Thailand – Bangkok Don Meuang to Hong Kong with Air Asia

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2019: Today I’m off to Hong Kong, flying with Air Asia from Bangkok’s low cost carrier airport, Don Meuang (DMK). The good news is that there is a free shuttle bus from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) for passengers with a confirmed flight, the bad news is it may rake some time to negotiate Bangkok’s notoriously bad traffic congestion, especially during rush hour, as there’s no direct expressway. Its recommended that passengers transferring between the two airports allow for at least 2 hours!

My flight isn’t until this afternoon so I’m not under any time constraints just yet! The free bus from Phoenix Hotel to Suvarnabhumi is available at 9, and if all go’s to plan I should be on my to Don Meuang by 10.

The Free Shuttle to Don Meuang is to be found on Level 2 at gate 3. Presentation of a  confirmed e-ticket screenshot’d on my phone and a passport are enough to get me stamped onto the bus, a regular city bus but at least it has air-con. 1 hour and 15 minutes is the journey time today, probably better than average I’d say.

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Don Meuang Airport was Bangkok’s original international gateway until it all got to much during the late 90’s. Now the place is exclusively used by low cost carriers, such as Air Asia, the Easy Jet equivalent of South East Asia and with whom I will be jetting off to Hong Kong in a few hours. Departure formalities are less onerous here and soon one is at the departure gate with time to spare – sounds like a cue for Starbucks!

For £60 one-way on Air Asia one shouldn’t expect too many comforts for this 3 1/2 hour flight over to Hong Kong. I didn’t pick a window seat since it’l be dark soon thus saving me about a fiver. furthermore, I’ve managed to squeeze all my belongings into cabin baggage saving me another £20. Not having to pay to have luggage thrown into the aircraft belts and I save a lot of time at destination is pretty worth while I’d say. Hong Kong is a popular destination and this flight is crowded, every seat taken. Leg room isn’t generous by any means and passengers will need to supply their own in-flight entertainment. So, for the next 3 1/3 hours then one is spirited into a world of intrigue and mystery – yes, I downloaded some Sherlock Holmes mysteries audio.

 

Next, Hong Kong and a Visa for China…

 

Thailand – Bangkok Lat Krabang, A Transit Stop

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2019: Lat Krabang, a neighbourhood situated in Bangkok’s eastern suburbs with the advantage of being right beside Bangkok’s suvarnabhumi International Airport. With several reasonably priced hotels dotted around the place then Lat Krabang is the ideal place for a transit stop. I’m staying at the Phoenix Hotel, about £20 per night double room and  a shuttle bus from the airport is provided free, essential for those arriving late at night or very early morning. Tomorrow, I’ve got some time to take a look around here before heading downtown in search of a new camera – yes, yesterday in Kathmandu, my trusty Canon decided to malfunction! In the mean time I can just about get along with the phone camera.

In Thailand, one is never far from a Temple and here in Lat Krabang they have a pretty nice one. The architectural style is a familiar sight to regular visitors to Thailand and as the sun shines under the clear blue morning Bangkok sky, one can only marvel at the ornate structures.

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I’m not usually one for traipsing around Asian shopping malls,but today I actually need to! I’m on the hunt for a new camera and a quick Google search reveals the best place for cameras i Bangkok is the MBK Mall located by Siam Square. Easily reached by hopping on the airport train for a 40 minute ride into Phaya Thai. From there is just a 20 minute stomp to the shopping centre – all this according to Google Maps! Shopping in Bangkok then is a whole new experience, especially in a giant mall where one could potentially get lost for several hours! According to Google cameras can be found on the 5th floor, so my grand plan is to locate, purchase and exit as quickly as possible.

 

Well, the whole thing went pretty well with my bank balance £300 lighter than it was 90 minutes ago. With a tax refund due and a tourist discount applied, the deal was a good one, about £100 less than the British price according to a quick squizz on-line. So, keen to get to grips with my brand new Canon 740SX, its back to base and a read of the instruction book!

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Photo from a Canon 740

So, tomorrow then its off to Hong Kong, bur first I need to get to Bangkok’s second airport, Don Meuang International.

Nepal – Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Kathmandu and a Virus

Bangkok, Thailand, May 2017: Back to Nepal via Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur but any thoughts of sightseeing inbetween have been somewhat curtailed. A nasty, debilitating virus has hit with its ugly symptoms manifesting on my first night in Bangkok beginning with the odd sensation that I needed to occasionally stretch then tighten my leg muscles. By morning I was quite feeling of nausea with ebbing energy levels. Thereafter sickness kicked in until around 3 in the afternoon by which time I had zero energy. Yes, its hard to even get out of bed and head for the toilet pan! Any thoughts of getting out are completely out of the question for today and probably tomorrow.

Day two arrives with energy at zero having had a disturbed night, but at least the vomiting has ceased. Zero energy and zero appetite but I can just about drag myself towards the kettle and make some tea. So, one more day in this Bangkok hotel before my flight to Kuala Lumpur. Sleeping better now but with a very sore back – like sleeping with a sunburn.

