Friday, March 02, 2007 Thailand Thailand

Bangkok wildlife

Shark watching [Enlarge]

Yesterday we walked very slowly to the Vietnam embassy to collect our passports, but despite our best efforts we were still hot and sweaty by the time we arrived. It must be the humidity. Even on the hottest day in the UK (which is a lot hotter than the low thirties Celcius we're having here) it's possible to keep your cool so long as you don't rush. But here the thick, hot air gets in to every shadow and under every tree. There is no escape.

Picking up our visas was no problem. On the way back out of the embassy door with our freshly visa'd passports safely stowed, we met an American who was going to Vietnam to look for islands to buy. That's something we've yet to see on Rightmove. Come to think of it, maybe we could also be tempted by a Scaramanga-style hideaway! (Yes, we've found time to watch the James Bond DVD we bought on Monday.)

We were meeting Jeremy for dinner. We first met him at Agra station in India, and we shared a taxi to Jaipur with him and his friend Andy. He has an apartment in Bangkok and lives here for a few months each year. We were already on the right side of town, so it seemed pointless to go all the way back to the hotel before coming back out again in the evening. We found a great place to go for three or four hours: in the basement of the Paragon Mall there's a 10,000 square metre underwater world with penguins, sharks, rays, three metre long Mehkong catfish, called Siam Oceanworld… We had to go and see it, and it was really, really great. All our photos are here.

When we were fully fished out, we took the Skytrain to meet Jeremy. Last time we saw him was when we'd parted company with him and Andy at Jaipur station. He took us to one of his favourite Thai restaurants, tucked away down a side street where we would never have found it. We compared notes on India—his impressions on the place were pretty much identical to ours. He and Andy had fared no better than us after we parted, had also given up on Jaipur in disgust, and had flown to Goa for the rest of their fortnight's holiday. We don't blame them. It's a small sample, but it made us feel better to know that we weren't the only ones to really hate India.

After dinner Jeremy took us to see the infamous Phat Phong red light area of Bangkok where a string of girly shows compete for business along the street. Men standing outside the bars hold signs with 'menus' outlining their various offerings. Most intriguing were the 'ping pong' shows—we wondered what they were going to do with the ping pong balls. Interestingly Isla got as many offers to sample the delights of Phat Phong as Glenn and Jeremy did, but we all decided to pass on the opportunity. We didn't see any ladyboys either, but then again the whole point is that you don't realise they're ladyboys. And of course none of us were looking.

We took the Skytrain back to the end of the line and then walked the final few blocks to the hotel. This part of town was much quieter, and we were sharing the streets only with cockroaches, huge rats and stray cats, all digging through the rubbish which had been left out for collection overnight. Although night time, it was still oppressively hot as always.

A good day.