Full size pictures added to my Bangkok Gallery – https://500px.com/remotely_cool/galleries/bangkok
Surviving Khao San Road
We may or may not have bought a small bottle of cheap Thai “rum” (good ole Sangsom) and two coke slushies. We then may or may not have mixed them together and walked back to the hotel sipping on our slushies. Once we were hydrated (slushies have a lot of water in them) we made our way to the infamous Khao San road. I did expect crazy, but this crazy was on an entirely different level. We walked from one end to the other too overwhelmed to actually go somewhere and buy a drink. People on this road think that the only way you would want to buy a drink is if they shove a sign of their drink prices up your nose. At one point I was just swatting away signs as I walked. We were trying to go to a little bit of a hidden club, but were denied entry when we didn’t have our passports. This was kind of a bummer, but we thought we would instead just go buy one of those 100 baht buckets everyone was selling (buckets = a bucket of whatever mixed drink you order). We walked for a microsecond until someone tried to sell us a bucket and we finally bought one.
This wasn’t out first bucket mixed drink but it certainly was our first bucket of coke and ice. We really tried to taste the rum. We kept trying to convince ourselves that there was rum in the drink. Alas, it was too good to be true. 100 baht for a bucket of coke is still pretty cheap though! We decided that we actually had to enter a real bar with pricier, while still pretty cheap, drinks in order to actually get some kind of alcohol. We knew of a place but had to walk through the mass of people trying to sell us ping pong shows and laughing gas. I wish ping pong shows were actually shows of bad ass ping pong skills, but apparently, if you read the fine print, there’s more than one ball involved in this show. Anyway, after being intrigued at laughing gas and vowing to end the night on a ‘high’ note we pushed our way to our little hipster bar.
Once we got in this bar it was like we were a world away from the insanity that was just outside. We ordered our 300 baht bucket and Shannon drank it all. With four straws. She thought she was too sober and she did not appreciate it. We fixed that with a bucket of rum and coke (yes there was a good amount of rum). It was nearing midnight and the bar was closing so we were about to call it for the night. However, we were very intrigued with these two guys sitting at the table next to us. I don’t know what they were doing to catch our attention but we weirdly kept looking at them, maybe staring, and they noticed. We started getting up and leave when one of the guys tells us to come grab a drink with them. We were pretty confused (since the bar was closed) but I went ahead and accepted the offer. Little did we know that this would be the start of an unforgettable night.
We need some names for our new friends… Let’s call the English guy Richard (dick for short) and the German guy Sebastian. So, I mentioned that the bar was pretty much closed at this point. Well, Dick did not think that the rules applied to him. In fact, as you will learn Dick lived in his own world where everyone catered to his every desire. Anyway, he went ahead and ordered a tower of beer (we later learned that is 3L of beer). When he was denied he pretty much said “no; bring me the tower we will be quick”. Imagine this said in a ‘how dare you say that’ tone mixed with an ‘are you dumb’ tone. He got his tower and plastic cups so we could take it to go. However, Dick would have none of this plastic nonsense. Instead, he demanded real glass cups. Again, asked for in an obnoxiously dismissive way but again very effective. So, we drank our free beer, our copious amount of free beer nice and slowly whilst the workers kind of glared at us. Once we were done we head out back onto the road of hell with our friends (you haven’t heard much from Sebastian because he is just a nice chef traveling in order to learn the cuisines of the country stuck with Dick).
Once we were back out, Sebastian and Dick could not understand how we had not tried scorpion yet. So much so that they took it upon themselves to buy us our nicely charred scorpion (theme of the night was free stuff from Dick). Collin and I were handed our scorpion as Shannon watched and videotaped. We… sorry I was a little hesitant and started by biting off a claw (while collin just shoved the entire thing in his mouth). Once I decided the claw wasn’t terrible I also went ahead and shoved it all in my mouth. Did the alcohol help this decision? Maybe. Would I have done the same sober? Most likely. Imagine cardboard. Now chop that up and mix it with some wet sand. Now add some burnt crunch to it. That was scorpion; very hard to swallow, not very good, but overall not the worst thing I have had this trip (thank you Durian ice cream). It should be noted that Shannon also tried some. She did only have the claw, but I am going to pretend that counts so she doesn’t get mad at me.
Once we were nice and full we just went where we were told to go. Eventually that led us to a taxi. Where was this taxi taking us? We certainly had no idea. Dick told the taxi driver where to go in his classic obnoxious way and we were off. Once we stopped, we realized we were at a skyscraper trying to go to the rooftop bar. Rooftop bars tend to be fancy, and this was no exception. Of course when we got to the entrance they tried to tell us we couldn’t go up. However, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when Dick started arguing about how he knew the DJ and how he should be let up (even though the bar would close in half an hour). He magically convinced the bouncer, but I had to put on shoes to go up (I only have chacos). They conveniently sold me 80 baht shoes, which I was more than happy to pay and up we went. When we got to this rooftop bar we were honestly awestruck. None of us thought we would be drinking whilst looking down at the Bangkok skyline. The best part — the bathroom. The bathroom had a giant window with a view of the skyline and right below this window was where I got to pee. So, essentially I peed on the skyline of Bangkok. Amazing.
Back at the bar, Dick obviously convinced the bar to stay open and serve us drinks. We ordered some expensive drinks that ended up being payed for mostly by Dick and Sebastian. To my delight this bar had pisco and I forced everyone to order Pisco Sour (even though it was ruined by adding egg white). At this point we actually lost Collin to a table with a bunch of friendly Indians. Shannon and I pretty much just focused on how we got there, and how amazing the view was. At about 3AM we were kicked out of the bar and we went back down to reality. However, the night was far from over for Dick and Sebastian. They hailed a taxi and told us to get in because he knew of a place that stayed open. Part of me wanted to go, but the more sensible part of me knew that going meant not getting back until sunrise. Finishing the night on a random rooftop was definitely good enough for me. We told them we would head back home and we hailed our own taxi back to the hotel. As we rode back we just wondered how we went from drinking slushies on the street to drinking crafted cocktails high above Bangkok.
