First stop, London. I hadn’t been since I left the UK eight years ago, and hadn’t really missed it. I’ve always had a bit of an aversion to the place, perhaps partly due to my Northern upbringing, but probably more due to an ill-fated false start of a move there back in 2000.
I have fallen a little behind of late. Back in February, I visited Ko Mak for the first time. Over in Trat province, Eastern Thailand, Ko Mak lies off the shore of a much larger island – Ko Chang.
After a short trip to Ko Chang back in 2006, I’d never returned to Trat province. Ko Chang itself was too developed and touristy for my tastes even then, and is by all accounts massively more so today. Given that there are so many quieter and more relaxing beach destinations so much closer to Bangkok, Trat had always seemed like a journey too far for too little return.
For the past few years, this ‘ere blog has been brought to you by Amazon Web Services (AWS). I initially used their EC2 service to host a Wordpress site.
Their ‘micro’ EC2 instances were free for the first year, and then a pretty reasonable $15/month or so after that, which seems more than fair enough for your own personal Linux server, even if it’s not all that powerful.
But then I discovered Octopress, and quickly grew to really like it. Octopress generates static HTML, with comments handled off-site by Disqus, so I no longer needed a database, or PHP, or CGI, or any of the myriad other features that I used to look for in web hosts.
In fact, I didn’t even need a web server.
Finally, the new Babyshambles album is is upon us, and after a wait of six (count em!) years, it’s not a moment too soon. After waiting four years for any new Peter Doherty songs at all, and six from the ‘Shambles themselves, is it worth the wait?
It began with the realisation that after living in Thailand for more than seven years now, I still hadn’t been on a train. Sure, I’d been on the Underground and the Overground thousands of times – I just hadn’t been on any trains that run on the bog standard Ground.
Thai trains do have a reputation for being extremely unreliable, but I’m from the UK – home to the worst trains
on Earth in Europe. This was going to be a doddle.
Our destination – Khao Yai National Park – was almost an afterthought…
Every time I’ve mentioned a weekend trip to Ko Sichang, Rayong or Laem Mae Phim, or even sometimes to Hua Hin or Cha Am, people have looked at me blankly and asked me why on earth I don’t go to Ko Samet instead. For so many expats, and Thais too, it seems like Samet is the only choice for a weekend beach trip.
It was for precisely that reason that I had never bothered going to check it out. Until now.
Having hopped over the Cambodian border at crossings like Ban Laem and Ban Pakkard in Chanthaburi more times than I can remember, and having now visited the capital Phnom Penh on no fewer than ten occasions, it was time to finally make the effort to head up to Siem Reap, and to explore the ruins of Angkor.
If you take the BTS to Victory Monument (อนุสาวรีย์ชัยสมรภูมิ, or “Anusawari Chai Samoraphum”), then take the skywalk around the monument itself, walking anticlockwise to the very end of the platform, a staircase will deposit you a few steps from a bus stop where you can catch the 166 bus to the Wat Sanam Neua temple, in the Pak Kret district of Nonthaburi.