22 Mar Bangkok, Holla, city of….electronic entertainment!
So, Bangkok, a longish bus ride with an angry driver, and viola. If your not really into loads of farang tourists, tourist tat, getting hammered and overpriced everything, stay away from the bus drop off point, Khaosan Road. If however your into Farang tourists, tat, getting hammered and overpriced everything, Khaosan Road is the mutts nuts. I fall into the former category, so our first night in Bangkok was more about sleeping and planning our escape, which was effected early the following morning by catching a taxi to a quiet backstreet serviced apartment in a place called Sathorn.
This was more like it! Smiley local faces, cheap food stores, 3 legged dogs and a rooftop pool, all for $20 a night. The hotel itself (Sathorn Saint View Apartments) like most of the places we have stayed so far, exudes a feel of former glory, it’s like when a new luxury car is released, top of the range, no expense spared, all the trimmings and then some. Then 30-40 years later you buy one second hand from an online auction and marvel at its history, torn upholstery, exposed wiring and cigarette butts stamped out in the pot plants.
Nevertheless, it was close to the Sky Train, comfortable and charming with uber friendly staff, except for the waiter in the Hawain shirt… every day. He either has a lot of ugly shirts, or wears the same ugly shirt all the time, either way, I couldn’t blame him for being somewhat unhappy with his lot in life.
TECHNOLOGY…The meaning of life.
Now I realize there is probably a lot of history, monuments and sights to see in Bangkok. But over my travel career I have seen a lot of that stuff, and will undoubtedly see a lot more in the future. For me, Bangkok became about the giant malls, and technology, and not just any technology, technology made after the year 2000, now a novelty after Cambodia and, well, everywhere else we had been, and the piste de resistance, the awesome and cheap ($2-$5) cinemas, with wait for it…sweet popcorn! Man do I love sweet popcorn, and movies, and the arcade games strewn across the 7th floor entertainment heaven that is MBK, and, uh, sweet popcorn. What I dont understand is,why is it not a world wide standard, salty,yeah ok, not bad, but sweet popcorn man…oohhhhh.
So 3 big screen marvels later (Chronicle – a must see, loved it, John Carter – All that glitters sci-fi, loved it, and Mirror Mirror – Snow white PG eye candy, loved it…I am easily amused), a lot of sweet popcorn, and I was as happy as a Cambodian with large piles of plastic to burn. I could have spent the whole 5 days doing the same thing, but being the sharing, caring kind of guy I am, I let Sarah off the hook once or twice and saw some stuff, like the huge castle overlooking the lake, and the dwarf houses in the forest… oh wait, that was “Mirror Mirror”, well I’m sure there was other stuff too.
MUAY THAI, or, wait for it… MORE THAI, HAHAHHAh…ha…ha…huh?
While we were in Bangkok they were having an International Muay Thai festival, this involved 2 rings, cameras, lights, music and free entry. Having imagined myself one day pulling off some hardcore Jackie Chan moves, I thought it wise to see what I could potentially be up against when called upon by destiny to be the greatest martial artist…..ever!
The first nights fighting I saw, while entertaining, was not as hardcore as I expected from a Thai fighting competition (probably because it was mostly foreign amateur fighters). Rib and head padding? OK if your training, but this was a competition! So I sat back thinking, yeah, I could do this (by do this I mean take a farang friendly month of Muay Thai lessons where the instructor blows smoke up my backend so that I might at least think I am “The greatest martial artist ever”).
A couple of nights later however, we returned, and watched the Thai guys fight, no protection, skin on skin….
hold on what was I talking about there?
Oh yes… 2 guys going at each other…wait, what?
Oh right,right… Muay Thai, anyway, this was the real deal, and suddenly my machisimo pulled itself back up into my stomache. These guys could kick and punch, hard, even if they did do a lady dance before letting out the beast…wait, letting out the what?
WHERE CHOO CHOO NOW…BWAHAHAHA…ha…ha…sigh
I could have stayed in Bangkok longer, and equally so in Thailand, but our 15 day entry visa was running out and we had to do a border run, deciding not to backtrack we booked an overnight train up to Vientiane, Laos. Awesome trip, 2nd class sleepers booked for $23 each, comfy as you like, great fold out beds and they actively advise smoking in the toilets! Sweet. The train leaves at 20:00 and pulls into Nong Khai at supposedly 08:00 the next morning (although this ended up being about 11:30), straight off you grab a 70c ticket on the express train over the border into Thanaleng, Purchase the $32.50 Laos visa at Thanaleng station, and pay a sort of set price of $3.33 each for a 30min tuk tuk into the heart of Vientiane. Goodbye Thailand.
Notables here were of course the 3 legged dog, the waiter with the Hawaiin shirt, oh and Marty, who decided to buy a bicycle and ride off into the sunset with a Dutch chick, how’s your arse mate? I mean cause of the bicycle, not because, well….owww.
I will end with this, we have spent the last few days in Laos, and…it aint no Bangkok… but, it is Laos.