OK so really sorry this is so delayed - we have been busy and internet seems to be quite a bit dearer here...so apologies if the usual blogs start getting shorter than usual...
So Thailand = the most deveoped country we have been to by far, and our travelling companion Andy even suggested that the roads seemed very much like in Sydney! The difference though ofcourse is the fabulous food and again the masses of people (and the smells and heat!). So on arrival via international airport we grabbed a taxi straight into the backpacking centre of the somewhat famous Kao San Road. It is the street where travellers from all rhelms end up meeting, whether in transit just about to leave Thailand or having just arrived. This street is absolutely jamm packed full of tourists and it hardly ever sleeps regardless of the time of day...stalls line the street left right and centre selling nearly everything that a backpacker would need: clothes, shoes, sunnies, pirated music, tattoes, movies, bags, even fake IDs such as international driving licences or international student ID cards...you name it. And there are woks set up everywhere chucking out bowls upon bowls of yummy phad thai (thailand's famous noodle dish - trust us we went from one to next in search of the #1)...added to which bars are sprawling onto the street, music pumping from one place to the next with neon lights glaring at you from all angles...a massive change after the peaceful encounter in Laos from where we had arrived!
SO upon Ingo's recommendation we headed straight to a guesthouse situated on the Kao San Rd itself and checked in - for 250baht/night it was by far the cheapest around and certainly had no frills. We basically got a box will a crappy bed and paper thin walls. We shared the bathroom with 7 other rooms on the floor (cold water) and had a fan that didn't work...and we were on the 5th floor. Neighboring bars meant that sleep was impossible prior to 3am unless you were partial to earplugs. Nonetheless the staff were very friendly and encouraged us to use padlocks on our doors as well which we did.
Straight back out the door we headed out to try our first Thai beer - the beer 'Chang'. Boy was this stuff a shock - at 640ml per bottle and a minimum of 6.4% (technically though some bottles are rumoured to be as strong as 10%) and it was tasty! Within 30mins Andy's friend Scott had found us and soon we were on our way to experience one of the craziest nights out ever (Scott is a friend of Andy who spent some time ago living in Bangkok - he knows the ropes so to speak). I naively assumed he would take us to a massive dance/rave club, but no we headed out to what Bangkok is so well known for - the Red Light district...
To say the least a new law has been passed whereby nudity is now illegal, but we still experienced our fair share of craziness...First off the tuk tuk ride. Thanks to Scott's native tongue we managed to find a driver who seemed determined to break all speed records around Bangkok streets and spent every red light burning tires and even managing wheelies (which aza claims sounded like Rotangs!) - see video on facebook! It was crazy, it was fun, and with 4 of us crammed in a vehicle which is build to transport 2 it was very stupid...though only in Bangkok!! We then headed to a small alleyway which was crammed with tiny bars - here the female patrons challenge westerners with games of 'connect 4' - intially they play dumb but when the bets flooded it they were absolutely unbeatable!! If the game were a national sport, these women would win hands down.
We then wandered through a night market (where the prices were outrageous) and soon found ourselves in red light district #1...Men outside bombard you with promises of all sorts of 'games' including "ping pong shows" etc and as you walked past the bars you could catch a glimse of what was inside...girls skimpily dressed(some probably as young as 16 unfortunately) dancing on stage around poles, clearly unenthused, all with large numbers pinned onto them...Anyways moving on!!
As we made our way to the next district we walked past an elephant wandering across a very busy road, and it even appeared it was alone (anyways that was our perspective, and given our intoxication levels it may not have been the case, nonetheless it definitely was an elephant!). Rather than streets, this district bascially was a massive building with some sort of a courtyard in the middle with bars situated around everywhere. Middle-aged western men were everywhere, often courted by young asian girls even a third their age...some would have been she-ladies as well...! Anywyas not wanting to go into detail (!) we spent the rest of the evening at a somewhat 'normal' bar listening to a live band and playing pool, before another crazy tuk tuk ride back to the other side of town. Along the way we stopped for the compulsory Maccas, where one westerner was carrying a rabbit around on a leash. Very strange, though judging from his audience it sure worked as a ladies' magnet haha.
Anyays this blog is again longer than expected! We spent the remainder of our time in Bangkok mostly within the confines of the backpacker district, eating and drinking...One night just as we were headed home for an early night we bumped into one of the crazy kiwis (Ash) whom we had met all the way back in Nha Trang, Vietnam!! Sure enough we didn't end up having an early night. The food is fantastic here, and it seems that anythng goes here: We found one very cool bar which was basically an old "Shell" petrol station = at night the petrol pumps would turn into bars and rickitty tables would be set up all over the concrete each with candles. A massive projector screen would be playing Thai Kick Boxing, and the prices were way more reasonable than in an actual bar!! We have found Thailand to be the most expensive by far, especially accommodation and alcohol (unless you drink the local stuff, it is very much akin to prices back in NZ)..
In other news we spent an entire afternoon navigating a massive shopping mall in an attempt to buy camera #3. Yes both of ours had given up in Laos! Furthermore prices weren't cheap either (same as or more than cameras in NZ) so we ended up buying a cheapie from which hopefully we will make our money back on in NZ on Trademe! In addition aza made a bold move and decided that the heat was all too much...you guessed it, he cut all his hair off!! Looks great, feels great!
Sorry can't really remember much more (it was about 2 weeks ago!)...So we flew in on a Sunday arvo, and the following Wednesday night we were off on an overnight bus down to the 'full moon party' island of Koh Phangan (the bus trip merits a whole blog in itself so watch this space!)...