Day 9 in Thailand - Bangkok, Backpackers' Stretch, West Bang Lamphu


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January 17th 2004
Published: February 28th 2006
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Day 1 in Bangkok

We arrived in Bangkok at about 5am plus in the morning. Dropped off on the streets of Bangkok, in the middle of who-knows-where. Everyone was accosted by a bunch of vulture-like taxi drivers trying to have a piece of us. We ignored the drivers and stood by a quiet corner to think and assess where the hell in Bangkok were we at.
We felt a bit lost, so we just followed some backpackers and wandered into Soi Chana Songkram by chance. Vivi found some of the names of the guesthouses familiar and flipped through the guidebook. And yes, we actually landed right on the lap of a popular backpackers' stretch - the West Bang Lamphu! Very lucky really, considered this is area we intended to stay in.
Talking to other backpackers, we found that most guesthouses won't do check-in till about 8 or 9am, and those that do early check-ins don't have any vacancy at the moment. Many of them were wandering up and down the stretch looking for rooms. We decided that we should just sit around and wait for check-in time. A guy who was sitting nearby having drinks with some other fellow backpackers invited us to join them while we waited.

< Talking to them, I found that most are frequent travellers who had backpacked to many countries. I really envy them so much. The youngest of them all is only about 19 years old who had started his journey when he was about 16 or 17. Wow, if only I could be like them when I was their age! Well, better now than never I guess. 😊 >

It is really wonderful listening and talking to all these travellers from different countries and cultures. Among them are travellers from Finland, England, Germany and etc... The stories they tell about their travelling - the cultures they experienced, the people they met, the mishaps along the way, the beautiful sights they captured, the jobs they took along the travels... We had such a nice time chatting that we all took photos (with the many cameras among us) as a momento. It was fun meeting them all.



We asked around the guesthouses for their prices, and here is what we got:

- Wild Orchid, a really pretty-looking guesthouse with a nice coffee house. A nice place to stay if you are willing to spend a little bit more. THB300 for a double room without shower.
- New Siam, THB320 for a double room.
- Four Sons, has a few branches of guesthouses and shops around here. Neat and clean. Worth it for what they includes. THB450 to THB550 for their double room with air conditioning, shower and TV.
- Peachy, one of the backpackers' favourites. A great place to meet fellow travellers. THB350 for a double room with shower.
- Merry V, cheap and clean rooms. THB290 for its double room with shower.



We wanted to stay at Peachy, but the queue there was unbelievably long, so we took a double room at Merry V instead. We had a shower to freshen up and a breakfast at Merry V before heading off to the famous Jatujak weekend market.

*The receptionist instructed us to take bus no. 3, at the bus stop opposite the road from Merry V. It costs THB14 to travel on an air-conditioned bus.

< A boy on the bus told us which stop to alight. I'm glad that most of the younger Thais understand some English. >

Though we weren't sure which direction to move, we hardly need to ask at all. All we needed to do was to flash our maps and we had a dozen of fingers pointing us where to go!

*Jatujak Weekend Market - This market is hard to beat. With over thousands (it said 10,000 on the brochure!) of stores selling almost anything. It is a scary sight in there though with all that crowd! Opens every weekend from 6am to 6pm.

It was really quite terrifying in there. It can get so hot and steamy that it was difficult to breath. And with the amount of people pushing against you, you have to be so careful with your bags and not get pickpocketed. We got squashed and pushed in every direction possible. But frightening as it might be, we managed to get around and bought some stuffs.

*From Jatujak to West Bang Lamphu - at the nearest skytrain station from Jatujak, we were instructed by the staff at the station to take a skytrain to the National Stadium station (changing train in between at Siam Square station). We took bus no. 15 at the bus stop in front of the National Stadium. THB3.5 to travel on a non air-conditioned bus.

We landed some distance away from West Bang Lamphu and had some problem finding our way back. Still, we managed with the help of some asking around and Vivi's guidebook. We dropped off our buys of the day and spent our evening exploring Khao San Road.

*Khao San Road is really a world of its own. It really comes alive in the evening with the night market all set up. Clothes and food vendors aplenty.

< Saw one interesting vendor selling fried insects. I didn't try it though. Hmmm... Maybe I should the next time round. :P >

< This backpacking trip was plagued with lots of mishaps somehow. My stomach problem struck me halfway through strolling in Khao San. Vivi got a little pissed at me for not taking my meds when I feel the pain earlier on. Guess I spoilt her evening by cutting it short. I must have really messed up her holiday. >



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