Asia is great. Tokyo was outstanding, Shanghai a culture shock and Hong Kong right in the middle (bar that hostel). Coming to Bangkok I started to feel a bit bored with Asian cities and wondered if this would be more of the same.
Bangkok is superb, arriving at the airport I went out to the airport shuttle bus and was hit by the wall of heat, god damn this place is warm. The bus journey sped though the city, having very little info on where I was going bar “Thong Lor” as the ticket man said, as the bus fired down the road I looked out and assumed I was at the right area, so jumped off the bus. Looking around I saw a sign advertising the hostel, checked the map and realised I was a bit too early. Backpack on – I started wandering down the street and realised Bangkok is crazy. Streets are once again full of mopeds, a bit more sain when compared to Shanghai but still rather mad for a westerner.
The hostel is superb, part of the Hostel International chain (as per my Chicago stay) it’s big, very clean and super friendly. Arriving, checking in and meeting a few guests I had some street food before a few of us hit a local-ish pub for a few pints, we decided to visit the well known side of Bangkok…
We headed to the famous Nana Plaza to see the chaos first hand. After a walk around the area, we picked a safe bar in the middle sat and took in the madness from a safe distance, no real hassle or trouble from the locals so it was a fine night out. No photos, I wasn’t taking my camera with me.. for fear of my life!
Awaking with a hangover, not too many beers but mixed with dehydration doesn’t help, we hit the mall area as it was air conditioned and therefore nice to hangout. Not expecting much, I was blown away by the size of the malls, six floors – bottom floor was an aquarium like deep sea world (skipped), next up was the biggest food mall I’ve ever seen, I’ve since been twice and it’s really damn fine. Floors upon floors of shops, one of them hosts luxury cars including Lamborghini’s and Porsche’s – crazy.
That evening I returned to the hall to catch Indy Jones 4, missing it in OZ, it wasn’t on in Japan (oddly every single other country got it on May 22nd) so therefore Thailand for me. The cinema was awfully comfy, reclining seats, large, comfy and superb. At the end of the trailers and adverts, the audience stand for the king! Can’t see that working in blighty… My experience was tainted by the fact that my sweet popcorn as some bits of the “cheese popcorn” in it, I’ve never tasted anything so disgusting.
And that brings me nicely on to Thailand food – I’m well up for trying new flavours and ingredients, Bangkok’s resdient’s dine on street corners, vendors selling meat from little portable grills, plastic tables and overall stupidly cheap. My first sample was little pork (I think) kebab sticks from a place just along the road, coming with small bag of sauce and other with veg, it was stunning, especially for 46p (for ten!). I’ve had sit down dinners and lunches, but today walking though a market area up norh I sampled the pictured banana’s. Three little banana’s grilled, not very sweet but quite tasty once you adjusted, well worth it (and again… cheap!).
Today I headed to the river, got a day pass for the boats and headed up the Mae Nam Chao Phaya river. The boats are superb fun, jumping on is a hoot, loading and unloading takes around 10-15 seconds, so no time to doodle, you will probably be required to jump on to the boat and off and the ride is quick. I went up the river making many stops, first was un-planned but after seeing it on the horizon, it had to be done:
Seeing the sight of Wat Arun from the river, with people climbing up it, I was sold. I got off the boat, transferred onto a cross river boat and before I knew it, I was climbing step after step. Seriously steep steps which got you to an impressive height within seconds, the view over the area was superb, the climb down, especially in flip-flops was a bit of a challenge but well worth it.
I finished the evening in the Banglampgu area of the city, this seems to be backpacker heaven, loads of stalls selling everything from clothes (I got a T-Shirt for £2.50) and food, mixed with the usual Thailand copied material – I love the fact that they will sell you movies and music downloaded to your own iPod or laptop, skipping out the issue of media… Piracy gone hitech. During my time there, a thunderstorm started, soaking the streets, I jumped in a Tuk Tuk and headed down to the pier, avoiding the weather and enjoying the ride, great fun.