So here it is, the first blog of many...
After an emotional farewell, we set off on our World Tour. Things didn't start too well though as, even though we were told we would be sitting together, our seats were 27 rows apart! However, it wasn't too much of a big issue as we both got to meet some new people all travelling to Sydney (a further 11 or so hours on from Bangkok!)
We touched down at Bangkok airport at about 5pm local time and the first thing that struck us was the heat. With a hoodie on and 2 bags to carry, it was hard work in the humidity. The luggage was practically already on the carousel when we got off the plane, so we were ready to get the AE1 bus into the city centre, but not without a taxi drivers best efforts to con us into going with him for a higher fare! As we have since discovered in our few hours since arriving, the main word to use in Bangkok is 'NO!'
'No sex DVD', 'no ping pong show', 'no massage', 'no tuk tuk or taxi', etc...
Driving from the airport, it was clear to see the economic variation within the city. One second you can see what can only be described as 'shanty town' type settlements, and the next you are presented with massive brand new skyscrapers.
Another thing that strikes you when you walk the streets is the overwhelming and sometimes nauseating smells that come from the food stalls and drains. Every few steps there is another food vendor or clothes stall vendor trying to entice you into buying their dirt cheap products. But you have to keep an equal level of concentration between bumping into people on the busy streets and trying not to fall over the potholes that are the paths.
We came to Bangkok with a pretty stereotypical view, well me especially (Dan), and it certainly lives up to it! There are scores of young Thai women roaming the streets looking to provide 'services' to the men in search for it. But do not fear, we have and will continue to apply the 'NO' mentality.
We are gently easing into the Thai culture, having eaten a McDonalds cheeseburger meal each and being to an O'Reilly's bar. Yes they get everywhere!
- - - - -
Yesterday (19/1/09) we spent the day using various transport getting across the city to the Khao San area. Firstly, we took the river boat north to Phra Artith taking about 30 mins and the best thing was it cost us only 15p each. We then went to Khao San Road and experienced our first proper thai cuisine, noodles and chicken in thai gravy sauce and it was delicious! This was naturally complemented by a large beer. Khao San Road is full of street vendors by the day but is very different atmospherically by the night as we later found out. After that, it was onto the tuk tuk and as it was Buddha Day the drivers were driving people to any attractions in the city for a fixed rate of 20 Baht (about 40p). However, when we were told we were going to a Wat (temple), we actually ended up and the driver's mate's suit shop! Despite this slight annoyance we remained in high spirits and got taken to the Hualamphong train station where we got the metro for 18 Baht each (36p) to Silom (the area in which our hostel is). Here, we walked around the largest park in Bangkok for a while and then retired to the hostel for a nap in preparation for the night ahead.
The night soon came around and we met Zea, Chris, John and Benny (a mad drunken Ozzie) on the front porch for some drinking and light banter. Then we went to the much hyped Patpong where we were constantly assaulted by vendors trying to sell everything, including Samurai swords, tazers, knuckle dusters, laser pens and batons! Oh and not to forget the small matter of sex show after ping pong show after sex show.... This was such a seedy area that we decided it wasn't for us, so we got a taxi to Khao San Road.
The night life here was much more our scene and we went to this club called Gullivers which was a really good laugh. Anyone going to Bangkok must go to Khao San Road!
- - - - - -
As for the hostel, Lub d Bangkok is well located because its off the busy street on a soi (side road) but close enough to the shops, restaurants and various bars down Silom Road. The 8 person dorm we stayed in was clean and a good size, and the hostel had a relaxing and friendly air to it. We would highly recommend it to anybody coming to Bangkok.