submerged under water in-between two rocks, out of sight.

Before I brought my foot out from its enforced hiding place, I think we both realised something wasn’t right. Stannie was transfixed; waiting for the inevitable as I quickly raised my foot out of the water. I felt the adrenaline rush through my body and wave of nausea overcame me as I surveyed the damage. My big toe was a bloody, mangled mess and my second toe was bent at an angle that no part of the body should ever be succumbed to. Stannie gasped.

‘Oh my god. Oh my god!’

‘It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok….’

As I clambered to a seated position, I tried to remain calm but I could feel my body trembling. I must have gone into shock as I couldn’t feel any pain.

‘I just need…I just need…’ I had no idea what I needed.

‘Can you swim or should I call for help?’

Male bravado and stubbornness struggled to get the better of me but thankfully I succumbed to common sense.

‘I think you should call for help’

Stannie instantly sprang into action. Gracefully negotiating the rocks like a young Lara Croft,, she belied the treacherousness of the terrain and paid no heed to the deep cuts forming on her own feet. There was nothing out to sea as she surveyed the horizon. This wasn’t good.

‘Help! Help!’

Like a scene cut straight from a feature film, a fishing boat appeared in the distance. Stannie frantically waved her arms, to which the fisherman delightedly waved back.

‘Dammit! They think I’m saying hello!’ Thai people really are very friendly.

Finally, the fisherman realised the gravity of the situation and powered over. I was in the boat in no time thanks to their strength and guile and we were given an emergency lift to our resort. As I quite sickeningly realise now, I was trying to force my ‘dislocated’ bone back into place vigorously during the ride.

Once at the resort, we got into the back of a 4×4 for the trip to the island’s medical centre. As Stan has mentioned in a previous blog, this trip is very bumpy and devoid of what we would call, ‘roads’, in the UK. Luckily Stannie got her glasses out to guide me on any upcoming hazards ahead, duly dropping her spectacles case on my left toes. I persevered on the ride to force my mutated digit back into place.

At the medical centre, I lay down on the bed so the nurse could inspect the damage. After a quick x-ray they confirmed the injuries. A broken toe and a big toenail that was MIA. Upon hearing the news, the tears welled up, followed by nausea and hyperventilation. Luckily, I managed to placate Stannie and she went for a sit-down. What followed I will never forget. PURE IODINE SOLUTION ON EXPOSED FLESH AND NERVES. Words fail me…

Now, I must explain, whilst the nurses at the centre were adept at diagnoses they were no doctors. This might explain the confused looks on how to strap up my broken toe and the eventual plaster cast up to my knee, my foot at a 45 degree downward angle, rendering any attempt at a standing position unaided futile.

‘I think I might need crutches’

‘Ah yeh. Of cor Sir. 1500 baht’ (apologies for the casual racism)

‘Brilliant’. God bless the National Health Service.

After her dad, Paul, had very kindly spoken to our insurers and relayed relevant information between the two parties, Stannie signed the relevant documents and settled the costs (the first of many signings, handovers, phone calls and general insurance related annoyances that she would have to endure over the coming weeks. Wonder Woman). We went back to the resort, managed to grab a bite to eat and then made the journey up to our bungalow.

The route to our bungalow was easy enough with two functioning appendages. Some steps, then a little walk through untouched forest terrain, concluding with a steep set of steps up to our stilted bungalow. A couple of minutes it normally took. Half an hour later, as I scaled the last step onto our patio sat on my buttocks, I did what any hardened, alpha-male would do. I burst into tears.

Stoopid sharks. Should be hunted to extinction….

S+R xxx

Here sharky sharky….

Thailand Posted on Sun, November 14, 2010 10:19:50

‘I’m going to swim with a shark if it’s the last thing I do….’ – AuroRaman, Black Tip Resort, Koh Tao, Thailand

Towards the end of the week we still hadn’t seen any black tip sharks – or turtles, which we found out were also in the area. It seemed silly to track down this one place to swim with sharks without even seeing any. All over the island a snorkelling tour is advertised, where they take you all around Koh Tao and to two small neighbouring islands, one of which was called “Shark Island”. In chatting to other travellers throughout the week who had done the same trip, we heard how they all swam with the sharks, some were even lucky enough to see a turtle too. So naturally we booked this trip as a little treat for ourselves.

