Holy Bangkok – Feb-20-09

Streets of Bangkok

Streets of Bangkok

What a journey so far!! I begin my day at the crack of dawn when I awoke around 5am to pee… I was so wide awake (‘cause after all it’s 5pm in my head – and I also slept for 5 hours on the plane)… I was so tired after this day I did not get a chance to write so this is a recollection of the events of my first day in Thailand a day later…

After returning to bed for another couple hours I decided to take a look at where I was – ‘cause after all I arrived under a blanket of darkness and ended up quite off the beaten track – Shanti Lodge is a cute little oasis in the middle of a hustle & bustle market close to the river.

I decided that since I had missed dinner the night before I should treat myself to a healthy breakfast and went to the restaurant downstairs for an veggie omlette and smoothie- YUM! I had noticed another woman sitting alone behind me and looked back after feeling like someone was there – I was to out of it to say hi or anything – but thankfully after I had enjoyed my food she came over and asked if she could join me – to which I of course said yes! Her name is Jacki and she’s an Ausie gal from Brisbane – on a 6month trip around SE Asia – Thailand, Nepal and possibly Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, etc. She’s been in Bangkok since Wednesday and was happy to meet another lone traveler and have someone to possibly travel a bit with – we hit it off famously and realized quite quickly that we had tons in common and were perfect travel companions… plus she had explored a bit and was willing to show me around and that was a much appreciated thing with the climate shock and jet lag I was experiencing symptoms of… headachy and generally disorientated feeling… hopefully it will pass soon!

She had bought a train ticket to Chiang Mai for Saturday night and I told her I was planning on going there also – but was planning on leaving tonight (Friday) but since she was going I was kewl with staying another night and traveling with her if we could get a ticket – so she suggested we go on a similar adventure she had taken to get her ticket and I can’t be grateful enough for her experience to get there.

Once leaving the Lodge we navigated through a small local fish and veg market to the river (5min walk) we then hopped a ferry ($0.50), sky train – very modern above ground subway($2ish) & the metro – older underground subway ($0.65ish) to get there (pretty much every form of public transport) and after getting the upper bunk booked we headed out to see more of the city – WOW!!!! I think if I wasn’t so jet lagged and totally hot I would have been more shocked at what I was seeing – I was just so over stimulated by the cars, buildings that seemed to be buildings on top of buildings and markets and street vendors and tuk-tuks and taxis (can you believe they have fuchsia pink taxis!!!). The city is very polluted but the air wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be.

We wandered around and went to a Tourist info spot (called TAT) and found it not very helpful… ended up getting some directions from a man at the train station to grab a local bus to the area close to Kosan Rd (this is the main backpacker hang out and lots of guest houses are here for CHEAP!!! – when I return to Bangkok I’ll stay close to there but not on the road as it’s quite busy). He told us it was 7Bht – which is pennies (26Bht = $1 – here’s a video of part of the ride: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=132236605021&saved) we were laughing as we had paid almost $4 to get downtown and less then $1 to get home – the bus #53 took us to the area of Kosan Rd (which is close to the river and 2 stops from our Lodge stop)… at this point it was around 2pm and we were starved and decided to go into the craziness and find some food… we went down one street an turned down a lane (called soi in Thai) and found a strip of carts and tourists as far as the eye could see… we saw a cart that advertised vegetarian food called Mr. Yim’s – and I was excited to remember that it was recommended by one of Blair’s co-workers and we just happened upon it… what luck! A plate of veg fried rice for $1 (Jacki got pad thai for the same price!!!) We were in heaven! While eating we met an American gal named Adrian and she had been traveling for a few months and had some tidbits to share – she was staying in an air-con room with 2 beds and a bathroom for 400Bht (shared with a friend – so $4 each a night – what a deal!)… I definitely will be coming to this area after checking a few others and finding it easy to find a room for 200Bht a night.

After our day had worn us out we headed back to the Lodge via the ferry and I finally gave Mel a call… she was happy to hear from me and was needing a night out after a rough few days and although we were not yet friends she was happy to have a Canadian gal to chat with and take out and show around… I invited Jacki to join us and she was glad to come along. I was pretty tired so Mel suggested I have a nap and after a cool shower I laid down around 5pm… I awoke around 8pm – to my new alarm clock I got in the city for TOO MUCH – but it came with a battery and a light so I can see it in the dark – 150Bht ($6) and a knock on the door – Mel arrived right on time :o) She greeted me with a big hug and we hung out while I gathered myself and got dressed and I handed over her cigarettes and gum (she was very grateful) and then she said let’s go get a drink and some food! We grabbed Jacki and grabbed a taxi (Mel treated us) and ended up on Kosan Rd. was a place – restaurants and clubs, guesthouses and shops all lining the soi… it was a flurry of activity and after the exciting day I had had – quite overwhelming.

Mel had called a friend (Sarah – also from Canada originally – Coburg) and she met us at this nice spot on the patio where I enjoyed a local beer and a plate of pad thai (YUM!) Beer was 100Bht ($4) so not very cheep and food was also pretty expensive (300Bht)… once we were done people watching and our bevies we headed to find a spot to dance… the first spot had some great house music and we had a cocktail (Mai Thai 150Bht) and danced for a good hour to some old skool progressive house – fun!!! We were the only 4 people dancing for most of the time we were there :o) We then headed to a “bucket bar” this was a popular thing in the clubs – you get a sand pail sized bucket with ice and the equivalent of 4 drinks – I was not in the mood for that kind of thing so I just stuck with water and dancing :o) I’ll have to give that a go when I return :o) After 20mins of dancing to some great dark techno I was startled by the sound of a glass beer bottle breaking (someone had dropped it near by) I felt a piece hit my leg but thought nothing of it, until I noticed some blood dripping down my leg (nothing serious, just a flesh wound!!!). I went to the bath room and tended to the cut and decided that at this hour (1am) and after the day I’ve had – I’m DONE!!!

I alerted Jacki, Mel and Sarah that I was ready to head home and they were onboard with that…

Jacki & I grabbed a taxi, which got lost but only charged us the 40Bht it would have cost to get home to Shanti (he spoke a decent amount of English and was very apologetic).

Bed was sweet! And I slept like a baby!

What a day – my first day in Bangkok – good times!

O&O (over&out)

~A