« Previous: | »

Thailand pt. 1 – Better Late than Never?

February 5th, 2011 by

(I’m really, truly, sorry… this is probably no fun to read at all… I promise that we’ll keep these things shorter and more timely in the future)

Well, we’ve been on the road for about three weeks now, so it’s probably about time to start the blog that we promised…
This first post will be kind of a re-cap, most likely culled from random emails and journal entries, if we’ve made any…

Our flight over was pretty uneventful; lots of movie watching and reading (I think I hit the madness point at about hour twelve out of 17 or so)…
The Bangkok airport is probably the largest monument to air travel I’ve ever seen. It’s really massive, and it has to be since it’s the cheapest airport out of the surrounding nations and everyone (really, everyone) starts their Southeast Asia travels here, even if they have no interest in Thailand at all.
IMG_0182 Bangkok as hub is even more apparent when you hit the main travelers’ area of Banglamphu, which is where the somewhat legendary Khao San road is located. Courtney and I have met others who really enjoyed their time on Khao San, but everytime we set foot there we almost immediately turned around (such as right after we were situated in our hotel on the first night, having arrived late in the evening and decided that the best way to really up the surreality would be to head towards the neon mecca for drink, drugs, and tourists). I have never seen so many travelers gathered together in such a small area (just a few blocks really) outside of an airport; you could sit outside and have a beer at a street stand and know when a plane had come in (despite our distance from the airport) just by the fresh wave of backpackers swarming in to the neighborhood, pooping in and out of guesthouses, looking for the cheapest accommodation.
To get further and further from the party, we ended up switching guesthouses (no one says “hostel” here; private rooms are so cheap that there is no reason to sleep in some shitty dorm room with eight others) three times in our five days in Bangkok. surprisingly, we saved more and more money as we got to better places.
All in all, we didn’t “do” a whole lot in Bangkok except stock up (on things like clothes, which we didn’t pack much of, adapters, etc.) and attempt to adjust to the heat and get rid of some jet lag.
IMG_0083Perhaps the greatest thing we did was to head to the Chatuchak weekend market, since we were there just at the right time. It gave us a chance to see a little more of the city, and do some of the stocking up I mentioned. I think we probably traveled over the space of a football field but didn’t see even a tenth of the entire market. It’s completely massive, with every kind of vendor imaginable, and a lot of them were selling their own handiwork. We also managed to have the best Pho I’ve ever had; perhaps we had stumbled into the Vietnamese area(?).

On our last day there before heading east, we took the water taxi (avoids so much of the horrible traffic and you get the breeze) to the Metro train to get to Sukhumvit, one of the more upscale traveler’s areas. Here the sex trade was readily apparent, at least more so than in Banglamphu due to the type of travelers and their relative wealth. However, it still wasn’t an area catering to sex tourists, at least the portion we saw. In our five days, we never saw any the girlie bar districts like Soi Cowboy and Pat Pong… On the other hand, we’ll probably always remember the slightly hushed refrain of “ping pong show?” spoken by tuk-tuk drivers when they weren’t asking “HeyWhereYouGo?”. Even though Bangkok is such an international city, full of expats and foreign nationals, it’s hard to look at a farang (Thai for Westerner) man (especially the older, fatter variety) and not think that this guy has hired himself a Thai girlfriend.
We saw a lot more of these ambiguous couples when we hit the East Gulf Coast (skipping past the sex-trade mecca of Pattaya) and ferried out to the island of Koh Samet, which is where we went next. Up until this moment we had thought it was one day ahead (ie. Thursday instead of Friday) so we thought we were early for the weekend island traffic. Instead, we ended up hoofing it in the heat a lot further than we would have liked, settling in the end on a place up a garbage strewn backroad from the beach. But it was an amazing beach, Ao Pudsa, just a tiny little cove away from the bustle of the main beaches, which are lined with restaurant/bungalow complexes, one after another. Koh Samet is still relatively undeveloped, so there are no high-rises; even the largest “resort” rented out bungalows up on stilts.
IMG_0292 In Thailand, it seems that the landscape of a place changes throughout the day with the next meal… In Bangkok, breakfast carts and restaurants would be open and then disappear by noon, when lunch places would appear in other storefronts and in the guise of other carts. Around dinner a whole different batch would appear and the street would be unrecognizable due to the bloom of carts lined up on every sidewalk (indeed, it would be easy to think yourself lost on the same block as your guesthouse). In the same way, the beachfront changed all day: in the morning the beach chairs and umbrellas were set out (and in some places the sand raked), by lunch the vendors hauling their baskets of food would be trolling the beach, and by dinner tables or reed mats would be set out on the sand and each restaurant would fire up its beachside grill.

Internet access on the island was relatively expensive, but the place nearest our guesthouse offered a whole day for 100 baht (about $3.30), so we would spend the day at the beach and then we would move a few feet away to a table and fire up the laptop for that days’ workload.
IMG_0308 By the third day we were able to secure ourselves a bungalow at the amazing and amazingly quiet Ao Nuan. We had been making pilgrimages here for breakfast and drinks at night; it was impossible to imagine any other place competing with the ambiance of their tree-covered garden eating area. We had met a German couple who were leaving on Sunday so we had them hold the bungalow for us, and though we ended up securing it, we didn’t count on having to share it with another guest: a large rat with a taste for Chupa Chups and sunscreen. Unfortunately, though we heard him in the night, we thought nothing of it, thinking that he was probably just on the roof. Then we discovered our chewed-through sunscreen bottle and my now-holey medicine bag. We stayed another night after that, hanging all of our items, and in the morning even though we only found a few fecal presents, we decided we were done with island life for the moment.
Having applied for our Cambodian visas while on the island, we made our way, slowly, to the closest border-town, Trat, a somewhat sleepy town with an excellent outdoor market at night, with way too many food stalls to choose from, so we chose three (including a Japanese-themed cart that made highly decorated fried ice cream).

4 Responses to “Thailand pt. 1 – Better Late than Never?”

  1. Courtney says:

    Did you mean to say pooping in and out of guesthouses? <>

  2. kara says:

    I just got home for working a shift at binks, and I loved reading this and knowing what you two are up to. it helps to have details when i’m trying to live vicariously through you. and I was totally wondering the same thing as Courtney. love you guys and miss you! hope you have lots more fun and stories to tell soon. XOXO

  3. kara says:

    p.s. it’s really 4:30 am here and I should definitely be sleeping. I don’t know what this whole 12:30pm business is all about. stupid clocks.

  4. Lil Babie says:

    Pooping in and out! With a Babie in tow…I’d believe it. That lil bungalow looked amazing, too bad Mr Rat had to ruin the fun. I love the part about all the food carts changing the landscape of the place, with new carts coming in and out with the different times of day…ahhhh! Seems like y’all were not at a loss for delicious food that was easy to come by. Oh..and..the fried ice cream. yesssssssssss! Big grin.


Leave a Reply