Bangkok, I Shit Love You

Posted on August 1, 2013

1


Golden Palace

From see

you ome eye,

i shit love you.

Sunrise Temple

Author’s Note: This post is part of a long trip I took in December, 2012, which involved South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. You can get more acquainted with the trip by clicking on this link.

John and I took the overnight bus from Krabi to Bangkok. Every guidebook I encountered said you’d be stupid to do this, but we did, and I didn’t think it was much compared to the bus rides in Indonesia in terms of safety hazards or discomfort. We even got to watch a pirated, poorly dubbed version of the latest James Bond movie, so that was fine.

Welcoming Swing

Welcoming Swing

The problems started, however, when the bus ride was over. Despite long stops at various odd places, we arrived in Bangkok at 4:30 in the morning, before the bus station was open. With no access to the bus station, we walked a bit in a no-sleep daze trying to find a map or a Wi-Fi signal for my phone so we could attempt to contact the folks we were supposed to stay with. The bright glow of a Burger King looked promising, but all we found there were overpriced french fries, the only time we would be winked and waved at by promiscuous looking people on the street, and, after some time just sitting there, answers from the manager on which bus to take to the metro line, which would take us to my friends’ neighborhood. We set off to find the bus.

Sunrise over Bangkok

Sunrise over Bangkok

My fellow PiA Fellow Kyle called my Kazakh number (just before I ran out of credit) and told us were to go to find he and Maggie’s (another PiA Fellow) apartment. We made it there to find the place full of other PiA Fellows, all of them delicately sleeping on various surfaces throughout the apartment. I curled up on the balcony to get some shut eye as John watched the sunrise, and before I knew it, I ran into all sorts of people I had met during my two weekends in Princeton, New Jersey. It was fantastic to see them all, and I quickly discovered that Kyle and Maggie’s apartment was serving as a non-stop transit zone for PiA Fellows in the region traveling in and out of Bangkok. I would run into several more over the next two days, which was absolutely fantastic.

Temple near the Royal Palace

Temple near the Royal Palace

Royal Palace or House of Parliament. Hard to say

Royal Palace or House of Parliament. Hard to say

Kyle and Maggie, not on holiday like the teachers spread out around their apartment, headed out to work early. Maggie’s sister Rosie was visiting, however, so we tagged along with her to go explore some of the city, including the Golden Temple and bits of China Town in the January heat.

John and Rosie in front of the Golden Palace

John and Rosie in front of the Golden Palace

Golden Temple

Golden Temple

Temple Detail

Temple Detail

Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Trees and Temple (For more photos, check out the gallery at the end of this post)

Trees and Temple (For more photos, check out the gallery at the end of this post)

The Temples and tourists were positively amazing, but the heat was overwhelming. We walked back to the train, where a very nice lady overheard us speaking in English, and after some conversation, hailed us a tuk-tuk to take us to China Town. We zipped through the city to a place where it’s nearly impossible to walk down the sidewalk without bumping into someone, seeing some amazing (and hilarious) things for sale, and getting distracted very quickly.

On board the tuk-tuk

On board the tuk-tuk

One of the many streets in China Town

One of the many streets in China Town

Thip Samai, the place to go for Pad Thai

Thip Samai, the place to go for Pad Thai

After a day of wandering palaces and streets, we met up with Kyle and Maggie at Thip Samai, a restaurant famous for its pad thai. While my taste-buds were having a non-stop orgasm for the entire trip, Bangkok bumped it up a notch, and the pad thai at Thip Samai was beyond heavenly. I ate two portions without hesitation or worry of being judged as a glutton. Oddly, however, John ate one of the same dishes as me, that undoubtedly came out of the same wok, and then spent the next 24 hours vomiting and having bowel movements almost continuously. I still feel bad he got such a bad case of food poisoning, and it ended his trip on a low.

Mural Detail

Mural Detail

We took a taxi to Kyle and Maggie’s apartment and took it easy as John’s body attempted to remove everything inside of him. The next day, another PiA Fellow and generally awesome dude Hermes arrived. He and I spent the day eating certain types of Thai food from different regions, while we made sure John had enough water and plain rice since he could hardly get off the couch. That evening, he sucked it up and took a cab to the discount airport to fly back to Surabaya. It would tough to watch such an awesome travel companion leave looking like he was about to die, but he made it back like a true soldier and, despite what I would have bet on, never pooped his pants on the plane or the bus ride.

Sunrise Wat

Sunrise Wat

After a night of awesome homemade dinner from Kyle, I awoke on my last morning in Southeast Asia to a hug from Claire, the PiA Fellow I explored Central Park and some of New York City with back in May, 2012. I was not expecting to see her on this trip, and needless to say, I was very excited to explore another huge city with her. Rosie joined us as we headed up to the weekend market, but because it was only Friday, we could only check out the farmer’s market next door to the closed extravaganza that is the weekend market.

Or Tor Kor, a food market

Or Tor Kor, a food market

Besides the best Thai Green Curry I’ve ever had (which is saying a lot, seeing how it’s my favorite Thai dish), the kilo of dried Thai chilis that I bought, and the many other amazing food items, in this market I found my favorite coffee mug. It looks like a little person, and has a poem on the back that I believe is poorly translated. Claire, who was working as an English Teacher in Laos, and I knew we had to get them. It simply describes everything one will experience teaching English in Asia.

From see

you ome eye,

i shit love you.

Claire and I

Claire and I

Sunrise Wat Detail

Sunrise Wat Detail

From this market, we made our way to a few malls to pick up a few western creature comforts, and I found out that H&M in Bangkok has surprising good deals on winter sweaters. After another stop in China town, we made our way to a river taxi to the Sunrise Wat, certainly one of the most photographed buildings in Bangkok. After experiencing packed malls and the crowded streets of China Town, the quiet peacefulness of this Wat was simply perfect.

Sunrise Wat from below

Sunrise Wat from below

Sunrise Wat detail

Sunrise Wat detail

From here, we crossed the river again to get a taxi back to the apartment, but the taxi drivers simply laughed when we told them where we wanted to go; it would have taken hours in rush hour traffic. So, we boarded a river taxi and took it to the stop where the metro meets the river, then took the metro to Kyle and Maggie’s neighborhood. I was in a panic since I was cutting it close to making my flight, but everything worked out in the end and I found myself back in the frigid temperatures of Almaty without issue.

Last shot of Bangkok from the River Taxi

Last shot of Bangkok from the River Taxi

Thus ended a three week trip in a part of the world very different from anywhere I have ever been. Thank you to John’s host family in Paron, Hanig, Yon, Feri (Very), the Belgian dudes who did shots on my birthday at the Reggae Mansion, the British guy who tried to give us a ride on Langkawi, all the ladies who make Thai Pancakes (Mixed Fruit is the only way to go), the guy driving the Muay Thai truck around the block in Ao Nang, our boy Muay Thai driving the Tuk Tuk (MUAY THAI!), the guides at Ton Sai Basecamp, all the PiA Fellows in Bangkok (especially Kyle, Maggie, Rosie (future PiA Fellow?), Hermes, and Claire), the random video journalist who listened to my rants poolside in Ari, and you, the person who reads my blog. Whoever you are, thank you for your attention.

Last but far from least, I need to thank John for being a fantastic travel companion. He recently visited me in Almaty to prove that he is a rad dude at all times, at home and on the road. I’d travel with that guy anywhere in the world. Just hopefully without food poisoning being involved.

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Posted in: Backpacking, Thailand