A lil' Backyard Exploring

Trip Start Jul 18, 2009
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Trip End Jun 08, 2011


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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hello!

I need to first apologize for it taking me so long to write this. This blog actually has to do with last weekend and not this one, but I have had grades due this past week so I have been insanely busy. I did a bunch this weekend too and will have pictures posted and a blog about that very soon too. Now, if you havent noticed by the past number of blogs, I have spent the last few weekends running around all different areas outside of Bangkok. This weekend I thought that it was time to stay in my own "backyard" and explore downtown Bangkok and all that it has to offer. It was quite a weekend! I did and saw more than I even imagined and took some amazing pictures. But let me preface this blog by saying that the weekend made me realize that I am not as young as I used to be. Cant roll with the big dogs anymore. I was in pretty rough shape when the weekend was finally over. Yikes.

On Friday night after I got big and buff at the gym, I headed down the BTS skytrain to a waterin’ hole that I had read about and heard many good things about. It is a very small British-style Pub called the “Black Swan” (insert Billy Madison quote here). It was a great place and had a very comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. There was a lot of Brits and Aussies there, so it was good to talk “football” with them and shoot the breeze. The coolest part of the Pub is that they have this very nice spiral staircase in the middle. Beautiful to look at but a death trap after one-too-many pints. Thankfully I didn’t get to that point so no worries. I worked up quite an appetite at the Black Swan and decided to check out a near-by Taco joint that is all the rave among Westerners in Bangkok. It is called Sunrise Tacos and was started by an American about 15 years ago in Bangkok. Needless to say it was quite successful and now there are 5 of them total throughout downtown BKK. The food was delicious, certainly worth a second trip. I actually went back there for dinner on Sunday. After tacos, I was pretty beat that I decided to call it a night and get ready for a pretty busy Saturday (Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, Etc. If I have enough time).

Saturday I woke up bright and early and headed to a very popular museum in BKK known as the Jim Thompson house. HISTORY LESSON (Yeah!): In the late 1700s and 1800s, Thailand produced silk that was very similar in quality to Chinas. But since China had been trading it for centuries, they essentially had a monopoly on the market, and Thai silk was just used among the Thais as it was a very cheap local alternative. Jim Thompson was an American that moved to Thailand in the late 1930s and was a conesuer of sorts and discovered Thai silk. Convinced that it could rival Chinese silk, he began to redevelop the Thai silk industry and put a great deal of marketing behind it. Thai silk was used in the very famous “The King and I” movie, and after that, gained world wide attention and popularity. Jim Thompson started his own silk company and provided jobs and revenue to thousands in Bangkok. He built a really sweet house in downtown Bangkok, but then vanished 6 years later when exploring in the Cambodian jungle. They have never discovered what happened to him, and his house was made into a museum. Hooray for history! Anyways it was a really sweet house but I wasn't allowed to take pictures in it, so I only have the outside. It had a really cool garden too so I took a bunch of pictures of that

Worked up quite an appetite from the museum so decided to grab some street-side noodle soup, but not just any noodle soup, the best that I have had since moving to BKK. The best stand that I have found of the millions in the city (that really isn’t an exaggeration) is located on the backside of Lumphini Park. I have blogged about Lumphini Park before. It is a huge park right in downtown Bangkok. Very similar to Central Park in NY or Northside Park. So I decided to take a nice stroll through it on the way to my favorite noodle soup stand. The park is really cool and it has all kinds of Monitor Lizards in the ponds. While eating at my noodle stand I realized, by looking at my ghetto make-shift map, that I was really close to the National History Museum. When I was finished eating I started walking down the road towards the museum but unfortunately the map showed that the road continued to the museum, but in actuality there was a big huge hospital blocking my way. I decided to walk to the right around the hospital and continue through that way. I came to a “street” that had a gaurd at the entrance of it. I thought nothing of it and walked on through. As I continued walking, I noticed that it smelled bad. Like really bad. Like horse poo. I walked a little bit more down this “street” and came upon all of these horse trailers. I started to realize that maybe I wasn't on an actual street, but I knew that if I kept going, there would have to be an exit sometime. As I kept walking I started to pass by a bunch of Thai men, who appeared to be the horse handlers, giving me the weirdest look in the world. I looked to our right and realized that I was in the horse holding area of the Royal Bangkok Sports Complex which is a huge horse track. I came to the end of the holding area and there was nothing but a big huge gate. No exit door, no nothing. So, I decided to go walk into the track area and try and find an entrance. Now keep in mind I am near the track with a horse race going on, and thousands of people in the stands. And I am trying to climb up the stands and just find someway out of the place! I was stopped by a guard who gave me the “stupid Farang” look and I attempted to tell him my dilemma as I clearly was NOT supposed to be there. He told me to “wait” (never a good sign in Thailand) and then disappeared talking on his radio. I saw that as my exit, and booked it back to the “street” I came in on, and got back to the main road where I started. Now realize that it is about 100 degrees while all this is going on. So after getting to the main road, I gave up on my museum pursuit and headed to the nearest pub I could find for a refreshing pint.

