I Know... Let's go to Thailand! {Cath}


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Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok
February 25th 2008
Published: March 20th 2008
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Sunset over the South China SeaSunset over the South China SeaSunset over the South China Sea

Seen from above as we fly back in time.
So, what do you do when you're brought up in sunny South Africa, spend a year working in Korea, and half way through the winter that's redefined unbelievably cold and introduced you to sub zero temperatures, you discover that in two weeks time you have 5 days of vacation coming up? ...

Thailand!!


That's what you do!

A week before we were due to go, we booked our flights 😊 what a relief! 😊 and arranged to do our Advanced Scuba course on the little island of Ko Tao. 😊

So there we were... passports, credit card, camera, and a couple more odds and ends shoved into our day packs, ready for the bus ride to the airport!

All went far too smoothly for the amount of planning we put in (Well, that is if you exclude the 2,5hours we waited to check in at Incheon International because the system was down... and ignore the luxury-for-sardines seating arrangement our cattle-classs ticket provided us with...Three cheers for Thai Air😞). Our plane made a brief stop over in Taiwan (...I've never seen so many Buddist monks in one place before!) for us to peruse the duty
Big glittery GateBig glittery GateBig glittery Gate

Wandering around the city in the wee hours
free and stretch our legs while the plane exchanged some of it's passengers and cleaned out the cabins, before we touched down in Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand! Wohoo!

Having left from a snowy Korea only 6 hours earlier, we were slightly confused when the pilot announced that the temperature outside was 27 degrees Celcius! We thought that there must have been some kind of mistake... it was after all midnight! A midnight temperature of 27... no way! BUT sure enough, we broke out into a sticky sweat just between the doors of the plane and the short drive to airport gates!

With only our day packs as luggage, all we had to do after getting into the airport, was to negotiate our way through the packed passport control, dodge the touts. (All our practice with touts in Vietnam really helped, Darrell seemed to part them like Moses did the Red Sea!) and get some money 😊 Luckily for us, the 24hour currency exchange booth was pretty much the first thing we saw after walking through the arrivals gate.

We'd learned on the plane (in our ever reliable Lonely Planet) that there would be an airport shuttle bus running
Pad ThaiPad ThaiPad Thai

Stir fry in seconds
right to the area we were hoping to stay in. A much cheaper alternative to taking a taxi! Thank you!! 😊

We hopped off the shuttle just before 1am and were quickly swallowed up by the muggy humidity of Thailand's rapidly approaching summer.
It took us all of 2 seconds to realise that all the other foreigners in Bangkok had also decided that that this was the area to go to!

Welcome to Kao San road!



The night was full of glowing neon lights and touts advertising their restaurants, clubs and who-knows-what other sevices. In Kao San its self, tourists seemed to outnmber the locals about 3 to 1. The tourists seem to be divided into about 3 different groups; the new arrivals (us) walking around in shorts and a t-shirt (feeling desperately underdressed!), laydened with heavy backpacks and desperately trying to find accomodation that's not sold out and won't cost your holiday's budget!

The second bunch are those there for the night life, putting the haggard first group to shame with their fresh make up and clean clothes. The third are those trying to blend in with the locals, sitting on the pavement
Digging in Digging in Digging in

Nothing like an early breakfast
(sidewalk) in their Thai pants and baggy tops, having their hair braided. I must admit, if we were there for more than the day we had, I'd probably get home with a new wardrobe, braided hair and a spur-of-the-moment tatoo somewhere. 😊

We did eventually find a place to stay, a small 2 bedroomed room with a toilet and shower tucked away on the side, and a note on the door informing customers that there would be an additional D100 fee should the customer bring a Thai guest in to spend the night.

It was a great relief to get into a pair of slops before getting out to explore the city again! It's 1am, but the city's still awake, so we might as well make the most of the jet-lag!

I'd usually consider myself to be rather independent, but walking the dark, narrow alleyway away from our motel, I found myself holding onto Darrell's arm a little tighter! Soon we were out in the hustle and bustle of the main tourist road again. With a little more ambling we found ourselves on the opposite side of the main road, and all of a sudden there was
An Elephant.. in the streetAn Elephant.. in the streetAn Elephant.. in the street

Kao San Road, Bangkok
not another tourist in sight! The massive golden bridge in honour of the king seemed to be the only link between the wealth of the tourist area and the homeless sleeping alongside the river. Two worlds that would never understand eachother.

Darrell's been having serious problems with his knee, so we headed back to find some of that backpacker style street vendor stir-fry and a pineapple-on-a-stick for dessert 😊 what a way to end off the day!

Just then, as we were heading back to our room... we saw a man with ... wait for it... an ELEPHANT! In the middle of the street! And for only $5 you could buy a packet of corn cobs to feed him yourself...

what will they think of next?!

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26th March 2008

I find Bangkok's old neighborhoods surrounding Khao San Road much more pleasant than the backpackers' area itself. I see modest or traditional living in general that certainly is not poverty. Almost all of the easy-going locals in Bangkok's old sections have plenty of food, lodging, and proper clothing. They own varying levels of assets and are covered by free government health care programs. Thailand has been an open economy for over a century. Its people are familiar with the sights of westerners and feel no inferior to farang backpackers. If you wish to understand Thais, you have to first stop being obsessed with your material wealth. It cons you into feeling too important despite the fact that there actually are millions of Thais who are richer than average young tourists from the West.
28th March 2008

Dear homematrix Thank you so much for your coment, I meant no offence by the blog entry at all. I have re-read the article and have seen where the mis-interpretation came and have edited the text. Unfortunately we were only in Thailand for about a week and as we feel that that is certainly not enough time to get to know the culture, we spent almost a month in Vietnam and still have barely scraped the surface of understanding the culture, we decided to dedicate the vacation to completing our Scuba course. This being the case, however, meant that we spent very little time in Bangkok. I agree that it's far better to escape the rest of the tourists and backpacker areas and try to discover for yourself what the country is like, and not simply zoot around all the hot spots. We were hoping to achieve this by walking outside Khao San Road, which is where we saw all the homeless people. I was certainly not commenting on the people as a nation, but simply what we saw on the surrounding streets at 2am. Thanks again for your input, we had a stunning time in Thailand, and decided even before we left that we will return again to see and learn from Thailand properly.

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