Bangkok, Thailand – And the sweats begin

Day 13 – Round the World 2008

The flight from Singapore to Thailand was only about 2 and a half hours long, short enough that I didn’t even get to see the end of Get Smart. I didn’t really know what to expect from Bangkok – I knew it would probably be a fair bit more developed than Nepal but I hadn’t realised how much. On the surface, from the areas I saw anyway, it’s little different from any UK city in terms of facilities and stuff and infact looks a bit more fancy in a lot of ways, shining skyscrapers lining the horizon and skytrains traversing the streets. Everyone’s heard of Bangkok – the drink, the drugs and the sleaze – but on the drive in from the airport it just looked like a normal city, and most of the areas we saw were pretty nice and clean looking, golden temples dotting the streets and multicoloured taxis diving between them.

We had decided to stay in the Banglamphu area, just between Khao San Road and the river. We asked the taxi driver for one of the hotels in that area but he managed to drop us off at the opposite end of Khao San Road so we had a fair walk to the hotel along the infamous tourist drag. This was more like the standard view of Bangkok – hawkers everywhere, bars advertising buckets and cocktails lining the streets, girls in tiny little dresses serving 3 litre towers of beer. We forced our way through the crowds though, not bothering to stop shaking our heads between one tout and the next, and made it to the area we wanted. It was fecking roasting though and our desire to find a decent wee hotel dwindled with every step. In the end we spotted a place called the Happy V on Tha Phra Athit at a mere 350 bhat (£7). Despite the dodgy little windowless room we took it straight away and flopped down on the bed beneath the fan.

We managed to peel ourselves off the bed about an hour later and exchange our sweat sodden clothes for a new outfit. within 10 minutes of leaving the room though I was drenched again and I resigned myself to a highly damp existence for the next two weeks.

We took a wander through the back alleys heading to the tourist drag again and randomly stumbled past a Muai Thai boxing gym just spilling out into the alley. The gym itself was tiny, consisting of little but a few punch bags and a full sized, raised ring so the street itself was lined with mats and boxers were out sparring and training in the open. Slightly confused as to whether we could pass, we stood and watched for a little while before shrugging and wending our way accross the mats between the fighters as we saw others do before us.

We spent the afternoon just walking about the Khao San Road stalls and popping into a few pubs for a drink. In the first place a random aussie recommended I try the ‘Big Chang’. Recognizing a well-named beer when I hear it I did just that, and was slightly dissapointed to discover it wasn’t actually called Big Chang, but just came in two sizes. I consoled myself with the fact that I’d just been handed an enormous beer though and the pain soon passed. when I noticed two days later, after about the 20th such beer, that it was actually 6.4% strength I realised why the dissapointment had dissapeared quite so quickly.

That night we went to one of the standard looking bars on the road for dinner and I got a Red Thai Curry which was pretty amazing. I like Thai food anyway and that was better than I’d had at home, this is gonna be a good fortnight! The only downside was that Cat tried a tiny wee taste and started to get an allergic reaction. Luckily her antihistamines stopped it getting bad but it was a bit scary and pretty much showed us that standard Thai food was out of the question for her. You can easily see why when you look at the menu, fried peanuts and cashew nuts are standard fare, so they must be on everything. Oh well, let the plain rice and noodle diet begin.

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