We boarded the boat with about 15 other people and it set off out of the main bay of Koh Tao. Instantly we were met with reasonably high waves which made for an interesting and wet ride as we bounced around the outskirts of this island.

The first stop was to be “Shark Bay” and the second stop was to be “Shark Island”. Needless to say, Ram was very excited when Shark Island came into sight.

The boat started to turn into Shark Bay and suddenly there was an announcement “do to the weather and strong waves, we will not stop at Shark Island and Shark Bay as there is low visibility”. Ram’s face dropped. However another traveller quickly pointed out that he’d been told the ironic thing was there was less chance of seeing a shark in Shark Bay and Shark Island than any other bay. Phew – we still had 4 snorkelling stops around the island, we were bound to find a shark eventually.

I forget now the names of all the bays we stopped in, however we spent most of the time at each stop actively looking for sharks. That’s not to say we didn’t look at anything else. There was some fantastically weird little fish and plants down there. The focus was broken on our camera, but we managed to get a few usable photos out of it:

We also took a little video, this is me swimming underneath Ram


There was one point where the label on my t-shirt was irritating me so much it was distracting me from the snorkelling. When we got back on the boat, a few of the swimmers had stings from stray jellyfish tentacles. I checked where my label had been annoying me and realised it was in fact a very very small jellyfish sting – so I can now say I have been stung by a jellyfish (kind of). We were then shown how to jump from the roof of the boat into the sea – naturally Ram was one of the first people in line. I stood with “the girlfriends” making appreciative noises and taking photos while the boys all tried somersaults and bombing.

Towards the end of the day we made our last stop at Koh Nang Yuan – two beautiful Islands joined together by a white sandbank. As most of the island is a resort, I’m suspicious that the sandbank walkway between the island may be man-made, as there is no white sand to be found anywhere else on Koh Tao (the beaches are mainly made of broken coral). Man-made or not, it’s beautiful. There is a small, but steep, trek up to the top of the smaller island to a great photo spot.

The weather hadn’t been great all day, and just as we came down the trek back to the sand bank, a big black storm rolled in.

By the time the trip was over, not only were we very wet, but we still hadn’t seen a shark – it was starting to get Ram down. We only had one full day left, we had to see a shark before we left, HAD to.

S+R xxx

The stress of getting to a relaxing place

Thailand Posted on Wed, November 03, 2010 08:09:17

‘I like your skirt, sexy sexy….’ – Thai Masseuse, Koh Tao, Thailand.

Bus and boat trips to the popular Thai islands are never easy – and they are almost always overnight. This is seen as a great point to budget conscious travellers as they save money on a night’s accommodation. However, I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed the experience. The journey would probably be quite short if it wasn’t for all the waiting around you have to do at various intervals, but this seems to be a common feature for trips in Thailand.

We started from a travel agent on Koh San Road at around 7pm. After around 1/2 an hour of waiting, we were picked up by a lady who got us to all follow her through the busy markets of Koh San, while we were dragging all of our luggage with us. At one point she had us walking down the centre of a busy road at night in a long line, with traffic passing either side of us.

We reached the bus pickup point and waited another 20 minutes or so for our bus to arrive. The bus was reasonably comfortable with reclining seat, curtains and various multi coloured blankets on the chairs. There was also entertainment in the form of action movies played on a tv at the front. We decided to stay up to watch some movies – however they must have been purchased from Koh San Road (knock offs) as we had a few instances of DVD’s stopping working just as they reach the climax of the films.

Just as we started to settle down and drop off for the long journey ahead, the bus stopped at a roadside cafe for a “15 minute” break – 45 minutes later everyone got back on board and we set off again. It can take a little while to fall asleep on public transport, and we gave it our best shot. After about an hour I started to fall asleep again, although as he couldn’t sleep, Ram decided to watch the new film that was playing instead.

We knew the boat we were catching was at 6:30, so assumed we had all night on the bus – however at 3am we were told to get off with our bags and wait at another road side cafe in the middle of nowhere for “15 minutes” as a mini van was to pick us up. An hour later, after lots of worrying thoughts of “what do we do of nobody turns up?”, sure enough a mini van did show up. We were taken about 20 minutes down the road and dropped off at a ferry pier, 2 hours before the ferry we needed. It’s not too easy staying chipper after a night of interrupted sleep, or in Ram’s case, no sleep. Sitting outside in the dark, surrounded by many travellers with miserable faces, we could tell we were not the only ones feeling that way. Then the rain started….

