RIP Britney Attenborough…

Thankfully we survived Saturday night in the horror-film director’s dream that was a hostel. Considering I was fully clothed and used my pac-a-mac as a pillow case (a measure I took in order to escape resting my head directly on a grimy pillow) I had a pretty good night’s sleep. It was all part of the experience I suppose. Despite Pak Chong being one of the most unsettling and outdated places I’ve ever visited, Khao Yai was worth it. 

We hired a tour guide for the day on Sunday, which was the best decision we’d made because without him we wouldn’t have experienced half as much as what we did. Luckily, we were able to get up close to lots of wildlife in their natural habitat such as wild snakes and scorpions; gibbons which were jumping across the trees above our heads; a group of macaques who enjoyed the human attention and nearly stole my iPhone; bats sleeping in the hollow of a standing tree; and we trekked for hours searching for crocodiles in the river. Sadly, because it’s rainy season the river was too high to see any. On the other hand, it was the perfect time to visit waterfalls so our guide took us to Hew Suwat Waterfall, an impressive natural wonder but strangely not as impressive as the ones I’ve seen back at home on my rambles with Gabes. To keep me entertained on the strenuous hike, Tom sang various renditions of Britney Spears songs followed by outbursts of David Attenborough style narration. Hence the ‘Britney Attenborough’ title. 

After spending nine hours exploring the national park we headed back to Pak Chong train station and caught the last train to Bangkok. Unintentionally, we bought first-class tickets which were 350 Baht (£7). If I didnt know I was on a train I could have mistaken the carriage for an aeroplane with the same reclining seats equipped with a free blanket, and the smartly dressed conductress navigating her way down the aisle with her trolley offering free refreshments and pineapple pie. Needless to say we slept well on Sunday night. 

On Monday we went out for brunch to a place in Bangkok near the apartment, had a wonder around the small Thai market nearby and then spent the rest of the day relaxing and planning where we wanted to go next. We decided to go to Lumpini park on Tuesday. 

Lumpini park is Bangkok’s answer to NYC’s Central Park, although not quite as developed. We found a spot next to the lake, under the shade of the trees and I read for an hour or so whilst listening to the fountain in the background. A baby monitor lizard wandered nearby looking for food, whilst a crow in the tree above kept making his mating call and a white-vented myna (a small white bird with long black legs) occasionally sauntered past me on the edge of the lake. A couple of Thai locals were nearby, using the park on their dinner break from 7/11 to relax; other tourists hired the pedalos on the lake and took pictures of the green landscape in the middle of the concrete jungle.

Whilst I’m on the topic of 7/11’s (a chain of corner shops which sells everything you could ever need whilst backpacking Thailand) they are are a godsend to everyone and I am grateful that they are absolutely everywhere in South East Asis. Infact, there are over eight-thousand in the whole of Thailand, with over fifty percent of them in Bangkok alone. That’s four thousand in Bangkok! I know this because I researched it, being one of the many questions I’ve asked myself whilst being in Thailand. Another question I’ve asked myself is: what exactly is Thai logic? And I’ve come to the conclusion that Thai logic comes down to this: there’s no logic. No logic whatsoever. Take Lumpini park for instance. It has sprinklers all around the place supposedly to keep the grass and trees hydrated, which is strange grass anyway – it’s not like your normal English-cottage picture-postcard style grass, it’s like small leaves bunched together which forms a prickly surface to sit on, style grass. Except the sprinklers mostly hydrated the pavements, which made for an interesting walk around the park as we had to dodge the rotating jets of water, and one or two which were just casually watering the lake. Common sense. A classic example which just about sums up Thai logic perfectly is this: during learning to drive, Thai people are told that if they see an old lady trying to cross the road (I don’t know why its an old lady but I’m presuming that encompasses everybody) they aren’t supposed to stop because it will cause drivers behind to crash and someone will overtake them, knocking the old lady down anyway. Another example of Thai logic I’ve experienced whilst being here is that they bring out your food as soon as its ready, rather than making it so that it’s all ready at the same time. So no matter how many people are in your group or if you order a starter or main, they just bring it to you when it’s ready. Which means that most of the time you’ll have finished your full meal before the other person has even had theirs placed in front of them. Which is exactly what happened to us after we’d spent the day in Lumpini park. We ate at a really nice restaurant but they brought my meal out a long time before Tom’s so by the time his came is more or less finished. 

On Wednesday morning we went to Dusit zoo. It cost us 150 Baht (£3) to go in, which seems a bargain and it was considering the amount of animals we saw, but it was the most harrowing experience I’ve ever had in a zoo. Apparently, Dusit zoo is one of the best zoo’s in Asia in terms of the size of the enclosures and the way the animals are treated, but if this was the best then I definitely don’t want to visit any of the worst. It was so upsetting. I’m against any sort of animal cruelty anyway and I’m on the fence when it comes to zoos because I think that animals should be left in their natural habitat. With the exception of the lemurs and the squirrel monkeys, all the animals we saw looked so unhappy and melancholy. Especially in contradiction to the wild animals we saw in Khao Yai which were energetic and constantly making noise, just as you’d expect. These in the zoo were motionless, as if they’d been drugged. It felt so cruel. The zoo had so many lovely animals too: a majestical white lion which had red-raw sore eyes, a beautiful white tiger, two black bears – one of which was staring at a wall and swaying from side to side, a cheetah, three hippos stood in what was basically a concrete bunker, a saltwater crocodile which had no water whatsoever in its enclosure, the list could go on. Basically, Asia doesn’t have the same rules and regulations as the British when it comes to animals. I don’t think they have the same amount of respect either. Apparently it’s getting better bit by bit, but unfortunately tourism funds most of it. Like elephant riding and tiger temples. They’re just basically used as puppet shows for the entertainment of travellers. It’s sickening. 

Anyway, after a couple of hours helplessly wondering around the zoo, we got a taxi back to the apartment and we were greeted by Tom’s sister, Emily, who’d just landed in Bangkok from her trip back to England. Tom didn’t feel well, (caught stomach flu from me) so me and Emily went for food to a really nice little restaurant near her apartment with her friend Debbie, and that was that. Wednesday over with! 

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