It’s been a while but time just simply flies here. Also I haven’t been doing much of anything interesting. Crossing the border from Cambodia to Thailand was surprisingly quick and easy. I took the 6am bus to avoid the midday heat and crowds. There was no queues at any point and the whole thing took me about 20-30 minutes. Leaving just few days earlier on the 8am bus, my friends had to stand in line for a good hour- hour and a half. So to avoid that it’s obviously smart to pull yourself out of bed couple of hours earlier and catch the first bus. The whole journey from Siem Reap to Bangkok took me about 8-9 hours.
We stayed at Green House hostel right next to Khaosan road. The hostel was ok, pretty cheap rooms and an expensive restaurant. The cheapest way to eat and pretty much the best way to save money is to enjoy as much street food as possible. A big plate full of Pad Thai would cost you around 25-35baht and a spring roll around 10 baht a piece. Khaosan is kind of far from everything but Khaosan. The palace & river are within walking distance but that’s about it. The upside on Khaosan (for some people) is that it’s absolutely crowded with tourists. Mostly young people, getting hammered in the many bars around the area. It’s always loud, always full and the ping-pong shows etc. are offered in every corner. We didn’t go but if you wish to, it costs about 500baht to do that including taxi there & back and the show. It does get really annoying after few days. Taxi’s & tuk tuk’s near Khaosan are really expensive. There’s no metro around the area, but there’s a lot of buses operating close by. Ask locals for directions. If you do want to avoid the long sweaty bus drive to your destination and take a taxi, best to stick with the pink ones. We found they’re the only ones driving with the meter (not always, remember to ask before getting in).
After spending the weekend with the girls doing their last shopping, visiting Redsky and some other places they were replaced by one of my really good friends from Finland. She flew on the same day the girls left. I had to stay in Bangkok with her a few more days to go apply for our visa for Myanmar. We did a little sightseeing, went to the Lumpini Park and saw the reclining Buddha (Wat Pho). Entrance fee for Wat Pho was 150bhat and the temple are is big. We thought we’d only see the Buddha statue lying there but there’s so much more. Absolutely worth a visit.
There are a lot of people scamming tourists especially around the Grand Palace area. They say there’s a prayer thing going on and the palace can’t be visited right now. They are really friendly and draw you a map of a near by floating market and try to push you to a tuk tuk to take you there. There’s also people renting clothes to visit the area, don’t be fooled, you can lend clothes for free inside the palace area. Don’t talk to anyone around there to be safe from these things.
Getting the visa was actually a lot simpler than we read online. Everyone was saying that we should go there really early to avoid the worst queues but being lazy bastard, we got there maybe 15 minutes before they opened. There was a queue outside, maybe 50 meters or so but the whole thing took us about 35 minutes. This is not the peak season; it might be a lot different in January or February.
Once we got our visa-applications done, we were ready to leave Bangkok for a while. We wanted to go somewhere just to chill out for some days before Myanmar and chose the island of Koh Chang. We stayed at a small (horrible but cheap) bungalow at Lonely Beach. I don’t really have much to say about the island. We saw one waterfall (all the other ones were dry, or so they said) but aside from that we didn’t really do much but hang around in the sun trying to regain energy after Bangkok and before Myanmar. After another night in Bangkok we finally got to pick up our visas and were ready to head out to Yangon. We got our flights pretty early so we only paid around 80USD each for a round trip.
We had read a lot about how Myanmar has no ATM’s that’d accept foreign cards and that you shouldn’t change money at the airport (this is also what Myanmar Lonely Planet says) because the rates are shit but I guess tourism in this country has developed fast. ATM’s can be found pretty much everywhere and the rates to change money at the airport are good. Withdrawing money costs about 5USD + what ever your bank is charging on top of that. The rate for a dollar at the airport was about 966kyats, which was not bad at all at the time. What still seems to be true is that the dollar notes you change or use have to be in perfect condition. To be sure we’d get the right kind of dollars we changed all our Myanmar-money from euros at Forex in Finland.
We’ve been here for a little under two weeks now, I’ll write more about this place when I have more time. Too busy sightseeing all the time, there’s so much to see here. I have a lot of my Bangkok photos on my phone, I didn’t really carry around my camera that much. I’ll try to get them online at some point.