1, 2, 3, Bangkok !!
Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
69Trip End Nov 10, 2011
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So I'll take my time, do what I can or rather what I feel like doing and that will be just fine.
First, buy a map. You see, that's how I have been brought up. Not knowing where I am is a bit like not having money in my pocket : I feel vulnerable. So, as soon as I am out of the train station, I just go in the first seven eleven I find and buy a map. Considering I have very little money and I don't know if/when I'll be able to withdraw cash again, this is quite an investment. But an essential one to me. 120 Baht (about 3 euros) later, I have a map, I am sitting down next to the train station and I try to locate it the map. I say try because it took me 10 minutes. Follow the railway ? Yeaaah, I tried that. But there are many train stations in BKK... There are already at least 5 of them in Paris... So, imagine how many there are here. So finding the right one is the challenge. Thanks to the signs on the roads, I get a sense of where we are and manage to locate it. I am east of Chinatown. I am headed to Khao San road, of course : I am a backpacker.... I am no longer the daughter of the guy who stays at the Shangri La :-)
When I see the distance, I opt for a meter taxi. Good for me because it is faaaaaaar away. You see. How can I put it. BKK is HUGE. Paris is a village compared to BKK. Proof is : try and walk in BKK from one end to the other in half a day. I did it in Paris. Easy. Montmartre to Porte d'Italie. To do that in BKK, you should run to achieve it. And still...
When i arrive on Khao San road, it must be around 7am. Some people are actually drinking beer in noisy bars. I guess they haven't slept yet. Some are asleep in the street, completely drunk. Meanwhile, the street is slowly waking up. Street vendors are setting up their booth for yet another day in the backpackers' haven of Khao San. No wonder they have a poor opinion of us westerners... If westerners are what we see on Khao San then... we are dirty, drunk, poor, cheap, vulgar, sex-oriented. Wow. What a sight...
The first thing I notice is that, unlike in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, Internet is hardly free here. You always need to pay something to get online. Ouch. They are not there yet. And yet, they are so much further into the western world, it's quite a shock : so many cars, so much technology... And I have seen nothing yet. I'll get there...
I manage, after two hours of carrying my stuff around, to find the cheapest possible place : a dormitory, Chinese-owned, Chinese packed, for 200 bahts a night. Air conditioning and free wifi ! Yeeha ! I am hitting a new record and another new first timer : a dormitory !! Me ? At almost 40 years old ? Hahaha ! Loving every bit of it : the promiscuity, the noises, the smells... Some occasional cockroach (but I am not alone so I am fine with it). Love this place :-) I was thinking of changing but after a very uncomfortable night in a very uncomfortable bed, I thought "Naaaah, stay. Love this. Love the fact that you would love to splurge yourself to a 50 dollars a night hotel but you don't..." (the irony, which I love absolutely and forever is that, I am writing these lines sitting in a very posh hotel, drinking a caipiroska, Paris prices :-))))) the cost for this drink is almost two nights at my dorm... Bangkok ! I tell you !)
Once I settled in my dorm, I took a long nap... Long long nap. Until 1 pm or around this. I then went for a walk on Khao San and around. The drunken from this morning have been replaced by new ones. The show is going on around he clock really. There is a rugby match going on so yeah, you camera the grunts of all those alpha males, drinking beers, making heavy noises... How sexy. No wonder I am single.
I stop in a tattoo shop and came, this time, THIS close to having my tattoo made, the one I have been dreaming about for the last 15 years. At the last minute I escaped... Kami told me he would give me recommendations for a good tattoo shop in BKK... So i am waiting.
I went for the fish spa. For those who don't know it, the principle is simple : you put your feet in an aquarium and plenty of small fish come to Est your dead skin. In theory it's fun. I was told to do this so I do. OH MY GOD ! GET OFF ME ! This is one of the most terrifying things I have done ! I thought I was being eaten alive ! It's even more gross than leeches ! And yet they are just dead skin cleaners. After a while you get used to it but I made a lot of people laugh because I was taking my feet off the aquarium all the time, screaming like i had seen a ghost or as if a spider was walking up my leg. Honestly, I needed all the self control I could have to eventually let those creatures eat my dead skin. YUK !
