Published: April 5th 2011April 5th 2011
Well...we did it. Arriving in Bangkok at 11:40, we got our bags, went through customs, climbed in a taxi, realized the taxi driver spoke literally zero English, and somehow ended up at the backpacking hub of Bangkok. We checked a few hostels for openings, and settled into the Siam Inn, where we dropped off our bags and set out for the streets where the party seemed to just be getting into full swing.
While the area we were in was definitely quite Westernized, there was still plenty of Thai culture and things to do. Food carts selling pad thai, mystery meat on a stick, and the obligatory insect vendor. Offers for “massages” on every corner, fish spas (you soak your feet in a pool and fish nibble at them to remove dirt and things) (this is Aly's theory on why Asian people have soft skin), people throwing fire, people breakdancing, and loud American music from the 90's. We strolled for a while before settling at a quieter bar on a side street where we sat on the street and listened to a Thai man play guitar and sing Queen like Mr. Mercury himself. Cost of a 24 oz. Beer =
55 baht = a little less than 2 bucks. Not a bad deal. A couple of them and home to sleep.
Both of us had trouble sleeping. Aly woke up and showered at around 5, a couple hours after we'd got to sleep. I woke up at 7, and that was all the sleep I was going to get. I let Aly keep snoozing and set out for a walk. I struck up a conversation with a cab driver, and the next thing I knew we were headed for breakfast together. I didn't buy his answer of pad thai from the cart behind him to my question of what should I eat for breakfast, so he took me to a nearby restaurant. I got a plate of rice, covered in some chicken curry, vegetables, and an egg. Then covered it in a foul smelling oil filled with spicy looking peppers. Delicious. And very very spicy. Probably the spiciest breakfast I ever ate. I guess that's what you get for going to breakfast with a cab driver.
I then collected Aly and we went out for a second breakfast. She had green curry with tofu and a whole coconut
and I had chicken with noodles covered in gravy. Apparently gravy is a strange gelatinous substance, and the noodles were a strange texture as well, but once you got over this it was quite tasty. Topped with the same foul smelling oil which I learned was fish oil. We then killed a few hours before meeting my friends (Alana and Hannah) from Wash U who are teaching English in Thailand right now to go to their town, Prapadaeng, about 45 minutes from downtown Bangkok. Aly got sick on the cab ride home, and unfortunately this sums up the rest of her day. She threw up a couple of times and just felt sort of crappy in general. We arrived at Alana's apartment and tucked Aly in for the day then went out to explore Prapadaeng. If you have to be sick, this was probably the best place to do it. Western toilet, AC, lots of cold drinking water. And she is already feeling better as I write this (Tuesday AM), so all is well in Thailand.
Exploring Prapadaeng made me realize how touristy Khaosan Rd. was. We didn't see another white person the entire time and little to no
English was spoken. First stop was Guian's, a tiny street side restaurant near Alana and Hannah's apartment which they frequent at least once daily. They have befriended the owner, Guian, who also lives there with her whole family, and had her make us some delicious dishes. Unripened papaya salad with spices, some other salad thing, then some chicken and eggplant thing. The papaya salad was delicious, and the chicken and eggplant thing was probably the best thing I've eaten yet. Each bite was a journey that took you through a range of different flavors, from a little sour, to spicy, to almost sweet.
We said our goodbyes then went for a walk through the market where we got a bowl of ginger soup filled with bean curd and fried dough for dessert. The live food market was closing up, but there was still tons of live fish and fruits and veggies I had never seen or heard of. We tried some jack fruit, and after strolling around a floating neighborhood, picked up some sticky rice with mango and coconut milk to take home for dinner.
We stumbled across lots of people on our journey, all smiling and happy
we were there. Lots of puppies were seen as well, and exotic flowers and birds. A great day. All finished off with a couple of beers from the seven eleven sitting on the boardwalk by the river, catching up with old friends, and making a couple new Thai ones as well. Home to sleep and up early for another day in Prapadaeng. We head to Siem Reap, Cambodia tomorrow, so time to enjoy the luxuries of a modern apartment before we hit the road.
And just a few side notes about Thai culture.
1. They love their king. There are pictures of him literally everywhere. Apparently he holds no power, but has quite a hold on the ideology of the nation. His impending death is a cause of great concern, as the heir to the throne is immoral and not well liked by the Thai. He is far more popular here than the queen of England there.
2. Thai people are hoarders. Most homes leave their doors open and you can peer right inside. The amount of junk lying around everywhere is shocking. There is also a lot of pollution. Thai Buddhism stresses the now, so people don't think
Guian and Alana
The girls Thai mother/chef
of the long term effects of littering or buying something they don't need. Makes for a pretty cluttered environment, but you don't get a feeling that it is unclean here for the most part.
3. At 8 AM and 6 PM, the Thai national anthem plays over loud speakers everywhere, and you have to stop whatever you're doing, stand still, and listen. A nice patriotic touch.
That's all for now.
There are more photos below