This was the end of a very long journey. I spent my last days in Bangkok and then on to a an island off the coast for a few cloudy days.
This article is part of a diary based travelogue from a six month journey in 1985 to several countries in East and South East Asia: Japan, Taiwan, China, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
Friday 14.6.1985, Chiang Mai – Bangkok
This day was spent on a bus back to Bangkok (133 baht = 5 USD, 13 hours). I wanted this time to find a place to stay more centrally in the city than Khao San Road. The other cheap guesthouse area in Bangkok is near Malaysia Hotel. I went there and looked for a long time before finding a suitable place.
- MADAM GUEST HOUSE. Down a little side street from the guesthouse street itself. 60 baht. Supersoft semiwide bed. Nice middle aged Chinese hostess. Quiet and with few other guests. Nice and clean.
Saturday 15.6.1985, Bangkok
Today I had sightseeing in my mind but then there were quite a few cheap travel agents in my street and they were open even today. I therefore made a little round here and in Khao San Road as well to check prices on flights home to Norway.
I had a thought of visiting Burma and Nepal but it turned out to be a little too expensive and inconvenient. Thus I concentrated on tickets straight home. Norway is however not a place to live if one wants cheap flights.
The nearest cheap destination was Copenhagen. But then I would have to look around there for a ticket home, which means wasting time and even more money. I had to wait for Monday to settle the score.
Then I went sightseeing, or rather shopping. I took a little trip up to the Weekend market, near the Northern Bus Terminal. There I had a little walk around the market and bought a couple of shirts.
Earlier in the day I had coincidentally met a Norwegian-Danish guy on the street, Torstein. I had previously met him in my hotel in Singapore. We agreed to meet the same evening.
Sunday 16.6.1985, Bangkok
Sightseeing in the Grand Palace and its neighbourhood. Grand.
Monday 17.6.1985, Bangkok
Getting a flight ticket home was easier said than done this time of year. There were waiting lists everywhere: “Come back tomorrow”. I had a faint hope of jumping on an Aeroflot flight today already but had no luck. The Eastern European airlines operate on rock bottom prices but only Aeroflot flies to Oslo – the others to Copenhagen.
SAS, Scandinavian Airlines, had a price of 360 USD to my home town of Stavanger. Pretty expensive, more than 50 USD above the other fares, but then I get straight home without having to stress around in Copenhagen or even worse (although cheaper) the Continent.
I booked tickets in a number of companies and settled to wait. The travel agent I used is called ETC and has an office here in the neighbourhood.
Tuesday 18.6.1985, Bangkok
I didn’t bother go sightseeing and wasted the day at “home”. Two Danes in the guesthouse had spent some time on an island in the sun and wanted to return. I was still on a waiting list for a flight and decided to get home with a tan. We agreed to leave the next day.
Wednesday 19.6.1985, Bangkok – Koh Samet
One of the Danes got a seat on a flight home, along with Torstein, and the other had his departure forwarded to Saturday. Thus I went to the beach on my own.
To get to Koh Samet southeast of Bangkok and a few kilometres from the Thai equivalent of Costa del Sol – Pattaya, one takes a bus from Eastern Bus Terminal, Soi 42 on Sukhumvit Road. A one-way ticket on a non-AC bus costs 40 baht, AC 70 baht. I bought a return ticket with AC for 120 baht.
I arrived in Ban Phe three hours later. There I found a fishing boat charging 20 baht for three quarters of an hour to the island.
Koh Samet is not big; one can walk around the island in a day. On the one side there are cabins like on Koh Samui: Several cabins around one restaurant.
There are several beaches, beautiful too. When I came there were not many people around and the entire place seemed less developed than Koh Samui. The restaurants do not all have floors, only sand – and there are no video shows. I found a beach I can’t recall the name of, and a little hut for 30 baht.
The hut, cabin or “bungalow” as it extravagantly was called, was of the ordinary primitive type: Straw, bamboo, a small porch, mattress on the floor, not so clean sheets but with a mosquito net. Fair enough. There was “natural” air-conditioning as the floor and walls were not tight – and was not meant to be either.
