Bear with me on this one because it’s quite a long one. I just don’t think you can cover Bangkok in a couple of paragraphs. I know a few readers may have been to Bangkok before so a lot of this is for the Bangkok virgins out there.
We landed about 12 midnight into Bangkok and made our way to the hotel by taxi. The hotel was located about 10 miles outside of Bangkok, which is a bit of pain in the arse because pubic transport in Bangkok isn’t great. Or it certainly isn’t compared to Hong Kong’s anyway. Although we’ve made a pledge to ourselves to get as much public transport as possible, we did get in late so we didn’t have much choice but to get a taxi.
The hotel wasn’t great and we struggled to communicate with them. There was another hotel a few hundred yards down the road which provided our hotel with a 24 hour restaurant. Shame we didn’t stay at that one really because as well as having the restaurant, it looked much nicer than ours. Not that we’re prudes at all!
An example of how difficult it was to communicate is the drinks order. We called up the hotel-down-the-road to order 3 Heineken and 2 vodka-lemonades. What we got was 3 LFO (Thai beer), a shot of vodka, a gladbag of salt and two diced limes. See the pic below.
Before we set off into Bangkok we booked our flights for the next day to take us to the south, and a hotel on the island of Phi Phi. Important to note that despite having a guide book which contained more than 150 pages on Thailand, which, had we bothered to read it properly, would have told us that the last ferry to Phi Phi island from Phuket (the airport we were flying to in the south) departs at 3pm. We booked our flights for 4pm. Shit. It was actually a stroke of luck (and a weak bladder) which took us into a tourist information centre in central Bangkok where we found this out. A 10 minute phone call and £40 later we had moved our flight to an earlier one. Rejoice! You can only imagine Milly’s mood if we had hit Phuket an hour after the last ferry to Phi Phi had gone.
Bangkok is a real eye-opener. It’s not what I was expecting (but maybe we didn’t hit the parts of town which I was basing my perceptions on); I was expecting a seedy, rough, sin-city esc place with bumper to bumper cars and people which would be a pick-pocket’s wet dream. What we saw was very hard to describe and to some extent emotionally moving. In certain areas there seems an unreal amount of deprivation but it’s deprivation steeped in beauty. For example, there was a street which had a, I want to say canal, running through it and, despite the houses on either side, looking more like World War 2 air raid shelters than houses, there were a multitude of colours, an ecstatic silence and virtually each resident gave you a smile and a nod, making us feel welcome. In Stockport the residents are more likely to flick you the bird.
Throughout the ‘ghettos’, there are some absurdly beautiful buddhist temples or ‘Wats’. Honestly, some of the most radiant and exquisitely decorated buildings I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. I’ll have to apologise because I didn’t have any phone battery so didn’t get any snaps.
We walked carefully down the traffic laden streets to the flower market (pics below) and around the harbour for some lunch.
A few more things to note about Bangkok (and possibly Thailand in general) to give you a better picture of things. All the county’s electrical cabling is exposed and about 10 foot above street level (see pics). I bet there are a serious number of electrical/telephone service men that have to take time off work with stress. I mean sifting your way through that cats cradle of wires would do my nut in. Also, they bloody love their King. In fact, they worship him like a god. There are pictures, shrines, memorials, art-work, broadcasts, manakins and loads more artefacts dedicated to him. I remember seeing on the news about him dying, but I really didn’t realise how well loved he was. We were reading that he has been a significant public figurehead during times of civil unrest and coups due to government corruption and alike. When I die, I’d like you all to show devotion to me like Thais do to their King.
After a few Changs, some smelly mango salad and a mooch about the harbour area, we walked up towards Khoa San Road to see what all the fuss was about. It’s a renowned tourist hot-spot and we (well just me really) were keen to watch United vs Spurs.
I wasn’t overly impressed with Khoa San road if I’m honest. It was just like a strip in Zante or Magaluf except from they sold scorpions on sticks. There are also a number of street vendors (as there are all over the place) and markets.
I was very eager to visit the world famous restaurant Cabages and Condoms but alas it wasn’t to be.
Milly decided at this point that she’d like to purchase some ‘authentic’ Adidas wear in the form of crop top and shorts. She was livid (I was in stitches) to find that the crop top was more like a crap top as the straps at the back were twisted making it very uncomfortable to wear (see pics). She even tried to take it back, which I found just as funny. Obvioulsy the woman who sold it to her denied all knowledge and her excuse was that the bag which she’d given her with it was made from a ‘different material’. Disgusting customer service if you ask me 😉 I was going to give them a piece of my mind but the seat I was sat at was super comfy and the beer in my hand would have ben warm by the time I had returned; reluctantly I decided not to.
We left Bangkok centre at about 10pm as we had to be up early the next day to catch our flight and ferry to Phi Phi.
I could have written more about Bangkok in all honesty. It was quite a culture shock which made me happy, sad, amazed, angry, energetic, hot and bloody sweaty!
So on to Phi Phi where the story continues……
A pretty little street in Bangkok
View from the harbour
Khoa San Road
About to enjoy a ‘Happy moment’
A few vids from The Peak: