Want to come look in my shop...?
Lights, camera, ACTION! That is what Bangkok is all about. We arrived at 3.30am and taken by a tuk tuk around the corner for 50baht (1pound) this would be our taste of getting ripped off in Asia Bangkok. Its only a pound but it hurt our pride as we knew after we could have walked it in 2mins literally. First impressions of it was if you were a naiive tourist who wasn't street wise then you had better wise up and fast!
We had decided to stay on Khoa San Road, an area of Bangkok familiar with the tourists. Bars, clubs, tailors, massage shops, souvenir shops, guesthouses and restaurants run along either side of the road. The road itself is filled with food stalls, pokey bar stalls, stalls for fake ID's including driving licences, press passes and they can even make you a university graduate by awarding you with a fake degree certificate! There are also people trying to sell everything from massages to food, from toys to jewellery and of course the tuk tuk drivers are out in full force to take you anywhere you want to go. It was a scary sight at first as we had arrived at a time where a lot of people were wasted, rats ran wild everywhere and being bombarded by questions and trying to be dragged into this shop or the other. A sight that did make us chuckle was many drunk people receiving foot massages in the parlours. We eventually found a place after an hour! But beause it was so early now, we were able to pay for the night of the next day, so falling asleep at 4.30am and waking up at 12pm we had almost booked 2 nights for the price of 1 :) Our 'Budget' guesthouse (which is its official name by the way) sat down a small side street half way down Khoa San Road. Being on the 4th floor and having a noisy fan meant we could barely hear the party music from the main strip.
Our first day in Bankok we would fall victim to a common tuk tuk scam that we had not yet been made aware of. Walking down the road figuring out what we would do we were approached by one of these drivers who asked us, 'where you go?' He pulled out a map and showed us some key tourist spots that he would take us to for 20 baht (45p). Too good to be true we thought, of course it was! He took us to a couple of Buddhist temples which were rather impressive, but then took us to a TAT office which is like a travel agents. That was fine because we wanted some information anyway. But then he took us to a tailors and said we don't have to buy, just to look and talk and explained he would get a petrol coupon as a sort of commission for bringing us here. We thought fair enough as he said we wouldn't have to pay him anything, but as we came out only a couple of minutes later he said we hadn't been in long enough for him to get a coupon so took us to another TAT office and told us to keep talking for 10 or 15mins only. This we did and he was pleased at receiving his coupon. However, when asking us to do it again as an exchange for waiting for us at the next temple, we refused and said we'd happily pay him 30baht but he wasn't happy and so left. Luckily we found an English guy who lived in Bangkok and had seen what had happened to us many times before. Fortunately he was heading to Khoa San Rd and so escorted us back. Taking a couple of hours to rest we decided we would go out and see what the Khoa San Rd night life had to offer. After unwinding with a couple of very strong cocktails we began to relax and in the process became deceptable to the night hawkers. Fay was the first casualty who bought a bangle bracelet for 40b but mainly because she tried it on and couldn't get it off without breaking it! I lost a game of rock, paper, scissors with a 7 year old boy and so had to buy a rose for 20b, but he felt sorry for me and gave me 2! I then next bought a cotton woven breacelet for a tiny sum of 6baht. However, later on when the evening becomes more blurred I bought a brass bracelet with elephants carved into it and two - yes TWO - toy helicopter toys that you ping up into the air with an elastic band and wings fold out to let it gently fall back to eart helicopter style. There are also bright neon lights attached to it which obviously mesmorized my bleary eyes! Just before we headed back to our room at a fairly respectable 2am Fay bought a pair of leather Jesus shoes, feeling the evening was complete we headed to bed.
We attended the Chatuchak weekend market north of Bangkok city. It is one of Asia's largest covered open-air markets with an incredible 15,000 stalls and with an estimated 200,000 visitors a day! The market was incredible. It sold everything and anything; clothes, accessories, furniture, household goods, ceramics, food, plants, handicrafts - EVERYTHING! We occassionally came across the weird and bizarre. An example of this is that we found crocodile skin bags and the bag part is the crocodiles entire head, jaw and even teeth! The most interesting section of the market that we spent most of our time during our 4 hour wander was the pet section. It was like nothing we've ever seen before. Hundreds of puppies were being sold and they really were the cutest and tiniest things! If we lived in Thailand we would find it hard to walk past and say no to buying one as you saw them playing or crying for attention. Not so many kittens however, though the ones we saw were of course gorgeous and fluffy! One sight that disturbed us was seeing baby rabbits dressed up in cute miniature clothing but while some were able to run around more freely, others were placed in the smallest cages where they could only sit and not move around (though we spotted one trying to escape but was stuck so we gave it a helping hand!) Other animals included; mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, hedgehogs, lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, beetles, fish (many different types and we saw some live bidding on the rare fish), turtles, guinea pigs, you name it they had it!!! We even witnessed a live c*** fight, I stuck around to watch to see what it was actually all about and was pleased to see they didn't fight to the death, though the conditions they were both in it would have probably been for the best! We are hoping to come back to the market before flying home as it's a great place to buy presents and souvenirs ;)
Bangkok fed our obsessions for Pad Thai, a noodle dish that you can buy from stalls for 20 baht (45p) and put your own flavours and spices on it. For a couple of days I think we actually ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! We treated ourselves to a couple of massages. The first was an oil massage and we requested just for our backs and heads to be done. Thai massages can be great at times and painful at others. They really dig at your pressure points with their fingers, I would have preferred just a gentle and soothing massage. We also had a fish spa treatment which was a very bizarre feeling. You place your feet and legs into a tank full of hundreds of tiny fish which swarm over your feet and legs. It's not painful at all, it's incrediblely ticklish. Luckily we were only doing it for 15mins because not one moment was enjoyable for me, I'm just far too ticklish!