Khaosan road. Tourist trail central. Incredibly busy yet strangely isolating it's the land of pros and cons. Big pros; the shopping is endless, the food is great, the whole place is about 10^10 cleaner than Paharganj, and you can get hour long foot massages for 200B (1GBP = 47Bhat). The cons? I literally shake in my bed in my cell of a room to the bass of the club beneath. Certain points on the road turn into zoos of completely trashed people of all nationalities at around 9pm. As it's the rainy season, every now and then the skies apocalyptically open and unless you're very nippy you're liable to be trampled underfoot as the crowds on the street cascade into the bordering shops.
Upon landing in Bangkok on Monday I headed straight for the "visa upon arrival" desk. I patiently queued for about an hour behind an Indian family that were travelling en masse. Arriving at the desk presenting my carefully filled out forms, and was told that as I have a British passport I don't need a visa. Fab. Once through passport control I spent a stupid amount of time trying out of principle to find the bus station. Finally I gave up and got a cab. It was about 8pm by the time I had found a room and had a shower. Heading down the street in search of food and a cold beer I stopped at the busiest pace I found. I ordered, got my beer, got out my book (1984) and the girl next to me immediately exclaimed " I love that book!". They were too Israeli girls, called Miri and Khani, both going to uni to read economics next year. We had a really enjoyable meal together (although the food was distinctly average) and got talking to two British boys and a Swiss who were sitting next to us. The evening progressed and the volume of the music rose along with the number of empty beer bottles. At some point somebody suggested that we each buy a bucket. Having heard this was the done thing in Thailand and operating on the failsafe principle of "when in Rome..." we agreed. It was ABSOLUTEY disgusting. Other than being marginally cheaper I reallly fail to see any merit whatsoever in drinking out of something designed to hold large volumes of sand. Half an hour later I realised that everyone in the place was shouting at the top of their lungs and that I was incapable of single vision. I headed home and slept until 1pm the next afternoon. Funily enough the bass didn't bother me too much when I was trying to get to sleep that night.
Yesterday was mostly taken up with buying the few things I'd been told were best to buy here (bikini, hat, Tshirts etc).Although first order of the day was to find somewhere to have lunch.I settled for a cool and shady restaurant in one of the back streets off KSroad. Dominated by a gigantic tree bedecked with lanters the smells coming from the kitchen where literally irresistable. I had chicken fried noodles with egg and vegetables. It was served with fresh lime and it was almost offfensively delicious. I shopped, flooped, and showered only to find I had an hour or so left to spare before meeting Miri and Khani for supper. Just as I was wondering what to do I walked past a teeming massage palour. Trusting to fate I sat down and had extremely relaxing and enjoyable hour. Definately an experience I intend to repeat tonight. I met the girls and we walked a few mintues away from KS to a quiet street filled with lantern strung trees and fairy lights. I had my first Thai green curry. It was yummy, but not spicy enough and had strange large peas that were really bitter floating in it. A planned early night was somewhat defeated by the club below my room and an onset of very intense homesickness.
Today I spent at the National Museum. For some reason no taxi drivers knew where it was but I managed to find it on foot (thank you Rough guide maps). After the heat and crush of the streets the quiet and cool of the musuem was a haven. It was full of brilliant stuff. What I particularly enjoyed was that a lot of the Royal articfacts are still used for their original ceremonial purposes. The 20ft golden towering funeral carriages where wheeled out only 15 or so years ago for the death of the Kings sister. Perhaps my favourite thing was a beautfully engraved silver plaque which detailed the skills a young prince was supposed to master. The translation of the list read, "Thai writing, Astrology, Weapon skills and Elephant control."
I'm meeting Miri and Khani for dinner at 8 and I want to fit in a massage so I have to stop there. Tomorrow I'm off to the diving Island Koh Tao.