Sunday 2 January 2011 - Friday 7 January 2011 27 °C
Just as you expected and then some.
It was a hot and sunny day when we arrived in Bangkok, less humid than Singapore but less familiar as well. Andrew and I managed to get ourselves to our guesthouse pretty easily and it was just adoreable. For $12 a night we have a clean room, firm bed, private bathroom, fridge and minibar, free wifi, and a fan. Sweet. We're in a great spot too because we can walk about 5-10 minutes to the train to get anywhere and there are loads of street vendors on the way.
There was a lady making these sortof baked, sweet cakes right there on the sidewalk. She had a mould and a little charcoal oven thinger she cooked them on. Then there are loads of fruit stalls all set up with all sorts of fruits whole and prepared in a bag as a snack with a very special salt, sugar, chili seasoning in a packet which seems the go with every fruit. We tried one lumpy looking pear thing which turned out to be really dry and sour- but cooling. There were also some pomellos which are like giant citrus fruits with a pinky green flesh, surper thick skin and a mild flavour- the vendors actually sell them pre peeled. There are also vendors selling noodle dishes and curries in great big pots and salads and all served up in a bag! You can even get your drinks served in a bag with a rubber band and a straw, though I never figured out how. There are guys grilling up whole fish and chicken bits, and other meats, most probably pig entrails- mmmm and other popular offal on wooden skewers- I went for the chicken. There are also people all over the city serving up these fresh squeezed juice from little green skinned, oranged flesh citrus fruits- tastes like tangerines but the yummiest tangerine ever. Our first meal in Thailand? Pad Thai- it was our breakfast and dinner that night. So good. Beyond our own little market area there are all these winding narrow little lanes shooting off from the main roads called Soi, tucked in amongs the Soi is all the crazy street food. The big challenge is figuring out what they're making and how to order it because English is not so popular here. The signs are all in the beautiful and strange Thai script and everyone seems to know whats going on besides you.
There are every manner of person riding a whole variety of scooters everywhere. Families of four, babies in tow, grandma with her shopping. They cut through and around traffic without hesitation and the whole scene at a busy intersection is enthralling- especially when watched from above on a trainstation platform. The trains are great too, cheap and frequent and with flatscreen tvs played Thai advertisments. The taxi and tuk tuk drivers are always lurking, persistant- "Hey you, where you go?" We even got the classic, "Want a ride in my airconditioned helicoptor?"
We hit the huge, modern malls for some Starbucks and IMAX. US$10 a ticket for Tron 3D at the IMAX- that's cheap. There are also streets totally packed with tables selling everything- teeshirts, lamps, lighters, wooden things, naughty things...walking down Silom Rd is an experience. There are people selling tickets to unsavoury shows and massages. A guy jumped out in front of Andrew with some gross pictures and then grinned sheepishly as I came through behind him holding his hand. I gave him my best disapproving look. Walking through here makes your personal space seem suddenly very valuable and in short supply. You don't only get fast talkers in the busy hot spots, one night we heard a line we would here again in another town as an opener to a line of bs, "I'm a teacher." Then why are you trying to tell me the town I'm visiting next is 'full' and suggesting I go somewhere to find out about another place? As if. The officials at the Vietnam Embassy weren't very much better than that. Charging us for rush job visas when we didn't ask for or need them and then refusing us multiple entries that we thought we were paying for. The experience left a sour taste in my mouth. I only hope we have as little to do with the Vietnamese beaurorcrasy as possible. Our money is good for their country, I don't know why they have to be so difficult about it. I would suggest to anyone else to make arrangments for visas through an agency and arriving by plane- the land crossing is why we had to go directly through the government agency.
We have also noticed that the Thai people seem to enjoy their fitness. One night while walking through a park we encountered a group of about a hundred all doing a group arobics workout with a guy on stage. It was so cool, I had the slightest urge to join them- they looked so springy and fun. I couldn't take a picture- it seemed wrong. Later I found I had accidentally, check it out!
Our last day in Bagkok we took a trip up the river to the famous Kho San Rd. It lives up to it's backpacker ghetto name, dirty foreigners everywhere. There's an obvious wardrobe for people who have been a while in SEA- they tend to aquire scarves and genie pants and beer logo tees. Wonder how long it will take me. The thai fisherman pants possibilities are endless. I wonder what Bangkok will look like in 6 weeks.
Off up north to Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai before we cross into Laos. Check in soon!