Bangkok was crazy! We arrived at the airport at around 8PM Thursday night. We found a limo company that chartered a bus for all six of us to our hotel. We gave them the address of our hotel and they said no problem. We knew the ride would take about an hour so we hopped in the van and were off. As we were driving we were all looking around and seeing the skyline of Bangkok; it was pretty cool. After about an hour or so the driver headed for an exit on the highway. So of course we thought we were close to our hotel. Wrong! He pulls onto the shoulder of the highway which is really only half a land wide, so half of our van is still in a highway lane. And the people in Bangkok drive in their own crazy way because the police don't really monitor traffic. So at this point we realize that our driver is lost. He speaks very little english, and of course none of our phones work except Lisa's. But we don't know how to call a Thailand number because we didn't know the country code yet. So the driver hops back into the car and continues to go towards the exit. We finally exit the highway and head towards what we think is the direction of our hotel. Well we drove for about another half an hour, and still nothing. The driver pulls into a gas station and asks for directions. We couldn't understand their conversation, but it looked as though the driver was getting the proper directions. So we continue to drive some more, and again the driver pulls into another gas station to ask for directions. The same conversation appears to happen, but we still don't know if our driver got the correct directions. Again we drive some more, then some more. He finally turns into an alley that doesn't look very good, and we all assumed this is where our hotel was. Wrong, the driver gets out and walks toward some people eating in front of a street vendor. At this point we had asked the driver to call and ask where the hotel was, but he wouldn't; we still don't know why he wouldn't. Anyway after waiting in the alley for about 15-20 minutes he finally comes back and we drive off. We are hoping he found out how to get to the hotel, but again we stop 15 minutes later near a taxi. The driver asks the taxi driver for help, and the taxi driver doesn't know where it is. About 10 minutes later we stop again to ask another taxi driver for directions. This time the taxi driver knew where it was and we finally made it to our hotel about 2 and a half hours later; luckily we had a fixed rate in the van, otherwise it would have been very expensive. We finally got to our hotel, and it looked pretty nice; we didn't pay much so we weren't expecting much. After checking in we went to our rooms. Attached to our room key was some sort of magnetic device that had to be inserted into a slot in the room in order for the electricity to work; it was strange, but understandable. So everytime we left the electricity to our room was turned off, and that includes the air conditioner. Mind you it was about 90-100 degrees with 60-70 humidity the entire time we were there. Anyways we settled into our rooms then headed out to find some dinner. As we were walking down the streets we noticed that almost everything was closed; at this point it was about 11:30pm. We finally found a 7-11 and grabbed some snack food then headed back to the hotel. We ate and hung out for a little bit, then headed to bed.
Friday we got up and ate our free breakfast at the hotel; it was actually a nice breakfast buffet, but with not so traditional breakfast food. After breakfast we headed for the Grand Palace, which is home to many of Bangkok's famous temples and the king's living area. We arrived at the Grand Palace and hired a private tour guide because it was so cheap. She guided us around the entire palace and told us about all of the temples. All of the temples are gold plated and very intricately designed. Just look at my pictures to see what I mean because it is hard to explain them. After the Grand Palace we headed for Wat Pho, which is home to the giant reclining buddha; it was awesome. This buddha is lying on its side with its head propped up by its right hand. The entire statue is about 40-50 meters long and about 20-30 meters tall; it is very large and inside a temple. Many temples required us to take our shoes off. Anyway we looked around a few other temples. Inside Wat Pho there is a massage school so Marcel and Kristen went and had traditional Thai massages, while Eric, Iris, Lisa and I headed back to the hotel. It was so hot and we wanted to go swim and relax before we started the night. Later that night we headed for one of Bangkok's night markets. We ate dinner at this great Thai restaurant, then bought some beer at 7-11 and proceeded to walk around the market. The market had stores that sold almost everything; everything name brand was counterfeit, but it was very cheap. Eventually Marcel, Kristen and I found ourselves at a Shell gas station that had been converted into an outdoor bar area. So we had a drink and met back up with the rest of the gang. All of us at this point decided to go see a "Thai tourist" show. I won't describe it because it is quite extreme, but we had to see the show. After the "show" we went back to our hotel to get some sleep.
