First stop was Bangkok - seems a long time ago, but was not. We flew in a couple of hours late, thanks to a delay of several hours at Heathrow (what did we expect, really), and were delighted to find our transfer still waiting for us. The lovely Thai man whizzed us to our hotel, from here on in to be referred to as The Nicest Place in the World. For the grand total of about £40 a night, we got a huge, tastefully decorated room (none of that weird carpet hotels so often go in for), delicious breakfasts each morning, and the best service I have ever received anywhere, ever. Nothing was too much trouble, and everyone was just so freakin' nice. Refreshing. H1 and I had a few fun discussions about how far we could push them (we couldn't actually come up with any scenario that would make them yell 'no! Just no!' and we like to think of ourselves as creative people. We agreed that if we asked all the staff in the lobby to perform a choreographed dance to Michael Jackson's greatest, they would not only do it quicker than anyone would ever expect, but they would do it with smiles on their faces and joyful springs in their steps).
Due in no small part to this wonderful establishment, Bangkok was a fabulous experience. It was warm but not disgustingly hot, which proved to be a good thing as we kicked things off with a visit to the Grand Palace, a beautiful place that requires you be virtually fully covered up. Or so we were told - inside the grounds wandered quite a few people who surely did not meet the requirements. We toddled around there, went on to Golden Mountain (via quite a few jewellery and suit shops - thank you Mr Tuk Tuk driver) and after a quick stop back at The Nicest Place in the World to admire the service some more, headed to the Khao San Road for a classy dinner of street Pad Thai (20 baht - about 40p - and it was soooooo good - and didn't even give me food poisoning - woot) and a Thai massage.
Ow. OW. OWIE OWIE OWIE OWIE.
It cost about £4, and hurt like nothing I have ever experienced. An hour of being bent, pummeled, twisted, and punched (literally, they punched me, it's true) and I staggered back out into the street a little concerned about how much I had enjoyed it. Is this how masochism starts? Is it one short step from a Thai massage to spending your spare time slapping your own face in front of a mirror?
It can't have hurt that much, because I chose to have another one the next day. You can ask them to go a little easier, but in the interests of not seeming a wimp, and a little concern over their not-so-great English skills, my non-existent Thai skills, and the horrors that a bit of mistranslation could result in, I didn't. Instead I grin and bore it. And it was great. I left walking taller, happy and smiley (although I did wake up in the morning feeling like I had lost a fistfight with a rhino). For small Thai girls, they know how to cause some pain. If I ever have the bad luck to get in a physical fight, I hope I have one of them on my side.
So that was Bangkok. Extremely pleasant, albeit in a painful manner - I highly recommend it. And if you do go, please please please stay at The Nicest Place in the World - Pullman Bangkok King Power - not only is the name hilarious, but they will make your stay amazing. Oh now the end of this sounds like a plug. It's not. Stay wherever you like (but only the Pullman has that great name, and that's important...)