Thursday, 6 February 2014

Bangkok, With Extra Bang

Craig Writes;
13th January 2014
Our time here in Iceland has now come to an end and it is with a tear in our eye and a tugging at our heartstrings that we now say goodbye to our newest friends, Nora, Anastas and Ana. 
Aarrhh, fun times

We love them very much and cannot thank them enough for asking us into their lives and sharing their home with us.  We can't wait to repay the favour by having them come stay with us.  I know that distance will not weary out friendship or lessen our resolve to meet again. Till then, you crazy wonderful Bulgarians.  xx 

14th January 2014
We arrive late for a quick whistle stop tour of Copenhagen, Denmark. The home of that doyen of wonderful kiddies literature, Hans Christian Andersen, and of course our very own Princess Mary, formerly of Tasmanian and current resident of the Danish Royal Palace.

We are still embracing our inner polar bears. Even though we have moved a couple of hours closer to the equator it is still astoundingly cold. Cars that have been stationary in the street for too long get quickly covered in snow.

We are staying in the posh sounding Copenhagen Crown. It isn't. It's central, so close to a lot of cool things, but it's really just a Best Western with a fancy name. We were all crammed in the one room with the boys on a fold out bed built for one.  Thankfully it was only for one night.

15th January 2014
Our plane to Vienna was not till 8pm so we had the full day to explore the city.  From Vienna we would be catching a connecting flight to our final destination, Bangkok.
We started by catching the number 26 bus across town which dropped us off at the famous statue to one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved characters, The Little Mermaid. 

It lies perched on a giant boulder on the shore of the Langelinnie Inlet, waves lapping gently around it. The wind beating a path across the waters of the port was bitterly cold. 
Decapitated, twice, painted, and dressed up, yet there she still sits.

Sooooo cold

With collars up, beanies pulled down and scarfs tied tight, we would wind our way back along the Langelinnie promenade up towards Nyhavn, a 17th century waterfront, canal and entertainment district full of colourful narrow townhouses, cafes, restaurants and pubs. 
There are several beautiful old wooden ships from the bygone era that are still moored either side of the canal.  
Lovely area, very Amsterdamish

On our way to Nyhavn we stumble across the Royal Cast Collection.  An extraordinary museum brimming with copies of famous statues through the ages. There is a massive two story masterpiece of a Danish King on horseback and a copy of the Rosetta Stone. 
Hello sailor
Very imposing

Further down we pass the Amalienborg Royal Palace, the winter home for the Danish Royals.

After a coffee and a couple of Danish pastries we headed into the older part of the city where a lot of the shopping district is located.
You had to have a Danish or two, it would be un-Australian not to.

We spent time in a monster Lego shop and then decide to kill an hour in the Guinness World Records museum. This was a museum we had no problem getting the boys into. Lots of interactive things to punch, beat and play with. 

The Winter Retreat for the Danish Royals
Next they'll be cloning people using Lego, incredible stuff
Wadlow is a slightly ironic name for the tallest man in the universe

Despite losing our map of the city we made it back to the hotel and called a cab for the airport. After three weeks reveling in the cold winter of the Northern Hemisphere, we're heading back below the equator where the thermals and the gloves will make way for the shorts and the sunscreen. I'm a little divided about how I feel about that.  It is fair to say I have been converted from a coldaphobe to a coldafan. Summer will always be my favourite season but the Northern Winters now have a special place in my heart.

16th January 
Hello Bangkok. 
The smell and the humidity here can hit you like a brick. It is a unique assault on your senses that's like a slap across the face with a dead mullet. It announces with a trumpeting fanfare that you have arrived somewhere very 'special', very different. Love it or hate it, that smell will linger in your sensory memory bank forever. It defines this city like the smell of pastries and baguettes can define Paris or a freshly popped beer and a serve of salty vinegary fish and chips by the beach might define Perth.
The street garbage doesn't help
These vents are every ten metres and what they're venting isn't pretty

The smell here is both offensive and alluring all at the same time. When mixed with the noxious exhaust fumes of a thousand tuk tuks, motor bikes and taxis it can become just plain nauseating.  It is a complex concoction of sweetly rotting garbage, exhaust fumes, the burning hotplates of road side barbecues, a hundred different spices and the promise of rain that doesn't come.  

We are staying at the same hotel that we did back in February, The Bandara Suites.  They're spacious, well located and just enough off the main drag to be quiet. 
Looking out from the gym over the spa to the pool...nice
Sunday is the day to go exploring because come Monday...'s time for pedestrian skittles.  Same street same time.
This is another concern in busy traffic

We had reservations about keeping our booking when we heard of the news about the Anti Government protests.  The protesters seemed to be gathering momentum and out hotel was right in amongst it. The protests were peaceful at this stage but the rhetoric was ramping up and various governments around the world were starting to issue mild travel warnings.  It was really too late for us to change our bookings without losing hundreds of dollars in deposits so we sucked it up and off we went.
There's obviously big problems here.  Lets hope it remains a peaceful revolt

20th January
Well I'm still writing my blog so none of us have got caught up in anything nasty.  Some idiot did throw a bomb into a crowd of protesters yesterday injuring 11 people.  Thankfully no one was killed. There have also been some drive by shootings into the crowds. To be in any danger you would really need to be in amongst the thick of things and we are just loitering on the periphery.
Your much less likely to get shot or blown up this side of the bridge

On the bright side, the protesters have blocked off several main streets and turned them into street markets.  The same street we walked in February which was choked to a crawl with cars and bikes, is currently a bustling market area selling everything from corn on the cob and deep fried prawn balls to fake Rolexs and Shut Down Bangkok T-shirts.
I much prefer the bustle of people than the bustle of traffic
The message was loud and clear
This is one of the reasons you come to Asia
The street food is amazing
So cheap and soooo tasty
Just ask this fella

We really haven't done a great deal these last few days.  Bangkok was all about defrosting and readjusting our body clocks, oh, and doing our best to support the local economy by having daily massages. One hour for $8, an hour and a half for $15, thank you very much. We have decided to go into super spoiler mode today as it is our second last day.  Two and a half hours of body scrub and hot oil massage for $135, for two of us. I don't have the words to describe how amazing it was.
Best place in Bangkok for a massage, thoroughly professional and still very cheap

21 January 2014
Today is day 370, officially the last day of our around the world adventure.  We are waiting at Bangkok International for the midnight flight home and eating one last serving of freshly sliced mango with sticky rice and coconut cream.  No more hotels, motels, hobbit holes, apartments, castles or Air BNB homes. The next stop is our place. While travelling is definitely still on the menu it will be much shorter and sharper from here on in. Sigh.

We are very excited about the prospect of hosting some of the amazing people we have met and who have taken such good care of us.  So, Kate, Alice and Sally, Nora and Anastas and Ana, get your act together and get your butts over to sunny old Perth Western Australia so we can show you some good old West Coast hospitality. 

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