My first full day in Bangkok
OK, so today is actually the 18th March, I have spent the past 20 days or so partying my way through Thailand. I haven't stopped long enough to write any travelogues, so what you are about to read is the best I can do from memory....(OK, I had some notes and loads of pictures to help me!)
I got up late this morning, I think it was around 11am. I took advantage of the complimentary toast and tea on offer at the hostel. It was delicious, I mean it was only toast and jam but it was HOME toast and jam, it's been a long time since I had home-style bread! I got a couple of maps yesterday from the airport and May helped me figure out where we were in the grand scale of things (I think she didn't get it quite right though)
. They have a Metro (MRT) and a Sky Train (BTS) here, so I thought I take a look around using them. May told me the nearest MRT station was Phra Ram 9, and it was only a 15-20 minute walk from the hostel so off I went. It was around midday when I left and the sun was beating it down. I started walking but 20 minutes down the road there was no sign of the MRT station, I asked a few people and none of them had a clue about what I asking (great!). I found a couple of Motorcycle Taxis (you can hire a motorcycle taxi, it comes with a driver and they can cut through the traffic like no other taxi, it's great for beating the traffic but the only take one passenger though), I tried to explain to them about the MRT station and after some pretty dodgy sign-language they got the idea! Anyway, I had walked way too far and May forgot to tell me that I needed to take a left at the first junction, it was actually only 10 minutes from the hostel. The Motorcycle Taxi took me through some serious traffic and we got to the station in a few minutes.
I went into the super cool station and brought a ticket to Sukhumvit, the first stop on my adventure. The MRT network is a couple of years old and only covers the west of Bangkok, it nice, new and very clean, they use the same token system as the Delhi metro. They have the same announcement as the London underground about 'please mind the gap' but it a Thai lady saying it with an American accent, weird
! I got off at Sukhumvit and got my first glimpse of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. I walked down the main road, it was very busy, lots of tourist around but then also lots of locals too. They have these huge boutiques and malls selling expensive designer brands and right outside on the street, stalls selling everything and anything, at next to nothing prices (well at least that's what I thought until I asked some prices). When you ask someone at a street stall for a price, they don't tell you what it is, they just get out a calculator and type it in, then the bartering process begins! If you say its too much or just walk away they give the calculator to you and tell you to type in a figure, and on it goes back and forth until a price can be agreed. It's a fun way to buy stuff, providing you have the time, patience and will power to barter. I didn't want to buy anything but had some fun along the way. I was feeling hungry at this point and decided to go down a side street to try and find a place to eat (big mistake!), I turned into this road because it looked like it had an English style pub/bar. As soon as I stepped into the street I knew it was dodgy as hell! They had about 10 Pub/Bars on each side of the street, no road traffic was allowed down it and all the places had Thai women out side saying 'harrow mista, u wan masaaage?', yep I was in sleaze city. This is a side of Bangkok that everyone talks about but I really didn't have any interest in staying there longer than I had to. I walked down the street hoping to find a way out (I didn't want to turn back because I would look lost), only to realise it was a cul-de-sac
! What a Larry, I had to turn around and walk down it again! There were all these old, fat, ugly white men sitting at the bars surrounded by Thai girls who were obviously only interested in one thing, just thinking about it makes me cringe.
Anyway, I made my way back onto the main road and found a place that did western food. I couldn't resist the thought of a good old English fry-up so in I went and ordered myself an all day breakfast. It was the first time in ages that I had eaten meat, but I really need to put some weight on and it didn't look like the kind of place where you would find Cats or Dogs on the menu.
After lunch I went up onto the BTS, I took a train to Siam station. It was only a couple of stops down and because it is high up you get a great view of the city as you travel. Siam is an area that has more huge malls and boutiques. They have a mal called Siam Paragon and it has HUGE designer boutiques in it, way over the top!!! As you can imagine, I didn't want to stop there long, so I made another journey on the BTS to Victory Monument. This is a monument built to commemorate the...i'm sure i'll find out ind ue time, it's just in the middle of a huge roundabout, you can't get close to it, you can only see it from the BTS platform around the roundabout
. It was around 5pm by now and the rush hour had begun, the traffic was pilling up thick and fast and the BTS train was packed for my next trip to Chatuchak Park. I got of at the station and was feeling a bit peckish, so I brought some pastries from a bakery in the station and made the short walk out to the park. There was a lake in the middle of the park, so I went and sat near it to have my food and just chill for a while. There was a Thai guy sitting near to me and when I had finished my food he turned around and started talking to me (and no, I can't remember his name, I'm not that good!). H e was starting a new job tomorrow and had been on a training day. It was nice and quiet in the park but then at 6pm they played the national anthem on load speaker and everyone stood in silence. I was surprised to see this because it's not something we are used to doing, but the guy told me it happens here every day. I think it's a great thing that people are still so patriotic in this day and age, maybe it's something the western world should think about!
After the anthem, they started broadcasting a radio station on the load speakers, that killed the calm and relaxing atmosphere. It was getting dark too so I made a move back to the Hostel vie MRT. By the time I got back to Phra Ram 9 it was dark, I walked back to the hostel and collapsed on to my bed, I was totally wasted! I came down later in the evening to get some food and Non invited me to go out with her and some girls from Scotland (I met one of them in the morning, sorry, forgot about that!)
. The girl I talked to in the morning was Laura, then there was Alanna and Jill, they are also on a RWT and are working their way to Australia and then New Zeeland. We all pilled into ONE taxi and went to Patpong. It's basically a pedestrianized street, with a market in the middle and bars, clubs and pubs on either side. The first stop was a bar called Radio City, it had a live band and I think it's Non's favourite place. When we first got there the band was performing 'Hotel California' by the Eagles, their rendition of it was superb! After that another singer came on and then a guy who was impersonating Elvis, things started to go a bit down hill from then on. Non was loving every minute of it and it was really funny but from a musical point of view they scrapped the bottom of the barrel at the end with a guy who thought he was Tom Jones. It was really funny though, the band members were hilarious and they started throwing ladies underwear at the audience, a bit of role reversal there!
We left Radio City at midnight and went across the road to a place called Music Café. It was a club, but they also had a live band there. There was a great atmosphere and we all had a great time. I really like the whole live band thing, we never get that at home and I would love to see more. Non got toooo drunk and toooo clingy but thankfully the girls were there to bal me out (thanks girls).
When we left the club there were lots of Lady-boys out side the place, anyone who says they can't tell the difference must be blind! The market had all been packed away and there was just rubbish everywhere, not a nice thing to come out to! We got back to the hostel at around 2.30am, Non was a little worse for wear and when we got back we met a girl from Australia called Linda and a guy from America called Hunter, they had stayed at the hostel before and seemed to be Non's best friends.
All in all it's been a great day, but very tiring. Going out has been great fun and after that night in Hikkaduwa, it was nice to enjoy a night out! It's been a long time coming but well worth the wait.