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welcome to paradise

Leaving Bangkok was exhilarating. I knew the paradise which I’d been dreaming about was on the other side of a short plane ride which, would take me away from the smog, crowds and blazing heat of the city which I had learned to love and hate in a matter of three days.

Phuket is another crazy place in itself. From the paparazzi style taxi reception of the drivers that pounce on you at arrival to Phuket airport, to the same barbaric petrifying driving to our resort. The moment we stepped into Kata Beach, all the pressures and stresses of the last three days disappeared instantly. This was the Thailand I craved to see so badly.

Kata Beach Resort and Spa is sat directly on Kata Beach. A little private staircase leads you to sand that is softer than cotton and to an ocean which is so magnificent it should be displayed in a little picture frame. Although prepared for the summer crowds, the resort itself was quiet and calm. Coconut trees lined the pool area and tropical birds planned their attack on your grub.

After settling into our rooms and catching the last few hours of suntanning time, we took to the beach for an evening stroll.

Beach shacks offer cocktails out of coconuts and Thai food sizzles on makeshift BBQ’s. The locals soak up the sun from the comfort of jet skis and children play in the turquoise sea.

There is no such thing as a stroll when the water screams as an outing from the intense heat. So I stripped off and made a b-line for the water.

Refreshed and cool, we headed back to the resort, the sun setting over the horizon.

That evening we discovered our trusty “local” restaurant which for £1.50 would buy you a delicious Thai Green Curry, Chicken Satay and Pad Thai.

But travelling soon caught up with us, and after overloading on Thai food we were back in the comfort of our hotel room, air-con on full blast, ready for what the next day had in store.

This was the Thailand I was falling so madly in love with.

bangkok, day two (and three)

If you go to Bangkok in April, it will be hot. You can forget strolling around the city of great adventure enjoying the warm summer sun. Oh no. Prepare to swelter, drip with sweat and burn. The humidity makes the streets almost unbearable and mixed with the constant plume of pollution, the infamous Bangkok “smog”, you’re garunteed to give up before you’ve even started.

With this in mind, we decided to sit out the next few days and enjoy the poolside cocktails, satay BBQ’s and the wonderful views of the city from our hotel, the Amari Atruim.

The hotel is ideally located just on the outskirts of Bangkok so you can sit outside and enjoy the views of the city without the constant drone of car horns. The pool on the 4th floor is understated, cosy and quiet. It’s not until you awaken from your mid morning snooze that you realise you really are in the midst of Bangkok.

Our lunch was a winner. Pork and Chicken Satay, Thai BBQ style. Everything looks better served out of a pineapple, don’t you think?

After a day spent snoozing, swimming, drinking cocktails and eating we decided to head back into the traffic jams and cross the city to one of Bangkok’s renowned rooftop bars. The temperature doesn’t drop all that much in the evenings, the only rest bite is that you don’t have to battle the beating rays of the sun. We chose Siam@Siam which did not disappoint.

You’re led through the hotel lobby and into the lift. 25 floors up and POW, that view!

There are a number of rooftop bars in Bangkok, some like Siam@Siam, are more relaxed than the typical “no flip-flop, no shorts” rule. Siam@Siam is a quieter pick than the infamous SkyBar but doesn’t lack the incredible views of the city, delicious cocktails and fabulous food. On arrival, you’re presented with a torch and a cocktail menu and after oohing and ahhing at the views, the waiters arrive you take your orders.

The cocktails went down a little too well, so we decided to give the rooftop restaurant a go.

There’s nothing like enjoying one of the world’s best steaks while being on top of the world, is there Scott?

Of course I’d forgotten a hair band, so my meal was a concoction of salmon and hair. Nice.

But the highlight of our evening was the fireworks display which we were fortunate enough to catch from the stadium below. There certainly was no sporting action taking place below, more like the Asian equivalent of “band camp”, but none the less it was an amazing experience.

As the evening drew to the end, I hit the top level and absorbed every bit of Bangkok I possibly could. This is what I was enjoying the most, just looking at this amazingly mystical city. Not so much being stuck in it.

bangkok, day one

I’d been told before we left that you’d either love or hate Bangkok. Thailand has always been a place that I’d only ever dreamed of visiting, so I was eager to start exploring Bangkok and I’d be sure that I’d love it.

Our adventures started with a trip down the river on a wooden long tail boat. The drivers expertly navigate around every nook and cranny of the canals that branch off the main river and exchange their homemade delicacies with other long boat drivers for bottles of Miso.

All of your senses are alight, from the intense heat and humidity that takes over your body to the smells of sewerage that traves with you at every turn.

Each long tail boat which you pass tells a different story. The vibrant colours, florally decorations draped over wherever they could get them to hang and often their children hitching a ride and chatting with the other locals who have joined the cue for the next attraction.

Our first stop was a snake farm and mini zoo, which we were roped into so our driver could get paid her commission for dropping us off there. The story began to unravel of the great big Bangkok-con.

Judging by my reaction, I wasn’t so keen. Surely Bangkok had more to offer than this?

And to my relief, it certainly does.

We were taken to Wat Pho, The Temple of the Reclining Buddha. As I’d dressed rather inappropriately for Temple visiting, I was given this striking dressing gown. At least I wasn’t going to get lost.

The larger than life gold coated Buddha is as crazy as Bangkok itself. Filling the entire temple, it soon became my favourite of all Buddha’s. If you were a monument, would you love to be a reclining buddha?

Wat Pho is large and you can get lost amongst the mini temples and hundreds of visiting tourists. Good job they give you a free bottle of water with your ticket, the temperature was hiking towards 43c.

Beautiful and intricate, it truly is a wonderful place to visit. You will never be too far from a practising Monk and Thai’s wonder the grounds too, worshipping their wonderful religion.

Defeated by the heat, we hailed the nearest air conditioned taxi and headed back to the hotel. Nothing happens quickly in Thailand, especially not in Bangkok. Bumper to bumper traffic  and near suicidal moped drivers provide great entertainment for the seemingly endless journey home .