Before my wife and I got back to Australia we decided to have a six week holiday in Thailand as an engagement present to ourselves. This was instead of an engagement ring much to my mum's and my mother in law's displeasure.
Upon arriving at Bangkok it was completely different to any where i had been before. I have met many people that say they don't like Bangkok but I instantly liked the chaotic city. When arriving at any place whether that is your child's first day at day care or a new location your senses are attacked. The sound of people and cars constantly chatting away in the background, where the locals are trying to get you to go to their restaurants, sell some new merchandise or a special haircut (this happened to me 3-4 times a day which was giving me a complex, is my hair that bad ?). You adjust yourself accordingly to move with the flow of the city, but the smell of the food was what got me and my wife's attention the quickest.
There is food everywhere in Bangkok. People with trolleys on wheels and a gas bottle that will cook you up a delight within minutes. At first you think to yourself that you shouldn't buy food from anyone that pushes it around on a trolley with no refrigeration but your taste buds take over. Not only is it authentic and delicious but cheap as well. As westerners we taught how to eat but sitting on a kerb eating a noodle dish or eating a BBQ chicken skewer that is cooked in front of you is the way to go. After weeks of eating Thai food I missed a ham sandwich for some reason and that is what made me sick for days, not the street hawker food. Getting caught out with no toilet and only a packet of Winnie the Pooh tissues in the jungle is no fun, I tell you that. My wife disagrees.
When I travelled back then I didn't use the internet as much due to the incredible slow dial up and mobile phones weren't used like they are now. I used a book called the Lonely Planet guide which we used to plan our whole trip. These were awesome books that made traveling feel less daunting. They had places to stay, eat or visit from backpackers like yourself. If you're on a budget like most of us are it would give you advice on how to find these places. I think most people have no problem paying a fair price but none of us want to get ripped off.
On one of these occasions we got a V.I.P. coach to Chiang Mai from Bangkok which is around a 10 hour coach trip. I have never been V.I.P. on anything in my life and still haven't. The only important thing on this coach was that it had wheels and moved forward. I have no idea how many of us were on this coach as we lay sprawled across the floor on our backpacks trying to sleep or get halfway comfortable. It's easy to bond with people when you're all in the same boat unless your cranky from lack of sleep.
Chiang Mai is great for trekking and Elephant rides. The humidity here made my sweat, sweat. Luckily I was unfit and ready for a steep climb on our trek. This time our tour group was small. There were two tall young Irish guys that were dressed up in going out clothes for the nighttime. I couldn't believe it, not only did they bound up the steep mountain, while wearing long pants and white collared shirts, with ease while chatting I didn't see one drip of sweat come out of them. Not that I could really see as they were too far ahead.
The other part of the tour group were two sauve french guys that walked up the mountain with my wife as I slipped and pulled myself up the clay muddy ground as I had decided to wear thongs with no grip at all, which wasn't the best choice I have ever made. I must have grabbed onto every tree in that jungle as I pulled myself up that hill. On arriving at the top of the mini mountain we had lunch with the locals. I couldn't tell if people had noticed that I had sweated so much that my whole top now looked the same wet looking grey color. Luckily on the way back down I knew my way, as I slide down fast into every tree that only moments before I had used to pull myself up. My wife still mentions the noise I made each time I smashed into a tree. The one time I landed in prickly bush I made a different noise. It couldn't get any worse until that time at the markets back in Bangkok.
On my wife's itinerary was visiting the world's largest outdoor market. We could get gifts for our friends and family while trying some great food. As I tagged behind looking around at the market stalls, a Thali policeman came up to me and told me to come with him and that I was in trouble. My wife and I were startled. As I followed the tourist police officer I was getting worried. My wife asked me what had done and I said I didn't know.
(Did i mention that at times I could be an idiot. When traveling abroad I used to smoke. Don't know why.)
As the police officer led me to a small looking straw hut that sat on the side of busy road, he told me that I would have to pay a large fine of $300. We didn't have any money to spare, that's why we were staying at home stays and cheap accommodation. Being from England I have always struggled with anyone carrying guns. As we stood looking at the five policemen who had guns I felt scared. As the broken language conversion rambled on I began to understand that I was being fined for littering. My wife was arguing with the policemen quite vermonlsy that I hand't droped anything and that I was innocent, they had no proof of this. It was at this point I gently tugged on my wifes top and mouthed the words sheeplsy "I did drop the cigarette butt".
Giving me a stare of frustration she quickly turned back to the policemen without skipping a beat and began to argue where the law states that you have to pay a fine. As I stood there timidly looking on as my wife argued with the police offers for evidence of the fine, I had never seen her like this before. I felt guilty and just stood there like a lemon as she continued to argue with the police officers. They began to back down and showed her the leaflet in English that said I would only have to pay $15.
After paying the fine we walked away. I turned to my wife and before I could open my mouth she turned her gaze to me and said "You're an idiot !".
And she's right, I am idiot.