Arrival in Bangkok!

Confucius Say: “Man who go through airport turnstile with erection going to Bangkok.”

Everyone I’ve ever spoken to about Thailand has said the same thing: “Land in Bangkok and get the fuck out as soon as possible.”

So many people independently expressing the exact same sentiment.  And these were the same people who said, “You would love Thailand.  I mean youYou would love Thailand.  You have to go!”

Needless to say, my first instinct was to avoid Bangkok.  But then when Fahrin suggested staying for a couple of days to get over the jet lag and rest up after 35 hours of travelling, I thought it was a good idea.

The cab ride from the airport to Khao San Road – the tourist Mecca – was interesting enough.  There were different billboards and buildings and driving on the opposite side of the road, but it was nothing compared to what lay ahead.

Upon exiting the taxi at the base of Khao San Road, we were faced with pandemonium. Hundreds, thousands of people milling about, walking in every direction.  Vendors everywhere selling everything from clothing to bags to shoes to Pad Thai, electronics and fresh cut fruit.

There we were with our bags in tow, trying to make our way down the street to find a place to stay (we hadn’t booked anything in advance).  After a few sweaty trips up and down the street to find no vacancies, we found a place “off the strip” with the help of a nice Thai guesthouse owner whose place was full.  Then, a well-deserved shower and back to Khao San.  This time without bags.

It’s true what they say about getting a meal and a beer for a couple of bucks.  Delicious, and made right before your eyes on the street.  The dizzying array of things to buy was paralyzing.  There were simply too many choices.  And that’s just one street!

Wandering around the city the next day, we were amazed by all the vendors on the street.  We started with some fresh squeezed orange juice for less than a buck, followed by some hot coconut pancake/waffle balls with a sweet, gooey center.  More deliciousness!  It was amazing how many options there were, but so far we were three for three (the orange juice was quite sweet, but we weren’t complaining).

A boat ride down the river was less than fifty cents.  We got to see the architecture and a glimpse of just how many temples there are.  Sure there are 7.7 million people, but how many temples can one city handle??  True to its reputation, Bangkok is a city of excess.  But it wasn’t till we got to Chinatown that we saw the enormity of it all.

With street after street, and alleyway after alleyway, lined with stalls and vendors, Bangkok’s Chinatown makes New York City’s Chinatown look like an insignificant blip.  A joke. An infant. There’s literally anything you could want to buy or eat in this area, and a million people there to buy it.  There are even Chinese Jews, judging by the store signs like “Lee Wang Chung Goldsmith”.

The tuk-tuk (an open-air taxi on the back of a motor scooter) ride back to our hotel had me biting my nails.  Driving on the wrong side of the road (not the opposite side, but the wrong side), making 4 lanes out of 3, squeezing between two cars, crazy merging… It’s like there are no rules of the road.  I definitely wouldn’t want to drive in this city!

Overall, it was good to see Bangkok – although only a very limited part – but I’m anxious to get somewhere with a much slower pace.  Typically, during my travels I haven’t been too big on big cities, and Bangkok is no different.  Was it as terrible as everyone made it seem? No.  But not somewhere I’d call home.

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