Bangkok At Last
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and, with a population of over eleven million inhabitants, by far its largest city. Its high-rise buildings, heavy traffic congestion, intense heat and naughty nightlife do not immediately give you a warm welcome — but don't let your first impression mislead you. It is one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities with magnificent temples and palaces, authentic canals, busy markets and a vibrant nightlife that has something for everyone.
After almost three months in south east Asia, I have finally arrived to Bangkok. Originally, I planned to fly into Bangkok right away and base there for my adventures to the nearby countries. That plan had change when flood waters arrived back in October and I went to Philippines instead. I was looking forward to spending a few days in the city as everyone I know that went there loved it (and some decided to stay there).
Mall Hopping With Caius
The Dutch guy I spent three weeks with while touring Laos with Stray was in Bangkok for a day so we decided to meet up and head out to the Siam area where many malls are located. He needed to get a charger for his camera while I was looking for a travel accessories store to replace a few things. While he was successful at getting a fairly cheap charger, I did not find any travel stores there - at most I found places that sold backpacks, but not had replacement clips for them, which was what I was after.
After a while we decided to catch a movie since I have not seen one since we watched Puss In Boots in Penang. That by itself turned out to be quite a feat as it took us a few hours to find a movie theater that played the new Mission Impossible. Interestingly, Thai love their king so much that prior to each movie the national anthem is played (accompanied by some really cheesy 'we love the king' photo roll). Later, Caius went on to catch the overnight train to Chiang Mai (lucky guy) and I strolled through Lumpini park on the way back to my hostel (where they also played the anthem at one point and everyone froze in their tracks).
Meeting Up With Gristof
Back when I couchsurfed in Frankfurt with Chris, I met his friend Gristof, who was heading down to New Zealand around the same time I planned on being there. Since I decided to extend my trip in south east Asia, I was no longer going to make it to New Zealand at the same time, still Gristof and his friend Marcus were flying through Bangkok and decided to spend a couple of days in the city. We ended up staying at Etzzz hostel together and spent some time hanging out at the rooftop there, trying different Thai beers and enjoying the city skyline at night.
On Saturday, we checked out Chatuchak weekend market which is supposed to be the largest market in the world. While it was big, I did not feel like it really was the largest. Either way, I was happy to stumble upon a place that actually sold replacement parts for bags where I got a replacement clip for my daypack. Afterward, we took the BTS to the central ferry terminal and jumped on a boat for a quick ride up Chao Phraya River river to the Royal Palace. By the time we got there, it was already closed, so we just walked around the area, took a quick nap at the Royal Field, and then strolled around Khao San area for a bit.
Couchsurfing With Rangie
Couchsurfing website recently rolled out a feature where one can post their travel plans and the hosts can contact that person if they would like to host them. I gave it a shot by posting my Bangkok plans there and got contacted by Rangie, who offered me to spend a few days with her. After Gristof and Marcus left for New Zealand, I grabbed my things, checked out of the hostel, and headed over to her place. I was sure glad I did as the Lumpini area where my hostel was located was not very good in terms of things to do and, especially, finding some decent food.
In contrast, the area around Sukhomvit road near Rangie's condo was more along the lines of what I got used to in Chiang Mai - more local with great cheap street food. Being close to BTS allowed me to go do my own thing while Rangie was working during the day (which mostly consisted of me hanging out at at the La Meridien hotel's pool). At night, we would go out to get some delicious local food and then hit up some of her favorite bars and clubs as well as a bunch of rooftop bars, but that deserves a separate post.
Overall, I enjoyed my stay in Bangkok even though I did very few of the 'touristy' things. I have not visited any of the temples (had enough of them in the last two months), did not go inside the Royal Palace, did not go crazy at Khao San… I will save those for next time :)