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Published: January 14th 2007
After our long and exhausting bus ride, we arrived at the infamous Khao San Rd. I set off to find a room, which proved for difficult than I had imagined. I tried about 20 places (all full), and then decided to take a hike before attempting anything else. I followed my map to what looked like a horrid part of town, but sure enough, one of the guesthouses in the book was where it should have been. The night attendant was not, so even though they had a sign saying they had room, they did not have anyone working there to show it to me. Lucky for me, someone who had already checked in came through, and I was able to follow them through the gate and settle down to read a bit. Still nothing. I ventured around, and found that they had a deck up top. Since it was about 2am, I just got my sleeping sack out, put some clothes on a bench to pad it, and wrapped a t-shirt around my head to keep the bugs off. I was up by 6:30, went downstairs, but by that time they had people check in, so I went around the
corner to another guesthouse and took a room there at the Bamboo Guesthouse. The lady who ran the place could not have been more sterile. She told me the price, told me the checkout time, threw a set of rules in front of my face and then turned around. I remembered reading something in the LP Guidebook about legendary Thai hospitality. I think that must have been exhausted 2 million tourists ago. My first order of business was to get over to the Myanmar Embassy to get my Visa. I was lucky, as the Visa application section closed 5 minutes after I finished filling mine out, and I didn't have to wait for anyone. I had my passport pics with me, so it was a very fast process, and I was in and out within 5 minutes. A German tourist in the pickup line told me that she had waited 2 hours to drop her passport off. After this, I explored the city a bit, and then headed up to some shopping malls to explore what was hot and fashionable here. I found a 7 story 'new Zen store, but was disappointed to see that it really had nothing to
do with zen and was all about using the name as a brand. Like many other places in SE Asia, they use small plastic bags for pretty much everything, including slushies. I ended up finding a grocery complex that was a joint venture between Wal-Mart and UK based Tesco. It was under the Tesco name, but had Wal-Mart smiley faces on the discount products. I tanked up on some cheap snacks, and then grabbed dinner in the food court for 25 cents. Most of my sightseeing focused around the main circuit around the backpacker Ghetto, but I also went down to China town, and wasted a fair bit of time trying to find the attraction, then realized that what I had seen was the attraction. I headed back, and walked into this eatery filled the the max with young Thais. The menu item of choice was Wonder bread like white stuff with hot custard sauce on top. 45 cents (15 Baht) later, I was a fan as well. It was a more upmarket kind of place, but it was cool to try something that I never would have thought of. As luck would have it, I ended up spending about
a week in the city. After picking up my passport, I was unable to get the flight from Northern Thailand to Northern Myanmar that I wanted (1 flight a week, sold out), so I ended up rearranging my schedule and plan on going to northern Thailand and then flying back to Bangkok in order to connect to a flight a few hours later to get to the Capital of Myanmar in the south. I think that the travels in Cambodia had really started to catch up with me: I felt really drained after a few days of sightseeing here in the capital, and felt like I needed a few days of doing pretty much nothing. Wish granted. I ended up moving back to the River view Guesthouse I had camped out at the first night. The lady there (who owns the place and is there during the day) is very sweet and easy to work with. She got me into a 200 baht room the first night, and then I volunteered to let some other people have my room after they came in late at night, so I slept on the roof again the second night over there. When the
two gals checked out of my room, there was some confusion, so I ended up getting checked out and my room went to someone else. No problem, I was back on the roof, for the official price of 20 Baht (50 cents). I was doing ok at this. After feeling bad for spending so much ($160) for 3 plane tickets, I was now on record pace to recoup my budget. The only problem was that for the last night, I was unable to get to my bag (locked behind the missing night receptionists desk) so I got attacked my mosquitoes. Since i couldn't cover up with my sleep sack, I tried to use repellent to make up for it. I ended up getting bites through my socks, on my lip, and then I had it. tried reading for a bit inside, but the bugs where there to. And some gals where making a whole lot of noise at 3am, so I decided that by this point I was so drained, that I just went to the shared bath on my floor and curled up on the tiles between the sink and shower part of the room. Since it is a
10 ft long room with the shower, sink and toilet all lined up, I was able to lock the door, keep the bugs out and get some sleep. Once it got light outside and the bugs went away, then I went back to my spot on the roof and slept for another 5 hours.
As for those pesky tuk tuk drivers, they are not too bad once you leave the tourist ghetto and the touristy sites. However, within those areas, they are exceptionally rude if you decline their services. A simple "no, I would like to walk to my destination" can easily be greeted with 'F-you's' and the driver walking up to you and giving you the finger 2" from your face. Attempts to shartchange are common, people trying to overcharge for anything from food to internet is rampant, and the city is dirty and smelly. Other than that, it was nice. I enjoyed the royal palace complex, and have hopes for a more enjoyable time in less tourist intense parts of the country. In Bangkok, once one gets off the tourist path, the locals are fun to work with, will most likely give you the right price, and
Smothie in a bag
A great little refreshment for a hot day
don't mind playing a little charades to get there. And, I ended up enjoying the time to unwind a bit between travel blitzkriegs. Plus, I ran into Don from Laos several times, and we had a number of great chats. He is a great source of travel info for the region (since he is retired and spends half a year at a time here in Asia). Don arranged for me up to meet a number of people once I get to Myanmar, in addition to giving good info for Southern Thailand. So, off to Chiang Mai, and hopefully a more authentic Thai people. Or, the same people in a nicer place. I'd settle for that to. As Don put it, "I only come to Bangkok because friends want to meet me here." He also shares my view of Hanoi. Hmm, maybe we will travel again sometime...
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