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The first night in BangkokThe taxi arrived at the hostel after one hour safe driving although the driver had a problem finding the place as the hostel is really tiny. I got a spacious bed and locker in a 4 bed dorm room. The hostel has a bunch of good reviews on hostelworld.com and it seems real as it was spotlessly clean unlike other cheap hostels. It made me sure the 8 days in Bangkok will be fantastic with this hostel. Maybe I should write a detailed review later.

The Mecca of Backpackers

As a first step, I put my luggage to the locker and it was time for dinner. Actually, it takes only 15 minutes on foot to reach Khao San Rd which is well known as the Mecca of backpackers and I had a go for there. Being fascinated with temples around the area and tuk-tuk which is a local bike taxi, it was Khao San Rd before I noticed.

The first night in BangkokIt was a very very classic backpacker town. Vivid colour neon lights, strange meals cooked at open-air stands, loud dance music from everywhere, I thought it was similar to Hong Kong and Taipei, but Khao San is somehow much denser than them. Thai, English, German, French, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, every conceivable language was spoken around the area. What is more, just like the Mecca of backpackers, the meals are extremely cheap! You can eat a decent dish with 50 baht from stands and 100 baht even inside of restaurant.

However, I actually didn’t feel easy with the town which is totally made for foreigners and after finishing a light supper, I decided to go back to the accommodation. I was maybe bit too tired due to the flight and wanted to send a couple of emails.

A strange Encounter

On the way to the hostel from Khao San, when I waited for a signal change, an old Thai guy said something to me. "Sorry, I'm not Thai ", I answered him in English. "Oh, well, I thought you are actually from Thailand!", surprisingly the guy answered in quite fluent English. I wondered why I looked Thai as I had a huge camera on my neck at Khao San but anyway we had a little chat as he was walking the same direction to me. His name was Schad and he came to Bangkok for the New Year vacation from another region in Thailand.

The first night in BangkokAccording to him, he came to see festivals and ceremonies as there are many at the New Year Eve in Bangkok. And he suggested I walk around with him when I told that I'd thought going back to the accommodation. At the very first I was sceptical with his offer as I'd known there were a lot of rip offs in Bangkok. But there were actually many temples around the area and I chose to go with him for a while. After 5 minutes walking, we reached a big temple and once we entered, the view of hundreds of people praying to Buddha came to my sight. Unlike Khao San which was busy with only foreigners and locals having their business with foreigners, there are indeed the real lives of local people. Many people were praying earnestly and it touched my heartstrings. I prayed to Buddha for my safety during the trip. Meantime, the trust towards Schad grew more and we started heading to Grand Palace where a big festival was held riding with tuk-tuk.

Bangkok Like Locals

The first night in BangkokIt was my first experience of tuk-tuk and it was sailing briskly in the humid Bangkok night. In fact tuk-tuk has a notorious reputation for ripping foreigners off but I felt safe as a local person was with me. The breeze was absolutely beautiful and captivated with the shining traffic view, I almost lost myself into an imagination as though I was a protagonist of a novel. It was only about 5 minutes but the vehicle which just had chairs and ceilings on a small bike was much more intriguing than the first class seat I'd sat on some hours ago. When I started worrying about the distance, we reached the destination.

The first night in BangkokSchad paid the tuk-tuk and I told him I would pay for the next time. There was a huge carnival with colourful illuminations, pedlars and floats on a park. I heard many sellers shouting something. Besides, there were no foreigners in my sight. Perhaps, I was only the one, I thought. Nearby a stage where Thai pop singers were performing, a big group of Thai people were dancing to thunderous music emitted from gigantic speakers. If this strange guy hadn't talked to me on the way from Khao San, I wouldn't have seen such a fascinating view and may have meaninglessly stayed at the accommodation. I was thankful for this odd fate.

In a dodgy bar

After the festival, Schad wanted me to visit a local bar where he goes every year’s end. He suggested sharing the bill for the bar and I accepted it. 5 minutes tuk-tuk again and the place we arrived was really a dodgy bar and looked vulgar. When we entered the bar, girls, who are not transsexuals incidentally, came to our table for services. I felt a bit of danger but many local customers in the bar assured me this place wouldn't be too bad. After checking the estimated cost, we started drinking. I hadn't had the faintest idea that I was attending such a festive party at a local bar in Bangkok.

3 hours passed and it was time for checking. The bill for two people was about 30,000 baht in total. Well, I knew it wasn't going to be that cheap but wasn't it bit too expensive?

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4th (Mon)
Jan 2010

[day1] JL717 Narita to Bangkok

JALFirst Class Check in CounterThe limousine bus drove me to Narita Airport along the Tokyo high way at dawn. As it was a holiday season, I was worried about the traffic condition but the early morning on New Year eve doesn't cause any traffic jams and the bus arrived at Narita Airport Terminal 2 before 7 o'clock. Besides, few people were there and only a couple of them were waiting in front of the check in counters which hadn't opened yet. No sooner had I joined them than the counter opened and I started checking in.

