My experience in Chinatown was definitely the food highlight of the Bangkok leg for me, but before my travels took an unexpected diversion, there were plenty of other food highlights.
– After attempting to go to a sushi restaurant, I found myself in a confusing hybrid sushi buffet cum DIY soup joint. Essentially, you’re sat down in front of a heated plate and given a choice of soups. You then add raw ingredients to your soup, like clams, prawns, greens and bacon. Took me a while to work out what was going on, but got there in the end and was highly entertaining. I’m pretty sure my confused looks entertained some other diners.
– Also had some great dim sum, having suffered a lack of it in KL. Simplicity was the order of the day, I sat and read Bill Bryson’s ‘Down Under’ for a few hours while nibbling on some Sui Mai and a crab dumplings and iced Chinese tea.
– For some reason I tried to take on a very hot seafood tom yam soup after ‘a night out’. For some reason this seemed to work wonders and totally wake me up.
Which leads to the diversionary part of the tale. Later that day after said ‘recovery’ spicy breakfast, a few of the chaps with whom I’d spent the previous evening (namely, Steve aka ‘Karl Pilkington’, James ‘David Brent’ and Dustin ‘The Destroyer’) were heading to the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phanang with the aim of reaching the full moon party in about a week’s time. Having been indecisive about which Thai islands I wanted to see, I’d sacked them off all together en route from Malaysia. So shelving my plans to pop to Kanchanburi and then visit Chiang Mai, I decided to take look at the islands at 20 minutes notice with Karl, Brent and The Destroyer.
Cue a journey to Koh Tao that – based on the gap between it’s planning and the actual route – can only be described as “improvised”. We jumped in a taxi to the station with a driver Brent decided to name ‘Jeff’ (a continuation of an unknown joke from the last night), targeting a train leaving at 19.00. Clearly arriving 10 minutes before would be no drama at all and we’d all soon be snoozing comfortably on sleeper beds, to arrive refreshed and with a sense of adventure in Suratthani the next morning.
But it was not to be. Obviously, when we arrived it was fully booked as was the train leaving at 23:00. On receipt of this (shocking) blow, we were immediately intercepted by a travel company offering a coach in – you guessed it – 10 minutes time to Chumphon (or, Chumpton, as Brent Anglicised it). So we jumped on board, despite Karl’s concerns about not being able to sleep sitting down. Fortunately these concerns proved unfounded, given that proof he was asleep later arrived in the form of an elbow to my face when he did eventually nod off and demonstrate his propensity for mid-sleep violence.
At Chumpton [sic] we were dumped on the side of a road by a bus driver who seemed to have either forgotten his bay door keys, or more likely as I suspected, was trying to give his thieving friend a chance to hide before we collected our freshly rummaged-through bags. A very rudimentary (described as ‘military’ by Brent) bus came and picked us up and took us on to Chumphon pier.
Where we sat for four hours for a ferry. I always like a good road trip.
Fortunately there was also some good food waiting on the islands.