Last night I had one of those rare nights where I slept through solidly until 6.30am. After lying awake for a little while I go back to sleep again and don’t wake until 10am. I go downstairs to try and get some coffee but Suda is eating her breakfast, a huge plate of steamed rice and chopped liver and I decide against disturbing her. She asks that we check out at 11am and we quickly shower and pack up.
We follow Suda up the road to another guesthouse; we pay for a tiny room for the day (150 baht) and leave our gear there. It means we can use the shower facilities before we leave for the train station tonight. We than make our way back to Farang Bar, this is where we spent last night and we sit having our breakfast, playing with wooden puzzles and trying to decide how we are going to while away 12 and a half hours before we get our train. We are both really anxious about getting this train; it is the main route back to Bangkok and will be full of backpackers who have been to the full moon party. Our tickets are for seats only and Simon will be in a different carriage to me and the kids. The Lonely Planet has lots of warnings about theft on this train and even documents stories of people who report being gassed to unconsciousness and then robbed. Aaargh!
As I sit contemplating a completely wakeful night sat guarding the kids and our stuff I see written in chalk on the wall – “Taxi to anywhere ask at bar”. Eighty quid, a lot of negotiation and a refund on our train tickets later and we’re on our way to Bangkok in a Toyota Corolla- hurray! I think we’re both pretty relieved and console our selves with the thought that its 80 quid well spent and even if the journey takes 10 hours we will still arrive in Bangkok tonight, rather than in the morning completely knackered and probably very stressed.
The journey is fairly grim in that we leave at 1pm and don’t get to Bangkok until 9pm but the kids are absolute stars and don’t complain once even though it’s cramped and the air conditioning isn’t that efficient. They play on their PSP’s and I read a book and although I wouldn’t say the time flew, we have had worse journeys. Once we arrive in Bangkok the driver is as lost as we would be and eventually after driving around for an hour we get out and jump in a taxi. The taxi driver drives like a twat and I get really uptight. I can’t bear the thought that we have just spent 8 hours from Chumphon to here, only to meet our maker at the hands of some murderous cabbie who doesn’t know what brakes were invented for.
I sit with my arms across the kids cursing him and am so relieved when we reach Th Sukhumvit. We stayed here last year and it is an ok area. Most of Bangkok’s sex tourists stay here also but we found it quiet enough. We pull into Soi 2 (side road 2) where The Atlanta Hotel is and at last we have arrived.
The Atlanta Hotel is a really great place to stay; built in the 1940′s, I think time has stood still here. The reception has all the original features including art deco leather writing desk, alarm switchboard system and frightfully posh manager who sounds like Mr Chumley Warners. There is a sign on the first floor with the hotel rules which include firstly and most important, no sex tourists. The long list of do’s and don’ts are funny but leave you in no doubt that if the rules were to be broken you would be out like a flash. It was the first hotel in Thailand to have a swimming pool and cinematic screen. The pool is original also and although the screen has long gone the rockery and gardens are exactly the same. I like spending time looking at the photographs of the hotel in its heyday in 1954 and reading the history of the place. Like Simon said you half expect to see Noel Coward sat up the corner.
We eat in the restaurant and the menu is massive, luckily now we are good at ordering Thai food and don’t over order even when encouraged to by the staff! They have all been working for the hotel for years and are very sweet, helpful and kind. Our family suite costs us 1500 baht, fairly expensive but we are planning to move in the next few days and for now this place will do fine.