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Trekker’s Hostel Highlights: NapPark – Bangkok

Location : Well located just 2 streets away from Khao San Road, the infamous backapcker party and market street. Close enough to enjoy the party but far enough away to find some more chilled out options.

Staff : Phenomenal staff, all Thai. They try be very helpful and always there with a smile, as long as you show them the same courtesy of course. They also reply to emails within one day, and are very patient with multiple questions.

Dorms : They have smaller 4-6 bed and then the large mixed dorms. The set up is quite unique with each bed have it’s own light and power sockets. They also have “privacy” screens that can be lowered to give a sense of privacy. I say “privacy” because the screens are essentially see through, so great for the illusion of being alone, but possibly aids in the prevention of hanky panky….

Cleanliness : one of the cleanest hostels I have been in. The sheets are white and so have some stains and marks on them but they are clean. The Cleaning staff do a fantastic job every day.

Social : The common area near reception has a couple of large mats and reclining cushions where everyone migrates to. You will start with 2 and by the end of the evening you can have over 20 people from all over the world, it just seems natural to join the circle.

Cafe : They have a great little cafe at the front area outside, with a wonderful sitting/relaxing area. The lady who runs it is super sweet and was a great hoot when 10 of us decided to order at the same time, she received a round of applause at the end of it!!

They also allow you store your luggage for a couple of weeks… which was perfect when I spent a week in Laos with just my carry on.

All in all a great hostel, definitely book in advance as they sell out quickly.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in RTW, Thailand, Travel

 

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Ayuthaya or bust!!!!! An Adventure of the Terrific Ten

NapPark Hostel and The Meeting of the TEN!

I have always loved staying in hostels and backpackers, you never know who you are going to meet or what you are going to see….

For example sitting behind the rather see through privacy screen on my lower bunk, a new traveler arrived and obviously or hopefully assumed he was alone. He stripped off to his boxers, then instead of facing the wall to be sure of privacy, he turned towards his bunk (leaving his lower half visible to me) and proceeded to reach in, pull out and give things a good jiggle… I wasn’t sure if I should cough, state “welcome to the mixed dorm” or just sit there silently… instead I tried to type louder but only when I zipped up my computer did I notice pants were replaced rather quickly… ahh yes you have got to love hostel life!

I stayed at NapPark hostel when I first arrived. The pics on the webpage are a little misleading, but the staff are friendly and always answer emails the same day. It is small but clean and comfortable and the lobby area is great to meet new people. On this time round I ended up meeting people from all over and on the first night we all went out to dinner, 11 of us in total.

Dinner with new friends

Dinner with new friends

I had been debating whether or not to fly to Laos or take the 2 day journey of train and bus. A turning point came when I asked the group if anyone would be interested in visiting Ayuthaya, the old capital of Siam, with me, I got a few yes’s so decided to fly (which turned out to be a brilliant decision).

Wrong Information

All the information I had found, from the internet, to guide books, to the hostel staff was as follows: Take the train (it runs every 20min), 20baht for a normal ticket around 130baht for aircon, the trip takes about an hour, then you are there.

So at 8am in the morning I was surprised to see 9 others show up, we ended up grabbing breakfast at the hostel cafe, the single cafe lady received a round of applause when she finished the last dish as she was truly fantastic. Then we were off to find taxis to the train station. Our adventure unfolded thusly:

A lot of the taxis wanted to charge 200baht to go to the train station, but it is important to insist on meters, some even offered to take us for the whole day 1500baht for 4 people per taxi. But we decided to stick to our plan and go with the info given.

