At the airport I got myself some Thai baht and jumped on the sky train that took me closer to the city centre. During the train ride there was a short but heavy rainfall that luckily stopped as I got out. At the last station I showed a tuk tuk driver the address I was heading to, which he did not recognise so I just asked him to drive me to the Center thinking that It was close to where I was supposed to go.
It turned out not to be.
I spend the next two hours wandering around the humid post rainstorm Bangkok wearing jeans and carrying my huge backpack. I was in a rather hopeless situation as the screenshots I made of the address were all in English so the locals couldn’t help me and the location of this tiny hostel was in some backstreet alley that no one knew anyway. The next quest was obviously to find wifi, which was a lot harder than one would expect. But in the mean time I was able to take my first look at the City. If there was one word to describe Bangkok it would have to be ‘alive’. The people here don’t eat at home (80% of women have jobs so there isn’t anybody to make the food) hence the Thais eat on the street and take food home with them from the hundreds of food stalls that line the roads and alleys. Theses could be a simple Barbecue on the floor or a makeshift soup kitchen the size of an Ice cream truck. It also seems that here one eats not three times a day but when hungry, as they are open and equally busy all day. I would advise anybody travelling to Bangkok in the future to go for Chicken, whether roasted on a BBQ, in a soup or with noodles it is tasty and relatively safe to eat as it is likely fresh, judging by the chickens running around in the alleys (seeing one being slaughtered next to a container full of rubbish ruined my appetite for a short while). What I would advise against is eating is Fish, if you would like to know what happens if you do, ask Harry (one of my travel companions). Eating Fish is a risky business anywhere but especially when you are far away from the seaside, so stick to eating seafood on the coast. One final thing about food, eating something on the street that is being cooked right in front of your eyes is often ‘safer’ than something from a restaurant, who knows how long it’s been sitting there.
Another aspect of the city that deserves a mention is the traffic. Whether it was the big white Porsche or the tiny scooter every driver here is a lunatic, at least by Northern European standards. The right of way is not determined by rules but by the amount of risk you are willing to take. If one waits at the side of the street for cars to stop, you will be waiting there all day, you just have to go and let the vehicles drive around you. ‘Fortune favours the bold’ appears to be the maxim for those that participate in the traffic.
Eventually I found a cafe with wifi that actually worked and had an iced drink (another tip for travelling should be to avoid ice as the drinking water here is not safe, however this is quite a hard rule to keep true to in the 30 degree heat)
From there I found my route and made my way over to the hostel, over a couple of canals in which I saw a giant lizard the size of a crocodile. After a short walk trough some very picturesque alleys I spotted my mates sitting outside the hostel, both looking very relaxed and tanned as they had been in Australia before coming here. After checking in (~5€ for the night) my travel companions told me the stories of their last few nights in the City.
In the evening we walked the streets that I had traveled upon during the day. During the day there where stools selling clothing and other shenanigans but now the road was full with bars, people dancing and a variety of items being sold that you couldn’t get during the day such as funky brackets with rude inscriptions (as can be seen on Jamie’s arm) and scorpions on a stick (as seen on the picture accompanying this post).
For dinner we chose a bar situated right on the street from which one could observe the street, observing many interesting things, from men dressed in black performing tricks with fire to westerners being seduced by Ladyboys. Our chicken and noodle supper was accompanied by drinks served in a colourful bucket and with a traveler we met in the hostel (Either George or Michael, I forgot). He told us that he was only going to have one beer and then head home to have an early night, but he seemed to enjoy his time and stayed out a bit longer than he planned to (he stumbled into the hostel at 9 in the morning, vaguely telling us about what he got up to).
There is a saying that says “Bangkok has you know” which means that if you go for a night out you will have little control in how the night turns out. That certainly was true for the three of us (and especially for Michael. Or George.I forgot)
Bangkok has a reputation for being the Babylon of the modern area and to some extent that is justified. If you want to know more about what it is like here you will have to go yourself.
The next day started like most other days after a night out, having only gone to bed at some point between 2.30 and 5 (there is a lack of memory or evidence to date a more exact bedtime). After some food and a taxi (get in a taxi on the street and don’t book one with the hostel, that would have cost us double) we arrived at Bangkoks second airport, DMK. Me and Harry having had window seats and were able to see a stunning sunset in the distance accompanied by an intense thunderstorm.
PS: The death of the King sometime in Autumn is still felt throughout the country, Thais wearing black were mourning their fallen monarch in the streets and even on our flight an announcement was made about Air Asia saying that King no.10 will live on in their hearts forever.