Lessons I’ve learned so far:
1. Bangkok is really really hot. I think it’s the only place I’ve ever found myself drenched in sweat the second I step outside. It even dripped into my eye.
2. It’s normal to get ripped off by someone at some point, even if you think you’re being careful; for us, this was a 100 baht tuk tuk ride, which we later discovered via Google should have been 30 baht.
3. People eat whatever they want, regardless of the time of day (we had crispy pork stir fry for breakfast one morning).
4. If I wear one of those nice headscarves that are sold everywhere, I can get an extra two days out of my hair before having to wash it.
Our first few hours in Bangkok were overwhelming to say the least. We arrived at 7:30, and after getting a train and then a tube into the city, we were finally able to ditch our backpacks at the station. First impression: I actually might die in this heat. We had a wonder around Chinatown and our first taste of street food, which was a crispy mussel omelette, before picking up our bags and heading off to check in to our hostel.
We’re staying just off Khao San Road, which is in the “old town” and apparently backpacker central. The street is lined with bars, street food vendors and market stalls selling everything from clothes and jewellery, to scorpions, fake handbags and necklaces made from animal (I hope) spines. It’s a weird and wonderful place, where we tend to spend our evenings wondering the length of the road, or people-watching from one of the many bars.
We took a trip to Wat Pho yesterday, a temple complex which homes the 46m long, gold leaf coated, reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is also considered the first centre for education in Thailand. It was fascinating to walk around; the reclining Buddha was obviously impressive, but the other statues and chedis (stupas or mounds) were also wonderfully intricate and immense. Wat Pho felt both calm and chaotic. On the one side, Monks were just going about their business; whilst on the other, curious tourists bustled around them taking photos. I wondered if the monks felt that their place of worship had been spoilt by the ever-increasing tourism.
By the way, I’m writing this post from our hostel in Bangkok. I have a lot of spare time on my hands, due to Elliot having contracted food poisoning / a stomach bug (horrifically unfortunate to get after only two days out here). We’ve eaten exactly the same food for the past 24 hours, so I’ve lived in fear of getting it myself ever since he started, 16 hours ago, but I seem to be alright so far. Fingers crossed.
Just boarded the night train to take us to Chiang Mai. Our last day in Bangkok (today) was a little messed up. We started the day going to Jim Thompson’s house, one of the main tourist attractions in Bangkok. Jim Thompson was a world renound silk entrepreneur and art collector, born in 1906 in Delaware, but settled in Bangkok after the war, from where he built up his worldwide clientele. The house and compound were actually really interesting. From here, we attempted to get a taxi to the riverside, but the driver had other ideas and drove us in the wrong direction entirely. Long story short, we had to walk pretty far and food was delayed so I ended up dehydrated and feeling faint (classic me). To be fair I’d done well to get this far without almost passing out. Fast forward a few hours and I’m feeling fab and hydrated again, if a little nervous about this night train (I Googled the train service and one of the suggestions given to me was derailment ahh).
I have mixed emotions towards Bangkok. The Khao San Road area is great, with lovely stalls and bars and food, and the shopping district is also amazing and futuristic; but as a whole the city is extremely chaotic and overwhelming. I’ve enjoyed our few days here, but I’m excited to move on up north to the slightly less chaotic Chiang Mai.