Travel Awards

source // wikipedia

source // wikipedia

Saturday, 23 April, 2011

Bangkok, Thailand

I tried to withdraw some money earlier in the week and the cash machine simple read, ‘time is up’.

Therefore, we’ve spent recent days bumming around Bangkok, drinking beer and sorting out return fights. The end is near, which must be a bit bittersweet for those at home – no more fantastic blogs, but you may get to see me in person soon. I say, the glass is always half full.

We had enough money to proceed with just one more activity before our departure, and Ruby remained adamant that ping-pong Paula was not worthy of our cash. So, instead we finally got the chance to watch a film VIP style.

This time they were showing an American film, allowing us to get our taste of royalty without looking weird.

We cosily got wrapped up in our blankets, sunk into our sofas and toasted our weird, blue, fruity drink – which looked like the liquid they give you at the dentist to rinse your mouth out – it tasted good though. As I was about to take a second swig some unfamiliar music started to play and the entire audience rose to their feet. We followed in doing so, we weren’t 100% sure what was going on, but we didn’t really want to do anything disrespectful.

I had just spent a few minute carefully tucking my blanket into the sides of my sofa though, so it was a bit of a shame that my hard work had gone to waste in that regard.

We soon realised that the sudden rise was due to the airing of Thailand’s national anthem. This was accompanied by an on screen montage of the country’s king’s greatest moments. I decided that King Bhumibol Adulyadej¬†(I’m not too proud to admit that google helped a great deal in ensuring the correct spelling of his name) must feel like an absolute champ every time he goes to the cinema. If old Bhumibol is in the dating game, he should definitely take his ladies to see a movie, that three minute homage video would result in a decent success rate, I’m sure.

The film was called World Invasion and was an overdone plot of American soldiers saving the world from an alien takeover – it was pretty boring. However, the trip was primarily about the experience which was not too shabby at all.

We’re now winding down. Our flight home is in two days and we’ve done hardly anything of note this week. So, rather than telling you about the cereal I ate or the shops I walked past, I’m going to finish this one by giving out a few travel awards.

Most Interesting Character – this award is heavily contested as we have met some fascinating people along the way. I’ll never forget Hikkaduwa Mike, a hippy once so stoned that he was dancing in the waves of a deadly tsunami because he assumed that he was just tripping out – how that man is still alive is anybody’s guess. Another honourary mention must go to the bloke in Malaysia that spends his life collecting bees for his bee museum.

However, the clear winner of this award is Saleem. The man in India that called me Johnny, was strangely fascinated by my moles, made me listen to a non-English talk show and fell asleep on my shoulder. All over the course of a bus journey.

Most Memorable Animal Encounter – riding elephants in Laos is probably one of my greatest ever experiences, but it’s hard to look beyond Sri Lanka for this award. I was out-muscled and robbed by a monkey there, do you know how embarrassing that is? It’s not exactly something you can go to the police about either, is it?
“So, can you please give me a description of the thief?”
“Well, he was hairy with a tale and said, ‘ooh ooh ahh ahh’ a lot.”

I hope the monkey didn’t prepare a speech though, because as far as this award goes, it would have to settle for second place. The winner on this occasion would be the Sri Lankan crocodile whom we found alone with no supervision or barriers. It was very memorable and equally stupid. I’m hopeful that the crocodile will be able to come and pick up its award in person, so that I can thank it for not eating us.

Best Historical Landmark – obviously, the Taj Mahal deserves a mention – the building is sensational. However, the reason it can only claim second place – in these extremely prestigious awards – is because it was already familiar. I had no previous knowledge of the winner, the Plain of Jars, which added to the satisfaction.

I was actually too busy getting drunk in a tube to previously write about the jars, so I will give a short write up now.

These intriguing giant-sized jars sit on the top of hills in Laos, with origins completely mysterious. Therefore, nobody can clarify their significance. Unknown is fun, it allows people to create their own theory and the human mind can be extraordinary at times. I have had a few ideas of my own – initially, I was leaning towards dinosaur toilets, but I soon ruled that one out when I couldn’t find anything that resembled a handle (how could they flush?).

Experts have also evaluated that the jars are around two thousand years old, so my dinosaur theory is starting to look like a pretty rubbish guess. Perhaps they’re where Jesus played hide-and-seek?

I’m also very clearly padding out this blog with ridiculous nonsense at this point.

My more legitimate guess is that they are gravestones of some kind, but who the heck knows.

Favourite Country – wow, well they obviously all had their own personal flavours and qualities. However, I really liked the places in which we never seemed to run out of activities. In that regard, the trip’s winner for me has to be Indonesia.

I mean, we drank cat-crap coffee! What is not to love? Okay, perhaps poo turned liquid would not be for everyone, I get that, but we also saw dragons, sought out the world’s largest flower and climbed a pretty flipping huge mountain. The nature that place offers is phenomenal. The insane thing is, the country still has a million cool islands that we did not even have the time to visit. I definitely hope I’ll find the opportunity to go back sometime.

Well, there it is. It has been great, travelling doesn’t end here, that I’m sure, but for now we take a break. England, Leeds, Mum… prepare the champagne glasses because your favourite child is coming home.

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