Wow, Bangkok. What a spectacular place to start my south East Asian adventure. I was apprehensive of arriving in Bangkok as my first destination, simply due to the vast amount of ground to cover there, and the extremities it seemed to go to on every level…but I loved it. By the end of my 5 nights there it felt like home, partly due to the hostel that is Nappark, a place where new friendships present themselves daily, the beds are comfortable and it’s the place I met Johnny the Dutch guy, a friend whom I travelled with for the next month, and Alex a rather neat well spoken English guy with whom I spent several enjoyable days travelling round.
I was told to expect my senses to be in overload around Bangkok, as I wandered down the famous street that is Kaoh San Road, smelling many strong smells, hearing the sound of Thai folk speaking very good western slang, offering ping pong show tickets left right and centre (I was eventually dragged to one of these ‘shows’ against my wishes) the sound of excited travellers from all over the globe drinking and sharing their backpacking stories, all underlined by bass pumping hard at the many bars squeezed into this one small area. It was chaos, and although I felt it all and felt very much alive, I also felt numb, whether this was jet lag, tiredness or simply the complete change of my environment, knowing my journey had finally started; it was the most exciting day of my life.
I believe eating a scorpion on your first night in Bangkok is like an initiation into Asian backpacking life, with 2 friends I met within the first hour of being at my hostel we payed our 20 baht and brought a stick each, It was crunchy, salty and I took my time eating it..but I passed, I’m now a part of the backpackers club. It was an entirely different experience when the scorpion had been digested and removed from my system, one that I hope is never repeated.
There’s so many sights to see in Bangkok, and once I had my bearings they were quite easy to navigate to, the local ferry on the river made things much easier. I explored the Grand Palace, which was phenomenal, to think it was all hand done, the mosaic detail is beautiful. My words do it no justice, I could list the fanciest adjectives I could think of and it wouldn’t be believed, it’s a sight which really should be seen, despite the crowds of snap happy tourists. Continuing the tour of Bangkok I hit Wat Pho, to see the giant reclining budda. My first full day finished with a lovely jet lagged nap in a park, as my new friend Roz (very particular that it is Roz, not Rose) watched local children fly kites and an older man play with his parrot, thats not a euphemism.
It is easy to get caught up in Kaoh San Road, the food is cheap, the buckets are plenty, and once you skip past the cheesy dance bars there are pop up street bars which play the best mix of music iv heard in a long time; before you know it 7am has arrived and your group is staggering home and into bed. The majority of nights I slept well, bar one night as my bottom bunk was rocked to sleep by a drunken couple on the bed above. This was a new experience. I heard the guy in question thank the girl whole heartily in a thick Scottish accent, I couldn’t help but laugh and desperately dug out my headphones and eyemask to save the day (night?)
My favourite activity throughout Bangkok was walking, I walked everywhere, for miles each day through the backstreets with Johnny and Alex, through a slightly disappointing Chinatown, through the temples scattered around the city, which housed the fateful place where after just 3 days of travelling my flip flop gave up on life and broke. It was fixed temporarily by Johnny the Dutch, allowing me to clamber up the steep steps of the temple Wat Arun, which also appeared to be the only place in Bangkok you can’t buy flip flops, so I continued my day, like a trooper and caught the sky train over to Siam Square..also a place where flip flops are impossible to find. Siam square was exciting, much cleaner and seemingly more modern, I did not quite fit in wandering around the giant malls which house Yves St Lauren, Hermes and Chanel with my one remaining flip flop and one foot pretty much black with dirt after walking the streets of Bangkok shoeless. Also on our walking adventures we acquired an Asian guy from San Francisco, with him we found ourselves walking through a protest area, it appeared peaceful, with a speaker at the front and tents which housed a makeshift community. We saw posters around calling the prime minister many a name, accusing her of using her womanly ways to get what she wants from the country, it was eye-opening to say the least. The golden mount was the result of our trespassing through the protest area, a giant golden pagoda which offers breathtaking 360 degree views of Bangkok, but little shelter from the blistering heat.
My final evening was spent discussing accents, destinations, sipping iced green tea at a hidden market we had found, playing Jenga, drinking Chang, and playing drinking games which led to dancing at a local bar with a large group of travellers, it was the perfect end to Bangkok, as the morning brought a short train journey to Ayyutaya.