An October 2004 trip
to Thailand by Cauldar
Quote: Inspired by the recommendation of a best friend. My girlfriend and I bought a pair of roundtrip tickets to Thailand and had the time of our lives.
With this journal, I'll try to outline some of the major issues I encountered in my 3 week excursion. The bulk of our visit rested on four major areas:
2) Chiang Mai
3) Krabi/Ao Nang (Andaman Coast)
I will eventually try to build journals for each of these hubs. For now, maybe I can illuminate some of the gems and pitfalls in this fantastic country.
A work in progress.
The bed was pretty broken down and the A/C was ineffective, but the price is right if you're looking to do it on the cheap-cheap.
The place is known for their eco-friendly trips, but we didn't take them enough to confirm it one way or another.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 15, 2005
Eagle House II
26 Ratwithi Rd, Soi 2
Chiang Mai, Thailand
+66 (53) 418494
The rooms were clean and air-conditioned, and the hotel makes an ideal spot for first-time visitors, as it is within walking distance of the Royal Palace, the Democracy Memorial, and a half-dozen wats (although, what hotel in Thailand can't boast this?). It is also a short walk to the famous (infamous?) Khao San Road, where backpackers, hustlers and vendors jockey for position.
Beware crossing the roads, as traffic moves rapidly, if not safely, along these busy thoroughfares. Also, unless you're looking for a little illegal prostitution, you can forget about spending your evenings outside (or inside) the café that graces the hotel's lobby.
This was a perfect first-stop hotel, as it allowed my girlfriend and I a good night's sleep in a cheap (but not seedy) hotel and benevolently introduced us to both the highs and lows of touring Bangkok.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 15, 2005
2 Rajdadamnoen Avenue
In Bangkok: Fare negotiation was a huge hassle. There are loads of hustles going on, so be careful, particularly around tourist hubs (the Grand Palace, Wat Po, Hualamphong train station, etc). They'll catch you about half a block from the hub, then tell you that it's closed because of a Buddhist holiday (except for what's far from where you are). In addition, you might negotiate a price, and then, half a block into your journey, they'll try to swing you to a jewelry store. Tuk-tuk drivers can get free gas for steering tourists to jewelry stores. If you like playing these sort of games, then have fun. In Bangkok, I stuck to metered taxis whenever possible (and don't let taxi drivers tell you that their meter is broken).
In Chiang Mai: Metered taxis are not to be found, so you'll have to rely on songthaews (spelling varies), or tuk-tuks. Songhhaews are little red flatbed trucks that have a couple of covered benches in back. They're good for getting around, but you're at the whim of where they're already headed, and things can get pretty crowded onboard. Tuk-tuks are far more reliable and less scammy around here, and they'll get you right where you're going pretty quickly. If you want to tour some of the more remote wats, you can frequently negotiate a pretty fair price for the whole day. They can get more expensive at night, particularly when you're headed to (or from) touristy restaurants and bars.
1) My girlfriend and I treated ourselves to a final, 5-star hotel night at the Shangri-La, and when we hailed a taxi, the guy drove us half a block from the swanky entrance before telling us that his meter didn't work. It wasn't until I opened the door to get out of the cab that he finally relented and turned the meter on.
2) When you arrive at the airport, TAKE A TAXI. Ignore the beautiful, neatly dressed Thai women with official badges and friendly smiles who oh-so-helpfully offer you a taxi into the city. Do you see that really long line for a metered taxi? There is a reason that those people are enduring that long line, rather than walking up up to these professional-looking car services. A laminated I.D. means NOTHING in Thailand. Just stand in line and get the taxi.
3) Just a warning about going to the Hualamphong train station (a.k.a. the Den of Hustle) - when my girlfriend and I took a cab to the station, the taxi driver asked us where we were going. We told him that we were going to take a train to Ayutthaya. The driver dropped us off at the opposite side of the station and pointed us to a 'travel office' where we could buy tickets. We knew that we were being hustled, so we paid the taxi driver, then walked around to the front entrance of the station.
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