I paid the extra for a First Class ticket on the Indian Pacific since it was such a long trip (one of the longest in the world in fact) and I wanted a cabin to myself, there’s diagrams if you follow the link. I also booked the ticket so that I was on the train in the middle of the Nullarbor at midnight on the 31st of December, that way I could celebrate New Years in transit. That turned out to be a good decision becasue it was one of the best New Years Eve parties I’ve ever been to. Seeing as I had a first class ticket, I was able to use the club car, which not only had a bar, but a piano too, and there was a Japanese girl who could play quite well. I had my harmonicas so we played duets and sing-alongs all night. At midnight the chef brought out huge bowls of King prawns and champagne. It was one of the best nights that I can almost remember.
Three days after I left Sydney, I arrived in Perth (again)…
While I had enough money to get me further than I got last time, I decided get a job just to give me a bit of a buffer; plane tickets always leave a bit of a hole in the finances. So for the second time (hmm, that link is actually better than this post), I phoned a number in the classifieds and was told what time to be at the airport the next day. This time I ended up in Mt Newman.
Three months later I was sitting on a plane to Bangkok. Having learned that hooking up with a hooker can really stall your travels, I determined that I wouldn’t hang out in Bangkok at the Atlanta Hotel* like I did last time, with all the associated risk (wow, just looking at that link, they’ve really cleaned up their act, it used to be pretty seedy). So the next day I caught a bus to Phuket. One day I may go into detail about the pitfalls of spending too much time in Bangkok.
You may well ask, "Why the hell would you even go to Bangkok again? Given that it brought you undone last time". A valid question that deserves an answer…well in those days, airfares were really expensive in Australia (they still are a bit high, but not as bad as way back in the 70s), so the idea was to fly to Bangkok and buy your tickets there, as they had the cheapest flights in the world at the time.
Phuket is a great place, it’s free from hookers, it has cheap food and cheap accommodation and it’s right on the beach. In addition, it’s one of my favourite places in the world, I’ve been there with ET (my best man and best friend), Mel (I was his best man), MDW (I was her groom) and several times by myself, and every time was better then the one before. This particular trip I was there with Mel, my Canadian best friend who I actually met there. Funny, but I met both ET and Mel in Thailand 30 years ago and they are still my best friends, although I’m in contact with ET a bit more, (we talk once a week).
After about six weeks of just hanging around enjoying the beach and the seafood, it was time to leave, so we went back to Bangkok where Mel bought a ticket back to Canada (he’d been working in Oman for the past two years), and I bought one to Greece via Moscow. I really didn’t feel like doing the whole overland trip thing through India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey this time, so I just flew over them. I had been to India, and frankly it didn’t hold much of an attraction to me, and it just takes so long to get through those countries…
* A short note on travellers hotels in Bangkok. During the Vietnam war, the two most popular destinations for American servicemen were Bangkok and Sydney (with Bangkok being way ahead of Sydney), the result being a proliferation of western style hotels to cater for the GIs. After the war, these hotels fell on hard times for a few of years until in the mid to late 70s when Bangkok became a mecca for young travellers.