Bangkok Dangerous

Date: 1/18   –   1/24

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Sorry for the late updates. The internet is spotty everywhere I go in Southeast Asia and it’s hard to find connections fast enough to upload pictures. I’ll get caught up… eventually. Unfortunately this means that I’ll be writing about what happened a couple weeks after the fact. However, I mean, the poet 芭蕉 wrote his travel records in hindsight… Why can’t I do the same?

So this will be part one of three Bangkok entries I have planned. The first comment I’m going to make, however, will be pre-arrival in Bangkok. Let me just say now that I love flying Emirates. They provided me with steaming towels, awesome food options, the most leg room I’ve had in economy ever, lights that turned on gradually so as not to discomfort you, a personal movie screen where I could take my pic of a lot of recently released stuff including 1) Submarine [which was released in the UK and not in America even though it should have been because it’s pretty good] and 2) The Glee Concert Movie which was entertaining and took up the second half of my flight. In addition, all the attendants were in spiffy uniforms, spoke every language, and were all at least mildly attractive. Yay Emirates! No complaints whatsoever.

As a side note, I enjoy the feeling when languages start to meld. The flight to Thailand was a connecting flight on the way to Dubai, so people were speaking a mix of Cantonese, Thai, and Arabic. It was amusing.

~ ~

And with that, welcome to Bangkok! Aka Krung Thep! It’s actual name in Thai is กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุทธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์ [for real.] and it’s pronounced something like wpvaosdasldfbkaweporiuwer”’fouhvxblkjfs or thereabouts.

From here, we start:

SUPER FANTASTIC ASIA ADVENTURE:

DEVELOPING WORLD EDITION!

I think the word I’m looking for to describe this leg of the journey is “squalor.” I first started saying it in Hong Kong when I saw the grimy back-alleys and I will be honest with you, the teeming hastily constructed modern metropolis capitals of South-east Asia have brought that to a whole new level, bringing a provincial ::cough:: charm to the industrial concrete jungle. Now I don’t mean this to judge. I actually mean it in the most loving way possible. The grime, heat, and stray dogs are endearing… to a point. This, however, is reality. Not everything can be air-conditioned and nicely paved. Welcome to the world.

We took a taxi from the airport to our hostel in sketchy mcsketchville, Bangkok, and barring the night-walkers and homeless people lining the almost-sort-of sidewalk up to the hostel, it was a calm trip. On the way over there, I felt weird not being able to speak or read anything in the Thai language. This isn’t to say I haven’t tried, though. I remember one point where I attempted to decipher the mess of squiggles that comprises the forty-something consonants and thirty-two vowels in the Thai script, but alas, it was too complicated. So I had to rely on the English romanizations of all the place names. They were on every sign [mostly] but the feeling of helplessness was a first. At least in Hong Kong, I could use similar kanji as a crutch and in Korea, I could read Hangul. In Thailand, I was up the Chao Phraya without a paddle. Hand signals and the English skills of the Thai people [where present] became my best friends.

Speaking of best friends, the first friend we made in Thailand was a bus attendant. He’s the one who takes your fare when you ride the public bus. And as the only Thai friend we made in Thailand, that technically made him our best friend in Thailand. [-_-;;] The first thing he taught us in Thai was hullo = sawut-dee khrup. And then he told us how to say it’s really effin’ hot = lawrn ting ting. And I mean, what else would you need? Btw, Bangkok is hot and humid as hell. Stepping out of the airport, it was around 80 degrees even at night time and the temperature soared during the day. I felt like I was back in Miami… in the first car that I had in high school… that didn’t have air conditioning. I swear, even the buildings seemed to be sweating. It was sweltering and after freezing our asses off in Korea, this was a little bit of a shock.

~ ~

Over our six-night stay at the hostel we met a host of other backpackers. Bangkok is a hub for young world-travelers because it’s so cheap and exotic [for most of the native-english-speaking world]. Let me just say now that I love the backpacker community. The idea of people taking advantage of their youth and traveling the world is somewhat romantic and admirable. Sometimes I forget that I’m one of those people.

However, there is a difference between being a tourist, a hosteler, and a backpacker, in my opinion. The tourist relies on comfy air conditioned buses with tour guides that speak impeccable English and hotel rooms that look over the beauty of a place with none of the at times bleak realities. The hosteler can also be a tourist, but has set a lower standard of living, accepting the fact that they might have to share rooms with strangers. Most of the time, they’re just looking for cheap lodging or a younger, more party-oriented atmosphere. The backpacker is the ultimate traveler. They are hostelers that set their lives down for a month [preferably more] and seek to view the world as it is, from the ground up. They party hard and aren’t afraid to get down and dirty [with associated medical consequences of such activity]. They become tourists in un-touristy areas like Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, and other places that people don’t even think to go to. They pack their entire lives into these gigantic uncomfortable looking rucksacks and lug it around the back roads of the third-world. We met a few of these at our hostel.

First we have Bobert [idk if his name is Robert or Bob or w/e]. He’s originally from Cali but spent three months in China and then due to some unfortunate circumstance, soon after arrival in Bangkok, lost all of his money, wallet, and identification cards. Hence, he had to organize with his bank to get a set of new cards. In order to find a place to stay, he started working for the hostel manning the bar in exchange for free board. I don’t even know how people do this with their lives. I plan my life too meticulously to deal with the unexpected like that. And now he’s just chillin’ in Bangkok pouring drinks without a visa until he either gets his bank card or put into Thai jail.

The other one we met was our Australian furniture-maker guitar-playing room-mate Aaden. He’s traveling with his friend Jeremy and instead of going out to the bars for the nth night in a row, he stayed back and talked to us for a bit and we learned a few phrases to bring back to the states like “to go off like a frog in a sock.” Imagine putting a frog in a sock. It refers to the freaked-out-ness of said frog which will then go crazy trying to escape. The connotation is positive. More self-explanatory vocab included: “wristies” and “wankers” [I knew that one, at least]. But anyway, Aaden is on his third week of travel out of a total of TWO YEARS. How does someone drop their lives for two entire years to go backpacking around the world?  I… I can’t even. And to top it all off, he is younger than I am. 20 years old and traipsing about the globe. Props man, props. On an unrelated note, I was left with the question: “Why can’t cute scruffy bespectacled wood-working Australian musician boys just walk into my life like this all the time? ” ::shakes my head:: Some things I will never understand.

~ ~

As far as sight-seeing goes. Bangkok has a bunch of huge temples to see. Thailand is mostly Buddhist and as such, has temples dedicated to images of the Buddha in all sorts of positions: standing, reclining, seated, doing handstands

Wat Pho is the site of one of the largest if not the largest reclining Buddhas evar. It also has a centuries-old massage school which we tried out for half an hour. It hurt a little, but was overall very nice. The other temple was the Wat Arun which just looks like a set of intricately decorated Hershey’s Kisses. You can also climb up to the top via the steepest set of stairs I have ever seen. If you fell, you would probably die, hence [among other situations in which I feared for my life] the title of this post.

~ ~

As a final note, I apologize for my file upload server being down [I think this might be forever]. So now I can’t upload any flavor mp3s to go with these entries. For the ones that I can’t find youtube links for, I might just either upload them to youtube myself or just provide the title and artist. At least until the point when I find an alternate server. If that ever happens…Ahoo. Bear with me prease.

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