Honestly, I should have looked up the weather in the South Pacific before I took off. I’ll take the blame for that one. My bad. Was not aware Typhoon Merantis was going to be smashing into Taiwan during the only 4 hour stretch in my lifetime I needed to be in that f’n country. Good news, it hit the South of the island. Bad news, its 185mph winds caused turbulence so bad I was convinced I was going to wind up like John Denver. In the end, still not dead. So that’s a plus.
After 24 straight hours of travel, we finally arrived in Bangkok. The big apple. The city by the bay. And as tired as we might have been, there is no greater shock to the system than that city. It’s different. It’s loud. It has a certain aroma. The traffic moves in a form of organized anarchy. Cars, mopeds, and tuk-tuks pass one another at will, driving on whichever side of the road they seemingly pleased. The sidewalks are filled with stalls selling clothing, bags, and jewelry intertwined with food stands hawking pad thai, chicken or fish on a stick, and more eccentric delicacies (bugs and scorpions deep fried with soy). It’s like a weekend market in NYC or Boston, except it’s everywhere, every day, all the time. It’s easy to get lost in. And we did. Pretty much immediately. As in 5min after we left the hostel we had no idea what we were doing.
We must have looked lost too because right off the bat we were sucked into a tuk tuk scam. Sure he took us to the standing Buddha and a few other temples with a smile and a nod, but then we got dropped at the Thai Cultural Center. Except it wasn’t the Thai Culture Center it was the Tie Culture Center, selling bootleg custom fit suits for half the price. Basically had to fight our way out of the store. It was 2 against 15 pushy salesmen trying to pitch me a suit in 87 degrees and 90% humidity.
We followed that up with a lovely river cruise on the greyish-brown waters of Bangkok. You see quite a wide range of lifestyles along that river, from tin shacks to luxury condos. Eye opening to say the least. Except for the fact that I was so tired I fell asleep in the boat. So we grabbed a beer and some pad-thai on the khao san road and we called it a night.
(our boat looked like this one but 3x smaller)
(dinner on Khao San)
After 10 hours of sleep we took off for our second day in Bangkok, refreshed and already much wiser. Day 2 consisted of 9.77 miles of walking. It was a lot. Especially in the 95 degree heat. We also had to be in pants as we visited Wat Pho (reclining Buddha) and the Royal Palace. Thank god I brought my sweet zip-off pants from EMS and dope Teva sandals. Swagger like you read about 100 100. It was actually an awesome day that ended at the train station as we awaited our overnight train up North.
Bangkok was an abrupt welcoming to SE Asia. But it was everything I wanted it to be. And I’ll be back to explore more in 2 weeks. I think you could spend years in that city and still not understand a thing about it. Anyways, off to Chaing Mai. I’ll be turning 24 on a 2nd class sleeper car. Just how I drew it up.
(budha on budha)