We left the paradise of the beach behind and headed back to the madness that is Bangkok. First stop was finding some accomodation near to Khao San Road, the famous backpacker area.
If Dubai is the introduction to the Middle East, then Bangkok is the introduction to South East Asia. Most signs were written in Thai and English, everyone could speak English and there were recognisable shops such as Tesco's, Boots and for the first time since Hong Kong - a McDonalds!!
Once securing a room we wandered down the Khao San Road. Hustling with street stalls, it was a shopper's paradise. You could buy anything from vest tops to sandals, to paintings etc. All at bargain prices. We stopped off at a beauty salon Elaine recommended. Waxed, manicured and pedicured- these girls could do anything extremely well and at low prices. If they were in England they would make a fortune.
Next we headed to the night market Pat Pong. Where Khao San Road is designed for tourists, Pat Pong is for the locals. All the clothes were in tiny sizes for Thai women and there was no hope of me being able to buy anything. Still interesting to see though, but it was not long before we headed back to Khao San for some more bucket drinking.
The next day I headed to the British Embassy to see if I could put more pages in my passport. Every country in Asia was determined to put a page visa in my passport and therefore leaving little space for other countries that I intend to visit. No joy though, which means I will hve to apply for a new passport in Australia. Boo.
We also headed to MBK, a shopping market designed to sell electronics and mainly mobile phone. There was just stall after stall (not even really shops) and I do not know how you could possibly choose. Surprisingly, I still think English prices are cheaper.
Elaine sadly departed to head back to Ireland, meaning I was on my own for the first time in a long while. I booked to go see the famous Damnoen Saduak market or more commonly known as the Floating Market. Around 1866 King Rama IV ordered that 32 kilometres of canal were to be dug at Damnoen Saduak, connecting the Mae Klong River with the Tacheen River. A huge market sprung up around it with sellers selling their wares off boats floating along the canal. Now it is a massive tourist attraction and after 9am mainly sells for the tourists and not the locals. It was still interesting to see but I would like to have seen what it would have been like without the tourist trap.
I took the opportunity to go and see a Cobra Show nearby before heading back to Bangkok centre. Here you could watch handlers play with poisonous snakes. The first show was a man trying to avoid the deadly Cobra. Whilst the Cobra was obviously trained it was impressive to see the man miss its vicious attack whilst seeing the creature in action. The girl I had met on the way to the market and who also wanted to see the show, had chosen for us to sit on the front row right in front of the action. It was definitely a bit scary!
Next we saw the Cobra fight it's nautal enemy the mongoose. We were a bit apprehensive that one would kill the other but the tamers stopped them before it got that far. The mongoose had a good go at the snake though and despite the Cobra's immense power, it defintely came off worse. Before the Cobra was put back in its cage, they walked it around the audience and showed the power of its bite and how much venom could be secreted by getting the Cobra to bite through plastic and drip the venom into a bottle. Crazy stuff.
Next was a python- huge in size. Would not like to meet one of those in the jungle. This was followed by the jumping snake. A new tamer entered the area and it was frightening how far this snake could move, especially when it came close to us. Next a tamer tried to avoid the bite of 3 posionous snakes. This was even worse as he could not keep his eye on all 3 at once. One kept trying to escape towards us and got pretty close. At one point, one seemed to fly towards the audience and a couple of people actually bolted out of the auditorium. Finally this man tried to capture all 3, one in each hand and then one in his mouth. The first time he tried to get it in his mouth something happened and the snake escaped. He managed to get it the second time but when he stood up there was two red dots on his neck where the snake had bitten him. I hope they had taken the venom out of the snake but who knows!!
Bangkok was busy but fun. It was strange to be back in a country where you could get what you want and know people could speak English. Thailand was definitely going to be an easy travelling break. Next stop Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.