Last night was bizarre. A little lost trying to find a hotel some friends were staying at, a tuk-tuk driver (a bicycle one, not motorized) decided to try and help. He was a crazy old man who spoke little English and clearly did not know where he was going. Instead, with a personality that I can only describe as Rafiki from Lion King, he took me round in endless circles with numerous promises of finding me “boom boom”.
Thankfully the next day’s experience was a little more straightforward and definitely a memorable one. I had a morning to kill before getting the sleeper train back to Bangkok so I decided to head to the Tiger Kingdom. It was an amazing experience. Tigers up to one years old live at the sanctuary and are well cared for. You have a choice of 4 different ages groups which you can pay to join in their habitat. Firstly, I opted for the tiger cubs. The attendent advises you not to let them bite or scratch you but the little critters don’t give you much of a choice. But their cute faces make them all too easy to forgive. We also spent time with the more formidable one-year olds who, despite their awesome size and power, are quite happy to let you chill with them.
In the afternoon I made the trip back down to Bangkok on the sleeper train.
Arriving early in Bangkok I had a whole day to kill before flying to Siem Reap, Cambodia the next day. Unfortunately, over breakfast I heard someone asking about troubles at the airport. I thought nothing of it at the time, thinking that any protests at such a major airport would be quickly disbanded by the afternoon.
So blissfully unaware of the problems ahead, I finally got to make my way around the Grand Palace. This was by far my most rewarding experience in Bangkok. The grandiose style of temples in the complex and the palace itself were impressive and it was great to finally see the emerald Buddha. The complex also houses a miniature version of Angkor Wat and the sight of it was giving me goosebumps about my upcoming visit to Siem Reap. Exiting the palace, I also visited the nearby Wat Pho – home of the enormous reclining Buddha.
Looking to kill some more time I used the opportunity to visit some of the nearby markets where there was not a tourist in sight. Finally, I thought I’d check the status of the airport. Horrified I found that all was far worse than I was expecting. Absolutely committed to making it to Siem Reap the next day I sought to find transport overland across the border. I overlooked this when I booked the flights as I heard that there is trouble at the border. But another traveller I was speaking to, who had made the trip before, reassured me it was fine. So I went ahead and booked the minibus/taxi combo, saving myself £100 in the process.