A Travellerspoint blog

Goodbye Thailand, Hello Cambodia (Day 2)

sunny 32 °C

It was an early start at Hualamphong Railway Station. We jumped (literally as the train was still moving) onto a train to Aranya Prathet. Benches claimed, windows down and food sellers in fine form – this was a fascinating journey through the city into the countryside.
Waiting to board the 5:55 train towards the Cambodian border

Waiting to board the 5:55 train towards the Cambodian border

Not bad for third class...

Not bad for third class...

Bangkok has a population of around 7.7 million people. It is chaotic, crazy and noisy with people constantly on the move. Apparently most of them were on the move at 6am in the morning. The roads around the train barriers were packed with moto drivers negotiating the train barriers to make a quick break across the tracks just in time to avoid being hit by our rickety train.

We passed by hundreds of slum houses made of odd shaped bits of wood, metal and plastic. I could literally reach out and touch them from the train as we rocked past. They were mainly empty, the residents already hard at work selling the food they’d been preparing since the early hours of the morning.

Numerous fires were just starting to fade and the smell of freshly cooked buns and waffles mixed with the rubbish and dirt on the tracks. Behind the slums hotels and apartments towered high above. A stark reminder of the gaping chasm between ‘modern’ Bangkok and third world Bangkok.

The train passed through miles and miles of paddy fields, stopping a various stations along the way to let of school children, workers and residents. The majority of backpackers were on for the full journey to Aranya Prathet.
Stunning sunrise views as the world passes by our train window

Stunning sunrise views as the world passes by our train window

A little bit windy with the window wide open

A little bit windy with the window wide open

From Aranya Prathet we made the short journey by Tuk Tuk to Poipet and as promised on numerous websites we were dropped off at the ‘Cambodian Visa Office’. One BIG scam. The visa office is on the Cambodian side of the border…luckily we’d already bought an e-visa so we escaped without too much hassle much to the annoyance of the waiting touts.

We crossed the border without too many problems and were shepherded to a nearby bus station where we were told the next bus didn’t leave for another four hours (by now it is the hottest part of the day). The only option left was an expensive private taxi, but after saying we’d wait we were shepherded onto a minibus (“Always room for one more?”) full to the brim with bags and tourists for the two-hour trip to Siem Reap. Window open we watched countless lorries, cars, motos and weird tractor carts pass us by, overflowing and overpacked with everything from pigs to motorbikes – usually stuck to the car with sellotape! I would have loved to take some more pictures but I was crammed with my face squashed against the window and the camera well and truly wedged under a Chinese tourists armpit for half the trip.
Always room for one more...scarily this was one of the emptier vans we saw

Always room for one more...scarily this was one of the emptier vans we saw

We arrived in Siem Reap sweaty and ready for a serious shower. Thankfully the Cashnew Nut Guest House greeted us with cold flannels and the helpful manager helped us plan our first few exciting days in the area.

Now time for some spring rolls and fish amok (Fish curry)…

Posted by Lynne Woolley 08:21 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Quick stop off in Bangkok (Arrival and day 1)

sunny 32 °C

We have arrived in Bangkok. From 4oC to 32oC in 12 hours – phew.

The flight was minus entertainment system so I was stuck watching what could possibly described as one of the greatest movies of all time - ‘Cowboys and Aliens’. I’m not sure who would describe it as that, but it kept me going through the cramped early hours of the morning.

We arrived in Bangkok mid-afternoon and headed straight to our hostel on the brand new Sky Train, which takes you from the airport into the centre of town. It saves you from the painful negotiating and scamming around the taxi rank, but in many ways I missed the taxi ride of death that left us with so many fond stories from our last visit To Bangkok.

Our hostel @ hualamphong is right next to the Hualamphong train station. We have a 5am start to catch a train in just over a day and with neither of us being morning people (how did we end up rowing…) the aim is to crawl from our bed to the station at the last possible moment. The hostel is comfy, clean and has free wifi (apparently this now comes as standard in most hostels as we cannot live without facebook). Justin was delighted to find the entrance surrounded by food stalls and so our first evening was spent sat outside eating spring rolls, chicken noodles and pancakes.
One of the hundreds of street stalls in Bangkok selling a wide array of tasty (and not so tasty) food!

One of the hundreds of street stalls in Bangkok selling a wide array of tasty (and not so tasty) food!

It is an early start on day 1. We are off to the market to meet Chef Lucy from Silom Cooking School. We wander around the market with one of the chefs from the school showing us how to select good prawns and talking us through a range of different vegetables and herbs that form the fillers and flavours of Thai dishes. Then it was back to cooking school where we learn how to cook five dishes from scratch. Our favourite dish was Tom Yum Koong. We also made Chicken with Cashnew Nut, Phanaeng Curry, Kang Khao Wan Gai and Sticky Mango Rice. It was a wonderful way to spend the morning, although I did feel a little sick from trying to eat all five dishes. They were so delicious. We received a recipe book at the end and promise to reproduce some of the dishes when we get back to the UK, although I’m not sure the flavours will be so amazing without all the fresh ingredients (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).
Trip to the market with Silom Cooking School - this is a good prawn!

Trip to the market with Silom Cooking School - this is a good prawn!


