Wreck dive completed, that was it - back to port, group photo, buy the t-shirt, say goodbye and onto the 12 hour bus journey to Bangkok - aircon arctic cold but have had worse trips. Like every other bus terminal in Thailand the taxi mafia at the bus terminal are crooks. So, quick espresso, flip past the cabs and start to haggle the 30 minute journey with the motorcycle guys. Photographer Soren told me if you hold your nerve you can push them down from from 500 to 200 baht, but I lost it at 260. The Bangkok motorcycle taxi is an experience to be had by all, just not perhaps at 5am with a backpack trying to drag you onto the tarmac. Thrilling to start with - shortcuts down 6 lane roads the wrong way - but once we made it onto the empty expressway, we built up some serious speed on the slick surface - way too fast for me - where was Bangkok's famous congestion when you really need it?? And, no, I did not dare reach for the camera.
The final km or so along Sukhumvit Road was great - the last of the lost (and their 20 year-old rented Thai bar girls) were keeping the party going strong in the street side cafe bars - a bit different to where I live - 10pm is late. Check in time 2pm, so wasn't optimistic when I walked up to reception at 5am, but such a result - room available!!
Sukhumvit Suites Hotel has a fantastic location at the junction of the Skytrain and the Metro and I think it cost me something like 60 USD on Agoda.com. Charming staff, good coffee at breakfast, beautiful boutique rooms, free wifi, power shower and HBO - the complete first world comfort capsule package. Unfortunately for the owners, there's a building site next door and, since they were only digging the foundations, it will be there for a while yet.
Chatting with the manager, it turns out a deal has been done that the site can only work 8am-6pm. So, If you are someone who gets up and gets out, then this is a great choice. But, if you like the 11am lie-in every morning, or spend all day in your room, then perhaps give it a miss for 6 months or so.
I had planned to do "something" for my last day-and-a-half in BKK, but ended up achieving jack, apart from a very pleasant wander along the various soi North of Sukhumvit Road. I thought lonely planet had nailed the ulitimate Bangkok contradiction double act - a furniture store by day, italian restaurant by night - until I spotted a petrol station with attached organic and macrobiotic cafe. Go figure... Big highlight was bumping into Gail and Chris, a couple of cyclists I know from home, just starting out on 5 weeks on the bike in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos - small world and all that.
And that was it - Bangkok no more, hometime.