Oh ! Talking of yuk ! You remember the Luang Prabang monks-in-the-morning thing ? Well I was lucky enough to witness similar things in BKK as I arrived early. The difference here is that it is beautiful. Monks have the same silver basket but thai people fill it with stuff that is individually wrapped : bread, rice, fruit. It is lovely to see them put those nicely wrapped alms into the monk basket while he's giving them a blessing. And as I suggested in Luang Prabang : each person gives enough for the Monk to have a full meal and therefore the monk can bless this specific person. Awesome. Loved it.
Another great thing I saw since I arrived is their respect for the king and the national anthem time : I was in the train leaving Ubon and at about 6pm, the national anthem was in the loud speakers. Everybody stopped what they were doing and began singing. It lasted two minutes and then life started again. When I was at the movies today, before the film began, there was a short movie about his majesty the King of Thailand, to show what great things he accomplishes and how inspirational he is to the Thai people. Everybody stood up in the movie theatre, hand on the heart. Two minutes later, it's over and life goes on.
The rest of the day was not much : manicure, pedicure, quick meal, then back to the dorm at around 8pm. By the time I could sleep, it was 2am. Yeah. You know when there is a noise, coming back, like every 8 seconds (in that case the ceiling fan had a rusted part which made this rusted metal noise every time it was turning back). First you notice it. Then you expect it. Then you want to kill it. Then you want to kill everyone. Then you fall asleep since you can do nothing of the last two cravings.
As a result, I woke up at 9:30 am... I went for breakfast in one of those vegan/alternative/new age/soft cushions on the floor/African music playing/organic food kind of place. Muesli was good indeed and a pineapple/sweet basil shake to start the day was great. I then took a cab to this huge shopping mall called Siam Paragon. Yeah Ludo, this is all your fault : you shouldn't have told me about this aquarium :-) so I basically spent the day there... Aquarium first (not as great as it promises). It reminded me how much I miss diving... And there was something soooooo not right about all this. Not so much the fact that all these animals are in captivity (and any habitat will never ever be big enough for them) because I see there the obvious interest of learning about them. Zoos remain the easiest and most affordable way to discover these animals... But the noise !! Screaming kids, loudspeakers, ambient music... This is such a change with the sound of my respiration and the bubbles I make under water. The world of silence. This is what I miss the most...
After the aquarium : shopping and shopping again (more window-licking than actual shopping...). The food court is absolutely incredible : I ended up trying a Japanese burger ! Chicken teriyaki burger ! Not bad. Although I am ashamed to admit I do prefer Mc Donald's ones :-(
The other floors ? You name it : Chanel, Prada, Jimmy Choo, Balenciaga, Armani, Chloe, Occitane (visibly very luxury positioning in Asia !), Body Shop, Apple, Bose, and of course KFC, Starbucks, McDonald's, Burger King... Well. Feels like Paris, only more classy. I don't know how they make everything look better, nicer, cleaner. The only thing they don't master as well as us westerners is the home interior category : definitely our decorators do a better job in shop windows. But that's about it ! I indulged myself to a new pair of shoes (the scholl I bought are too big... Pfff) that will do for walking and trekking (check out the brand "Keen"). I also went for two 4DX experiments :-) what is 4DX ? Hehehe. It is like a 3D movie except that they add special effects to your seats... They move, they punch you, they throw air at you... It's fun. So I had a 10 minute try for a scary roller coaster simulation where you are attacked by dinosaurs... I was shit scared. And tonight I went for the movie "The three musketeers" that was just released. Not bad at all in 4DX :-) but i still prefer the 3D of avatar...
I left the mall at 9:30 pm and my aim was the moon bar @ vertigo from the Banyan Tree Hotel. It is a rooftop bar, where you see all of BKK by night. Unfortunately rain, heavy rain started soon after. When I reached the hotel, they told me the rooftop bar was closed :-((( So I went for their normal bar. And here i am, sipping the end of my caipiroska that indeed, after tax, cost me slightly more than 2 nights at my dorm :-)
I am going to take yet another taxi now to get back to the latter, check my emails, see if you have made any comments to my blog................... Hey ! I read all of your comments, I love them ! Why don't you write more ? Hey, those of you who are silent, why don't you tell me something !! I would love to read from you...
Bye for now, I have no idea what tomorrow will bring... And I like it like that :-)
PS : an ATM gave me moneyyyyyy ! Riiiiiiich agaiiiiin !