17th October - First impressions
The flight was quite exhausting. Almost 11 hours and through a time warp (arrival 2 in the morning Dutch time, 7 in the morning Bangkok time). Some Dutch students had apparently decided they didn't need to sleep on the plane... and none of the other people either... so they kept us awake with loud talking for hours.
First impressions: I don't like the touristy Khao San area that my hotel is in! It's filled with touristy shops and market stalls filled with t-shirts, fake Adidas sweaters and jewellery. It's the Damrak
of Bangkok. I tried to find the Mekong river but apparently there's apartment buildings inbetween or I need to walk quite a bit further.
I took a tuk-tuk to the train station about half an hour away in China Town. After buying a ticket for tomorrow's sleeper train I wandered into some interesting streets in China Town... a bit village-like and with quiet, friendly people. One woman was frying what looked like delicious fish, and it was! EUR 0.50 for a meal of fish, tofu, mushrooms, tauge... yummm.
The ride through town was quite a thrill, the drivers avoided a few accidents by a thread's width. My impression of Bangkok is that it's a spread-out, chaotic, smelly city but with a few nice corners here and there. Not enough to make me decide to stay any longer than necessary.
Here's a video
of a tuk-tuk ride through Bangkok.18th October - Lesbian nightlife in Bangkok
Had an amazing night out in Bangkok! I had gotten to know some lesbians over here through the internet: Thai women and expats living in Bangkok. I was not expecting so many people to want to join in but in the end I think we were about 20 at the party!
First I had dinner with 4 others in the Khao San touristy area. It was a colourful mix of nationalities: Thai, Malaysian, Canadian, British and Dutch.
We shared a taxi to a lesbian club called E-Fun where we met up with loads of others (Thai, Belgian and whatnot).
E-Fun was... FUN! Some really good bands performed (I'll post YouTube videos later), then some drag queen shows were performed, quite funny (one had dressed up as an ugly woman with missing teeth and was singing dramatically). Then the DJ's played nice music and we danced until the police came, apparently it's supposed to close at 1am but by then it was 2.30!
Here are some videos of live performances at E-fun: Video 1Video 2Video 3Video 4
It was so much fun to talk with all these girls who live here, and to see what the lesbian scene is like on a Saturday... it's all pretty relaxed and open, the terrace out front is in a street full of 'straight' clubs but nobody cares either way, the lesbians sit outside in plain view and nobody harrasses them.
There was an incident at the other lesbian club Zeta's though, they wouldn't let one of our group in because she was a transgender and they said she was a man. Ironically the ones refusing us entry, both looked as boyish as they come.
So none of us went in. It's hard to understand how a minority group such as lesbians can exclude another minority group (or actually a person who identifies as a lesbian woman.. being open about that must be the hardest choice anyone could have to make)....
Oh well I suppose there are limits even to Thailand's open mindedness when it comes to gays and people who are 'different'. Luckily E-fun was not as narrow-minded and we went back there to continue partying.Lizard of over a meter!
Later on Sunday I met up with Kimm and Juliette again and walked around Hualamphong station area a bit, then took a taxi to the interesting Suan Lum night bazar which is a huge market plus tonnes of restaurants around an open square.
We also strolled through the Lumpini Park. Suddenly we saw something swimming in the lake. It turned out to be quite a big lizard! In fact when its tail popped out of the water it showed its length of about 1.20 meters I'd say! But that was not all; it then headed for the cheesy plastic swan shaped water bikes, and climbed on top of one! This is when we could really see how huge it was! (It was too dark to take pictures and I didn't want to stop looking.) It probably sleeps in the furthest water bike every night. 18th - 19th October - night train to Laos
Obviously I could spend months in Thailand and more months in Laos but I only have one month and my choice was to go for Laos mainly, so I took a night train to get there as soon as I could (without flying). I love trains, and travelling on public transport in general, so this was another fun and interesting experience.
The train left only an hour late (anyone want to complain about NS??) and pretty soon after that the beds were laid out so I had to move up to my upper bunk (that's all they had left but I didn't mind, actually felt a bit safer there). Quite an old guy with leathery skin made all the beds for everyone.
The train was rather shakey and bouncy. It sometimes even seemed to bounce off the rail and crash back down on it, sometimes I was worried we would derail! My sleeping is a bit jumbled up by jet lag and partying (although jet lag has never really affected me much)... so I had some trouble getting to sleep at first but then slept like a baby. In the morning I had a few hours when the beds were already stowed up and I could sit in a normal seat and enjoy the views of the tropical landscape.
The border formalities took a bit of time and hassle but it was all guided in a very friendly way by lots of guys pointing you in the right direction. A Lao visa for 30 days costs US$35 for Dutch people. There was a brand new train that has only been running for a few months and goes from Nong Khai across the Friendship Bridge into Laos. After that I had to take a shared taxi to the capital Vientiane.