Day three, still with energy well below par I ‘m able to drag myself onto 2 buses and make my way across town to the airport for my flight to Kuala Lumpur. A freezing cold bus and still with that sore skin sensation its not a great journey! An odd mix of hunger and nausea prevents me from eating any quantities of food. I have an appetite back but then when faced with food I can’t eat that much of it. Kuala Lumpur late afternoon with energy back down to almost zero. Still no real appetite.

Day four with no real energy. All I can do is drag myself around the guesthouse here in Kuala Lumpur. That hunger with nausea sensation is still here spoiling what should be the best food experience in all of Asia. That soreness of the skin hasn’t subsided any either.

Day five with a little more energy. Its a real effort but I did make it out to the street and across to the shopping mall ATM. Still unable to eat in any quantity. Stll sleeping with that sunburn sensation.

Day 6, the same as day five! With a flight to Kathmandu tomorrow I’m seriously considering seeking medical attention – thankfully I have insurance! There’s a pharmacy across the street in the NU Mall. A very nice Chinese gives me about half a dozen white pills and is confident they’ll fix everything! These Chinese pills are making me feel rather light headed and well, after that I don’t know what happened since presumably I was sound asleep.

Day 7 and a miracle -yes, those Chinese pills have fixed everything. No more soreness, energy levels back to almost normal. After almost a week of sufferance, I’m ready for the challenges of road travel in Nepal.

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Thailand – The Good, The bad and the Ugly, Nai Yang

Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand,, May 2017: Having spent just over a week in Phuket’s North at Nai Yang, here’s a round up of the good, bad and ugly aspects of this trip. The expressions here are of Nai Yang’s Northern region, close to the airport and some distance from the tourist ghetto in the South.

The Good:  Largely undeveloped with that rustic and natural appeal. Quiet with no boom boom base anywhere so a good nights sleep! The variety of local food is comprehensive as it is all across Thailand. Excellent beaches and swimming up by the airport and further North. No visible prostitution, drug dealing or alcoholism. An aviation enthusiasts paradise.

The Bad:  Cheap accommodation is hard to find with with the cheapest about £7 for a hostel bed. Cheap single room accommodation is almost non existent. Local food prices about 15 to 20 Baht more expensive than in Bangkok and portions can be quite mean. Local folk can be quite arrogant. 200 Baht to get on the beach by Sirinat Park otherwise its a lengthy trek in the Jungle.

The Ugly: The dirtiest beaches I’ve seen anywhere in Asia – worse than even Sihanoukville in Cambodia. From Sirinat National Park South towards the tourist ghetto there’s broken glass, a ton of plastic and various other debris littering the entire length of beach. No food shacks along the beaches anywhere in Nai Yang.

Since Patong is where the action is on Phuket, this leaves Nai Yang relatively peaceful, calm and a great destination for that quiet week away from crowds. Its a favourite with Russian families, making up roughly 70% of the holidaying population here in Nai Yang, May 2017. Not my favourite beach destination I have to say and its unlikely I’ll be returning here anytime soon. Number one beach spot in Southeast Asia remains Sihanoukville’s Independence Beach, Cambodia.

So, to finish up with Nai Yang, a selection of random photos…

 

 

Thailand – Sirinat National Park, Nai Yang

Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand, May 2017: Situated next to the Airport and stretching all the way to the tourist ghetto in the southern part of Nai Yang, this area of land is surprisingly well kept. The beach maybe full of garbage, but visitors to Nai Yang can enjoy some shady woodland walks while spotting snakes and oddly shaped birds!  One is supposed to pay 200 baht to access the place but its quite easy to navigate around the pay booth, located near the airport. Yes, a walk among nature is perhaps a welcome change for those needing an escape from the ghetto.

Here’s what visitors might spot in the park… (Google Map)

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A tree snake, quite a common sight around here as is the Hoopee bird. Look closely to spot insects and tree bugs that linger around the woodlands of Sirinat.

Thailand – The Old Town, Phuket

Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand, May 2017:  About an hour South is Phuket town, the principle settlement and administrative capital of the island. On -line references to the old town, a preserved quarter, should make for an interesting few hours away from the beach. A local bus leaves the airport every hour, costs 100 Baht one way with various stops along the way. With the bust station just a few streets away from the old town, just a 10 minute stomp and one finds streets with character and steeped in colonial history.

Travel Phuket Thailand

Travel Phuket Thailand

The area is limited to a few streets of shop houses turned quaint and quirky coffee shops that seem to be springing up all over Thailand. The odd villa and exquisite mansion can be spotted on the edges as can the local temple. Here’s a round up of what the old town looks like….

Temples are always good for few moments of escapism – escape from the hustle and bustle of the outside streets and relax in the peace and calm of a Buddhist temple complex. If the timing is right you can get lunch too!

On the edge of the old town…

Travel Phuket Thailand

Travel Phuket Thailand

Here’s some useful Google links….

