One night in Bangkok - literally.

I took a walk along Sukumhvit Road, which is a major

thouroughfare, drinking in the night streetlife that is

so much a part of this region. I am convinced people

here do not come alive until the sun goes down. I

suppose it must be to do with the heat. I know it is

very cliched but the sheer vibrancy of the place is

amazing. Market stalls are set up selling every

concievable article and the smell of food barbecuing is

enough to make you salivate like a Pavlov dog, to borrow

from the Rolling Stones. It really is an incredible

sight and is replayed throughtout towns cities and

villages the length and breadth of SEA. I really wasn't

hungry, having eaten two good meals, but I did find a

bit of space for a few sticks of barbecued meat from a

roadside stall. Delicious.

I was asked by a friend before I left if I was not

worried about travelling in places like Bangkok and the

simple truth is that I am not. I feel much safer in

Bangkok, Vientiane or Rangoon than I do in London. OK,

Phnom Penh is a slightly different matter, although I

believe the situation is getting better there.

Undoubtedly, there is crime in all these places but it

tends not to be violent, at least not towards

foreigners. Tourism is big business and the local

authorities take a dim view, being unhampered by

bleeding heart liberal considerations like their

European brethren. I know it may sound a bit misty eyed

and over romanticised but I have always felt completely

at home here in a way I no longer do in Britain. The

people are genuinely nice and are prepared to smile and

say hello, even if we do not have more than about three

words of a shared language. Sure the odd taxi driver,

barmaid or whatever will try and rip you off for a few

quid but in general I have been met with nothinhg but

extreme kindness all the times I have travelled in this

part of the world.

I know I said I was going to try and be chronological

but I must break off to saythat an elephant walked into

the bar. This is not the prelude to some bad joke, it

happened. Well, technically it didn't as the entrance

wasn't big enough but it certainly managed to insert

it's trunk close enough for me to feed it some sugar

cane. Hopefully the photo gives some idea. We are most

definitely not in Kansas any more, Toto!

Back to the trip. After a good nights sleep, I woke

pretty early, no doubt still due to the body clock

thing, and decided I was going to get out of Bangkok.

Don't get me wrong, it is truly an amazing city but I

have been here several times before and I just fancied

making a quick getaway from the appalling smog. I

didn't want too long a journey, having travelled so much

the day before so I looked for somewhere within four or

five hours bus / train. Hua Hin was a contender

although it is rather commercialised, or at least it was

last time I was there, so I decided on the quiter Cha am

which is a few miles closer. I got a taxi to the new

Southern Bus Station and was glad I did as it took

nearly an hour through the horrendous Bangkok traffic.

Going there by bus would have been a nightmare. I

thought last time I was here that the traffic could not

get any worse but I swear it has, and I have no idea

where it will eventually lead. Total gridlock?

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