The ferry journey was rough, not only was the sea very choppy, but the seats were hard and plastic, and a French lady seemed unaware half her bum was on my leg. Arriving at Koh Tao we found we had to climb onto a floating pier. Floating piers are adventurous things on a choppy sea, and would have been fun if we hadn’t been trying to take all our worldly possessions with us. We both have very large rucksacks, with a small rucksack and a wheelie case. The easiest way to hold everything is to strap the small bag to our front, the big bag to our back, tie all the supporting straps around the waist for security and then wheel or carry the wheelie bag. It was only once I did all that and tried to walk across a plank of wood from the floating boat to the floating pier that I realised should I fall into the sea, I’d never be able to get all my bags off in order to save myself.

We’d previously researched a bay on Koh Tao that was good for snorkelling and spotting reef sharks and turtles. When looking up places to stay, Black Tip Resort seemed to tick all the boxes and reviews online were all good except for a few strange negative comments about the road to the resort. Despite deciding we wanted stay there we hadn’t managed to book anything in advance, so we were arriving with our fingers crossed. Oddly, as we reached the end of the pier there was a guy standing there looking at me saying “Black Tip?” – so we followed him and hoped for the best. He threw our bags into the back of a pickup track, and then gestured for us to jump in too. We were with another British couple and it soon became obvious we were going to get to know them very quickly as the ride was so unsafe we had to grab onto everything and everyone to make it to the other side alive.

The pickup truck took us up and over the steep mountainous island, through the winding forest and on a track that looks more like a dry river bed. I was hugging our luggage to weigh myself down so that I didn’t bounce right out.

Arriving at Black Tip Resort we found it to be exactly what we were looking for. Quiet and secluded with enough activities and a few eating places to keep us entertained. The room we were offered was a basic double bungalow for around £8.30 between us per night. The bungalow was made of wood and placed on stilts at the edge of the forest with a balcony overlooking the beach. It was as clean as you could make a wooden hut, there was electric and a fan on the ceiling – which is pretty much all we needed. The only thing missing was hot water – a luxury we could have paid extra for, but we decided to give it a go without.

I assumed at this point that Ram and I would have a kip to catch up on the night’s missed sleep – however Ram’s eyes were wide open with excitement – he wanted to go searching the forest for exotic creepy crawlies, and find the sharks in the bay that we had read so much about.

Our first plan was to go to an ATM, which we soon found out was back at the pier on the other side of the island. The only way to travel this way was by pickup truck – 100bht per person each way – 100bht is about £2.10, so it added up to be quite a pricey journey to take. We decided to make the most of the trip over and stocked up on supplies while we were there – sweets for me, snorkels and underwater camera bag for Raman.

Back at Black Tip Resort we kitted ourselves out for snorkelling and set off down to the water. Despite looking like a white sandy beach, the “sand” on the beach is actually broken coral which is quite unpleasant on the feet. The water is a turquoise colour and beautifully warm.

It was Ram’s first try of snorkelling and he took to it very well. Although the bay was full of coral and sea life, it wasn’t as brightly coloured as that you would find in somewhere like the Caribbean. However, that’s not to say it’s not worth doing. There was such a great variety of fish

We spent the rest of the week in the bay, eating, reading, snorkelling and generally winding down from London life. We popped into the main town at one point for a change of scenery and a massage. Upon arriving at the massage place, I noticed they also offered leg waxing. Due to the cold shower in our hut, I’d neglected my full beauty regime, so decided to go for the leg wax instead of the massage. Ram went for a head, shoulders and back massage.

My legs were being waxed by a small Thai lady who didn’t speak much English. She started waxing and I just watched the clock, waiting for it to be over. A little while into it, she called in another Thai lady to help. They were both waxing my legs and talking in great concerned tones to each other in Thai. I noticed they were going over the same patches again and again, each time as painful as the last. Then one of the ladies said to me “too difficult” – but she kept going, so I just nodded and carried on watching the clock. It was 40 minutes before they moved to a new area of my leg – now quite excited that they seemed to have found a method of making it work.

