28 September 1997, flight QF002, somewhere above Turkey:
So our great journey has finally begun. It was strange leaving Norway, family and friends, knowing it will be more than three months until we see them again, after Christmas and New Year. I have travelled a lot before, but that has been different to this; I have only been in Europe, and I have been working – in a safe environment, well known to me. Now everything is new and unknown! I’m very excited and can’t wait to see all these new countries. Some things are on my mind though; how do we manage the heat, will we like the food/can we avoid getting upset stomachs, or any other illnesses, will we stumble upon any poisonous/dangerous animals, will our trip be affected by the fires in Indonesia, and how will Ørjan and I manage seeing each other 24 hours every day for three months and 12 days? I’m sure it will all go well! Will try and get some sleep now, it’s been a long day, and it’s still more than seven hours left of the flight, my eyes are hurting…
After having gotten out of bed at 05:00 on the 28th of September I was tired as usual when getting up that early. I have dreamt of this for so long, can’t wait to get going! The flight was from Oslo via London where we had to wait for 4 hours, then we boarded Quantas flight QF 002 to Bangkok. The flight, food and service on Quantas was great. Passing Indian airspace we saw a great thunderstorm beneath us, it was amazing to see the clouds lit up by lightning from 12 000 metres up at around 1000 kilometres per hour.
29 September 1997, Hotel Royal, Bangkok:
Lying in bed at the hotel room – it’s seven p.m. and I’m exhausted! Just got a couple of hours sleep after arriving at the hotel around eight this morning. The drive from the airport in a Bangkok taxi was hazardous, and first impression of Thailand is that the traffic is chaotic, it smells strange, it’s humid and it feels sticky, probably because we’re in Bangkok -probably different in the countryside. We have decided to leave for Bali on Thursday instead of next week and have rebooked our tickets. Went to Kao Sahn Road – the backpacker street – lots of tourists, stalls and restaurants. Nice clothes, but we’ll probably do some shopping when we get to Bali instead – have been told it’s cheaper. Watching telly, but will soon go to sleep, need a good night’s sleep. Hope to see a bit more of Bangkok tomorrow.
Landing in Bangkok was a shock to the system. 32 degrees and high humidity was a new experience! We landed at 06:30 local time after being on the move for more than 20 hours, I have slept maybe 3. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel, traffic was pandemonium! It cost us 300 Bath and we had to pay tolls as we went into the city at around 47 Bath. We arrived at our pre booked Royal hotel at 08:00 and thankfully the room was ready for us. We could lay down our tired bones after around 48 hours on the move from our flat in Oslo. We slept for 3 hours in a nice airconditioned room. I went to the hotel travel agency who suggested a plethora of things to do and see in and around Bangkok. It was monsoon season in Bangkok so there were some doubts about what we could do in northern Thailand, so we decided to change our tickets to an earlier departure from Bangkok to Bali. We think that 3 days in Bangkok will suffice. We paid 25 kroners for the change of departure day on our tickets. We headed to Khao San Road where all the backpackers hung out in Bangkok it seemed like. And millions of Thai people who wanted to sell you everything under the sun. We ate dinner with 2 beers for me and a Fanta for Tanja and paid 55 kroners (5 dollars) at the Hello bar, they had an internet café on the 2nd floor. We walked back to the hotel, talked about doing a sightseeing tomorrow.
30 September 1997, Hotel Royal, Bangkok:
Slept in today… Awoke at around 7 a.m., but thought we’d get up around 8, so we got back to sleep, and didn’t get up until 1 p.m… A couple of biscuits and some coke for breakfast before embarking on a walk in about 35 degrees Celsius. My goodness – the traffic! There seems to be no respect for pedestrians, so it feels like you’re risking your life to cross the road. Have been proper tourists today and taken lots of photos. We went to the area with the Royal Palace – impressive construction! Quite colourful and golden, really different from anything we’ve seen before. Was told off by a guard for having my feet facing a buddha in a temple – they are not to be visible… Went to another temple; Wat Po, with a 46 metre long reclining buddha. Exhausted after just a few hours outside; hungry, thirsty and slightly faint, so we went back to the hotel for some relaxation. Then to Hello restaurant, sent some emails back home, watched Mr. Bean on video. Back at the hotel room now, watching an Indian version of MTV.
We slept for nearly 16 hours; this is our first jetlag, I guess. We got out of the hotel at 13:00 and went to the Royal Palace. It was filled with what looked like sequins and trinkets in shades of green and gold. It was very tranquil inside. No shorts allowed but they lent us some wrap around sarongs to wear. We walked to Wat Po, the 46 metres golden reclined buddha. The Thai seem very devout and all over there are people lighting candles and incense in front of deities. Wat Po was enormous! We went into a small temple with an emerald buddha, Tanja kind of insulted the deity by showing her foot soles to it, this was not allowed! All over the place outside the palace there are men calling “tuk-tuk mister?” or “Mr! Mr! do you want….??” After a while I have learnt to ignore them. We walked back to the hotel for showers, after a day out in 35 Celsius heat, we needed it! We sent an email form the internet café at Hello restaurant. It only cost 20 Bath for 10 minutes at the computer. We also ate dinner at Hello again. I made a collect call home to dad to say everything was ok, he was a bit quiet, not sure what was the matter. Tomorrow we will try some shopping.
1 October 1997, Hotel Royal, Bangkok:
Last night in Bangkok, which feels good. We have realised that we’re probably a bit old to be “proper” backpackers – we enjoy a little bit of luxury and do not like Bangkok that much. People stare a lot, and some seem suspicious and reserved, although many are also very polite and friendly. We don’t like the feeling of everyone trying to sell us something, or trying to trick us into something, we were charged double the price on our return trip by taxi today than we did going into the city this morning. We went to Siam Square and Siam Shopping Centre, not very interesting – very much like any shopping centre in Europe with McDonalds and Pizza Hut. Explored some of the smaller streets instead, but it’s just too hot, humid, polluted and noisy, so we went back to the hotel after a couple of hours. Went back to Hello restaurant at Kao San Road where we had great food; two dinners, one beer and a coke, costing us about 187 Bath, which is about 45 NOK/4 GBP. Have packed our stuff, will get up at around 5 a.m. have some breakfast, and leave for the airport at around 6.30.
Did not sleep that long today, still tired. We took at taxi to Siam Square, it cost us 150 Bath and it took a while to drive there. The Siam shopping centre was just like any other shopping centre in Oslo. The real Siam Square market area was a bit of a let-down, just lots of shiny cheap stuff. We also met a nice Thai man who said he had something to show us. After 5 minutes of explaining that we did not need anything from him, not even sure what he was trying to sell us, he gave us his card and told us we had to follow him to his shop. I clearly said NO and we walked off, he came after us and wanted his card back… I was feeling a bit faint, probably after too little hydration and we took a taxi home. This time the taxi driver wanted 400 Bath, I haggled down to 300, still double the price we paid in the other direction. After a short rest we walked back to Khao San road, ate at Hello again and I called to Radio Oslofjord for a live broadcast from Bangkok. Back to the hotel room to pack and get ready to fly to Bali tomorrow.
Next up is part 2: Bali and Lombok, it feels like a holiday at last!