Bangkok chick boys
The week before I left I said goodbyes to all my friends. I think I’ll call that week Goodbye Pad Thai, as I made so much of it. My mum and bro waved me off at the bus station, and Louise waved me of at the airport – all tearful exchanges *sad face*
The flight took just over fourteen hours with a changeover in Mumbai. The journey went pretty smooth. I got an aisle seat in the middle so I could trip people up with my extended legs; three meals (curries) which I seemed to finish before everyone else; on demand films for all my viewing pleasure; and of course the free alcohol which I obviously took advantage of along with my fellow Indian companions. Am I the only one who thought Indians didn’t drink?
What was supposed to be a quick changeover in Mumbai was delayed an hour due to the utter idleness of the security staff. A group of monkeys could’ve worked faster, and you would only have to pay them bananas. The next leg of the journey passed quickly, and we soon landed in Bangkok cutting short my conversation with some old American guy coming to retire in Thailand – lucky him.
The stamp thumped down in my passport announcing my arrival to the kingdom of Thailand. The fatigue was subdued by the unfamiliarity of my new surroundings. This was no time for slacking in the brain department, I thought as I navigated my way aboard the air conditioned Skytrain, leaving the humidity of the station behind to suffocate its next victim.
I sat outside Sala Daeng station sweating in the mid-day sun, awaiting the arrival of Joseph my Couchsurfing host. The pace of the city was at full swing as office workers filled the streets moving hastily towards their favourite vendor in confidence their hunger would soon be diminished in typical Thai style. After a quick bag drop at Josephs we joined the crowd at a local food joint, consisting of a garage; a few tables and chairs; and an old woman tossing up dish after dish of delicious Pad Thai. It was definitely worth the wait, I thought as I sat smiling having finished the local dish I’ve sought for so long – welcome to Thailand.
Two things I quickly noticed about Bangkok is the monopoly Seven Eleven has over convenience stores – much like Tesco Express in London – and the total lack of rubbish bins. I must have spent half my time in Bangkok looking for a bin, maybe I should’ve hired a Thai bin man, I wonder how much that would’ve cost?
Joseph introduced me to a few of his friends, and we spent one night down the infamous Khaosan Road drinking very strong buckets – as they were called – and dancing in techno clubs surrounded by girls/ladyboys, who knows? The partying was cool but I was keen to explore everything else Bangkok had to offer. A few of these explorations led me up the Chao Phraya River where many of Bangkok’s most famous buildings are located. I spent a long afternoon in Wat Pho having staring contests with Buddha statues, and losing. If I was to resemble any of the Buddha statues it would definitely be the reclining Buddha, I’ve never got the hang of that awkward seated position. Wat Arun is architecturally my favourite, piercing the sky in all its glory. The stairways to enlightenment so it seems – they climb so high around its structure – yet their steepness is not for the faint hearted, climb if you dare.
The grand palace was five hundred baht to enter which makes it the most expensive tourist attraction in the whole of Thailand. I weighed it up against entering or eating ten Pad Thai, it was an easy decision.
I was lucky to be around to celebrate Chinese New Year which started not long after I’d arrived. China Town was obviously the place to be for the celebrations so that’s where I lingered for a few evenings, eating far too much food whilst enjoying the wild dragon displays. The passing of royalty was the main event which I patiently waited three hours for – her time of arrival differed from person to person. I must admit I was a bit disappointed. We all waved as she passed by quickly in a carriage, then that was it, it was all over in a flash. I don’t know, I just expected more, maybe fireworks or something – I’m a sucker for fireworks.
I spent a peaceful morning strolling through the gardens of Chatuchak. It was a lovely escape from the rush of the city where everyone was relaxing on the grass, lazing in the sun, or chatting over a picnic. It soon got busy as the weekend market got underway bringing swarms of people out looking for a bargain. I even took part. Fuelled by my sugar pumped ice coffee I soon found myself a new watch, and a bracelet with my two favourite colours, red and black (I know, I know, black isn’t a colour). Another cool area I checked out was Lumphini Park. At night time the place becomes a fitness zone with hundreds of people running around; pumping iron in the outdoor gym; or dancing to the lead of instructors moving to the beat of what sounded like some hardcore Korean dance music. If I was living in Bangkok I’d definitely be taking part in the dance sessions.
So yeah, five nights in Bangkok; a bit of temple seeing; a bit of parting/celebrating; and some nice relaxation ending in what I conclude as a pretty awesome time in Bangkok.
I studied the map in my Lonely Planet guidebook – thanks Louise – for ideas on my next place to visit. I chose Ayutthaya – the old Siamese capital with its ancient ruins. Being only eighty six kilometers north of Bangkok, it was going to be a short train journey. I’m taking it slowly as usual; I’ve never been one for rushing. I sat in the train station sticky from the heat, picturing myself as Indiana Jones exploring the ancient ruins. I love having few expectations, and letting my imagination run wild, that’s where we have most of our fun is it not?
I’m so happy with what I’ve packed. All my clothes are working great; it was well worth investing in merino wool and quick dry garments. I don’t know how I ever travelled without a day pack – I love it – and the travelling clothes line which Chris and Abby bought me is fantastic! Thanks so much for everyone’s generosity before I left, you all rock!
Well guys, that’s the first update on my travels through Thailand, many more are in the pipeline so stay tuned, and don’t be a stranger in the comments section.
Peace and love, Jonathan x
Backpackers Tips and Advice
If you’re coming to Bangkok with sole intentions on partying and getting drunk, go to Khaosan Road.
Always haggle if you think you’re being overcharged. If you’re unsure of prices, check my up to date guide on how much things cost in Thailand.
Take the local ferry up and down the Chao Phraya River, it costs fifteen baht. It’s the boat which hasn’t got “tourist boat” written on the side. Saphan Taksin is one of the main ports where you can take the ferry from.
Take a walk on the west side of the river if you want to see more local neighborhoods. A good place to start is if you continue straight when exiting the port for Wat Arun instead of turning left into Wat Arun itself.
Couchsurfing is well established in Bangkok so make sure you check it out if you’re looking to meet a friendly face for when you arrive.