It's all about the journey….
It’s kind of exciting to be packing absolutely every thing that I will have and need for the next three weeks into just one bag. It’s incredible though to think at the moment, my life: all of my belongings and necessities are swinging off of my back. It really makes you think about stuff. Okay… Am I ACTUALLY going to need this? How many times will I really even use this? Is this absolutely necessary? I’m positive the whole thing would have been a lot easier too if I didn’t have to go to Bangkok first. I could pack very minimally for Chiang Mai… I would mainly be hiking and visiting a fet Wats (temples) and working on an eco-farm. I wouldn’t need much for all of that. But Bangkok on the other hand… I had planned on meeting up with some friends at this German brewhouse called Tawangdang that puts on a pretty neat Thai cultural show. And of course go out for some drinks and dancing too.
For that sort of stuff, I would need a dress, nice shoes and the means to do my hair, makeup, etc. Sorry, but I am a girl!! 🙂 So that made it incredibly difficult to narrow down what to pack. By the time I figured it all out though, It was getting a bit late in the day. I had forgotten to budget time for getting from wherever the van would drop us off in Bangkok to the hotel, and being able to shower and get ready before meeting at Tawandang at 7!
Getting from Rayong to Bangkok is actually pretty easy. I guess there are busses you can take too, but I took one of the vans that you just call ahead of time and they pick you up. They run about every half hour or so and are pretty reliable. Cheap too, from Rayong to Bangkok is 160 baht (or about $5.25 USD). It’s quite cramped though, they definitely try to get their money’s worth by filling up the damn thing to the brim… But it’s only about a 2-hour ride so it’s managleable. The van drops you off in Bangkok in a busy area by a shopping mall where you can the get onto the BTS or the Airport Rail Link, which are both sky-trains. Luckily, the hotel (Nasa Vegas) was right off the BTS stop so it didn’t require any wandering around and looking for it.
Tawandang was awesome too. Not only was the food and beer delicious, the show really was incredible. Eric had booked us a really good table too. It was sort of a get-together in celebration of him having a baby, so I got to meet his “baby-mama”, so to speak, and one of her friends too. They were both very sweet.
After dinner, we went out to Soi Cowboy which is basically the Pattaya of Bangkok in that it’s mostly all go-go bars. For some reason the go-go bars really don’t bother me that much though, not nearly as much as they probably would have in the states. I think it’s a mix of a lot of things really… Probably because I am in another country and another culture and I have been preparing myself for being here for the last two years. Part of those preparations included having an even more open mind than I already did in the past because I knew that I would be facing things that I wasn’t accustomed to. I think another reason is because since it is another country and culture and group of people, it almost doesn’t even feel real. So
I can go into these places and just brush it off in a way because I’m just here for the experience and there’s no need to get all caught up in the moral wrongness of things because after all, I won’t be here FOREVER or anything, and I really just need to take it all in for now and appreciate it for the valuable cultural experience that I am gaining.
The next day, I set out to see the grand palace and some Wats in Bangkok. I hopped in a taxi, but wouldn’t you know it… The driver didn’t speak any English. I tried pointing out where I wanted to go on the map, but the map was also in English so it didn’t help much. Most taxi drivers won’t know what the city actually looks like on a map. It was quite funny too because he was actually mad at ME for not being able to speak Thai. Let’s consider this for just a moment…. For all he knows, I’m just another tourist in Bangkok right? Yet, he’s a taxi driver in Bangkok – one of the world’s top tourist destination cities. It is actually ranked third in international visitors out of every city in the world. So you would think prehaps if you’re going to be a taxi driver there, and furthermore if you’re going to pick up a falang (foreigner) fare, maybe you should learn some basic English to help yourslef out. It’s their choice who they pick up and where they go. They can pull over but once you tell them where you want to go, some of them will say no, which is fine considering how many taxis are around, you can usually just grab the next one. Anyway, I just didn’t understand why he would be yelling at me then… “You come Thailand, you no speak Thailand.” If you knew that I spoke English and you didn’t understand where I said I wanted to go before I got in, you should have simply said no and I could have waited for the next one. I ended up at least just telling him Wat or palace or something and let him take me wherever. I figured it couldn’t be too horrible an idea. I already didn’t know where we were and I had Nancy Chandler’s map with me, so I assumed I’d be able to figure it out (btw Nancy chandler is a MUST-HAVE if you ever visit ANYWHERE in Thailand). And I did figure it out. He dropped me in Chinatown in Bangkok which ended up being a really neat area. It’s packed with market stalls, street-side restaurants and a dense concentration of gold shops. There’s also a block or two dedicated to flowers and floral shops which smells wonderful and is certainly a sight for sore eyes! I managed to stumble upon some back alleys that were full of cheap electronics shops and stalls. I ended up buying a converter thing that turns a 3-prong plug into a 2-prong plug which I needed for my computer.
I had decided that I wanted to go to see a Muay Thai kickboxing match that night too so I walked all the way from Chiniatown to Lumpinee Boxing Stadium to make the match at 7:30. Right outside the stadium though, my shoe broke right off my foot! I suppose it was finally fed up with all the walking I had put it through. So I decided to just head back to the hotel since I was quite tired by that time as well. I’m sure I looked quite funny walking all around Bangkok’s public transport systems with only one shoe on! Back at the hotel finally, I ordered roomservice and called it a night.