These Legs Were Made For Walking
Trip Start Jun 10, 2009
41Trip End Sep 07, 2009
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Where I stayed
My House Guesthouse
I had decided to head to the Chutachak Weekend Market, a huge maze-like monstrosity of a flee
market with about 10,000 stalls and that sees more than
200,000 people each day on the weekends. I hate shopping, and I find the whole Thai market thing with everyone yelling at you to buy from them even more annoying than American malls, so I wasn't excited at the prospect, but I had been told it was an experience I needed to have and figured it would be a good way to spend a Saturday. But first, I had to get to a Skytrain station to take me there, and that meant finding a bus.
I walked around Banglamphu, the neighborhood I was staying in, for a while, which in itself wasn't bad because it was filled with local Thais getting ready for the day and monks in orange robes going about collecting their daily alms from women and shopkeepers. I hadn't been in the right area at the right time to see that, so it was good. However, what I didn't see was a bus. Well, to be more exact, the right bus. There were plenty, but none to take me where I wanted.
I decided to rely on the philosophy of "Just keep walking and you'll eventually find a bus or the Skytrain", and while it technically worked, four miles later when I was faced with four flights of stairs up to the Skytrain station, I wasn't in exactly the right mood to appreciate it. Anyway, although I had to walk over literally half of central Bangkok, I made it to the market and proceeded to shop.
It wasn't as bad as I expected. The shopkeepers pretty much left you alone until you showed a real interest in their merchandise, and then just sort of hovered until you asked a price. One interesting observation I made at the market and both before and later at Khao San Road was about the humor in the type of music Thais think attract Westerners. At the market, it was pretty much all country music, with some occasional Western rock or pop thrown in. On Khao San, there was a lot of Western music, a bit of Asian rock and pop and, the best out of all, Asian covers of Western rock and pop songs. Who knows why they think blasting out a Greenday or Celine Dion song performed by someone who is not Greenday or Celine Dion (who I hate, by the way; she's just an example of a song I heard) will attract customers (maybe it does?), but I wasn't drawn in.
I bought some gifts for my family and then attempted to leave. Remember how big I said it was? 10,000 stalls? I think I saw 7,483 of them before running into one of the gates (not the one I entered, of course) that had an information station with, glory of glories, maps and a person who spoke English. I was able to successfully navigate my way back the the Skytrain and climb aboard.
Everything was going swimmingly as I got off and looked for a bus to get back, until I realized I had gotten off at the wrong station, the one right before the one I needed. But I didn't realize this until I was back at ground level, so it meant another stair climb and buying another ticket. The rest of my return went normally, and I collapsed on my bed and took a short nap. I spent the rest of the day around Khao San and in the lounge of the guesthouse.
That evening was the first time I felt actually overwhelmed and unhappy with my decision to come here, but that was mostly because of the day I had. I'm sure coming to Bangkok with it's heat and congestion after spending a week away from home already had something to do with it, and I was still tired after getting here and wandering around, so it wasn't a big deal, but I did decide to get out of Bangkok sooner rather than later. I resolved to look into buying a ticket on the night train south the next day, a decision that would lead to what was my best and worst and (thankfully) last day in Bangkok, and after the nightly movie in the guesthouse lounge, went to bed.