Day 198-201 – Bangkok 31st Mar-3rd Apr 2012

31st March 2012

Life is good. Not much to do but kill some time before we head to Koh Samui for 2 weeks of lazing around with the kids and of course the BIG surprise (shhhhhh!!) more of that in later posts.

We’ve been in Bangkok before. We saw the Grand Palace and the reclining Buddha, the Golden Mountain and rode the canal boats. For some reason we were not really motivated to go out and see things, but there was a need to go out and shop some more!

One absolutely overriding necessity was to get Oskar’s birthday present, but this had to be done carefully without him knowing or seeing and that would mean a parting of the ways for Tania and I. But for now, we contented ourselves with visiting some malls and street markets.

Food was mostly from the street. Suk 11 is blessed with a number of vendors nearby plying their trade, and fortunately the boys quite liked it – although the Papaya Salad was a bit spicy even for us, let alone Oskar.

1st April 2012

Today was Oskar present day. In a carefully co-ordinated mission, watches synchronised, alternative rendezvous arranged, Tania set off to buy the present and I took the boys 10-pin bowling on the top floor MBK.

Her mission was ultimately successful, and we eventually met up with her again after she had visited a few more shops, and a few more, and a few more before returning to the hotel!

Meanwhile, the boys and I enjoyed some bowling Thai style. We arrived at the alley and paid our money. We were in need of socks (which were provided in one size only) and then with the aid of a Clarks-style foot measurer kitted out with shoes. These were dispensed from a machine where you slip in a coin and the shoes drop our of the bottom – very high tech!

We set up the computer and with only the aid of the side bumpers, the boys bowled their hearts out – Mateo and Luca struggled a bit even with the lighter ball and the poor wood floor took a bit of a beating! I had to search a bit to find a ball I could get my fingers in, but it was good fun – I won of course and Mateo didn’t come last; I’ll say no more!

We caught the sky train home (Next stop Nana) and had some ice cream before settling down in front of Up to wait for Tania to return.

2nd April 2012

Ok, enough lazing about. Lets do something more interesting. How about snakes? But first, happy anniversary Mum & Dad xxxx

In Bangkok is the 2nd oldest snake farm in the world – the first one is in Brazil – and it is run by the Thai Red Cross as a research centre for creating and improving anti-venom. Every morning at 11am they milk the snakes venom in front of the paying public, and in the afternoon they just show off the snakes.

We made our way there and joined a sizeable crowd all nervously awaiting the show. At last the appointed hour arrived and a Thai lady appeared in front of us and began to talk.

Normally in show business you work your way up to the most dramatic, but here they waded in with the biggie. First up, the King Cobra..

P1060100 He was long but fairly passive, at least until the handler pulled him by the tail to make him stand up a bit. Occasionally he reminded us all why we should run away as fast as possible. When the handler pulled him once too often he lunged to strike and the crowd gasped as one. Then the handler demonstrated how to catch the snake with your bare hands…. do not try this at home!

Next up were a pair of monocled cobras carried in by the tails. These snakes makes a hissing noise when they are upset, and this handler demonstrated this again and again as he pulled their tails around to keep them interested. As the handler walked around them, they followed him with their eyes turning and repositioning to keep him in front of them. “He’s crazy” was the general view of the kids….

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We then moved onto non poisonous snakes which had been introduced into the rice fields of Thailand in an attempt to control the rat population. The harmless snake did not seem so harmless to Luca when the handler thrust it into his face and once he had overcome the shock he climbed up the steps from the front to the arms of his mum at the back, tears flowing from his eyes… sometimes we forget that small children don’t find that kind of thing funny!!

Various other snakes were paraded in front of us. The spitting cobra however was not, due to the fact that it can spit 2 metres and that would be a little too close for comfort for the viewing public.

Finally, we were invited to come down to the front to handle a snake. Oskar was the first to put up his hand and made his way to the front. A handler came towards him from his left carrying a small rainbow snake. Whilst Oskar was occupied with this approach, two guys ran in from the right carrying a 4 metre Burmese Python and dropped it over Oskar’s shoulders. He was completely non-plussed, not in the least shocked – cool as a cucumber.

After that we all took turns to handle the snake, which I hasten to add had been well fed prior to this encounter!

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With the show over we headed into the Snake Museum just next to the show arena. The ground floor had lots of live exhibits – some of which we had met earlier. Upstairs were snake skeletons, a dissection, information on physiology and a myriad of things to help understand snakes. It was really well done and definitely well worth a visit if you are in Bangkok.

We headed home, and as it was our last night in Bangkok before heading to Koh Samui we splashed out on dinner in a restaurant – not just any restaurant, this one was called Oskar

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We ate a fantastic meal, sumptuous…. a little bit more expensive than our usual street food, but absolutely worth every penny. And then it was a nostalgic last walk along Sukhumvit Soi 11 before heading to bed.

3rd April 2012

So long Bangkok…. well it took a while. We had to pack up all of our stuff, check out, and still chill out for several hours before it was time to leave for the station for our night train across to Surat Thani. Eventually though the time arrived for us to say goodbye to Suk 11, to the girls at 7-11 and be on our way.

The “short” taxi ride to the station (when we could get one to take us) took over an hour and we were getting a little nervous that we would be missing our train to Surat Thani. We needn’t have as it was over an hour late leaving the station!

Bizarrely enough we have no photos of the train… however we travelled 2nd Class Sleeper with Fan. There were no private compartments this time, we had seats that converted to beds and drop down beds from the ceiling that run lengthways along the carriage. Privacy is guaranteed by curtains, but that is all! And with the temperature around the mid-30s, and Tania and I sleeping on the narrower top bunks, having the curtains closed meant sleeping in a sauna!!

The boys at least had the open windows to keep a warm breeze wafting past them – but Tania and I took quite a while to get to sleep because of the heat. As midnight passed the temperature dropped at last and it was at least bearable enough to sleep.

But lets not complain, we were on our way to the gorgeous island of Koh Samui to stay in a villa with a pool a few metres from the beach – what is a few hours of discomfort compared to the reward???

And so, we sleep on into the night…. until next time.

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