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Published: November 8th 2012
"I don't know... I just feel like this place has been written about so much, you know? Anything I write will sound redundant and cliche," I explain to my friend.
My lack of desire to blog about Bangkok is threefold: 1. Commonality Oh the places you'll go!
Some of them unique and others not so... Bangkok is the most frequented city by tourists and backpackers in all of SE Asia. It's a central hub, a gateway to the region. And for good reason! Cheap flights and a throbbing city of entertainment and exploration. Great, right? Sure, but let's face it, most who go to Bangkok end up on a preordained itinerary unintentionally yet effectively following in the exact same footsteps of the millions of tourists that traveled before them. It's like an iPod playing the album 'Bangkok Beats' stuck on repeat. But then again when have we ever not been conformists in some way?
Original experiences are hard to come by no matter where you go. True, but Bangkok is one of those internationally known spots that has become so commonly heard that its name doesn't even sound exotic to us anymore. Other examples: New York, Paris,
A photo I took last year
My friend, Jennifer, climbing Wat Arun
Tokyo. Not that I'm implying these cities aren't great destinations. I'm not the Grinch
of big-city travel. However, these highly visited metropolitans lack a mystery and unknown that other more unexplored towns and cities still possess. That is why I find it difficult to contribute useful and original blog entries about them. Sure I could sit here and blab on and on about Bangkok's Grand Palace, Wat Arun Temple, the floating market, and all the other tourist sights that are in EVERY guidebook and internet forum, but what would that accomplish? It'd be more or less like writing instructions on how to change the batteries in your TV remote control; everyone already knows how to do it and people sure as hell don't want to read about it (at most you might glance at the photos for help). 2. Debauchery
Last year when I was here I only got a small peek at the nightlife, which is something I've been able to look into more broadly this time around. And WOW was I not ready for the depravity. The cats
that stroll these streets don't have hats
but they do have just about ANYTHING
you could desire... I've
One of the "classy" choices of festivities in the night...
found (much like my blog entry on Amsterdam's Red light district) most of the things I've encountered in Bangkok's after-hours are inappropriate to post on this site... or arguably on any site without a triple X rating. If Las Vegas, Amsterdam, and Bangkok were little kids, my guess is Bangkok would have the other two running home crying to their mommies. I even ran into the devil himself and he told me, "I only come to Bangkok about once a year, it's all I can handle!" And to think I was asking for forgiveness in my last blog. Ha! Bangkok is the actual place that'll leave you feeling the need to repent. 3. Illness
Strep throat. I got it alright. Oh yeah, full-fledged fever, aches, sweats, sore throat. Basically dead to the world. Locked up in my hostel room in a painful state waiting days for it to end. At one point i even convinced myself I had malaria. *Stupid internet self-diagnosis
* I suppose I could write about mucus, lack of sleep, and how I felt like I had swallowed a family of sea urchins. My ears were clogged too, I couldn't have heard a who
Partying in Thailand
Blacklights and body paint
tried. I will say this: finding antibiotics, pain relievers, and throat spray was very easy here in BKK, I'm grateful I didn't fall sick in the jungle where that would have proven impossible and horrifying.
So now that I've gone on and on about the things I don't want to AND shouldn't write about, I suppose I'll try throwing out a few general observations and attempt to write something that isn't redundant and mundane. Street food
It's all over the world. I know, I've eaten gobs of it in too many places to count. If I may say though, and with the utmost certainty, Bangkok's is the finest. It makes your tongue tingle in a way that can only be felt by life-long vegetarians who gave in and just discovered the essence of a flame broiled beef burger. There's also a significant difference between street food during the morning commute and during the wee hours of the night. Both are radiant and due a proper try. I'm not a morning person. Period. I hate mornings. Mostly just the waking up part. But... my favorite bites are available during the morning commute between 6 and 9 here in
One street delight
BBQ pork and chicken (with sauces and rice)
BKK. Usually I avoid (at all costs) being awake during these hours, however, due to Bangkok's enticing nightlife and its concerning ability to somehow keep me out until the sun rises, I've found myself (on more than one occasion) walking back to my hostel during these early morning timeframes... but not witout an array of delectable goodies to accompany me!
One morning, tired as an ox, I enjoyed waffles, fried dough, and iced Thai tea, with just enough time to inhale each morsel before burying my face into my pillow. The following morning I had breakfast dumplings, BBQ pork, and coconut custard, and that's just the beginning. Night street vendors offer Sushi, puddings, soups, fried chicken, fried fish, fresh fruits, noodles, skewers, coffee, etc. So, this one night there was a cart with a woman frying small fish:
I point to the crunchy seafood and ask, "How much are these?"
She doesn't understand and assumes I want to buy and says, "One fish? Two fish?
I respond with, "Red fish! blue fish!
" and smile ear-to-ear at her.
She looks confused...
"...I'll take one," I pout and hand over some money. People
Me and my new go-go dancer pal posing for the camera
had some cherished encounters with various personalities after these now 70 days on the road. And there's nothing more refreshing than an open mind. The open-mindedness here is revolutionary. Things like religion, gender, race, orientation, and age seem to be respected in a way here unlike other places. Discrimination doesn't really have a place in Bangkok, and for that I give this city praise. It reminds me of Dr. Seuss' The Sneetches
. The story is more or less as follows:
The Sneetches with stars on their bellies think they're better than the ones without. Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes in with his machine that can add stars and remove stars from the Sneetches bellies and he does so repeatedly, "Off again! On again!" Well, in the end all "the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether they had one, or not, upon thars."
Basically Dr. Seuss is a genius and was trying to teach kids that we should all be treated equally despite our differences. Something tells me the messages in some of his books were meant just as much for the kids as the parents who were reading to them. It's refreshing to see a place where everyone seems
Endless night market
Stalls and stalls...
to be accepted for who they are. I've met some of the most interesting people here, some who may live certain lifestyles or have certain beliefs that would make the average person in my home country uncomfortable. Maybe because I'm a traveler I'm more open to interacting and learning about people who are very different from me. I don't know, but I do know I'm intrigued and humbled to have had the chance to witness a society like this in Asia.
Now please don't misinterpret my view of this place. Bangkok isn't all debauchery and overwhelming tourism... just most of it is. Nah, there truly is a plethora of things to accomplish here. Your eyes, ears, and taste buds will not be disappointed, unless you end up at a "ping pong" show, then it's debatable. Most Westerners I've spoken to are getty for this city, find it's pretty not shitty, and even enjoy the nitty gritty (Great, now I'm channeling Dr. Suess). I can't blame people for coming here multiple times. Even I've been more than once. *shrugs*
I do have a feeling this will be my last affair with this particular monster, although nothing's ever 100%!c(MISSING)ertain...
BAM!!!So now that it's time to leave this city i think next...
Now if I could only find some sunglasses to take to the beach...
I'll hock my socks, grab my crocs,
And walk on the dock of some gawk island rock,
A place where writers don't have to be blocked,
A race where clocks don't have to be tocked,
And the only block that I'll have to knock,
Is my giant stock of pocket sunblock,
With a hand full of chalk I'll write a great mock,
To get over the shock of blotchy Bangkok. Until next time kids...
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