Bus Station for local bus towards the airport – Google Map

The Old Town – Google Map

Airport Bus Stop – Google Map

Thailand – Mysterious Sunrise and Magical Sunset, Phuket

Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand, May 2017: Online research will often reveal references to Phuket’s magical sunsets but very little about the sunrise. So lets put that right – right now. Being non-alcoholic it must follow then that I don’t have hangovers and thus can arise at silly hours of the morning. Like today for example, up at 4.30 am for an hours drive North to catch the Sunrise at 6.  No i haven’t hired a car, or scooter but thanks to the generosity of the guesthouse owner, 2 of us are being driven to a view point somewhere on the Northeastern coastline just across the islands bridge with the mainland (Google Map) .

Sunrise: Once across the bridge ,a route meanders through rustic villages situated between jungle clad hills – its almost a step back in time. Narrow concreted roads, deserted this time of the morning as twilight breaks in the distance. Eventually a sign indicating the way up. Up into the hillsides to a viewpoint, and just in time to witness the mysterious, magical sunrise – quiet, not a breath of air, not even the birds have woken yet!

What do you make of this? Worth the effort? Comment with your descriptions, thanks.

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Sunset: Sunsets on Phuket are a whole lot easier to catch once those hangovers are done with, or not as the case maybe. Just stumble over to a west facing beach and wait.

Wait for the magical sunsets like this one captured at Nai Yang.

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Thailand – Beach, Airport and Russians, Phuket

Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand, May 2017: To find a clean beach around here takes some effort. After having arrived here a day or 2 ago only to be greeted by the dirtiest beach I’ve seen anywhere in Asia – even the beaches in Sihanoukville, Cambodia are cleaner then here! So after a few hours of exploration here’s how to find a clean beach, close to Nai Yang, on foot and without paying a 200 baht fee.

  1. Just before the pay booth there’s a road between 2 sections of jungle. Take this for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Take the next track on the right by a gate. It meanders towards the middle section of Nai Yang’s beach, about another 10 minutes.
  3. Head North towards the airport and after 20 minutes the garbage is gone, and so are the tourists.
  4. Another 10 -15 minutes north and the airport runway appears and so do a few tourists, the beach isn’t perfect here but not bad either.
  5. Another 10 minutes and there’s a near perfect spot and populated with plenty of vacationing Russians. A fallen log, a swing seat and a hammock to share between about 20 – but its still better than Nai Yang’s dirty beach. A lunch time the place empties and one has that dessert island feel. Here’s a few pictures….

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So with some effort, there is a clean beach, not that far from Nai Yang and if one likes aeroplanes then here it’s the perfect combination. Bring supplies since the beach sellers are somewhat unreliable, in short supply. and are really only limited to coconuts and instant noodles. Personally, I fill up at breakfast time – easy for me because I’m non-alcoholic thus no hangovers 🙂 .

Thailand – 200 Baht and a Dirty Beach, Phuket

Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand, May 2017:  I hate to do this, but since I’m not being paid to write nice things, I can! I have to dispel the myth that Thailand’s beaches are pristine – the Beach here in Nai Yang on Phuket Island is filthy. Adding insult to injury the authorities here are demanding a 200 baht payment from Whites before even stepping foot near to the so called pristine white sands Thailand is famous for. Since its my first Thai beach experience, this is a huge disappointment, not a great start to the week.

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Its not all bad news though. Before 8.30 Am and after £.30 PM the payment booth is unattended and when the booth is manned there are ways to navigate around it requiring a little bit of jungle trekking.

Thailand – Phuket via Bangkok and the Phoenix

Bangkok. Thailand, May 2017:  Its a 5 1/2 hour flight with Air Asia X from Seoul to Bangkok’s Don Meuang International Airport. 10 days in Thailand, mostly on Phuket Island and in the vicinity of Nai Yang (Google Map).  With an 11.30 AM departure plenty of time to grab a few airplane photos. Quite a lot of photos as it happens – there’s a 90 minute delay on this Air Asia X Airbus 330 flight.

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Bangkok Don Meuang is an easy airport to get through because there aren’t that many international flights thus immigration queues are relatively short. If one is travelling light with only cabin baggage then plane seat to bus stop is about 40 minutes. Now I need to get across to the Phoenix Hotel located in the Lat Krabang area, right next to Bangkok’s main gateway airport – Suvarnabhumi.

So here’s how to get across to the Phoenix hotel, for a night stop prior to the next flight leaving Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport:

Don Meuang bus stop (Google Map), local public bus 29 or 25 to the Sky Train station of Mo Chit (Google Map) Around 30 minutes and about 35p for the ride.

BTS Sky Train from Mo Chit to Phaya Thai – transfer to the airport line. Journey time of about 20 minutes costing 80p.

Phaya Thai (Google Map) airport line to Lat Krabang (Google Map), one stop before the airport, 97p and 40 minutes.

From Lat Krabang station, the Phoenix hotel is about 15-20 minutes of stomping along some rather menacing looking streets – yes its dark, almost 10 pm, prime time for the plethora of guard dogs eyeing up the situation of a lone tourist weighed down with a backpack! Thankfully they’r all behind bars, or at least tied up as they snarl, snap and bark in unison. I’m glad to finally reach the Phoenix and crash (Google Map)

Next Stop, Phuket….