Bangkok. the word conjures up images of crowded streets, neon lights, late nights and ladyboys. Our first stop in South East Asia, after our Indian and Nepalese excursions was highly anticipated, and the Thai capital has more than delivered as I think we are both already rather fond of the city.
I remember reading somewhere, before our journey to Chennai that it was not a city that “hugs you” upon arrival, to a certain extent I agreed after visiting (although we found plenty of positives not least the people)Bangkok in comparison offers up a big warm blanket that we are quite happy to snuggle up to, and in fact we may be spooning for quite some time. The diaries from Bangkok will be split up into separate parts as we arrive and depart several times during our planned journey -our compulsory flight out of Myanmar for example. Or our not so planned journeys -House building in Mae Sot (blog to come)
We departed the beautifully clean and modern Chennai airport to arrive in Bangkok at 2AM local time, a common drawback when opting for the cheapest flights, and one that we paid heavily for in Delhi. Perhaps this was foolish as I had read the guesthouse we had booked in advance was notoriously hard to find for first timers, thankfully a very kind gentlemen (a neighbour of the guesthouse who we are very grateful to) was either still up, or waiting for us on the main road at 4:30AM ready to guide us from our taxi through the maze of narrow alleys to Phiman River Guest House right on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. I knew the guesthouse was close to the river but we were pleasantly surprised to find all of the rooms and cozy common room were constructed on stilts sitting atop the water, which was nice until night started to draw in and the mosquitoes attacked en masse.
We explored the famous Khao San Road and its surrounding streets on the first day and managed to fit in sun set at Wat Ratchanadda and the 37 spires of its Loha Prasat. We ended the day as we end most days here, a delicious meal on the street and a cold Leo/Chang/Asahi or all of the above. The following day we woke from our slumber late and took an aimless walk towards the temples. Despite us now having a little experience under our belt we still managed to get talked round by a rickshaw driver who promised us a sight seeing tour but instead took us to a “tourist information centre” – amateur mistake on our parts, he did at least take us to the Bangkok Exhibition Centre which we spotted the previous day. The exhibition was a tour of all things Bangkok with lots of interactive displays, cinema rooms that spray water at you just like at disneyworld (although we sat through the entirety of the first film listening in Thai before the attendants, struggling to keep straight faces, handed us some English headsets). My highlight was our faces getting transposed onto cartoons visiting the sights of Bangkok. That night Jane, the woman who ran the guesthouse proposed a project to us which she was considering in her home town of Mae Sot, right on the Myanmar border. The idea was to construct a small house with the view to starting another guesthouse there, after a little consideration we both agreed it would be a nice way to spend a week as we had plenty of time and I was keen to have the opportunity to construct a house from the foundations up – Thai style. For how it all went, watch this space.
The bright lights of china town where next up and we timed our arrival perfectly witnessing the transformation as the lights flickered on and the street food vendors set up shop, the place really comes to life at night. I felt a little guilty about moving from Thai food for the night, as it is by far the tastiest food I have ever eaten, however the rows and rows of Chinese vendors ensured another culinary delight for us both beneath the glowing neon’s (yeah, food is a big deal here) We wandered around the different stalls, contemplating how on earth all the vendors manage to make a living when they all seem to be selling the same tiny pendants. We thoroughly enjoyed sifting through them all and we both ended up buying one for what reason I’m not quite sure. A nice tradition at the Guesthouse is a riverside BBQ where everyone gets involved and the beers flow, it was a good chance to get to know the people we would be travelling to Mae Sot with (hello Rene,Thomas and Co) and a nice way to finish the day after Sarah had decided to get a less than relaxing Thai massage (personally, I’m not convinced that you should have to pay to get your neck and back thoroughly assaulted by a freakishly strong Thai woman) and I got a particularly aggressive haircut and shave from a local barber which left me looking twelve years old without my beard.
I had noticed a flyer earlier on in the week for a music event that I had seen before in the UK and managed to convince Sarah and a couple of people from the guesthouse (our fellow construction team members incidentally) that it would be well worth the hefty price tag. I could write reams about the evening but this is not a music review site, all I will say is Roni Size and Reprazent were in town set amongst the chaos of the Arcadia stage. I will let the pictures convey what that means exactly.
By the time my hangover had left me the following day we were packed and ready to head off to Mae Sot on the night bus. I was delighted to find that the standard of buses in Thailand far eclipses those of India and Nepal, with most looking like vehicles the rolling stones would tour in. So we all kicked backed and relaxed in our sleeper seats, anticipating what would for us, be our first sight of rural Thailand and a taste of whats to come in Myanmar.
Sa wat dee.
See photos here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/127744759@N08/Ddow90