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Bangkok Blues

We realised in Cambodia, or maybe even earlier, that if we wanted to get to India before monsoon season we wouldn't have time to visit Thailand. We compromised and decided to spend 10 days in Bangkok. Most of the time we spent in Bangkok was running errands and getting prepared for India. Including a one week wait for our visa, purchasing plane tickets, a trip to the doctor's office, a visit to the camera store... We also had a back log of blogging and photo uploading left over from Cambodia where we never succeeded in finding a good internet connection.

The hot season has officially begun here in Thailand and we tried to spend the hottest times of the day in the air-conditioned internet cafes. We visited all of the city sites including some of the decades old "sex streets" using the ultra modern sky train to get around. Bangkok is huge and has one of the highest population densities in the world. The public transportation is efficient, but only if you have money, as the costs seem high for us budget travellers, I feel that the average Bangkokian couldn't afford a ride on the sky train. The highlight of Bangkok public transportation for us was the river taxi that bombs up and down the Chao Phraya River docking at lightning speed and rushing people on and off the boat. We stayed in the infamous Kao Shan road district, the backpackers Mecca. Khao San Road vendors have got it down pat buying and selling old backpacks, Lonely Planet guides, t-shirts imprinted with lewd messages not to mention the fake student cards or press passes or the much neede Osama Bin Laden mask. It doesn't get any "cooler" than here: dreadlocks, birkenstocks, piercings, henna tattoos, old men with long hair, old ladies without bras... the place is surreal. I don't think it would be the first place most people would want to stay in Bangkok, but the low prices can't be beat, hotel rooms and food are extremely cheap. I begin every morning with a huge bowl of fresh fruit covered in yogurt and granola for about 1.50$ and Yann has a plate of Pad Thai for and a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice for the same price. The street vendors are out by 7 a.m. and don't pack up until past midnight. Our room faces the front street and we are kept up most nights by party-goers roaming the streets with their newly purchased Thai girlfriends and their bottles of Chang beer. Bangkokians have been extremely friendly, and many have stopped to help us with directions as we tried to figure out the crazy bus system. They have a deep love affair with their King, his photo adorns almost every building we pass and locals wear yellow (the royal colour) shirts embroidered with messages like "Long Live the King" and "We Love the King". I have noticed a marked slowdown in the speed at which I can find Yann in a crowd, his yellow shirt usually giving him away now just blends in with everyone else. The local monks also hold a more prominent position in Thai society than elsewhere in Asia. They recieve a salary and seem treated with utmost respect by locals, even having reserved seating in public buses and boats. We often bump into them in malls shopping side by side with other locals. Despite the cheap food, the friendly locals and the gorgeous wats, ten days is too long to be in Bangkok and we couldn't wait to catch our flight to Kolkata. As we woke up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the airport shuttle bus, we walked by the various tourists some sleeping on the street being prodded awake by prostitutes others still drinking at the bars. We managed to get one last pad thai from a stall that hadn't yet closed up shop and we waved goodbye to Bangkok.

6 comments:

Genevieve de la said...

not pretentious at all... (other people won't get this!) sorry.

btw. still jealous...

xoxoxoxoxox miss you.

Genevieve de la said...

i didn'T forget your bday either. I remembered, but couldn't write at that moment, so then, I forgot to write, so my thought process became this:
It's now close to my bday, so if i write, she's going to think that it's cause I want her to wish me happy bday. but it's not. maybe i should just write anyway. ah bugger it.

Super-Mario said...

Bonjour

nous attendons votre blog sur Calcutta. Les photos sont très belles. C'est le genre de photos que je m'attendais de voir. Les femmes vêtues de couleur vive et souvent assises en position accroupie ce qui est distinctif des indiens. Cette position accroupie a fait le sujet de plusieurs études biomécaniques.

AH! il fallait que je parle de la biomécanique.

Bye!

Margox said...

Hmmm, that Super Pussy sign makes me nostalgic for good ole St-Catherine street in Montreal! heh heh!

So I guess from your short stay that Thailand hasn't swept you guys off your feet. I know you guys were pressed for time in getting to India, though, so do you feel like you would want to go back someday?

Margox said...

Hmm, just re-read that comment, and I think the nostalgia comment doesn't read right... not nostalgic for those stripper clubs on St-Catherine (eww, I've never been inside any of them!), rather just remembering the humour in the crude names!

Jean Richer said...

Moi, je veux une dissertation sur la bio-mecanique des positions accroupies. Mais la dissertation doit contenir moins de 150 mots.Je lance le défi! :-)