Bangkok - Part 1
We're in Thailand! Hooray! I'm brushing my teeth in Bangkok!
We've been in Bangkok for just over a week now and it has been both exciting and frustrating. Bangkok is of course HUGE. Ten million people. There is so much to see and do, we have felt pulled in several different directions every day, mostly by our three different interests. I want to see lots of things. And Mike wants to move slowly and breathe it in. And Abbey wants to play. Although this is not unusual, even at home, our first few days here were somehow particularly difficult. In the end, we learned that the best thing for us to do was to trade off and take more turns exploring on our own.
Immediate first impressions of Bangkok were somewhat distorted by arriving late. The streets look especially dark and dubious in the busy back roads at night. Although, we were pleased to discover that it's a little cooler here than Malaysia. Especially after a monsoon downpour. Our first dinner consisted of yogurt and canned tuna from 7/11, not wanting to brave Abbey's intro to Thai food at 9:30 at night. We grabbed some packaged odds and ends for breakfast too, not knowing if it was offered at our hotel. I picked up a sealed packet containing three pieces of raisin bread, but when I saw the
sell-by date: 17-7-54, I put it back, disgusted, thinking the preservatives must be insane! That's when M pointed out that for the Thais, this is the year 2554. Ah!
Our hotel, the New Siam Riverside, is right on the Chao Praya river. From here we can easily walk to backpacker central on Khao San rd, where there are a feast of cheap restaurants, and a vast array of cheap tank tops, fisherman pants, and handmade bags. If not walking, then we're taking an express boat down the river, or an open-air tuktuk, or air-conditioned taxi...to see the world's largest reclining gold Buddha at Wat Po temple, the Siam shopping centers, the art museum, or the weekend market that has 9000 shops(!) This was particularly amazing...as it sells EVERYTHING. Just to give an idea, here's a random list of some of the things we saw for sale: t-shirts, dried fish chips, lamps, puppies, cushions, bras, beds, a giant wooden gorilla, exotic fabrics, hedgehogs, books, pool pumps, chandeliers, tiny toy vegetables, fish, expensive art, umbrellas. We were there for about four hours, and quite exhausted by the end. For me, the hardest thing was not being able to buy lots of beautiful things...including furniture! Ach.
We also spent a very pleasant hour taking canal tour on a long tail boat (the propeller hangs from a pole five feet off the back of the boat for easier maneuvering). This had us chugging past variety of wooden shacked, concrete, and beautifully restored homes that back onto the canal. Many people were sitting at tables on their overhanging decks eating Sunday lunch. Don't mind us.
The whole time we've been here, Bangkok has surprised me. Before arriving, I had pictured a chaotic messy city, who's illicit leanings would confront you at every turn. I didn't picture a thriving metropolis with giant expensive shopping malls, elaborate gorgeous temples, unique quaint boutiques, or large pristine parks. Bangkok has a hundred unique pockets, and limiting yourself to one or two can easily distort your impression of the whole. True for many things, I suppose. And even though it seems to be taking longer than most for us to see the sights, it's giving us a chance to repeat things, like commuting on the river - which we particularly enjoy. I think part of the struggle, for me, comes from an awareness of less time on our travels. Just about a month left now. Of course, this is more than most people take for a vacation!...but it's relative. Tomorrow we head down to the nearby small island of Ko Samet. We had considered the picture perfect southern islands of Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, or Ko Samui...but we're in monsoons now, and it's not the best time to go. As islands go though, Ko Samet ain't too shabby neither. After that, we will head north to Chang Mai and spend a good chunk of time up and around that area. After that, we're not sure. But it will only leave us a few days before our flight back to Bali. More on Bangkok in Part 2 :)