Welcome to Bangkok
06/02/2010 35 °C
Noemi and I felt just the same as intimidated arriving at the Khao San Road in Bangkok as we did when we first arrived in Chiang Mai. Having experienced that, I knew it would take less than a day to feel relaxed a little more in this massive city of 9 million plus habitants.
As we got off the bus at the end of the line (Khao San Road), we were greeted by countless locals asking us where we were from, how long are we here for etc. etc. Some may think they were being generally nice and helpful but you could tell there was something sinister behind their hospitality. That led me to not trust pretty much anyone. One 'samaritan' even encouraged us to enter a tourist information office...inside a police station. We thought it pretty rare indeed, but once
inside we were assisted by an attendant in civilian clothing advising us not to go to any hotel inside the Khao San triangle as it was notorious for hotel robberies and muggings, instead, he suggested we go to 'this specific hotel' outside the triangle, and take a 'tuk-tuk' for 100 bhat to get there. Does anybody smell the comission? Could we even go as far as call it corruption? Using one's power for economical advantages.
We first noticed in Chiang Mai that the pelican crossing system simply does not operate the same way as it does anyway else in the developed world. Cars pass at high speeds even though people look ready to walk. Therefore, it's just the same walking across anystreet, at any place, at any time. At first Noemi appeared rather apprehensive about walking across the pelican crossing knowing that it wasn't a safeguard whatsoever but I did catch her towards the end of her final day in Thailand crossing with confidence and without scruples, the Thai way.
I knew it straight away, thanked him, and off we went. I had heard of a nice hotel called the Rambuttri Village Hotel whilst searching on the internet, just off the Khao San Road. I hadn't booked up as I had read online that client's credit card details were being passed on illegally. Some even had thousands of pounds spent on their card after returning home. So, I decided I would do it the backpacker's way. Once I arrived, the receptionist, who was happy to speak Spanish to us, provided me with
a room for 850 bhat (17 euros) per night. She was nice and whenever I see her I speak Spanish as so she can remember who I am. Everybody speaks English (even any spaniards who I see), and as I like to differentiate myself most of the time, we speak a language we both like to communicate in. We also have a laugh too and exagerate our spanish style.
The room is nice, a double deluxe. Nothing compared, though, to our 5 star stay in the Royal Princess in Chiang Mai, but good enough if your on a budget. I could go more but after a day here, I'm happy. As we walked around Bangkok on the first day, I was a bit concerned with what the 'tourist information' had advised us and was worried in case, whilst I was out on the first day, somebody would ransack the room, therefore, I carried around all my valuables, usually what is not recommended anywhere else
thus opening yourself up to muggings and losing everything in one go. So, welcome to bangkok.
Noemi and I wanted to see the Palace. Unfortunately, it closed as we arrived there (3pm) but we did see a little bit inside, not much though. On the way to the palace we were witness to the extreme poverty always talked about in developing countries. The large dirt square opposite the royal palace was home to thousands of beggars and people selling, literally, junk. From ancient old remote controlled
toy cars to overused haircombs, you could get anything which is of no use to a tourist, but could be a real gem to the local. I did see a half empty bottle Nivea suncream, but opted completely against it, risking the direct sunlight beating down on us all day. The buses took our attention too. All the windows are wide open, people almost resting outside to get relief, from the intense heat, using the polluted
breeze as a fan. The transport too appears very old and overused. We even saw an old mercedes bus, probably from the sixties, still in circulation.
As we neared the end of our walk, we had a burger king for some fresh air conditioning and a bite. We trailed around the many market stalls on our return to the Khao San area and we were enticed to buy almost everything. Although most of the mechandise is fake and cheap, it really is of good quality. I mean, the clothing we buy in the western world is just a rip off, only the brand/logo costs us money. It's all probably made in the same factory therefore not only are the people in the developing
country exploited, we are too.
A nice starbucksesque coffee finished Noemi's journey through Bangkok. We enjoyed it, and thoroughly enjoyed walking around despite the numerous attempts by the irritating tuk-tuk drivers to take us 100 metres up the road for 20 bhat (40 cents). As we approached the bus stop, we learned the bus was leaving almost right away. After an extremely quick 'despidido', Noemi lifted herself onto the bus and for the first time in my life, I was alone. Very alone. There was only one thing to resolve it. Hit Khao San and meet loadsa people.
See you soon.
Livin' the dream yet realising their is more to dream for.