The Bangkok Blues

Paul Raftery in AsiaThe first week of the trip was the worst I’ve ever had, with regards to jetlag, and for some reason I just couldn’t get on Thailand time. When I arrived in the city, around 9pm, I discovered that my usual hotel was closed. I had never needed a reservation before and normally I’d just turn up. I was met by a guy who was manning the car park, and he told me that the hotel wasn’t accepting anymore guests because they were shutting down. Slightly disappointed with the end of an era, I managed to get a room in another place called the Condotel. It was slightly more expensive but it was OK, or so I thought …

Although superior to my old hotel, I quickly learned that they were doing some refurbishing, and I was woken to the sound of an angle-grinder and hammering every morning at 8.58am. Breakfast was between 7-10am, but I never made it down in time for the first five days. Even though my wake-up call was less than perfect, I was glad to be getting up at a reasonable time, but the constant hammering throughout the day, until 6pm, was often infuriating.

This year, I decided to adopt a policy of drinking alcohol for the first couple evenings to help me sleep and it seemed to work, but by the 3rd night I’d had enough and just wanted a quiet night in. But for several days following, I just could not get into a regular sleeping pattern. The real life saver was my new media player that connects to almost any TV, which is packed full of TV shows and movies to keep me occupied during those nights of insomnia. Jetlag tends to turn me into the 19 year old I once was: Drinking too much; not getting enough sleep, then getting up and doing it all over again!

MBK.JPG

By the 3rd day, I decided to take a trip out to one of the large shopping centres in Bangkok called MBK via the Skytrain (BTS). It’s a good place to visit for a few hours if you like to do a bit of shopping. As I was leaving, I found the Bangkok Art Exhibition Centre and decided to waste some more time in there. Last year on Langkawi Island, I had an amazing time photographing wildlife in Malaysia, and since then I have developed a mild interest in photography (mostly as a pastime). I was quite impressed with some of the black and white photos, on display, of some of Thailand’s lesser known regions. They were setup by CameraEyes, school of fine art photography, by Somchai Suriyasathaporn. The display was of mountains, trees, streams, waterfalls, islands, sea, rainforest, mangroves and old forests. Some of the photos were quite spectacular.

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There was also the Exhibition Water Colour of Asean: A collection of paintings featuring areas of Melaka and Penang in Malaysia: two areas that I am very familiar with, and I recognised many of the places in the paintings.

Studhays, Melaka

Studhays Building, Melaka

By the Friday night, I was ready for another night of boozing and met with a friend of mine called Terry. He is a member of the World Hash Harriers: an organisation that was setup for expats to meet with one another and go jogging in various places in Bangkok, or anywhere else around the world. He first got involved with the organisation when he was living in Spain, and then continued to meet people when he moved to Thailand. My blood is too thick for Bangkok, so I declined the offer to go for a run, but I decided to come along, just for a drink, and meet a few people at the Kiki bar, near Nana station. It was a great night and I met some wonderful people from around the world, including some local Thai’s.

Kiki Bar.JPG

Five days deep and I still hadn’t managed to get into a regular sleeping pattern. Still, I persevered and decided to take a walk to the Queen Sirikit Park: a beautiful recreational area near the Chatuchak Weekend Market. As I approached through the main gate, I could see there was some kind of event being held in the park. It was run by the Bird Conservation Society in Thailand. It was mostly all written in Thai, but I could see a banner showing what kinds of birdlife can be found in Bangkok. Fresh from my experiences in Langkawi earlier on in the year, I decided to take a stroll around the park for an hour and try to snap some wildlife, but I didn’t capture much. I found little information online, in English, about the event, but I got the gist of what they’re all about.

Sirikit Park.jpg

I originally intended to stay in Bangkok only for 5 nights, but in the end I was there a week. I was still knackered from upset sleeping patterns that would ultimately continue well into the second week. I really didn’t fancy traipsing across Bangkok with my suitcase, so I booked a taxi to take me straight to Pattaya for 1500 Bhat (£30) and so the next leg of my journey was about to begin …

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Travel Tip: Media Players

Media 2

We all know that our time spent on holiday is meant to be filled with outdoor activities but sometimes, especially on long trips, we just want to curl up in our hotel room and watch a movie. Laptops and Tablets are great for watching TV shows but, let’s face it, if we can get something out of the TV – all the better.

After years of travelling, I was introduced to the media player by a friend last year in Thailand. I know some people would have been using them for years, but it has revolutionised my ‘down time’. With a selection of input methods such as HDMI, RCA, Skart and VGA, it is easy to connect to any TV no matter how old it is. Complete with remote control, it is an essential tool when travelling for long periods, or with kids. Without trying to endorse any particular product, I won’t give the brand name of the one I’m using, but they can be found on Amazon, or most other electrical retailers. 

It’s a little bit like travelling around with my very own Skybox (filled with the TV shows I want to see). On those rainy days it’s a life saver …

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I wondered what the noise was!

Walking the streets of Penang, in search of a Thali, looking around Little India, I found a place that does excellent food. Whilst I was waiting for my meal to be prepared, I heard music coming from outside the restaurant:

 

See more photos on my Instagram page. For photos pertaining to my upcoming book, A Learning Curve, you can use the hashtag #raffsbook.

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Poised for another adventure …

Me at top of Menara

It’s that time of year again!

Well, the weather’s turning cold, and it’s time to migrate somewhere for the winter. Unfortunately, last year’s trip turned out to be a bit of a bust, in terms of Wingin’ It Adventures. I originally had plans to make a documentary of the trip through India, China and Japan but, alas, it wasn’t to be.

I was also hoping to keep a record of the trip on the blog but, again, things didn’t quite pan out as I’d hoped. The purpose of last year’s trip was to gather enough material to finally finish my long awaited book, A Learning Curve, which is out this spring, but whenever I wrote something for the blog that I thought was pretty interesting, or cool, I decided to save it for the book. In the end I got fed-up of churning out half baked blog posts and decided to jack it in.

However, as the winter is beginning to set in, I have decided to head off to Thailand for a few months in search of some work opportunities as a digital nomad.

Keep an eye out on Instagram for some more photos from last year’s trip, as well as some new blog posts coming over the winter. I don’t want to say too much but, hopefully, I will finally make it to Vietnam, which I have been threatening to do for years and, with any luck, fulfil number eight on my travel bucket list, which I really need to start getting to work on!

After my laptop failed during last year’s trip, I had to abandon my hobby of producing some slideshows but, in my excitement for this year’s trip to Pattaya, I decided to make this little video to remind me of the absolutely brilliant time I had in Japan – as if I need reminding!

So for this year’s Wingin’ It adventure, I am heading to the sex capital of Thailand for most of the trip, which should be interesting, with some excursions to some of my favourite places to visit, Chiang Rai and Koh Chang, but as I have learnt over the years, nothing ever goes to plan!

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