Sawatdii from Thailand!
After a long and arduous journey and a few very sweaty days I’m gonna try and get the ball rolling 😊 I’m not entirely sure of our route or destinations along this Southeast Asian adventure, instead my travel partner Jenn and I will probably end up improvising for the most part. Random adventures are the best kind.
The flight itself was a 23 hour tedious reminder of my inability to sleep on planes. In spite of all my practice, I'm reconciling myself to the fact that it just cannot be done. Zero coffee consumed, a restless pre-flight sleep, 3 glasses of god awful Chinese wine and a healthy does of melatonin culminated in a lousy 20 minutes of sleep or so. Brutal.
We arrived in Bangkok at 1am, exhausted and disoriented but we found our hotel without too much trouble. We’re located a block away from Khao San Road which is the type of backpacker ghetto that I would ordinarily avoid, however, until we found our bearings I figured it would be wise to be centrally located. Stumbling up Khao San we were inundated by the lights of tacky neon signs and found ourselves swarmed
by inebriated and scantily clad tourists who match the bedraggled and strung out caricature of the western party traveler. Entire sections of Khao San transformed into makeshift dance halls as cheesy pop music boomed from each bar. Though not ordinarily my scene, the energy was contagious and we promptly dropped off our bags and joined the party. Lining Khao San are layers of businesses both legitimate and otherwise. Dozens of street vendors are the first line of businesses, selling a smorgasbord of pad thai, deep fried insects and a litany of roasted kabobs. All for under a $1.50. Amazing. The aromas from the vendors overpowered the stench of body odour and booze from the throngs of tourists mostly in their early 20s. Kids these days! Fake ID vendors, suit tailors and others selling tickets to “Ping Pong” shows (unrelated to table tennis) mingle in the crowd while the actual street is dotted with bars, restaurants and hotels. 2 hours of wide eyed gawking and a Chang Beer or two later and we finally retired to our cell like room.
Since arriving we’ve been exploring Bangkok primarily by foot.. I’ve enjoyed Bangkok more than I had anticipated. Ornate temples are
randomly interspersed throughout the city offering near endless possibilities to wander through the serenity of these sites in complete contrast to the party at “home”. Temples aren’t really isolated structures as churches are back home but rather resemble walled citadels housing various structures statues and buildings all intricately decorated with wood carvings, marble floors, golden spires and glittery walls with obligatory golden Buddha statues. Surprisingly, the temples that we visited were virtually deserted. We shared our space with very few tourists and I often wondered if those drinking through the day would ever take the time to venture outside of the strip. Not complaining though! We’ve also wandered through the labyrinths of Chinatown and have gotten randomly lost while grazing on every street corner on dumplings, soup, noodles or just about anything else that looks tasty and regardless of whether we can identify the source. 7-11s dominate but are a welcome oasis when a few minutes of AC are needed to cool down. Also they are home of the bacon wrapped hot dog. I find it hilarious that the grossest thing I’ve seen here was from a 7-11 so naturally I had to try it. Nights have consisted of obligatory strolls through Khao San for great people watching and a drink or two (or three or four). I’ve learned that Thai buckets and I don’t get along so well. Essentially Thai buckets are bucket sized highballs. It is now 1.30 pm and I’m somewhat buzzed from last night (which may explain the coherency or lack thereof of this entry 😊
The Thai people have been incredibly hospitable and kind. A bit too kind. Almost everywhere we go, I've been approached by men sometimes in english, sometimes in Thai inquiring about our destination. Apparently most think I'm Thai which is very odd to somewhat fit in when compared to the constant attention I receive in Africa. They often chat about the special occasion of the day and that the site we are heading to is closed BUT there are great deals elsewhere or a special free entry to others. They tell us how much tuk tuks should cost and enthusiastically recommend places to go. I'm still unsure whether they are just being good Samaritans or if this is all part of an elaborate scam that I've been regularly warned about. Sadly, (and cynically) I'm assuming the latter and have taken to humouring my new friends before telling them that we've got other plans or that we've already visited their temple of choice.
The heat has been incredible. It is not so much that it is hot but rather the humidity that I’m quite unaccustomed to. Thankfully our room has AC but minutes after stepping outside and I’m dripping in sweat.
Did I mention the food was amazing? Sorry India, but you’ve been defeated. Thailand is the undisputed king of street food. Roasted duck curry on rice with soup for just over a dollar. WOW! I am confused about their obsession with noodle soup though. I’m a HUGE fan of their soups but really, it is 40+ degrees with humidity outside and you’re eating soup in the sun. This to me makes as much sense as the Africans insistence on wearing long pants and dress shirts regardless of heat or occasion.
In an hour we’ll make our way back to the Burmese embassy to pick up our passports, hopefully with a visa. If we have been granted a visa than we’ll book a flight and head off tomorrow morning. I anticipate zero Internet and a challenging venture through the country. Very few people visit so the infrastructure is terrible and the transport spotty. Should be awesome. If no visa is granted than we’ll take a night bus to Cambodia. As much as I’ve enjoyed Bangkok, it’s beyond time to move on and get this mofo on the move.
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