Two weeks of Bangkok-ian adventures to fill you in on now (no excuses for lack of blog action the last week as had minimal work to do, so it's ok to put it down to sheer laziness!)
So going back in time a few weeks... (*time machine noises*)... on Friday 27th I skipped out of school, did a quick detour to mine to pick up my overnight bag and pink neon shades, and hopped onto the van with Kat, with sticky rice and curry puffs for sustenance. We thought we'd make it to the legendary Khao San Road where were were going to lodge by 7ish or so. Optimistic. Despite having a formula-one style driver, as usual, the sheer volume of traffic in rushhour Bangkok meant we didn't even reach our drop-off point, Victory Monument, til gone then.
Then there was the whole matter of getting across the city to Khao San, and even though there are various coloured taxis everywhere you look in Bangkok (practically every car on the road in fact as no-one else is crazy enough to take their car into the city's chokka streets), our frantic efforts at hailing one of them proved fruitless. We must have looked like helpless tourists as we approached a friendly Thai girl and asked what number bus went to Khao San (we were a bit embarrassed saying we were going to the tourist hub and quickly dropped into conversation that we were teachers meeting friends there). She was sooo lovely and walked us all the way around Victory Monument and put us on the correct bus, buying us dessert along the way, how sweet! Took a good thirty mins or so to cover about a km, although was only 14b so only a tenth of the cost of a taxi to sit in the same congested streets. Finally we made it to the surreal white world of Khao San by 8.30 and after trailing ourselves around half a dozen GHs inevitably ended up checking in to the first one we'd seen, which was a bit pricy for a pokey room, but it'd do.
Had arranged to meet my friend Emily and her fella for dinner, which then became drinks owing to our lateness. We had a reunion in the middle of the street then dodged past break-dancers, touts, tuktuk drivers, tattooists, tailors, and spring roll stands to Gullivers, a pub on the corner which reminded me a lot of Spoons. I had a refreshing Beer Laos, and I'm not a fan of beer (although I drink a lot of Singha anyway as it's just so damn cheap), but it was deeelicious. Had to decline Emily's invite to give the mechanical bull the other side of town a go as me and Kat were planning an early night of nail painting and getting lots of zzz's in before our early morning Chatuchak shopping spree and big night out the following day.
This almost went according to plan, but we thought we'd do a spot of earring shopping on the way back to our GH (five pairs for 100b, was hard to restrain myself from buying them all!) Then we bumped into Kat's friend Joe and thought we'd pop to the infamous Irish Pub, aptly named Shamrock, listen to the fab live music and have a Guinness. Not a Singha in sight for us that night, drinks from around the world it was. Come 1am we realised an early night was pretty much off the cards so we hit the dancefloor. Well, I call it a dancefloor, but there were tables/stools in the way. The second Joe disappeared to the bar me and Kat were set upon by two Thai guys, one of whom was a rather large dude going for the rapper look, and until Joe came back and rescued me I was pretty much wedged between him and a pillar, though successfully managing to avoid any bodily contact as he did what Kat described as a 'sandwich' dance behind me. Come 3am we were definately ready for bed, nail painting could most definately wait another day.
Obviously didn't hit Chatuchak bright and early but still made it there by an impressive 10.30. Managed to tick a few more people off my souvenir list, and went a tad overboard buying myself pashminas and silk scarfs, of the non-granny variety. Ok, so admittedly I've never worn silk scarfs before, but that's only because I've never had any, and I will now I've got some, and for such a bargain of just over a pound each. I pull out the 'Kru' (teacher) card a lot and show off my limited knowledge of the lingo and get pretty good deals. By 2ish we were pretty much shopped-out and in the 35'C heat of the day were feeling our tiredness kick in. Decided to go to MBK shopping mall for an aircon fix and late lunch of pumpkin soup (microwaved, not nearly as good as me and Rach used to make) and thirst-quenching watermelon shake. Bussed back to Khao San just in time for a little peruse and girly getting ready time...
It was Chala's birthday and, as she's an 80s baby, that was our theme. Not the baby bit, just the 80s bit, otherwise that would be strange! As you can see I went for hot pink hot pants, black flowy top thing, and accessorised with all things neon pink. We taxied over to Sukhumvit where we went to a rather swish Italian restaurant (comparable to Carluccio's), and drew a fair bit of attention from fellow diners because of our eclectic outfits. There were so many nice things on the menu it was hard to choose, so I did what I always do in these situations - share. So two of us split a margarita and onion pizza and spinach and ricotta cannelloni, mmmhmmm. Our meal was accompanied by a wonderful live musician and very attentive waiters, and only cost about 8 quid each. Then we went to a nice bar where they had Hoegaarden on tap, so drank there for a bit and somehow beat Joe at pool, as gracefully as I could wearing such short shorts.