Trying not to choke in the chilli smoke

Trying not to choke in the chilli smoke


Tom Yum Soup...delicious especially when made fresh and by yours trully

Tom Yum Soup...delicious especially when made fresh and by yours trully



We spent the afternoon visiting Shrewsbury International School, a short boat ride down the Chao Phraya River. Justin attended Shrewsbury School in the UK so it was really interesting to visit the school having only been in Shrewsbury a few days before. No rowing on the Chao Phraya, but it was wonderful to watch the younger students flying around effortlessly on the parallel bars and beams in the gym. The Principal was kind enough to show us around the schools facilities and offer advice on travelling around the region.

In the evening we went for a wander around Siam Square, an area of Bangkok filled with trendy young people looking for quirky clothes and accessories or visiting the super malls. For anyone living in Manchester imagine Affleck’s Palace, but much much bigger and full of an eclectic range of shops from high-end boutique to cheap fake Prada handbags. The dress code for girls is definitely girly dresses, designer handbags and killer wedges with straightened hair (regretting not bringing the GHDs now) and lots of eyeliner.
Our trip to the quirky shopping mecca that is Siam Square

Our trip to the quirky shopping mecca that is Siam Square

Early start tomorrow...yay!

Posted by Lynne Woolley 07:35 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Goodbye

Loads of people we will miss.

sunny 4 °C


The end of work for 6 months. A very strange feeling but the whirlwind of goodbyes, packing and final organisation hasn't really allowed any reflection.

It started with Lynne's work leaving do on Friday night. Wine, pizza and cocktails. And boy were the ones in socio rehab strong. We shook the effects off though the next morning for our final visit to the rowing club in the morning,

Then the big one: Boat Club Dinner. An awesome night at the Midland Hotel in Manchester (Thanks Robbie).
IMGP6036

IMGP6036


Lynne and the Girls at the Agecroft Dinner

Lynne and the Girls at the Agecroft Dinner


Justin and Robbie

Justin and Robbie


Justin and Lydia

Justin and Lydia

The morning saw us make a quick final sort out of the place we had been staying in Stretford (Thanks Tim and Miranda). We then got the train to Lynne's parents for a lovely lunch and lift down to Shrewsbury to see the newest Braid- Samuel. As you can see he is perfect.
Lynne and Samuel

Lynne and Samuel


Justin and Samuel

Justin and Samuel

A lovely final evening with my parents and the final drop off of our stuff left us with only the bags and clothes for the next six months. A goodbye at the train station and it was really hitting home that this was actually going to occur.

An uneventful trip down to London and then Petersham passed quickly and we had a lovely night with Ida and Johnny and the main attraction Morty.
Morty

Morty

Off to Heathrow now. Next stop Bangkok. Let the adventure begin.

Posted by Justin Woolley 06:37 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

So long and thanks for all the...

Six months to go...

overcast 4 °C

In just over six months we will return to the UK following a whirlwind tour of Asia and Australia. It is all feeling slightly surreal at the moment.

We’ve had a busy few months selling the house, putting everything into storage and finishing work projects. Thanks to Miranda and Tim (and Paul the goldfish) who offered us a temporary home from home in between selling the house and leaving. Also to our parents and mums mum, who after many years of studiously trying to rid their homes of all our belongings so kindly let us dump even more back into any available nook and cranny.

It has been an emotional final few weeks visiting friends and family we won’t see for at least six months. When we return it will be fantastic to be living that little bit closer to so many of our London friends, but we are very sorry to say goodbye to all our Manchester friends.

My final Rainbows, Brownie and Guide meetings were a wonderful reminder of all the achievements for both the girls and Leaders over the last six years. It has been wonderful to watch the Guides come in as young girls and become young independent women. Thank you for all the leaving messages and presents as well as afternoon tea at Sugar Junction

After six years of working at Salford City Council it was very strange to say goodbye to both the city and my work colleagues. Thank you for the lovely leaving presents and emails. As you can see Justin had fun tucking into MY cookie and the ‘I love Salford’ t-shirt is packed and ready to go.
The giant cookie after Justin had had a 'little' bit (this picture might be a slight exaggeration for the purpose of this blog).

The giant cookie after Justin had had a 'little' bit (this picture might be a slight exaggeration for the purpose of this blog).

The annual Braid get together in Shrewsbury was wonderful, but we were still awaiting the arrival of our newest member, beautiful baby Samuel, who was born the next day.Sad goodbyes

Sad goodbyes

Thanks to the Newnham ladies for a wonderful get together and my mini monopoly set…it is packed and ready to cause some arguments! It was so much fun to wander around the corridors of Newnham – so many fond memories.

Catch up with the Newnham ladies (and random guy!)

Catch up with the Newnham ladies (and random guy!)

Our final night in Manchester was spent partying at Agecroft Boatclub Dinner. It has been emotional…thanks for a great send off!

So we are currently packing the final few bits and pieces. There has been the ongoing discussion of what to pack / not to pack. This has mainly revolved around my ghd hair straightners, which have been in and out of my bag more times than me! I have however managed to surprise myself. My main rucksack is half empty. I seem to be taking less on this trip than I’d take on an overnight stay in the UK. I have either: a. Justin's theory...realised that I take too much on an overnight stay or b. Lynne's theory...haven’t packed enough. Surely my bag should be rammed to breaking point with bits of shoes and unnecessary cooking utensils hanging off any available strap!To hair straighten or not to hair straighten...

To hair straighten or not to hair straighten...

Normally the size of my weekend make-up bag

Normally the size of my weekend make-up bag

Sorry for the delay in posting - major picture issues xxx

Posted by Lynne Woolley 04:00 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

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