The heat is more jungly than the actual jungle – humid air presses in on all sides and even Sabine has beads of sweat on her upper lip. We hired a taxi to drive us the four hours from Paknampram to Bangkok. It cost a little more than the train but saved us the hauling of huge kite bags and kids on and off the train and the taxi fares to and from the stations. We were late to start because Chris had to pick up his kite from the shop where it was getting a little tune up and then we had to stop at an other kite shop in Hua Hin to get some other doohickey. It was blazing hot inside and only marginally cool inside the van. The ac was gently puffing out warm air. Our huge 8 seater van squeezed down these crazy narrow streets teeming with people and scooters – our driver was less than impressed with the unscheduled stop but he drove like a pro. Finally we hit the open road – the only other glitch was a gas station out of gas. Soon the hiway widened and became four lanes in both directions. Then we are driving up over huge bridge with skyscrapers dotting the landscape. It’s exciting – traffic is insane – the streets packed with cars slipping in and out and around each other at great speeds. The side roads are narrow and veer off madly crammed with vendors. We arrive at the Florida Hotel and I hold my breath but it seems okay – utilitarian but clean and cool. The relief washes over me – this place was so cheap I was certain there would be something wrong. But just as soon as I relax we discover the room we booked – a king bed and two single beds was actually a room that offered a king bed OR two single beds. A pretty significant typo on the online booking page. Then we spend two hours on the phone with the web based booking agency trying to work it out. Meanwhile the kids are champions – having had no food for hours. This is one day that I am celebrating the screens . We finally manage to finagle a refund and book ourselves into an other hotel. This one is called Royal Ivory and promises a triple deluxe suite with breakfast included and a pool. Excited we pile into two cabs – yep two cabs because of the giant kite bags – I mean it’s not like I already feel big and conspicuous here. I may be beginning to resent those bags. Our drive – now in the dark is still crazy and rush hour like. The night markets lit up like daylight, bars upon bars with beautiful Thai women waiting languidly outside scrolling on their phones and smiling invitingly at passerby’s and cars alike. Uh oh. The cab pulls into an other impossibly narrow alley way and squeezes around the corner to come to rest magically behind the cab that Chris and Anderson are in.
This hotel seems infinitely better – they greet us with ice cold tang – no cooled towels mind you but they are smiley and super sweet. On the way up to the room we notice a grey haired man sitting at the bar with his hand on the knee of a much younger Thai woman. Chris and I exchange a glance.
Our room is big and is also the height of luxury for 1971. Beautiful teak floors, heavy mustard coloured drapes and deep burgundy and gold flocked wallpaper. There is that unmistakable stale cigarette smell. But as well there are three beds and the promise of food next door. Immediately Sabine is on the phone – the actual hotel phone – randomly dialing numbers – so we unplug that and carry on putting things away. The next I see is Sabine unwrapping a condom – well actually two packages of them that were part of the minibar display. So now we have paid for strawberry flavoured XL condoms. “Hey what is a condom?” Anderson questions reading the package. Jesus – he decides to tear his eyes from his screen now?! I mean COME ON. Chris explains it’s for birth control and it goes over the man’s penis. “Gross” is Anderson’s retort. Inside my head I am screaming don’t ask why it’s flavoured – please don’t ask why it’s flavoured. I can’t look at Chris because I will laugh. Luckily we dodge a bullet there. Can’t wait to see what other questions will come up during our strolls around this family friendly neighbourhood.