Entry Info

29th (Fri)
Jan 2010

[day10] Arrived at Hong Kong

arrived at Hong KongThe next destination after Bangkok was Hong Kong. The flight was reasonably comfortable though it was just a business class as it was only 3 hour flight and no first class settings were available on the route. Actually I felt a little disappointment since they tried to serve a decent meal despite the short flight time but this is maybe because I've been acquiring extravagant tastes. I should try to remain an ordinary person.

This time, I stayed in Hong Kong for 5 nights. One of my friends let me use his apartment and the other ones gave me a guided tour around the area. During the trip, I really appreciate this kind of help from friends.

Familiar Languages

arrived at Hong KongThe very first impression in Hong Kong was "Kanji! (Chinese characters)". I, in fact, had big trouble with Thai characters in Bangkok. Although there were alphabets with some important signs, many things were written in Thai characters there and it was impossible to grasp the meanings. On the other hand, Hong Kong uses traditional Chinese characters which are very close to the Japanese ones. Thanks to them, using a local bus from the airport was not difficult at all. I could communicate with people by writing although the pronunciation was totally different. What's more, the ethnic proximity made me think 'Back to the home from abroad'.

Speaking about the language, it was a little bit surprising that not many people can actually speak English very well. I had prejudice that Hong Kong people have very good command of English as they used to belong to the UK. Nevertheless, their mother tongue was still Cantonese and their ability in English differs from person to person. Anyway the situations were far better than Bangkok again as I could order something in English everywhere. It was enough for me as a tourist.

The Night Market

arrived at Hong KongThe first evening, the friends of mine took me to a night market which was located in the Kowloon area. According to them, it was a very messy place but it seemed rather tidy compared with the Bangkok market. Probably there were no foods sold and it looked clean, with no stench. Mainly they sold sorts of souvenirs which were quite funny and cheap. Without buying anything, speaking and laughing about the products on the stores, we finished walking through a long passage before we noticed the end.

arrived at Hong KongI must mention about the crowd in Hong Kong. Again, this was my presumption that, good or bad, Tokyo has a world-class crowd. Yet Hong Kong far exceeded Tokyo. It was just a normal weekend but I could see thousands of people on the road. Not only passages at the market, but also many pedestrian roads got floods of people everywhere. We even had to queue for an elevator at a shopping centre. Probably, Hong Kong people wouldn't be surprised at the notorious overcrowding in Tokyo.

A Terrorist Attack!?

Oh by the way, we were almost involved in a terrorist attack in the market. Just a few blocks away from the place we stayed, a stranger threw a bottle of poison into the street and dozens of people were hospitalized. We heard the news when we were eating dinner and the friends who knew exactly where the place had been got scared as we could've been there. I think there are quite a few incidents around me somehow. Though the terrorists are difficult to avoid, I want to have a safe journey anyway.

Entry Info

Niras Bankoc-Boutique Hostel&CoffeeFor finishing off the Bangkok series, I’d like to introduce a hostel which I stayed at for a week. Using hostelworld.com, I found Niras Bankoc-Boutique Hostel&Coffee which had got very high ratings from the user reviews. Besides, the fact that it had few bad reviews gave me an even better impression of them. And in reality, it was so comfortable to stay there and I would definitely come back if I had the chance to go to Bangkok again.

The hostel is located at the old city area which is surrounded by many temples and it took about 20 minutes to Khao San Street on foot. Actually there are a lot of hostels near Khao San but the area is very noisy as Khao San is a very busy street. On the other hand, Niras Bankoc is situated at a quiet local area and we wouldn’t be bothered by any noises. However, the location could be only one minor point as well because so local is the hostel situated that no taxi drivers are able to find there. I suppose taxi drivers in Bangkok don't know about the roads well but anyway you must keep a guide map to the hostel which is provided at the reception.

I always use hostelworld.com to find hostels because it's actually not really popular in Japan. In other words few Japanese would stay at hostels from the site. As I expected, Niras Bankoc had visitors mainly from Europe and I rarely saw Asians there. This made me feel like I was in a foreign country. However, very surprisingly the owner of the hostel can speak Japanese reasonably well. According to him, he used live in Japan as an exchange student for a year. He said to me that he would like to have more Japanese visitors there.

In terms of the quality of the rooms, I totally agreed with the reviews. I stayed in a 4 bed dorm room which was not really big but I was sure the room was absolutely safe and clean. I guess most of the visitors, who prefer staying in a rather quiet hostel, are actually polite and friendly. And the building was spotlessly clean. In Thailand, where the idea of sanitation doesn't really exist, the cleanness of the hostel was notable.

I must also mention the café on the first floor.. The photo on the top of this entry is there and it has a very modern Asian style. On the hot days I stayed in Bangkok, I always ordered big green tea frappe and sat on the chair for long time. Besides there is free Wi-Fi available for the hostel's visitors and you can use the Internet as much as you want if you have your own laptop. Actually, I wrote a lot of this blog there.

The price tag of 500 baht approx. is quite expensive compared with the Bangkok's market price. However, Niras Bankoc, which refers to itself as a Boutique Hostel and receives many good reviews, was absolutely accommodating and worth the extra cost. Highly recommended.

