Nice staff, but built next to a railway track

My appraisal: The Ranveli Beach Resort is a pleasant hotel and competitively priced at about $US50 a night.

It has a nice swimming pool, wi-fi in the lobby area only, nice food for guests priced at about 20% higher than the local “walk-in” restaurants/bars, the beach is a 5 minute stroll across the country’s busiest railway line, and the staff are friendly and helpful.

My room had a one-speed ceiling fan, an effective aircon that came off the assembly line about the same time as Mark Taylor first swung a cricket bat, a cathode tube TV with 4 channels (Al Jazeera, Bollywood movies, black-and-white Indian movies, Indian National Geographic), no bar fridge, hot water that was temperamental when in a good mood, clean linen, newly tiled floor, and a leaking toilet bowl.

Oh, and a large balcony from which to watch the trains roar by. The train noise would easily exceed Australian decibel regulations.

Ranveli Beach Resort, Sri Lanka

Ranveli Beach Resort, Sri Lanka

Ranveli Beach Resort, Sri Lanka

Ranveli Beach Resort, Sri Lanka

A couple of coldies on the beach at night

I’m at Mt Lavinia Beach. Sri Lankan people are friendly and lovely, as expected.

Too many touts on the beach though, and they follow you. Last night heaps of touts wanted to sell me marihuana… I thought I was back in St Kilda.

I gave the local brew, Lion Lager, a thorough work-out. It’s good, 4.8%, a generous 625ml, for $3.10-$3.50 at a beachfront bar.

All the bars were empty – Saturday night!!! – until after 11pm.

I’m thinking of heading south tomorrow, to Unawatuna Beach…

Mt Lavinia Beach, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Mt Lavinia Beach, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Mt Lavinia Beach, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Mt Lavinia Beach, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Bye Bangkok

Tonight at the stroke of midnight I leave Bangkok and head to Sri Lanka.

I’m glad I spent my time in bustling Bangkok instead of heading as usual to the main tourist destinations… Phuket, Samui, Phi Phi, Chiang Mai etc.

Although Khaosan Road was not entirely unlike home in St Kilda, awash with backpackers and tour operators (and the damn hawker pests, they reminded me of the Great Wall of China) I spent most of my time on foot, roving the streets and alleys of the old district and along the river.

I’ve met some fabulous locals whom I would like to revisit, as well as ex-pats and tourists.

You just can’t beat the Buddhist culture… the sincerity and honesty is so refreshing.

Ok. Now for the next chapter….

Accommodation in Bangkok

Accommodation can be a bit hit-and-miss in Bangkok.


Because this is my first visit, I opted for a higher end choice, BuddyLodge in Khaosan Road. It came highly recommended by a friend who’s travelled a lot. Full-on security, meticulousoy cleaned (the two most important aspects when at an Asian/African/South American destination for the first time) and conveniently located.

I chose a more expensive deluxe room and I have no complaints. All-timber interior, beautiful dark timber floor (reminds me of Cable Beach Club Resort in Broome), a huge balcony looking out onto, umm, a slum next door but complete privacy except for the odd cat passing by. A rooftop pool in excellent condition, and gym with boxing ring (I walked down the hallway and had a look at it today, worked up a decent sweat doing it, too!) and free wi-fi.

Despite trepidation about the noise from Khaosan Road – aka party central – my room is dead quiet at night, with just the reassuring whir of the fabulous air conditioning (which I usually avoid but is a must in this humidity). This room is really aimed at a couple, so bear that in mind when considering the room price. The rate: $401.20 for 5 nights. You could get a decent guest house for half that, but you’d be a fool and relying too much on luck if you didn’t first get a trusted recommendation. Don’t believe online advice sites such as TripAdvisor because too much on them is bullshit.

What I always do is book at least the first 2 nights in a good hotel, and then take it from there. I will probably try somewhere different for my next visit to Thailand, but I would recommend BuddyLodge if you are in Bangkok.

King of the pool table

There I was, just little old me, against 5 big Canadian dudes at the pool table at Khaosan Road Center bar… and I beat them all.

Khaosan Road Center bar pool table

Khaosan Road Center bar pool table

I owned the table.

They asked, “Where are you from, man?”

I said: “I’m from St Kilda. I play pool with The Guv and Ash and Wazza and Pirate. I’m from St Kilda, son, and don’t you forget it.”

I believe they are all getting the “I luv StK” tattoo today…