After over two hours in the place and it creeping towards midnight a few of us were getting restless to hit RCA, the main clubbing area in BKK. But, as tends to happen in a big group, no-one could make a decision or motivate themselves. So half of us ended up hanging around on the street for ages thinking the rest were coming, and when we went back to see what they were up to they were still sitting there and said RCA had been scrapped. I was immensely upset, having built myself up to it for weeks and this being my only opportunity to go there. After another hours' umming and ahhing, we finally headed to a Soi on Sukhumvit and ended up at a pretty pants place called Spice Club. Didn't live up to it's spicy name to be honest. The live band were pretty good, but not really playing danceable stuff. When they finished up there was a little ladyboy cabaret which was quite fun, and then the rest of the night the DJ played trance, and more trance, and yet more trance. By the time we tuktukked back to Khao San a few of us wished we'd just stayed to party there! I had a 5am Subway snack... not quite so good as home but did the job.
Sunday morning we woke up in time to check-out. Me and Kat had originally planned a bit of a cultural day but were in no mood to traipse around temples and so decided to shop some more, and so wandered around Khao San picking up some more goodies and got an incredible falafel pitta for lunch.
The journey home turned into a bit of an adventure. We got a taxi to take us to Victory, and on the way explained to quite possibly the sweetest old Thai driver ever that we were teachers in Saraburi. Turns out he lived in Lopburi, the next province, and said he'd take us all the way back for 500b (they normally charge double that). Quite an offer and we were having such a great chat with him so took him up on it, plus we had so many bags with us we were dreading being crammed into the minivan with them all so the taxi's boot was appealing too. Unfortunately things didn't go quite as planned, about 30mins into the journey he got a phonecall and explained that he forgot he had to go back to Victory to collect something, so would have to drive us to Saraburi, go back, and then go back again to Lopburi. He was really quite distraught and we felt bad that he'd have another 4 hour odd journey after dropping us off so we told him to just drop us at a bus stop. Was a bit worried when he took his hands off the wheel to hail the bus behind us out his window, and when we both pulled over we discovered it wasn't going in our direction anyway. We said we'd just wait there for another, but he was so sweet and worried about us and insisted on taking us to the proper bus-stop in the next town, where he waited until we got on a bus.
The next day me and Kat went to our massage place for a well-needed Thai and foot and leg massage. Pure bliss for a fiver! I'm going to have to dedicate a blog in itself to my wonderful massage lady DeeDee!
And so to this weekend just gone. Saturday was a bit of déjà vu of last week. Got up early, bussed to the station near Chatuchak, navigated myself through the park (Thailand's version of Hyde Park, just smaller), went down to the metro station for some aircon, and then braved the market for what I hoped would be the last of my souvenir shopping. Alas, another visit will be necessary. Among the 8000 stalls I somehow found my pashmina shop, which I was surprised at as most people swear you'll never find the same place again... only bought a few more, honest! Stayed a few hours and then headed towards Siam and MBK. See, definate déjà vu.
Spent almost an hour searching for a hairdresser my friend recommended. My hair massively dislikes Thailand's heat and humidity and was in desperate need of fixing. Finally found it and had the most amazing hairwash I've ever experienced with full-on head and neck massage. Then something strange happened... they took me to a seat, a woman appeared either side of me, and they started blow-drying my hair in unison. I wondered if I'd forgot to mention I wanted it cut, when another woman arrived with scissors. All the wrong way round, surely?! I said I just wanted a trim and was very adamant that I didn't want layers, as everyone I know who's even so much as breathed the word 'layer' has come out with a mullet and had to resort to having it all cut off. I waited with bated breath watching every move of the scissors, not being able to relax until it was finished. Turned out pretty nice and cheap too at around 7 quid. I'd pay that just to have the heavenly shampoo again! Afterwards me and my new do went to MBK for a dinner of seafood noodles and to pick up some more stripy baggy pants which I love, and are a lot nicer than they sound. A friend text to say he was going to Lumphini night bazaar, but I was too laden with bags to venture any further than to my van home.
After another wearing day in BKK I decided to take Sunday easy: had a lie-in, wandered over to Tesco for a surreal 'it's-just-like-home' fix, mooched around the food market, did my laundry, and sweltered in my sauna of a room until it was time for the night market to start. As if I hadn't done enough shopping for one weekend, I picked up some flip-flops, three pairs of shorts, four strappy tops...
NB: Must stop letting myself loose shopping in Bangkok, or anywhere in Thailand for that matter!