Entry Info

19th (Tue)
Jan 2010

[day7] Ayutthaya Short Trip

Ayutthaya Short TripOn this day, I decided to go to Ayutthaya which was reasonably close to Bangkok and famous for the ancient temples. Although there were some one day tours from Bangkok city, according to my research, I could hire a tuku-tuku and make a sort of private tour around the area. The market price of it was 200 baht per hour. Considering I was going to stay there for a half day, it would cost 800 baht. As I was travelling alone, the total cost of the private trip is not really different from the price tag of an organised tour which was about 1000 baht but I rather chose the private trip in favour of the flexibility and spontaneity. The train set off from Bangkok Central train station.

Local Train to Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya Short TripThere were two types of trains available: an express train with a light meal which takes an hour to Ayutthaya and cost 400 baht for a single trip or a local train which takes about 2 hours and cost 15. Without any doubts, I chose local. I believe, local trains would be more interesting and thought provoking if we travel only a few hours as we can legally intrude on local people's life on the train and I had felt the same thing when I'd been to the local market. The train went through a sort of slum area and the view from the window was gradually changing to rural landscapes. I saw people living in small huts which looked like garbage bins and swimming in a black colour river. An old man, who in fact had lost one of his legs, was mumbling something in front of me on the train. I had known there were a lot of people like them while I'm travelling as a First Class Backpacker. I didn't want to make a simple donation with cheap instant compassion but wished there would be no poverty in the world. But meanwhile I also wondered how many people can actually live upon this planet.

Negotiation for Tuku-Tuku

While these complicated ideas had been occupying my thoughts, the train had arrived at a big station and many people got off from the train. I asked a lady next to me 'Ayutthaya?' and she simply nodded. Yes, it was Ayutthaya station. Once I walked into the street from the station, a group of toutes approached me. Every 3 meters, they tried to catch me for their tuku-tuku. However, I had information that it was better to go to the opposite side of the river by ferry and I could make a negotiation more smoothly there. I just ignored the toutes and walked for while, I found a tuku-tuku driver and tried to talk to him.

"I want to go to some temples." "Oh, I can go to these places." The driver showed off some postcards to me. He knew how to deal with tourists and I was excited at the photos of the old temples. "How much?" "200 baht per hour. It's a rule." I showed him my watch and suggested, "What about 600 until 5." At the time, the watch showed 1:15. In other words, I asked an extra of 45 minutes. During the conversation, the other tuku-tuku drivers had been coming by and the driver who hadn't wanted to miss a customer led me on the backseat of his tuku-tuku and started driving. After a few minutes we started negotiation again. "OK, 300 baht per hour." "What!? You told me 200 just before!" Well, it was very hard to tolerate their ripping off attitudes. "OK, I get off. Bye-bye." I tried to get up from the seat. "Oh, sorry 200 actually" I was sure he didn't feel sorry at all. "Well, what about 600 until 5" "Uh, yes, OK. I take you to the station at 5 and 600 baht" The negotiation finished sooner than I expected. I guess it was just 20% off and hit a reasonable line for him.


Ayutthaya Short TripThe tuku-tuku which had only one passenger started driving again on the country road. The seat was simple and stiff. The roof was just made as a cover from the sunshine. However the breeze which hit my cheeks was absolutely delightful. Humming a song I was pondering on a Japanese road movie when suddenly the tuku-tuku stopped at a weird spot. The driver's wife got out from the passenger seat and walked into a normal car. The driver told me that I should go with his wife in the car because he was worried about the weather. It was actually cloudy weather but I suspected he wanted to make use of his tuku-tuku. I was only one passenger on the tuku-tuku which was capable of loading 6 people. He must have intended to go to another business afterwards. Confirming that I would pay only 600 whichever the vehicle was, I got into the car.

Ayutthaya Short TripThe tour was well arranged by the wife. She at first showed me one of the postcards on which was drawn the first destination and ignited the engine. After 5 minutes of driving, we arrived at the first temple. She would wait for me and what I needed to do was simply come back to her place after I finished the sightseeing. It was a really easy trip indeed. By chance I saw a group of tourists organised by a Japanese tour agency and they seemed to have a very precise schedule. On the other hand I was totally flexible as long as I cared about the return trip train. What is more, after the walking under the strong sunshine, an air-conditioned Mitsubishi Lancer was awaiting for me. The backseat on a decent car which had got cushion seats was comfortable enough. I actually appreciated the strange upgrade.

Impressions of Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya Short TripBy the way, I almost forgot to mention about my impression of the temples. In fact it was the most impressive place of my stay in Thailand. There were not too many tourists around and I could observe the temples thoroughly. And most importantly, the scenery was absolutely incredible. I felt like as if I was in a different world even though Ayutthaya was only 2 hours away from Bangkok. Besides, if you know "tiger shot (not from Tiger Woods)" the reclining Buddha would make you mumbling the word. It was a very funny place.

Trap Again

Ayutthaya Short TripNevertheless, a huge trap was waiting at the end of the day. When I was looking around an old deserted temple which had no visitors apart from me, I heard some dogs barking. Actually, they were running after me! No joking, Thai wild dogs tried to attack me. I felt a real danger about my life and dashed to a shop at the entrance. The sales lady managed to get rid of the dogs but my camera hit the ground severely as I was utterly in hurry. Seriously, be careful about dogs in Thailand. They basically don’t have leashes. It was a really traumatic moment similar to an incident that occurred many years ago. A little consolation was that my D300 still works well even with some scratches from the accident.

Where I am

Loading map..

On Twitter

Loading Tweets..

Recent Entries

From Flickr

Powered by

  • expression engine
  • midPhase
  • 世界一周ブログランキング参加中

First Class Backpacker © Satoshi Onoda. All rights reserved.