Bangkok Baby!

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January 27th 2010
Published: February 2nd 2010
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After getting my visa run out of the way it was time to continue pushing north and head to Thailand's sprawling city of Bangkok. Home to over eleven million people, the city stretches on as far as the eye could see. Everything often moved at a hectic pace with motorbikes and tuk-tuks flying about and traffic being an integral part of the city. Pollution is heavy here and the air feels the same. Also, unlike most other cities, Bangkok seems to have many city centers as opposed to only one.

On the overnight bus ride up I met a German guy called Robert and and English guy called Henry and they helped make the voyage pass quicker. Robert had a brick of hash that he shared with us. I also ran into Marjorie, a fellow Montrealer who I had dived with on Ko Tao, she'd been doing her dive masters certificate. She seemed really out of it at first until I discovered she had taken a few benzodiazepines for the ride. We pulled in to Khao San road, the legendary tourist street and backpacker mecca, at around five in the morning, one of the only times when everything lay very still. Robert knew the area well and showed us around Khao San and suggested decent places for lodging. We found a good yet cheap place to stay and Marj and I booked into rooms. We all ate breakfast together before Robert and Henry moved on to destinations unknown. I thought I might want to sleep at this point but instead I decided to take a tour of the area with Marj by Tuk-Tuk, something every traveler should at least do once in Bangkok. We saw a few famous temples and sites, but the driver also tried to get us to stop at certain clothing and gem shops because he gets commission just for bringing us there, something we soon discovered. Nevertheless it gave me a good intro to the city. He tried pulling a few stunts on it as well like some wheelies and kept true to their reputation of being nuts and driving crazy. Later we shopped around Khao San, everything imaginable can be found here although most of which are cheap knock offs from the originals. I picked up a couple of books here. We perused through some stalls for a while, went to cafes, and tried some fish therapy as well which consisted of us submerging our feet into this tank whereupon dozens of fish would rush to them and begin picking and eating all the dead skin off them. It tickled at first but was quite relaxing. In the evening we had some drinks on Khao San Road, and then sat off the street where we talked to random travelers who were doing the same.

The following day I went out walking on my own around more of the surrounding areas of the city. I walked past a multitude of temples, parks, markets, and monuments and just tried to get a feel for this part of the massiveness that is Bangkok. Along the way I sappled street food, mainly some pad thai, a dish I was becoming quite familiar with, and local fruit as well. Later in the day I walked along the river and checked out some piers. That night on Khao San road I ran into some people I had met the night before and I got some fake ID's made. One was a student card which I figured might benefit me, especially when I made my way into China, as I heard there were many discounts for students at cultural sites, so this could potentially save me money in the long run. The other was an international journalist ID, mainly cuz it looked really awesome. They didn't look too bad after being made and hopefully will be passable.

I checked out the Grand Palace on another day. It's basically a massive area of temples and royal family residences. It also houses the "Emerald Bhudda" one of the more prestigeous Bhudda's in Thailand. I had to rent some pants from the entrance as my legs had to be covered, which sucked because of the heat. I spent a few hours walking the grounds, but had to contend with multitudes of other tourists. There was some interesting architecture to be found there.

That night Marj and I were walking onto Khao San, when I suddenly hear my name being called, and look to see Manne and Luke, who I had first met on Ko Phan Ngan! We immediately decided to go to this Indian restaurant with them and some other girls they were hanging out with and spent the evening with food, drink and sheesha. It was a nice reunion. I ran into Manne again on the way to Kanchanaburi (Check out that blog), while Luke was heading to Australia soon after.

The next few days consisted of me maintaining my home base in Bangkok but visiting surrounding places of interest on day trips, which can be read about in other blogs. I did hang out with Manne again and the girls Holly and Annie after our day trip to Kanchanaburi along with two Koreans who seemed real fascinated with us, and we went along Khao San in the evening.

The last day I spent in Bangkok, I just took it easy, mailed some things home and surfed the net before eating lunch with Manne and the girls. That night I was heading north to Chiang Mai, Manne was catching the same bus up with me but would be going off on his own. At least I'd have some good company for the overnight ride. Our bus was delayed for about two hours, we all couldn't understand what was going on. I realized that the busy street we were on suddenly had no more traffic and everything was a little too quiet. A couple of policemen where hanging on the sides, and the woman organizing our bus trip let it slip that the King was on his way somewhere, and apparently the procedure was to close all the roads along his route so he wouldn't have to deal with traffic or anything meant for the commoners of the land. We could see a convoy approaching, and the policemen sternly yelled that no one was to take any photos as it passed by. We all decided to heed their instructions. The large convoy made its way passed with police cars, motorcycles, and luxurious tinted cars in the middle. Somewhere in there was the most famous and revered man in all of Thailand.

Overall Bangkok was a fun place, not necessarily a very nice place though and it felt good to be finally moving onwards to a more authentic part of this country. There is only so much of Khao San road the average traveler can handle.

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