Thursday 20.6.1985, Koh Samet
I walked around the island. Jungle paths between beautiful beaches dotted with cabins and palm trees. I my neighbouring cabin dwells three young Bangkok girls of the “normal” type (not prostitutes). They were nice and even invited me to dinner. “Kob Khun Krap” I responded. They cooked their own meals.
Friday 21.6.1985, Koh Samet
The weather was not exactly bright. The clouds were threatening and at times they also made their threats real. This day was actually the only day I could lie on the beach – but only for less than an hour. The sea was okay to swim in however, the waves were big and the temperature was pleasant.
It is obvious that the monsoon season is here. I have mentioned the rain, but the wind was noticeable as well.
Saturday 22.6.1985, Koh Samet
The three sweet young girls, Apple, Took and Nong in short, left today already. A group of youngsters moved in, Thai as well, and we got into talking. That night we spent on the beach singing and playing.
They invited me to joint them in the car back to Bangkok tomorrow. That suited me well and I accepted the offer without hesitation, despite the return ticket I had already paid for.
Sunday 23.6.1985, Koh Samet – Bangkok
The weather was bright of course when we left. We stopped a couple of places along the road. We had lunch at some relatives of one of the group and returned to Bangkok in the evening. I checked in at
- MADAM GUEST HOUSE again. I had left my bag there.
I met Bruce in a bar. We had spent some time together in Manila and Boracay. The world is truly small and coincidences flourish. In the Philippines he was a straight guy, here he had freaked completely out. He had even completely smashed a bar in a big fight a few days earlier. Was he taking some drug?
Monday 24.6.1985, Bangkok
The flight ticket turned out OK. It was good to settle that. I’m flying SAS on Wednesday, arriving in Stavanger, Norway on Thursday at noon. I went to the GPO but there was no mail.
Tuesday 25.6.1985, Bangkok
Not much happened today.
Wednesday 26.6.1985, Bangkok
This was my departure day, although not until five minutes before midnight. I went around town and bought a “Cartier” watch, usually a luxury but these watches are made in Thailand supposedly with proper Seiko clockwork. The price was less than 450 baht (16 USD) – cheap enough to take the risk.
Imitations of famous brands are not unusual in Thailand. I had previously bought a “Lacoste” shirt for 50 baht but who’s checking thoroughly to see what it really is?
It was with mixed feelings I took bus #29 (also 34) to the airport that evening. It will be good to come home, but sad to end my long journey now. I am still not tired of travelling around. I do however look forward to the service on the SAS plane. Is it as good as they say, or?
Thursday 27.6.1985, Bangkok, Copenhagen, Stavanger
No, it was a bit of a disappointment. There were no free drinks and the food was quite ordinary. I had five hours of waiting on Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen and then I was home after a flight time of 10 + 1 hour.
At the time of finishing these blog entries in 2012 I still recall the homecoming. I had not warned my family of the exact date of my return. After being away for almost half a year, visiting remote countries and cultures on the other side of the world, I took the familiar bus home from the airport. I walked into the driveway at my parent’s house and noticed my father doing some work there. “Hello dad”, I exclaimed.
“Hello” he replied – and it was as if nothing had happened since the last time we met. Normalcy was restored instantaneously.
For almost half a year I travelled around East and South East Asia for 14 USD a day. That was the cost of living and local transportation. It would not be feasible without flying across the continents and in the region, increasing the average daily spending to 21 USD.
An estimate based on Norwegian inflationary rates since 1985 would more than double that cost in 2011. Here is an overview of my spending in the visited countries at 1985 currency rates:
|Country||USD||Days||Per day USD|
|Flight to Japan||423|
|Hong Kong 2||280||3||93|
The above total includes the following flight costs.
|Stavanger – Tokyo||423|
|Naha – Taipei||100|
|Taipei – Hong Kong||55|
|HK – Manila – Singapore||150|
|Bangkok – Stavanger||360|
|Total flight costs||1088|
As I mentioned in the first blog entry from this journey to Asia, this was my first real journey to other countries. What were the lessons learned?
Certainly many, but let me just conclude that I brought with me back home one big bug. The travel bug.
The introduction to this journey to East and South East Asia.
Previous chapter: Northern Thailand: With a view to the forbidden countries of Burma and Laos.
This was the last chapter in this series.