After settling in at a nearby pub, I took the map out to get my bearings. I realized that I was only a street away from the various infamous Patpong section of Bangkok. Now for good reason, I have always wanted to see this area of town. But it was about 3pm and the “businesses” on Patpong really don’t get started until around 8pm, so I knew that it would be relatively low-key. When walking down this road, it was hard to imagine that a place like this exists in Bangkok. It is really quite tucked away from all of the main roads and one could easily reside in Bangkok for years and never come in contact with any of these areas or “industries.” 
 
After a mean, the sun was beginning to set, and all of the festivities at Patpong were begin to get into full swing. One of the Sois had a market in it, so I did some shopping. Of course, with it still being 90 degrees out at night, I decided to grab a drink and decide the rest of the evening. I had heard of this place called Khao San road and how it was just a really cool Soi with anything and everything that you could imagine. Of course I was sold from the beginning, so I hopped in a cab and headed for Khao San.

Ok to best describe Khao San, it is like Celebrity Square at Broadway in Myrtle Beach, crossed with Bourbon Street (but minus all the beads and b—bs). It is a pretty wild place with a tremendous amount of Farangs there so it doesn’t really see too Thailandish to us but it was still a really good time. There are vendors selling everything you can imagine, there is every type of restaurant that you can imagine, any type of clothes that you can imagine (I got a SWEET T-shirt) any type of souvenir that you can imagine, etc. I walked around a bunch and stopped off at a few vendors and restaurants really just taking it all in. After a while though I was exhausted and headed back home.
 
Now you would think that the next day I would just kind of lay low, but nope, not this guy. I am a glutton for punishment I guess because on Sunday I decided to check out Chinatown on the eastern side of Bangkok. I took the BTS to Taskin bridge pier, and then hopped a boat taxi to the Chinatown pier. Chinatown essentially consists of one main road, with tons and tons of side streets coming off that main road. Each side street has a specialization of sorts with the entire street focusing on that theme. For example, one side street has to do with seafood, and is filled with food carts, stores, sidewalk vendors, etc, all selling fresh seafood, seafood cookers, seafood garnishes, etc. While walking down the road, and almost by accident, I came upon this really cool colorful Buddhist temple. Now Chinese Buddhists are different than Thai Buddhists. There are 2 types of Buddhism, Therevada and Mahayana, that have many similar core beliefs but also many differences. Think Protestants and Catholics, or Sunni and Shiites. Anyways the Chinese Buddhist also weave a lot of Confucian and Taoism into their Buddhist beliefs which results in some amazingly colorful and ornate temples. And Ok, let me go on the record and say that I am sorry for the 1000 pictures in every blog of temples. I really like temples and their architecture. After walking around the temples and heading down a few more alluring side streets, I met up with the main road and decided to take it back to the pier. The sidewalks on the main road are filled with people selling the widest array of assortments that you can imagine. These people are fairly low class and basically just lay out a sheet on the sidewalk and throw all of their goods on it. But it is not a specific thing that they sell but literally everything but the kitchen sink (and I seriously saw some of those too). So this was pretty interesting and the greatest thing is that they are really eager to sell stuff so they will take a really low price. I got a hand-made 7 piece tea set for $3 USD. Pretty sweet. After strolling through the rest of Chinatown I made it back to the pier and headed back for home.

It was quite a weekend. Came back with a lot of cool pictures, treasures, and an abundance of blisters on my feets; but it was a very excellent weekend. I was once again impressed by what this amazing city has to offer and continue to thank God everyday for the opportunity to live here. I miss all of my family and friends like crazy and love all of you. Thanks again for reading!

Jason :-D

 

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