05
Mar
10

Feb 19-21: Bangkok

Sa Wat Dee Ka!

Court and I in a Tuk Tuk

On February 19th, we finally came full circle back to Bangkok, where we started the tour 46 days prior. We budgeted three days and two nights in the city, which we figured would be enough, and we were right. Being sick of seeing temples and yearning to get to a beach, we decided to do the obligatory sights, stay just off Khao San Road, in the midst of backpacker haven, and then head down south to the islands.

Food and accommodation is pretty cheap in Bangkok, and we secured a fan room for about $7.50 each. Meals came in at a little over $1 for a plate of noodles or rice, so this left us with plenty to use to see the sights, party a bit, and take tuk tuks around town.

Since we arrived so early, we thought it would be best to use the day to see some of Bangkok’s most famous sights, the Royal Palace, Wat Pho (home of the reclining Buddha), and Wat Pra Khew (home of the Emerald Buddha). This may not sound like much, considering the location of all these sights are well within walking distance of each other, but the weather was sunny and well-above 30 degrees all day (like every day) so it took a considerable amount of energy to stay interested for the five hours it took to walk through them.

Public transportation in Bangkok requires quite a bit of planning and a good knowledge of the routes, since there are so many modes, and none of them cover the entire city. There is the Skytrain, which goes around central Bangkok, but doesn’t cover the backpacker district or any of the main sights. Then there are metered taxis and tuk-tuks, on which the fare is usually agreed on before the ride. You can also catch any number of buses around town, but they are usually caught in traffic and take forever. Finally, there is the boat system, which has different routes (including a tourist one) that travel up and down the river making stops every 100 meters or so (or whenever there is a point of interest, for the tourist route). We opted to take the water taxi, as there was a pier right across from our guesthouse, and it made stops at the Palace and Wat Pra Khew.

We almost made it to Wat Arun, which is a uniquely designed temple across the river from Wat Pho, but it was late in the day by then and we were itching to get back for a shower and dinner, so we decided to save it for the next day.

That night we met up with a friend, Dan, from our tour, who was joining another tour to the islands the next day, and went to see a Ladyboy Cabaret. For anyone who doesn’t already know, Ladyboys are Thai transexuals, but they look waaaay more convincing that the ones in North America, and being a Ladyboy isn’t nearly as taboo as being a transexual is back home. Also, the “ladyboy shows” as they are referred to by foreigners, are more of an art form, a cultural part of Bangkok, than they are a side show, and the cabaret involved lip-syncing (badly!) and dancing (really well) to well-known songs. They are really friendly and even posed for photos with audience members afterward!

After some dinner and partying on Khao San Road (we really did come full circle) it was time to hit the hay, as we had been up for about 20-hours, and had had a full day of wandering around a hot city. We decided to get up early on the 20th and go to Wat Arun and the floating markets.

Well, we never made it. Courtney felt too sick to go out after breakfast and spent most of the day in bed, fighting off the heat. We both found out that Court doesn’t deal to well with extreme heat, so I hung around and did internet research and went shopping on Khao San to pass the time. When she finally awoke, it was too late to go anyplace but to get dinner, so we decided to book a bus ticket south to Khao Sok National Park, our next destination, and save the sights for our final day in Bangkok. I was bummed that we weren’t taking the train, but we saved about 450 Baht each (= $15) by taking the bus.

On the 21st we actually got up early, and headed to breakfast with our tour leader through Laos, a Thai girl from Chiang Mai, who had arrived that morning for her next tour. She suggested we see Wat Arun and then hit up the weekend market near the Northern Bus Station, before coming back to our guesthouse for our bus pickup. We took the boat taxi again to the temple, but decided to check out the Centre World mall instead, as Courtney was again feeling ill from the heat. We took a taxi to the mall, and then, just for the fun of it, took the Skytrain two stations where we caught a taxi back to Khao San.

We arrived back at the guesthouse with plenty of time for dinner at a street restaurant (basically just a tent with some stoves and coolers under it, and a seating area) where we had pad thai for $1.

Our journey finally began to go south, and I mean this in a literal and figurative way. The trip from Bangkok to Khao Sok National Park was exhausting and frustrating, and is a story which deserves it’s own post. For now, I’m being pestered by pretty much everyone I know to write something about Koh Pha Ngan and the Full Moon Party, so I’m going to do that and come back to the journey between Bangkok and Khao Sok later.

Thanks for reading! Sorry about the lack of photos, i’ll post some up soon!

Lex

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