After getting through the Thailand border without a hitch, it was a short drive to the train station to offload our bags for the evening departure to Bangkok. We had a few hours to kill, so we all then headed off to a shopping centre where we would hope to find some decent food and an Internet connection to keep us occupied for a while. Our driver had no idea where the shopping centre was, and after driving us around for a good 30 minutes he eventually got fed up and dropped us off at the wrong place in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately it had a KFC so we spent the next 4+ hours chilling there and using Ray’s mobile broadband connection to pass the time.
Later we all grabbed a Tuk Tuk and headed back to the station to jump on our train. This was my first experience on a sleeper train and i was really looking forward to it. When we first got on it was all seats but a man quickly came round and converted them to beds and unpacked all the stuff for the top bunks, which is where i would be sleeping for the next 12+ hours. I cant say it was the best night sleep, but i was glad to wake up just before we got into Bangkok, and i could check out the Thailand countryside (still flooded in some areas) from the train door nearby left wide open!
This would be my second visit to Bangkok, and we would be staying in our faithful @home hotel, a couple of streets down from Khaosan road. This time though it would only be a short visit, and as soon as we offloaded our bags we headed straight for the Myanmar embassy to apply for our visas for Burma.
There was already a pretty long queue waiting for the embassy to open by the time we got there, and it was a mad rush to get all our documents sorted, as we were hoping to get a same day visa which we could collect later in the day. G had to make a few changes to her blog and linkedin information, as being a writer we heard reports of them refusing journalists entry into the country. Once that was sorted and all the forms were filed in, all we could do is wait until the afternoon to find out if we were successful. We weren’t too worried however, as we’d all decided our back-up plan was to head to the nearest beach!
Most of the day was spent at the hotel catching up on the Internet or wondering around Khaosan road. It was funny to see my suitcase i’d dumped behind the stairs was still there after almost 8 months since we were all here last planning our trip to Koh Lipe. After a quick picture, i left it back behind the stairs wondering when the next time i’d be back in Bangkok. I had enough time to get some Pad Thai from the stalls along Khaosan and experience the familiar sights and sounds of someone trying to sell me a suit, before we were back in the taxi and off to the embassy. We were all really happy to find that all of us had been granted our visa! Another page of my passport now filled in, and Ray and G’s looking even more like it’s about to explode with all their additional pages sewn into it.
With my impending flight back to Australia in just over a week, we decided to head straight back to the hotel and book our tickets to Burma’s capital Yangon (formerly Rangoon) for the next morning. With the country’s closed currency, it also meant a last minute dash to the foreign exchange shops around Khaosan to change up our money to USD which we could then exchange to Kyat at Yangon airport. It made matters worse that with all of us needing to change money, most places didn’t even have enough, let alone the fact the bills could only be certain serial numbers and in near perfect condition. As usual laid back Joel had left it very late to change his money and we were relieved when he came back with his USD.
With everything sorted we could finally chill out for a few hours before it was time for bed and up the next morning to the familiar sight of Bangkok airport!