The ride to the train station cost 71baht, another reminder to always use meters in the taxis. Then we headed to the ticket counter. The station has information clerks who speak english to help you find the right option. As it turned out the train did not go every 20min, rather ever hour and a half, the trip did not take 1hour, but rather 2hours, and the price for the aircon was 300baht not 130baht…. Well that sucked! We would either have to take the standing only local train for 15baht in 20min, or wait almost 2hrs for the aircon train. Since some of us had night trains in the evenings this wasn’t an option. Also once you got there the temples weren’t all in the same place so you would either have to rent a bike or a taxi anyway…

Rethinking the Plan

We stared at each other for a few minutes, Gina and I went even asked at the counter to make sure these ladies were telling us the correct info, they were. Then we decided to do what we should have done in the beginning find a taxi or van. The info ladies saw our decision and took us upto a tour service. In the end we bargained down to 450baht per person for an air-conditioned minivan and guide. Once again a brilliant decision was made. By minivan it is only an hour and since the temples are not all in one place the guide would drive us round from temple to temple. Most of the temples are free but a few of the best ones are between 20baht and 50baht to enter.

The Terrific Ten go on an Adventure

The Terrific Ten go on an Adventure

Well Worth the Effort

It turned out the whole trip was well worth the effort and the temples were amazing and the aircon in the van was a godsend, as it was hot as hell.

I think HOTLY would have been more appropriate

I think HOTLY would have been more appropriate

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gold leaf covered Buddha

gold leaf covered Buddha

Line of Buddhas

Line of Buddhas

The Terrific Ten

The Terrific Ten

The second Temple we went to had something I have seen in books and postcards all over the world, the Buddha head surrounded by the roots of the banyon tree, it was stunning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in Thailand, Travel

 

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Flying to Thailand

Sunday October 14th 2012

I am finally heading to the place that I hope will let me heal my heart and contemplate what the future holds for me, Koh Phangan, Thailand. I was last in Thailand with a friend in 2001 for Christmas vacation when we taught in Seoul. It will be interesting to return.

My flight was at 9am and I had thought this was a fairly decent hour, needing to be at the airport at 7am. However, I forgot to take into account the 1hr bus ride from Seoul to Incheon Airport, also wake and get ready time (luckily for me that’s about 10min). I got up at 5.30am, got dressed, Jamie walked me to the taxi and was on the bus at 6.02am. Not bad timing if you ask me. I had no issues at the airport, unless you count the rather humbling experience of trying to pull a baggage cart away from another, I just grumbled and moved to another one that was much happier to oblige me. All my fears of baggage weights proved unfounded and I was well within the limits I had paid for. I checked most of my scuba equipment except for the more expensive and sensitive regulator and computer, which of course were suspicious going through security scan. Although the only thing they asked me was if I had a dive knife… I would hope not in my carry on luggage, I just smiled sweetly and said no and they barely checked to make sure I was telling the truth.

At check in I was told to take the train to gate 106 and it would take 30min, I assumed that the airport had grown a bit since the last time I flew out of here. But after barely 3min of talking to a very chatty businessman who was heading to China to ship silica, we arrived at the gate. At first I thought it was one of many stops but then realised EVERYONE was getting out. Guess the check in lady had mispoke.

I love watching people in airports and ever since we entered the train I was bemused by the bleach blonde or wigged, serious high heel platform shoed version of what seemed like the Korean Lady Gaga. You just couldn’t help but stare.

With 2 hours and 10,000won I bought an ice coffee and skyped the folks. I wanted to exchange my leftover won and hoped to use my debit card to get $100 worth of Thai Baht. But they wouldn’t accept it, cash only. So I dug out the $20 I had saved and used that along with my remaining change of Korean won. I managed to get 590 baht which would cover the taxi in Bangkok tonight and the one in the morning right back to the airport.

Air Asia – Flight 1

Air Asia has really cheap flights, but you pay for everything from checked baggage, to meals, to seats, to entertainment. The good thing about this is that you can design your trip how you want it, you can also add something like a meal during the flight, it’s just a little more expensive. Usually I don’t book seats and just see where they put me, but for some reason I decided to book these flights.

It paid off and I managed a whole row, where I quickly spread out to prevent anyone else getting the idea of moving to one of the empty seats. Sometimes self preservation and being able to stretch out during a flight is more important.

I was flying Air Asia via Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Bangkok. I would arrive around 8pm. I ordered vegetarian lasagna and I must say it was delicious, as far as airplane food goes.

