Bangkok taxis

Wintering in Southeast Asia Trip Lowlights

Last week we offered up the things we loved the most about our recent trip around Southeast Asia. This week, to balance things out and because we like whining like little bitches, it is time to highlight the things we disliked.

Crap packing – I tried to pack light this time, I really did. I even froze my nuts off for three days in snowy Istanbul rather than packing a coat I would have to carry around for the rest of the year. Unfortunately I had an eye infection when we were due to leave and, unable to see too much, randomly threw loads of useless crap into my bags as usual.

Punching a Bangkok taxi driver in the face – He was threatening to hit me with a baseball bat but, even so, I shouldn’t have let things get to that point. Not proud of this one.

Malaysian buses and bus stations – We like Malaysians but for some reason every Malaysian child that grew into a surly dishonest fuckwit seems to have made their career on the country’s bus network. While this has helped to remove these people from the rest of Malaysian society it does make travelling around the country a little unpleasant.

Breaking and losing things – From Deirdre losing her prescription sunglasses on our flight to the region to two busted cameras and a damaged laptop we suffered a much higher amount of equipment mishaps on this trip than all our others put together. The cost of replacing things is bad enough but time spent running around town – especially when we’re only there a short time – trying to fix or replace these items is possibly even worse.

Getting sick – We were already grateful to have accommodation arranged in Bangkok after our mishaps when we first visited the city ten years previously but nothing is more pleasing in your accommodation choice than a clean floor and bathroom – especially when you are slumped on the former and spending a lot of time in the later thanks to food poisoning. Deirdre didn’t have to wait long for her first bout of tummy troubles on this trip after eating undercooked chicken on our Malaysian Airlines flight. Deirdre usually gets sick once or twice every trip but even I – for the first time in nearly ten years living and travelling abroad – got a slight stomach bug and threw up in the streets of Chiang Mai.

Visa runs – While my iron stomach seems to cope well with problem food it doesn’t like being shaken about too much. Though it was a necessary evil, if I never have to feel queasy in the back of a minivan on the way to Mae Sai again I’ll be a happy man.

Banks freezing our money – They say trouble comes in threes and at the beginning of our trip this seemed to be true. Along with eating dodgy chicken and losing a pair of glasses we were refused access to our bank accounts on landing in Bangkok. To be honest our preparation for this trip was a lot more half arsed than usual but, even so, because we live abroad anyway we didn’t expect our banks to deny us our money from an ATM simply for being in Thailand. Luckily we had some dollars left over from a previous trip otherwise it would have been a long walk into town from the airport. A phone call to the bank fixed the problem but they did the same thing again when we returned to Thailand from Myanmar.

Bloody banks

Breaking US sanctions to Myanmar – As amusing as it was to be placed in the same category with gun runners and white slavers this could have been a lot more serious. Simply by logging in to our PayPal account in Myanmar we were flagged for potentially violating United States regulations administered by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. We couldn’t fix for problem until we left Burma a month later and were lucky – because we live in Turkey – we have some post, including bank statements, sent to the address of a family member otherwise the issue would have remained unsolved until we got home nine months later.

The price of accommodation in Myanmar – We loved Myanmar and would happily visit again but that is going to have to wait until accommodation prices start to fall to sensible levels.

Not making enough of our time in London – Despite loving the city where we used to live we have usually bypassed London whenever we have returned home. It’s too expensive to stay there and with a lot of our friends having moved away and family elsewhere in the UK we tend not to do much more than pass through nowadays. This time though – thanks to Palmers Lodges – we did enjoy being Londoners again for a few days but not for long enough. We would have liked to have set aside a little more time to be tourists and also to catch up with some old friends but a combination of Deirdre being unwell, the need to just sleep in a comfortable bed after a week on the floor, work, and having to make an unscheduled journey out of town to collect a finally repaired laptop, all ate into our time in the city.

Coming home in winter – We had intended to come home for the summer but ended up staying away longer and returning the following winter. While our town is warm and lively in the summer months this is a sharp contrast to the winter (though this winter has been pretty good weather-wise, especially when we see all the rain dumped on the UK in the past few months). Next time we’ll make sure we have enough money in the bank to cover our bills for a couple of years – just in case we don’t want to come back.

Image courtesy Damien Ayers.

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