Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sawat-dii (Hello) Bangkok Part 1

I had soooo much fun! What an incredibly cool city. I don't know where to begin.

Got into BKK at about 11p.m. Friday night. The flights on KLM were excellent. Met a couple of really cool guys at the airport, Brits teaching English in Taiwan. We split the cab fare to the hotel and decided to hang out together on Saturday. After the one-hour taxi ride, we arrived at the hotel. Lewis and "Gas", my two new friends, didn't have reservations, so they had to hunt for a hotel with a room. The place I was staying at was packed, they were out of luck. They took off down Khao San Rd. to find a spot. Unfortunately, I never saw them again. I didn't sweat it, they probably got side-tracked along the way. I was pretty tired at this point so I decided to just grab a bite to eat and hit the sack. I walked about 2 blocks down the road from the hotel and stopped at a street vendor selling PadThai. I gulped it down in record time and headed back to the hotel. Off to bed because I wanted to be ready to kick some butt on Saturday.

The hotel was very comfortable. The bed was king size, excellent air-con, and very quiet. The only complaint I have is the lack of water pressure in the shower...not much more than a trickle.

Woke up Saturday morning ready to conquer Bangkok. I went downstairs and had a great breakfast and read the newspaper in the hotel restaurant. Very happy with the little diner, excellent eggs and bacon breakfast. It was nice to relax and eat a nice breakfast before the heat of the day set in. I was seriously out-numbered in Bangkok, as far as tourists are concerned. This place is crawling with Europeans. After breakfast, I met a couple of nice young ladies from Austria. We decided to jump in a cab and head over to the Chatuchak Market. This is the place I spoke of before, the largest market in the world. While perusing the market I asked a police officer how many vendors are currently in the market, he said about 14,000! The girls and I shopped for about 3 hours and bought lots of interesting Thai goods. My favorite has to be the rubbery thingy's that look like an egg and some poop. You throw them against the wall and they splat into smooshed version of eggs and poop!!! Totally cool...lol. Also, this started my clothing binge. Insane prices for very nice clothes! When we were convinced we saw everything, we decided to get the heck out of there. The girls wanted to head to a temple on the other side of town. I was more keen to heading to Khao San Rd. We split up and I went my own way.

Khao San Rd. is a part of Bangkok famous for it's street scene. It's been the mecca for backpackers for decades. You can see and buy anything under the sun there. My hotel was about a 5 minute walk from there, so it was where I spent a good bit of my time. When I got there on Saturday afternoon, the place was already hopping. It was pretty hot so I decided to grab a beer or three and take in the scene at a one of the bars. I sat down in a patio that was at the center of all the craziness and enjoyed people watching for awhile. There was a big soccer game on, so there was no shortage of Euro's screaming at the TV. After the refreshments I headed down the road to find some DVD's. Before long, I was gulping down another order of PadThai. The stuff is incredible. It's a noodle dish made with different spices. I soon came upon a vender with an ocean of DVD's. I pulled up a chair and went to work. About a half hour later, I walked away with about a dozen movies. Not too bad for my first go at the pirate DVD market.

I made a quick trip back to my room and dropped off my afternoon purchases. While I was meandering through the lobby I struck up a conversation with a Dutch guy named Herman. A nice guy who was in the process of traveling around the world. We decided to jump into a tuk-tuk (see picture above) and head downtown. There is a giant mall/market there that the Lonely Planet Guide said was a must-see...not impressed. I felt like I was back in Taipei. Just another non-descript mall with no flavor. The only thing I managed to find was a nice new wallet and some American candy I can't get in Taiwan. We jumped back into a tuk-tuk and went cruising around the city. The tuk-tuk driver was really cool and showed us many interesting sites. Unfortunately, I left my camera at the hotel...ugh.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was dinner time. Herman & I staked out a couple of seats at a groovy little restaurant on Khao San Rd. and noshed while watching some soccer. Soccer is on 24/7 in Bangkok. It was about midnight and I was starting to wind down. A long day of craziness and the heat was pretty intense. I got back to the hotel and hit the sack.

Sunday/Monday in the next installment.

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