Saturday we decided to hop on the skytrain and head towards the huge outdoor market. This market has about 3000 vendors or so and covers a lot of land. It was absolutely huge. We all went our own ways to shop. I didn't want to buy anything so I just walked around and explored. Each vendor has a small niche about six feet wide, and all of them are crammed together. It was actually pretty cool to walk around, but it was so hot. Eventually I found my way into a massage area where I had a half hour foot massage. Wow, for US$4 I got an amazing massage for my aching feet; it felt so nice. After my massage I met up with the rest of the group. We went back on the skytrain and headed for the mall. We ate lunch and walked around for about half an hour. Then everybody but Lisa left and headed for a health spa. We were all hoping to get massages, but the wait was too long so a few of us only did foot massages; that's right, I got two foot massages in one day. After our foot massages we went back to the hotel and got ready. We met up with Olivia, our friend from HKU who was visiting her family in Thailand. We ate at this amazing Thai restaurant, but it was quite expensive. We had a few drinks ate dinner, and then got the night going. We headed toward this bar district, which contained a whole row of bars and clubs. We decided on a club that was pretty cheap to get into and it included a free bottle of whiskey for the 6 of us to share. Since we had the whiskey we didn't have spend more money on drinks. The club was huge and full of people. The funniest part was when I went to the bathroom. I walk in and immediately one of the bathroom attendants escorts me to a urinal. As I am trying to go to the bathroom two bathroom attendants begin massaging my neck and back, and then place a cold washcloth on my neck; I felt like I was back on probation giving a drug test with the supervisor looking over my shoulder. I knew I was red in the face because I was trying so hard to pee, but I couldn't. So once I was "done", they escorted me to the sink where they turned the faucet on for me and dispensed the soap for me as well. Then they handed me a towel. As soon as I turned around to leave three attendants stood right in front of me asking tips. Of course! Nothing is free. I gave one of them 10 baht and left; 10 baht is about US$0.30. I had already paid about US$5 to get in and didn't have much money with me. We spent the rest of the night dancing and drinking from our bottle of whiskey; it was a great time partying at a club where a lot of locals hang out.
Sunday we planned to get on a boat and tour the canals. We got on a boat that resembled a pontoon I guess. We went down the Chao Praya river passing temples, financial buildings, a university, homes and restaurants; it was beautiful. We finally reached the entrance to the canals. Along the canals were mainly homes and temples; check out my pictures because they will show you better than I can explain. The boat makes a stop at a snake farm. This place was actually really cool. Inside is a small kind of zoo, but it features a snake handling show. When we first walked inside we were greeted by a man with a monkey named Cappucino. The man gave me the monkey and let me hold it. It was very friendly, but energetic; it began eating while I was holding it, but it then began crawling on my shoulders, face and neck. I have pictures of me with the monkey so check them out. Then right after I gave the monkey back the man asked for a donation for the monkey, of course. We then walked around and saw many cool animals such as alligators, wide varieties of snakes, a turtle, bears, reindeer, monkeys, birds and my favorite, peacocks; the peacocks were amazing. I personally have never seen them up close. After we walked around we sat and watched the snake handling show. It was really cool. These men were handling poisonous snakes and pythons (non-poisonous, but still deadly). We were about 5 feet away from the snakes with only a 1 and a half foot gate similar to the gates you would buy to keep children out of rooms; so the gates had small holes in them that some of the snakes probably could have slithered through. Anyways we also got to see one of the men catch a poisonous snake with his mouth; it was crazy. After the snake farm we proceeded through the canals and were dropped off near the Grand Palace. We found a small local fish restaurant; everything contained fish. It was really cool because they grew their own herbs right outside the windows, and they even grew some of their own fruit. These really made the meals delicious. However mine was so incredibly hot and spicy I could only eat about 1/4 of it; it was filled with chili peppers. Luckily I had ordered a Thai iced tea and the dairy in it helped sooth some of the hotness in my mouth. After the restaurant we headed back to the spa where I received a 2 hour traditional Thai massage and a 1 hour facial; it was cheap so I had to get both. The Thai massage was very nice, but at times a little painful because they focus on pressure points and try to increase blood flow. Overall it was amazing; I actually fell asleep for about 30 minutes. Next was the facial. The facial was awesome. As they are putting these creams and herbs on your face they massage your face, head and neck. Then at the end she massaged my back and arms; it felt so good. After the spa we headed back to the hotel to plan our last night in Bangkok. We agreed upon this club called Bed Supperclub; it consists of a restaurant and club. We first went into the restaurant to eat dinner. Right when you walk in you see beds lining the entire walls on both sides. So basically each wall is just one long bed, and they were so comfortable; I have pictures of the restaurant. We had a three course meal that was delicious and I had a few martinis. After we arrived we found out that Sunday night was gay night so there was a transvestite performing a type of comedy/skit show; she was very funny. After her show we spoke with her for a little bit and discovered that she was from Texas, but now lives in Bangkok. We hung around the restaurant for awhile then headed over to the club side. At first there were about 50 people or so, but the club isn't that big to begin with so it seemed kind of full. We all ordered some drinks and kind of hung out/danced. Then at midnight the show began; three transvestites each performed a song and everybody danced. Then once they were done the DJ played some good music and everybody in club danced until closing. It was a great night eating, drinking and dancing. It was a fun way to end the trip.
Monday morning we all headed down to breakfast and then to the airport to catch our flight. Bangkok is so crazy, but we all had an amazing time. I can't wait to go back to Thailand and visit other parts of the country, such as the southern islands and northern cities. The best thing about Thailand is that everybody is so friendly and they all smile; Thailand is actually the only Asian country that was never colonized so this is why they are friendly and always smiling. Well I'm back in Hong Kong now, and I leave for India next week. Look for my journal about India as well because it will be full of stories I'm sure.