Of course, it's best to begin by referring to Bangkok (or Khao San Rd - the city's Backpacker haven) as a rape of the senses. During, what is currently described as the rainy season, each morning and night (usually the minute after I put down my fork and spoon from my delic' pad see ew) bucketloads of water descends from the heavens and transforms the bustling tourist mecca into a scurrying flurry of ants. Stalls selling tshirts, henna tattoos, or whatever the f*ck you can think of, all close and the shirtless travelers migrate indoors to consume large amounts of Chang or Singha beer (which we've purchased for 100BHT = $3AUD) under a constant loop of trance beats.
I arrived under the cover of darkness, so the humidity wasn't too bad the moment I stepped onto the taxi platform.. but the change was obvious. I'd met an English guy named Ben at the baggage claim who has been traveling for the last two years and is on his way home to Swindon. I'd noticed his disheveled appearance at the gate in Sydney.. he had white headphones on, a full beard and a birds nest of blonde hair underneath a knitted beanie… my type maybe? Hehe… anyway, enough of the descriptive rubbish, I'm sure you get the picture. He approached me to split a cab, and found we got on rather well on the ride between the airport and our respective accommodation.
It seems the Royal Hotel (where I'm connecting with my GAP adventures tour) is a favourite among travel agents abroad, and as such used it as our meet-up place every day. You see, I decided to stay in a cheap hostel on the river (can't remember its name), but it overlooks the.. er.. bridge that looks like Sydney's Anzac Bridge (gee wiz, a map with these places names would come in handy right about now…). It's quiet and off the beaten track. To get there, the taxi got lost, before dropping me off in some random alleyway, and tried to convince me through a game of charades that this was where I was meant to be. Er, ok.. I'm in a random under-developed city, don't speak the language and I'm desperate for a sh*t.. but ok… I'll wander aimlessly down that dark, residential path covered with emaciated cats, and God knows what else in the hope luck favours me and I find Phiman Water View. Sure.
Fortunately, a quick left turn, followed by a right, and a right.. and a small door invites me inside. I could tell because I'd booked the place based on the artworks in the website pictures, albeit not because of the cheat 350BHT rate (and you could probably guess from my earlier conversion, that's pretty much a pittance). Yet, after doing what a man needs to do after an 8hour flight, I relaxed with a beer before settling in on the hard mattress.
Wat Intharawihan (Temple of the Standing Buddha)
- 45m into the air, this gold statue was the first I saw, and it was a great eye-opener into the differences between slum and wealth. Right near my hostel, it was free entry because the city had a visiting monk).
Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
- Creative names for these things huh? Amazing gold statue that will only be realized in visual form.. so I wont go into detail here. Bl*ody hot inside though, I could see my sweat trickling down my arms as I took photos).
Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
- Apparently rather sacred, and the only place you couldn't take photos inside. But it was nice to kneel for a moment to watch the locals worship a little green statue.
Rattanakosin (Grand Palace)
- Meh, starting to get over the temples….
Wat Saket (Golden Mount)
- Probably a great place to view the sunset, but all I had was overcast skies, so it was hardly worth going. Besides the tuk tuk drivers Ben and I approached (or rather, who kept approaching us) wanted to take us to several other places as well… theres a scam often played out on the unsuspecting…
Thon Buri (Temple Of Dawn)
- Plan to see it today.
There a groups of students following us around the temples, asking us (or mainly Ben, I think because of his Jesus-like hair) in broken English whether we enjoy coconut soup with chicken, although it sounds more like ho-ho-hut Michigan. They seemed to think the task of speaking in a different language less daunting when we asked them for a photo.
On a day-trip yesterday to the former capital of Siam (before it was ravaged by war), meant a private taxi for the two of us that only cost about thirty bucks each, and meant we didn't have to work out how to get to the train station, etc, nor find the Buddha head wrapped in the roots of a tree either. And of course I could be descriptive here about what we saw, but I'd rather point out that probably as part of his commission, our taxi driver took us to this place where we saw tiger kittens playing with a puppy, and an elephant took us for a leisurely stroll around the park.
Not sure how I feel about how the animals are treated here, but it made me slightly uneasy when the guy sitting on the elephants head whacked it with a hooked stick to stop it from pausing to eat the grass along the way. If the elephants skin wasn't as tough as a grannie living in Miami, I'd be inclined to jump off an walk back… but in all honestly, it probably just felt like a tap.
At one point, I was just looking up from reviewing a photo, when my eyes met those of a beautiful Thai girl. She was beaming at me, and I couldn't help by watch her and smile back as we walked in opposite directions. In hindsight, I probably should have asked her for an interview, and possibly export her to Australia so Josh and I can have Thai food cooked for us every night!
Ok, enough for now, I'm sweating here and can smell banana pancakes (or 'banan pancay'). And I want a papaya shake to feel refreshed with. Just a heads up.. I had roaming enabled, but it seems it is only incoming, and outgoing texts just sit there doing nothing. Blows…
PS. As always Sydney looks fantastic from the air… a nice memory to have of home while away…