A Travellerspoint blog

February 2020

Google Maps lies!!

In which i make another monumentally stupid decision

Back in 2015 I walked some 10km through Reykjavik at 1am to photograph the Northern Lights. It was November, very cold and an extraordinarily dull walk through residential streets on one side and the black of the Atlantic on the other. When I arrived, there was nothing, no Northern lights, no mosre than a green tinge to the photos after a long exposure. I drudged back at 3am tired, cold and annoyed at myself.

Fast forward more than 4 years and it's midnight in Bangkok as I return from a three hour walk on blistered feet with three bottles of beer that dissolved their cardboard packaging half an hour before, but I had to buy them then as 7/11 obviously closes at 11 (It doesn't, I could have bought them at the 7/11 200m up the road).

I had decided to visit Khao San Rd, THE popular backpacking destination in Bangkok, nay Thailand or the whole world if you believe the hype. I had avoided it so far, not wanting to stay anywhere nearby, but I thought I should at least give it a look...

The whole walk was only about 6km, but I'd had a couple of stops, one to find a toilet without success (after half an hour of busting to go I found a deserted hole where a building once was) and another to eat some ropey roadside chicken for my dinner (didn't kill me}.

Some of the walk was nice. There's an area near the Grand Palace where all the shops sell flowers. All of them . It's something that I've only seen in Asia, whole areas all selling the same product. There are two roads next to my hostel that just sell shoes. I'm not sure how they compete, they all seem to charge the same. Go figure.

Eventually I arrived at Khao San Road. Immediately experiencing a barrage of noise, scorpions on sticks and offers of ping pong shows. I avoided everyone as much as possible, but sat down in the least crowded bar I could find to at least have a drink while I was there. It was here I saw my first Asian cockroach, which ran out, looked around in disgust at the filth and disappeared.

Finally, after using the bar's wifi to video my old work colleagues to show them how what I was doing with my amazing new life I left, not before being propositioned by two women of questionable sex and then escaping away from them into the Bangkok night. My job was done.

My point is that Google Maps lies. Things always looks far closer than they are! They trick you into walking, into going places that you wouldn't bother visiting if you really knew how far away they were. They tricked me into a three hour trek to an Icelandic Lighthouse and they tricked me into visiting a Thai hive of scum and villainy that would make Han Solo run screaming.

At least it was warm this time.

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I did none of these, nor did I drink buckets, have a happy ending or enjoy a ping pong show or anything else other than drink a beer (Go Singha!)

Posted by cblanc102 06:02 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Day #1

Leaving home

  1. Edit: This entry is a lot longer than I expected, with no pictures, I'll do better next time

I first started thinking about travelling a couple of years ago. I was bored with work, had a load of old comics to sell and thought I could get enough money to go travel for a while.

The practicality of it all ended up being far more difficult than I'd though it would be.

For a start, it took me about a year longer to sell the comics than I thought it would and I got a lot less for them than I'd hoped. Also, clearing my house of all the crap I'd amassed over the years took me forever, I was still moving stuff into my Mum's house the morning I left! But that's just stuff.. It was actually pretty liberating getting rid of 80% of my belongings, giving thousands of books away, bags of clothes to charity, hundreds of Blu Rays sold on eBay, it turns out I didn't need them.

The biggest difficulty was leaving my family and friends. I have a very close knit group of people surrounding me that bring me strength and love. How am I supposed to survive without that? The longest I think I've ever been away from home was about 6 weeks when I was at Uni, and that was a LONG time ago. This would be over 16 weeks.

The biggest help with this is that technology has changed so much since I went to Uni. The internet was very much in it's infancy then and letters and phone calls were the only way to communicate. Now there are so many ways to reach out to loved ones that you're spoilt for choice. Video calls are easy and free, everyone has email, social media is everywhere and I can write a blog (hello!) to let people know what I'm doing. Should be easy.

Or not.

As the leaving day approached, there were goodbye parties, drinks, gatherings and visits. I realised that leaving all these amazing people would be far harder than I could have imagined. These people I'd had around me all the time, worked with, lived life with, they are my life. How do I leave all that behind? Just by doing it I guess.

I'm especially close to my Mum, in a very non Norman Bates kinda way. She's getting on a bit and has no idea how to use the her TV, but supports me as much as I support her. It was even her idea that I do this (as much as she hates that fact now I'm sure). Leaving her was the hardest thing I've ever done. But it was with the support of all these people in so many ways that I was able to leave. Encouraging me to go, being excited for me, helping me plan, helping me move, there are too many people who made this possible to list here.

Which brings me to the day of travelling, which as you can imagine, is the least interesting bit. I love to travel, but I hate travelling. I'm too impatient, I get bored easily and my arse gets numb when I have to sit for any length of time. Planes drive me mad.

After a final packing frenzy where I tried unsuccessfully to get rid of stuff from my stupidly heavy backpack (there's a whole video of that coming next week) my friend Jane arrived to take me to the airport. It was too soon, I wasn't ready to go, to say goodbye, but the plane won't wait and I have to go. After a teary goodbye to my Mum and friend Emma I was off.

For about 5 minutes before I realised I'd forgotten something and had to go back home, much to everyone's amusement.

We arrived at Heathrow where we sat and had something to eat and coffee (free refills!), there was an unexpected video chat with my work family, then finally it was time to say goodbye to Jane and go through security.

The airport was fine, a bit of a delay, but nothing much, then on to Vienna, where they made me unpack my backpack at security ("Too many electronics!") which was a pain, and then a 6 hour wait for my flight to Bangkok. Nothing much to say there other than ours was the final flight of the day and it's a bit strange sitting in an almost empty airport.

As before, I managed to sneak through with my heavy backpack (8kg limit, 15kg bag, £55 charge if caught) and I got on my plane to Bangkok.

Posted by cblanc102 23:32 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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