Attention Vaalies ‘The Beach’ has arrived in Jozi

 

Play Braamfontein has brought the beach to Jozi! Situated across from the Neighbourgoods market The Beach is open from 11am to 4pm and has a cover charge of R150…cheaper than a flight to Cape Town…it also gets you a bunch of beer sponsored by those guys who make the salad dressing dispensers Grolsch.  I’m going tomorrow and I cant wait!

Check out their Facebook page: The Beach

Heather…marry me?

A good family friend of mine is the most amazing photographer…sadly she is based in New Zealand but I have promised myself that I have to have her at my wedding! Check out these amazing pictures on Facebook and if you happen to be based in the land of sheep track her down and prepare to be astounded! You can also read her blog here.

 

This is my all time favorite picture:

 

Bangkok, you have the hangover now go see the palace!

Okay so you are in Thai…sleezy, you are most likely nursing a headache, the result of one too many Sang Som buckets; a rather sweet Thai whiskey that you are sure to get well acquainted with both on the way in and the way out, you are wondering why you just paid R100 to watch an elderly Thai woman have Birds fly out of her Vagina…but more importantly you are wondering what next.

I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when they visit Thailand is they either doesn’t go to Bangkok at all or they only use it as a stopover. In my eyes this is like skipping Rome when you are in Italy or skipping out London when you visit the United Kingdom. Sure there’s a chance you will sit in hours of traffic or catch a wiff of what I can only describe as death from an exposed sewer but Bangkok really does have its own charm that simply should not be missed.

Probably one of the most popular attractions in Bangkok is the Royal/ Grand Palace. The most important thing to remember when visiting the Palace is that there is a strict dress code.  The Palace is like the holy of holies for Thai’s so don’t disrespect it. Both men and woman should have their legs down to their ankles covered with their shirt sleeves below their elbows with no other skin exposed. There are a few stalls outside selling sarongs to visitors; there is also a rather convenient hiring station inside the palace that provides forgetful visitors with long pants and shirts.  I wouldn’t recommend this though as the line tends to get rather long and the exact change is required to pay for the clothes, so go prepared.

The palace is truly indescribable, as Mike Myers would say: ‘goooollllllllllllllllllld’. Any other place covered in so much gold would either just be plain tacky or be the Oriental Plaza, The Palace however comes across as ‘historical chic’.

Entrance is 400 Baht pp. The Grand Palace is open every day from 8:30 to 3:30, unless it’s being used for a state function, which is quite rare. Be careful of touts working outside the palace area who tell you it’s closed. Free guided tours in English are available at 10:00, 10:30, 1:30 and 2:00. You can also rent an audio guide for about 100 Baht.

Please excuse my dirty hands!

Once finished touring the palace there is a great little market (authentic Thai) just to the right of the entrance the palace, its hot and its sticky but you will easily be able to pick up fresh fruit, some flavoured ice and even some cheap shoes tucked away in some dark corner. Try the fresh popcorn for about R1.50 or the huge packets of strawberries the size of your fist, swimming in sugar for just under R5. There are virtually no tourists in the market and I found the atmosphere rather relaxing…until I stood on a rat the size of a small child.

More to come.

 

 

 

 

Thailand – where to start?

I often have people asking me advice on traveling to S.E. Asia, especially with regard to Thailand, I think probably because it is the most popular destination for South Africans in S.E. Asia and I suppose for the rest of the world also.

This series of posts are specifically for budget travelers…if you are looking to do Thailand being shuffled from the airport straight to a resort you are doing it wrong. The whole experience of a holiday in Thailand is the people and the adventures you come across when you least expect it, not a mani pedi next to your pool at your over priced resort.

So my first and most important piece of advice would be:

DONT BOOK ANYTHING! Besides your air ticket of course.

Anyone who tells you to book accommodation before you depart has either never been to Thailand or stands to make some money off your booking. Not only is accommodation of all kinds available at the ‘drop of a fake dreadlock’ but it is cheap!

Cheap in SA is around R500 a night for a decent room….in Thailand it’s about 6$ a night for a room with a bed, aircon and a TV with a western toilet…and a window if you are lucky. This accommodation is a dime a dozen but make sure you ask to see the room first to check if it’s clean. My first night in Bangkok back in 2010 I made this mistake and spent the night on mattress stained with what looked like a large amount of blood, I had already paid for the room though so I tried to ignore my gag reflex and thank God for remembering my sleeping sheet.

Start on Khao San Road

Now KSR, dunned the Gateway to S.E. Asia is not everyone’s cup of tea. On the 7th day just before God decided to rest he burped and out came KSR. It’s definitely one of those things you just must see when you go to Thailand but like a lot of those ‘must sees’ once you have seen it there’s no real reason to go there again.

Having said that, it is a hub for cheap accommodation, cheap drinks and cheaper women…or men. Especially if you are travelling alone or in a pair KSR presents a great opportunity to meat hoards, literally hoards of fellow travellers, ask advice or find a travel mate. I would recommend asking fellow backpacker’s advice over going to a travel agent or a tout along the street.

Here is a little snippet of writing from my last visit to KSR:

Khao San road the only place in the world where you can enter a shy first time traveller and emerge a weary looking hippie with fisherman pants, various woven bangles, the obligatory tribal tattoo and of course a set a fresh dreadlocks…all for under $20.

KS road really is a inner city jungle, where hangers replace vines and gazebos and hundreds of intertwined electricity and telephone wires make a great canopy.

The much feared hill tribe women and the touts replace the jaguars, stalking you wherever you go with either a ‘crrrrooaak cccroakk’  or the rather awful ‘puuut’ …which supposedly represents the sound of a ping pong being…well you know popped out. The hundreds if not thousands of drunk English and Australians, put any elephant drunk on Marula fruit to shame, managing to make a ridiculous amount of noise, break anything they come across and still have the thick skin to think its normal to act that way.

Lets not forget the kings of the jungle…the famous lady boys…distinguishable by their adams apples…and if that’s not enough to tell them apart they are usually singing :

“Now I’m the king of the swingers
Oh, the jungle VIP
I’ve reached the top and had to stop
And that’s what botherin’ me
I wanna be a man, mancub
And stroll right into town
And be just like the other men
I’m tired of monkeyin’ around!”

But I digress!

I arrived in Bangkok and headed straight to KS road for a much needed nap…traveling with flu really isn’t fun. My driver Narathorn war really awesome and I found out he lives in his car and every 3 months he travels South to the border of Malaysia to give his family the money, even more surprising was that he is the same age as me…what different worlds we come from.

I stayed at a hostel/guest house called Lucky house just of KS road so there was no noise, its a really nice place value for money AND its clean…something not common along or near KS road. I met up with Craig my one friend..fluent in Hebrew…which was surprisingly helpful. After assuring me that he ‘hated’ shopping and ‘didn’t see the point’ we spent about 4 hours traversing the jungle deciding what shorts made his legs look better. =)

We decided that while we were weighing up which colour palate best suited his complexion to get a beer from 7/11…because they are much cheaper and you can walk around with them.

JACKPOT we found a beer for BHT25..about R6 only to find out it was rice wine and even the Thais don’t drink it! I even tried to give mine away to a beggar who blatantly refused it. Lesson learnt!

After getting hit on by a few more lady boys we decided to get some rest as we both had early starts the next morning.

Bye for now!

ABC

Some useful links are:

Lucky House – I have stayed here 3 times and have been satisfied each time. Be sure to get on the good side of the receptionist and she will give you a few much needed extras for free! Its also just off KSR so there’s no noise!

Official KSR website– Everything you need to know about the place and more. They are generally rather good with keeping their news stream updated.