Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bangkok - take two

Back in Bangkok, a decade after my first visit. Traveling with an actual suitcase this time around, not a backpack full of wrinkled clothes! To go along with my grownup luggage, I am also staying at a real hotel instead of a guesthouse, and eating at restaurants, not just street carts. Consequently, I have spent more money in 2 days than i did in 2 weeks as a backpacker. But don't worry, i'm not a real grown up, i'm just playing one right now. And although it definitely has some perks (air conditioning and towels in the room, but no cockroaches), it's not really me. I rarely spend $50 on a meal in Winnipeg, why on earth would i want to spend that here, when I can eat well for a tenth of that, or less?

Anyhoo, getting sidetracked.

After 30+ hours of travel, we finally landed in Bangkok. Hurrah for being off of a crowded plane!!... and into a crowded street. at least we can stretch our legs. Given that we were running off a few hours sleep and it was after 1am when we got to our hotel, i figured we'd be heading off to bed. But Bangkok had other plans for us. First we had a beer with the rest of the crew (we're here for a wedding) in the lobby of the hotel. Ok, close to 2am, definitely bed time, right? Nope, off to have some street food down the block. So a dozen of us sat on little plastic stools, crowded around little metal tables, at a makeshift restaurant on the side of the road. At night all these "restaurants" pop up. They don't exist during the day, they just wheel up carts with all their gear and set up shop on the sidewalks. Food and afterhour beers cluttered the tables. The streets teemed with people and cars like it was rushhour. At 4am, the streets still bustling, we finally made our way back to the hotel, where I gratefully collapsed in bed.

Aside: we're staying in Chinatown and it is totally bringing back memories. I keep wanting to speak Mandarin to the street vendors!

Aside #2: We have this weird 4 post bed with a railing around it and you have to crawl in through an opening at the foot of the bed. It's quite inconvenient, especially when you're disoriented and need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Oy, taking too long to write this, as usual. Will start to condense and give highlights only.

Day 1. River taxi to grand palace - just like the first time i was here. i specifically wore long shorts and a shirt with shoulders because i knew those were the rules for the temple. but apparently my mid-calf length shorts were just shy of long enough. so i was told to pull them down. "Elastic, no problem" says the security guy. so i wiggle them down until i felt like a skater kid with my Calvins showing. Luckily my shirt was long enough to keep me respectful. the palace was just as grand as i remember. the weather a bit hotter than i remember.

On to Khao San Rd. Backpacker central. cheap t-shirts and kitschy souvenirs to your heart's content. Sat and had a beer that went straight to my head in ther 36 degree heat.  We caught up with the rest of the gang at the fish pedicure place, and with a slight buzz I was convinced to immerse my feet in a tank full of hungry fishies who eagerly nibbled away at dead skin. Yes, totally gross. which is why I freaked out for the first 2 minutes. and then i got used to the tingling sensation - like my legs were asleep - and actually enjoyed it. 15 minutes later, my feet have never felt so soft!! Wandered down and watched some amazing street dancers. seriously, do they have a So You Think You Can Dance Thailand? they were flipping around and spinning on their heads, right on the pavement! Didn't buy any souvenirs yet, too early.

Dinner at fancy restaurant. Lucky we got there alive after thrilling (and surely dangerous) tuk tuk ride. Zipped through the streets at about 80 km/hr, weaving in and out of all that lame-o 4 wheeled traffic. Woohoo!!!

Ok, gotta hurry, beers waiting downstairs!

Day 2: stagette. wandered through a market full of almost dead fish and veggies and fruit and pig snouts and other goodies. Went to cooking class where, thankfully, they did most of the cooking. mango and sticky rice - YUM!!!! singing and beers and fruit carving and eating, so much fun! i carved a melon flower, and carrot and cucumber leaves. i'm proud.

Ok, those beers won't drink themselves. More Thailand updates to come!!

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