Finding Our Feet
If this were a cricket match and the score was 111 we would call it a “Nelson” – its a bad omen as the three ones represent the three stumps without the bails on top and this signifies the loss of a wicket. The umpire David Shepherd used to stand on one leg at this point in a match to ward off the evil wicket-taking spirits.
All this is really academic as we had no idea it was day 111 of our trip as we awoke for a rather good breakfast, included in the price of the room. However nice the breakfast and the hotel, the tariff was a bit steep for us at 360 Baht each per bed and we still were in a shared dorm! So, we decided that we would have to find somewhere cheaper for us for the duration of our stay in Bangkok. Here are some pics of Udee reception and garden…
Today’s mission therefore was to search the city for a nice place to stay in a good location at a good price, and to find an Apple Service Centre for the broken Macbook Air…. oh dear, one of those days then!
We repacked the rucksacks and stored them at Udee. We could leave them there until 10pm without charge so we had a little leeway. Then we set off to the Sky Train stop, halting along the way to stop a nose bleed from Luca brought on by a combination of heat and jumping around. Heading into the city we stopped on the east bound line at Asok station to begin our search. On exiting the Sky Train we found ourselves outside a shopping mall called Terminal 21 and we entered this in the hope of finding an Apple Store.
What a fantastic place it was… the entrance was based on an airport departure lounge and each of the 6 floors styled on a major city – Tokyo, Paris, London, Hollywood, Istanbul, San Francisco. The decor reflecting major landmarks or icons from each city – truly brilliant, and with a very cheap food hall on the top floor where you got a charge card that you topped up to buy your food with and then when you handed it back, you received the balance on the card back.
We walked around each floor spotting landmarks, but then one of the boys needed the toilet and we made an amazing discovery. No bland urinals or cubicles in this mall, each toilet on each floor followed the theme of the level you were on – we visited all of them just to look. Most people visit a mall to shop, we found ourselves visiting public conveniences – but it was worth it!
We left thinking what a really well designed and thought out shopping mall! I can’t even recall what many of the shops were that the mall contained (although I bet Tania can). Walking back along Sukhumvit Road we first tried the Atlanta Hotel, a great family room and a pool – but it was only available for one night, so no good to us and a long way off the main street.
We then pitched up at Novotel, 3,500 Baht a night – a little out of our price bracket, but they kindly let us use their internet for ½ hour to search for something else. So as Tania hit the keys, we hit the cards and played some Uno. Tania hit pay dirt and we found ourselves heading to Soi 11 to find a hostel called Suk 11. Set on a backstreet of this side street from Sukumvit Road, this hostel cum restaurant is decorated throughout with wood. It ticked the boxes, not too expensive, 5 mins from Nana sky train station and a 7/11 just next door.
We booked the family room and then made our way down to Siam Square, a huge shopping mall spread over three buildings to finally get to the Apple Service Centre and drop off the Mac for repairs. They took a look and told me that the screen was broken (oh dear, really??) and they would have to order the part from Apple Singapore. Diagnostics, part arrival, fix and tests should take 10 days or so. I implored that they work faster as we were leaving in a few days for Chiang Mai, but they weren’t very hopeful in having the repair done before the following Friday.
With no real choice, I handed over the laptop and signed the necessary forms, the estimate being roughly half what I had paid for the Mac in the first place…. Mateo was going to be a very poor boy for a very long time!!! They said that they would run the tests but that it may take 3 days and that they would let me know what the outcome was. I would have to pay before they ordered the part and started any work, which would be problematic as we would be in another city and we would therefore have to do an international money transfer…. Ahhrrgghh it just gets worse!
Leaving the mall in high spirits (heavy sarcasm) we boarded the Sky Train back to Udee guest house. We left Siam Square in sunshine and arrived to torrential rain. The water was bouncing a foot off the pavement and our fellow commuters were sheltering under any available overhang seeking protection from the deluge. In the UK we have sudden downpours like that, but they only last a few minutes in general. Twenty minutes later we were still there, waiting for and end to the cascading water.
After another 20 minutes we managed to hail a taxi that was prepared to take us back to our hotel. If there was a school for charm, this particular individual would have been expelled after the first week. He talked loudly, he wooooohed a lot and despite having the correct address still took the wrong Soi and then blamed us as he forded the river of water to the end of the wrong road. When we finally got to the correct address he tried to double the price for his inconvenience – what can you do? We smiled, we said no and we paid him the agreed price.
At Udee we were greeted with a smiling countenance and an umbrella as we dodged the pouring rain to recover our rucksacks. The staff phoned for a cab, but unfortunately there were none to be had. In the end, I borrowed an umbrella and armed with a piece of paper written in Thai by the Udee staff walked back to the main road. Flagging down numerous taxis, on the fourth attempt I finally got one who agreed to take us to Sukumvit and we returned to Udee to gather the family and bags.
Chalk and cheese. This driver was the antithesis of our previous one. He was cheery, happy and had a boot full of sub woofers. Selecting some of his CDs from the sun visors we rocked our way to Suk 11 to Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns n Roses – boy did that bring a smile back to our faces. “Give it away, give it away, give it away, give it away now!”
At long last we arrived, checked in, got the key and flopped ourselves into bed. Did Day 111 count as a Nelson? There were certainly moments that may have indicated that it did. But I think on the whole we emerged relatively unscathed, several close LBW shouts certainly, but in the end “Not Out” and our last taxi driver was certainly worthy of a run to move us off that ominous score and move the day total onto 112.