After an hour I could hear Ram talking in the next room, his massage had finished – the ladies (there were three by now) still hadn’t done half my legs. At this point they called in the woman who had been doing Ram’s massage and she turned up with a pair of tweezers and started trying to pluck the hairs out individually. By now I was in great pain, normally in the UK this takes 30 minutes. After an hour and a half of having the wax stripped off my legs continuously, I had to tell them to stop. I walked out the room to find Ram in a dressing gown, drinking Jasmine tea and listening to tranquil music. I paid up and left, just happy to ordeal was over. Back in the pickup truck I finally looked down at my legs – they looked exactly the same as when I went in, only pinker. I must have grumbled about this for about a week after.

I will always go for the massage option from now on……

S+R xxx

Getting into the swing of things…

Thailand Posted on Thu, October 21, 2010 18:28:11

‘What is Thai for vegetarian?!’ – Auroraman, 7th October 2010. Bangkok, Thailand.

So here we are in Bangkok – currently in a 4 star hotel watching every episode of the American Office, breaking only for food and hospital visits, but more about that later.

On our arrival into Bangkok we were met by a taxi driver sent by our hotel to pick us up. A very friendly guy who called himself Jackie Chan, he had brought his wife along in the front seat to keep him company. They instantly won us over by calling Stannie beautiful and saying Raman looks like Keanu Reeves. Yes we are that easy to please.

Our first two nights were booked at Bansabai Hostel, a lovely quiet hostel about 30 minutes outside of Bangkok centre ( We paid a bit extra for a Superior room, which was a large room on the top floor with a garden view. Raman found the idea of being located next to a garden very exciting as the moment our plane wheels touched the ground he has been on a hunt for dangerous creatures/insects. After a close examination of the area, he came to the conclusion that all we were going to see here were geckos and mosquitos, much to his disappointment.

The hostel provided a free taxi to the river for our first day, where we could catch a boat to the Grand Palace in Bangkok centre. The boat was public transport rather than a tourist ride, so it was a great introduction into the everyday life of those in Bangkok including an area at the back of the boat that only Monks can occupy.

Outside the Grand Palace, we treated ourselves to milk straight out of a coconut with a straw, like the tourists we are. Unfortunately we then found out we could not enter unless we had our elbows, knees and toes covered, as we were dressed in flip-flops, shots and t-shirts, we put the Grand Palace on hold and made our way to Koh San Road.

Koh San Road is often referred to as a backpacker’s paradise. It is a busy street made up with shops, hostels, bars and travel agents. Lined down both sides of the street are market stalls selling knock off designer clothes and jewellery, fake CDs and DVDs, and many Thai made tourist gifts. If that wasn’t cramped enough, down the middle of the street are food stalls with tuktuks weaving through. Day and night this street is cram-packed full of tourists – along with haggling for the slightest purchase, spending time here can be an exhausting experience.

The Thai people are very friendly, and haggling should be done with a smile on your face. They’ll try to catch you into conversing with them by asking you where you are from as you pass their stall. We found the answer “London” was usually met with their attempt of a cockney accent and a “corr blimey guvner!”. Not only that but they’re able to read when you are about to excuse yourself and they’d predict “just looking yeah?”

After a little while of browsing and trying to avoid buying all the tempting things on offer, we decided to make our way to the MBK Centre (a massive department store incorporating designer shops for everything you can think of, along with the same type of market stalls we saw on Koh San Road). We only went for a camera card reader, but I ended up buying some green contact lenses and Raman couldn’t resist a Lady Gaga t-shirt. Honestly.

We had planned on taking a bus and boat to Koh Tao in the morning, however Raman started to feel quite under the weather, so we delayed it by a day. We spent the next day in our hostel just resting while Raman recovered. I decided to pop out to a pharmacist for him, and ended up caught in a tropical downpour, with no coat or umbrella. As I walked home in the pouring rain, I was laughed at by all the locals sheltering in their doorways. This was the beginning of many incidents where we have been amusing to the Thais just by being ourselves.

Late afternoon when Raman was feeling a bit better, we went to the roof to check out the hostel’s infinity pool. It was such a lovely setting, and being the rainy season we could see a thunder storm over Bangkok in the distance. As the sun began to set, we wrapped up our handstand competitions and took in what we thought was going to be the last of our time in Bangkok as we were off to Koh Tao the next day.

S+R xxx