Check in

JAL first class counter in Narita was indeed just a ordinary counter. While I heard some international airports have services which let customers sit on soft sofas and process the ticket, this time doesn't vary with the usual economy class counters. Well, it was only a short process to leave my luggage and check the passports and tickets and doesn't take long anyway. Incidentally, my check-in luggage had 23KG weight including the carry-on luggage of the laptop and the camera equipment, the total weight of my luggage was almost 30KG. I'm wondering how this figure will change hereafter. Actually as part of my luggage consists of souvenirs, the bag should become lighter as I give out these gifts.

JAL First Class Lounge

JALFirst Class LoungeAfter crossing the passport control, the JAL first class lounge was in front of me and I entered there immediately. The truth to be told, it was my first experience of entering a lounge at the airport and my heart was beating faster than usual. I may be flattering myself but it's first class indeed. I wouldn't have come there unless I'd used such a tricky technique.

Nevertheless the first word uttered from my mouth was 'Hmm.' Though they are well furnished and the airplanes seen though the windows are beautiful, I would say they lacked a sort of premium atmosphere which rouses your inspiration. I know I was comparing with Park Hyatt which is an embodiment of premiums but the lounge should be on a par with the hotel. Taking a seat at the business centre and updating the blog with a light meal, the boarding time had come much earlier than I felt. I went for the boarding gate making final phone calls in Japan.


JAL First Class SkysleeperAnd at last, I was on board. The priority lane induces a bit of my feeling of superiority. Again however, the seat disappointed me because its type was way too old style. Even though I had known the fact that the old type would be used on the flight, I couldn't be shocked as I was thinking about cutting edge first class seats. Well, I can use them later. Typically, the flight from London to Sydney will be Qantas A380's first class. This must be the real one.

Actually, despite the previous complaint, the seat was way better than normal economy seats. I had 4 windows by my full flat seat. Since it was a day time flight, I didn't recline it completely but it was a nice refreshing nap on the seat.

In flight services

Japanese LunchDue to the lack of sleep and a little jet sickness, I decided to have a light weight Japanese course. What is more, since there will be fewer chances to eat a decent Japanese meal as of now, it was a good chance to eat the one when it's possible. The theme was Winter Taste of Japan and there are many dishes of Fugu fish! I guess, actually I don't have many experiences to eat formal Japanese dishes but anyway the meal was excellent. Besides, the Japanese Sake which went really well with Sashimi added extra enjoyment.

I still didn't find any feelings of leaving from Japan maybe because of the atmosphere made by a Japanese company JAL. I know a person who always uses non Japanese flight companies when he goes to abroad because this prompts his feelings towards abroad. Surely my flight kept a totally Japanese atmosphere. Incidentally, we had 3 stewardesses for 8 passengers in first class. Whenever I asked them something, they responded very politely. Although we see a lot of negative news about JAL's business in these days, I realised their service for the top level remained unsurpassed.


After the 7 hour flight, the airplane arrived at Suvarnabhumi International Airport. On Arrival it was very hot and humid as if I'm in a soft sauna. Though it's actually winter, it is definitely hotter than Japanese summer. I used a taxi for the accommodation and the strange view through the window made me realise that I at last had come to a different country.

Entry Info

3rd (Sun)
Jan 2010

[day1] airport limousine

At 5 o'clock in the morning, at the empty lobby in the Park Hyatt, I didn't even feel a sensation for the departure on the round the world trip although I was waiting for the limousine bus for the airport holding a huge backpack. In the dark before the dawn, I just left a word 'See you.' and stepped onto the bus. I had known the fact that I'm leaving for far abroad but the farewell was simple as if we had promised to meet again the next day.

Maybe my feelings toward the idea of farewell were distorted due to the international student life in Australia. During the days when I was studying on the language course, we had a lot of farewell parties as students came and graduated every week and always said 'Good bye.', 'See you again.', and 'Keep in touch.' I’d wept often at first, however as time went by and the farewells became a weekly routine, tears seldom dropped from my eyes.

Thanks to the advanced aviation technologies, the temporal distance is surprisingly short. Anybody can reach the main cities of the world within 24 hours though overseas travel was very limited only 50 years ago. If I push myself hard, it is always possible to visit someone who I want see. What is more, by using the internet technologies like facebook, skype, and email, we can make contacts literally free. In terms of the mental distance, we should be able to bring it under our control, however the physical distance is long.

A meeting and a parting are two sides of the same coin. I, who realised that continuous hope lets me to see my friends again, won't shed tears due to anxiety and loneliness. The bus departed to the air port with me a little bit reluctantly watching the dawn view of Tokyo.

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