Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 9 - Kanchanaburi: Lessons Learned

We are still in Kachanaburi and will be now until Saturday.

Things we've learned:

- Travelling involves a lot of forward planning when it comes to travel between places. When you have the bare bones of an itinerary and are effectively making it up as you go along, last minute decisions to skip flood areas and jump on a plane to a relatively safe city can be tricky to organise. Case in point: we wanted to book a flight to Chiang Mai last night for today. We could have done so if we hadn't left the cards in the safety deposit box which was unavailable until morning. This morning we found almost all flights for today and tomorrow had sold out. So now we have booked another two nights at Ploy, and will be getting to Bangkok airport to catch a 9pm flight to Chiang Mai with Air Asia on Saturday. We've also attempted to book a room at Diva Guesthouse for our arrival and will hopefully be staying there at least two nights. For me, Chiang Mai seems more appealing than Bangkok. Everything aside from public transport appears to be cheaper which means we can indulge in the things it is known for: expeditions. It may still be quite touristy, but we both want to spend a day with some elephants and there appears to be plenty of places offering just that.

- Washing clothes by hand is difficult if you are expecting the same level of freshness you get from a machine. It simply won't happen. My quick drying clothing is acceptable, but until we decide to risk a boil wash in a local laundrette, we will probably have to make do with a fragrance of Eau de Damp (avaiable in Boots now).

- We should probably keep at least one card with us at all times in case some spontaneous purchases are required.

- Ants are not our friend.

- Mosquitos have some sort of cloaking mechanism which renders them invisible just long enough for them to have a nice meal on (and of) your leg, before buggering off.

- The humidity can be draining. It has been a sticky 26-27 today with no breeze, and little respite. At least in Bangkok we had a few storms each day to clear the air. Probably not too good for the locals though.

- Gilly is inordinately good at playing Cribbage. Considering her vocal distaste for anything involving maths, this is perplexing.

- The Kindle has been a lifeline. It's allowed us to keep on top of the flood situation and also find our way to places and book them. I would hate to think what a RTW trip would have been like to undertake 20 years ago, reliant solely on word of mouth to find recommended digs. Trip Advisor has come in for some stick, but it is in my opinion the best travel review site I've used, bar none.

- I'm getting a taste for Asian beer. I've never really been a lager fan aside from Corona, but the two main lagers here are not far off that taste: Singha is probably my favourite at 5% but Chang at 6.4% isn't too bad either. At just over a quid a bottle, they are good value too. I haven't dared touch the wine here. Red wine in Asia is likely best avoided unless it's imported; a guy came into the bar last night clutching a bottle off Penfolds red like it was a 30 year old single malt.

- Air Asia is one of the worst websites I've used for booking flights. They make Easyjet's costing system look transparent. You have to opt out of buying insurance not once, but twice during the booking process. You also get pre-allocated seats you have to opt out of if you don't want another bundle of costs added to the total. Doing it in an internet cafe was bad enough; I fear if I try to do it on the Kindle there may be a Kindle-shaped hole in the bedroom window after a couple of minutes.

We now need to fill today and tomorrow with things to do...or not. Truth be told, it's nice having a break from hitting the sights every few days or so. Kanchanaburi is a quiet town, and since we won't be spending as long in our first run of Thailand as first planned, we can rest up a bit and take our time when we get into Chiang Mai.

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