Sleeping the day away
So we slept. For a while. We woke up at 3pm. We felt kind of bad about that but also felt great. We found a little Indian place to nourish our bodies and it ended up being exactly what we needed. It was kind of raining but we were determined to do something with our day, so we went to the boat temple. It is a temple, in the shape of a boat. It was very different, and very empty so it was a cool way to spend some of the night. That is all we managed to to that day, it wasn’t much but it was enough to not feel like complete failures that day.
In fact, because of the lack of things we did that day, we planned a full day the next day which involved Lumpini park, Grand Palace, Silk Road, and the Chatuchak Market before going back to an incredible buffet dinner at the hotel thanks to my Dads connections at the hotel.
What a day
We woke up at a reasonable time and head out for a morning of watching old men and women perform fighting moves in slow motion (aka tai chi). Lumpini park ended up being a very nice way to spend the morning with a lot of pretty sights and fun people watching. Our day was planned to military precision so that after we had spent enough time at the park we wasted no time in going to the Grand Palace.
The Grand Palace is hard to describe. You really have to put an emphasis on GRAND. It is huge! No picture can even do it justice because of the size and intricacies of each structure. We spent a few hours simply walking around in awe at every little detail. Also, in case you’re wondering we still somehow like each other. Even if it looks like Shannon is planning a way to kill whoever the photographer is (and judging by the evil smirk, thought of something good.
After spending many hours at the Grand Palace in pretty brutal heat we made our way to the next destination – Baan Krua (the real Silk Road). Jim Thompson visited Baan Krua, a small weaving community of 8 families in Bangkok, to buy a piece of sarong. He was immediately impressed by the marvelous silk from the stunning skills of these residents and the rest is history. Time passed, and the 8 houses shrank to only one which still operates as the silk dyeing and weaving factory. We got to go to this house and see the process in action. It was a small and very out of the way neighborhood that not many people must visit anymore. However, it is worth to pop in and see first hand where the most beautiful silk in the world comes from.
It was then off to the famous chatuchak market, where we only had an hour or two to explore before heading back to feast. The market was huge and did have everything we could have asked for. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to explore it properly but did manage to buy a few trinkets (at least Shannon and Collin did). I do give them a 2/10 for haggling since not much of it was successful. The trick is to not really want anything and that was unfortunately not the case. My mom told us we should be able to get fifty percent off, but I am just gonna assume that was a thing fifteen years ago but not as much now. At least, that made everyone feel better.
We did spend a little too much time at the market and had to rush back to the hotel. When we got off the subway it was pouring and had to get back to the hotel so we decided to hop on a tuk tuk. Our first tuk tuk ride, which we had mostly been avoiding like the plague but had promised we would take one before we left. Even though it was a couple of blocks away the tuk tuk rider started the price at 250 baht. I just laughed at that and offered 60, which was also probably paying too much. After him saying prices lower and lower and me laughing and saying 60, I gave in at 70. Definitely, a rip off but necessary and fun nonetheless!
The rest of the night was spent eating. A lot. Like imagine a lot of food and multiply that by at least 5. We had every available food option. And then when we thought we were done they came out with different food items! So obviously we had to go back and eat those. Oh the crepe station. Give me endless crepes and I will not stop eating crepes. I think I just ate them fast enough for my brain not to register them as being food. We enjoyed every second of it.
Later that night we had our first sickness of the trip. Collin was the first (and hopefully last) to go down. And he went down hard. Skipping over some details, he eventually survived, but not after shivering in bed for a couple hours covered in all the sheets we could possibly give him. Shannon and I on the other hand slept fat and happy (sorry Collin).
Sunday Muay Thai
We could not leave Bangkok without experiencing a Muay Thai fight, and lucky for us Sunday was the perfect day to do that! There is a stadium called Channel 7 that is actually a tv studio and you can go in and watch the fight for free while it is televised nationally. The place gets absolutely packed with Thai people, along with a special section especially for foreigners. We found out, by accident, that the trick is to not sit in that section. Stand with the Thai people in order to truly experience the emotion of a Muay Thai fight. It only took a couple of rounds of one fight for me to scream at every punch and kick along with the rest of the stadium (as the foreigner section seemed to just sit and watch).
During the fights the crowd had hand signals that they would give each other that would work as their betting system. We could not figure out what any of it was but were amazed how at the end of each round money would just float among the crowd to the winners hand. Between fights Shannon and I were making the hand signals to ourselves trying to figure it out. Then, as a joke, Shannon starts to raise her hand while making the hand signal (idk what possessed her to do this)! The lady behind us was very worried because when she noticed she immediately grabbed Shannon’s hand and pushed it back down while shaking her head worriedly. I was really hoping Shannon would put a few thousand baht on a fighter but, probably for the best, we never found out.
After seeing men bleed profusely and keep fighting we decided it was time to catch our bus.
Bangkok in a silk-woven shell
I could’ve stayed in Bangkok for months and still had things to do. I think Bangkok is a wonderful city. Many people say that you either hate it or love it, well I can’t really find many reasons to not like it. It’s a city that has everything, and its certainly a city that can keep every type of interest entertained. We were there for much too little time but used it (for the most part) pretty well. We were able to see many different parts of Bangkok and appreciate the many things that Bangkok has to offer. We were able to get off the beaten path while still seeing the sights everyone has to take in. Also, it didn’t hurt to stay in an amazing hotel (take me back),