I guess I couldn’t have it all perfect, a full row to sleep, airline food that was actually food and good, tv on my computer…. and an aircon system in the plane that was bordering on schizophrenic. Blasts of freezing air every 10min, then lull you into a false sense of security of comfort and just as you get comfy…another blast of arctic wind. After the one flight attendant saw me turning blue and teeth chattering for the 3rd time they finally got it sorted. Maybe they were just trying to convince folks to buy the “Comfort Pack” which includes a pillow, eye mask and a BLANKET!!!

Arrival Kuala Lumpur

I had a 3hr layover in KL, and it was a balmy 33C, which is the warmest I have felt in over a year. I stripped off jackets and hats and boots in preparation and just as well as the airport’s airconditioning involved open doors and windows.

I was meant to go to the transfer “lounge” but got caught up in the masses and discovered myself in immigration. After some confusion I figured out that the sign was telling me to U-turn back down the stairs and not go round the corner. The entrance to the transfer was a door I had walked passed and had a huge sign announcing what it was… oh well, I blame lack of coffee (you had to pay for that).

In true customer service style there were 3 desks open… but only 1 for about 10 country destinations including mine, so there was a good 30min wait and shuffle, wait and shuffle. But people watching was hilarious. The high maintenance Korean girl wearing ridiculously high wedges and blue stripey socks and nearly breaking her ankle with every step was there. She was having a tiff with her boyfriend/husband, and throwing things on the floor in grand temper tantrum style, I was waiting for her to start stomping her feet, she already had the pout going.

By the time I got through the counter I only had a 2 hr wait. I needed to charge my computer so hunted down a power station, the only one in the whole place. Then realised I had packed my adaptor in my checked luggage. Luckily found one at the bookstore. Plugged in and sat on the floor watching one of my miniseries. Of course, people kept bumping my plug and losing power, and every time I tried to reach across the table to plug it back in, very helpful folks unplugged it for me thinking I wanted to leave. After the 4th time I just took the plug and went to the loo. When I came back I went to the other side of the power station and a plug point I could reach. Started chatting with an American girl, and she watched my computer as I searched, in failure for a water fountain, apparently you need to buy water in this airport.

The Boarding Game

I have taken a flight from this airport before and remember the sheer confusion as multiple destinations are checked through the same gate and you all, en masse, head for a variety of planes and just hope you end up on the right one.

This time was even more amusing as there were streams of people coming off planes and streams heading to planes. You kind of criss cross, look confused, point in one direction, get a nod, head that way, board a plane and hope it’s the right one. Luckily the flight attendants are quite good at checking tickets.

I was surprised when the attendant suddenly called my name and handed over some roast chicken I had pre-ordered. Completely forgot I had got it. My seat mate was Thai and we had a great chat about things, well “great” with limited English. This time the food was not so good and there was a lot of gristle on the chicken and just not that good flavor wise. Oh well can’t win every time.

As we left KL there were massive thunder clouds outside the windows, which made one a little nervous and prepare for bumpyness.

Arrival Bangkok

I got into Bangkok around 8pm, and had been traveling for close to 16hrs. I managed to get my bags, some money and then went to line up outside in exceptionally hot and muggy weather, waiting for a taxi. Once I got my taxi I showed him the name of my hotel, of course he didn’t know it, but luckily I had taken all the information I could including the phone number, and he called to find directions. He was a very chatty driver and told me to be sure to get an early start touring as my area got very backlogged with traffic by 7am in the morning. I said no worries as I had to leave at 5.30am for my 7am flight.

Delight Residence

Finally arriving, actually it was barely 5min, I went into reception and discovered the 2 guys spoke NO English. We managed to get me checked in and they called one of the other staff with English to come and get some info from me. She also helped me get a sim card for my phone, and the wifi code and promised she would be on duty in the morning at 5am to get me a taxi. Finally making it to the room, I collapsed after a shower and a quick message home to say I had arrived. The bed was as hard as a rock, but I didn’t care. All I wanted was the 6hrs of sleep I had before I had to wake up for my last flight, and bus and ferry to Koh Phangan….

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in RTW, Thailand, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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