Its taken me about a week to get over my jetlag and re-adjust to life in the US, three weeks of traveling really throws your system off. I wrote up my initial thoughts on the trip the weekend I got back, but now I’m going through my journal and pictures to provide a thorough experience for those interested. Let’s begin with my time in Thailand!
Saturday, December 13th
I left Rochester Friday morning, the 12th actually, but wound up travel for 27-something hours and arrived sometime Saturday evening. 3 flights, Rochester to JFK, JFK to Hong Kong with a 17 hour flight, and then 4 hours Hong Kong to Bangkok. Buying one-way tickets, this cost $950 for JFK -> BKK on Cathay Pacific and $110 for the Jet Blue flight ROC -> JFK. I highly recommend Cathay, unlimited Johnny Walker Black Label on the flights and in-seat LCD screens, I just got drunk and watched movies the entire time. A great flight!
Interesting thing was that the Suvarnabhum airport I flew into had been shutdown for 10 days the week before I arrived due to protesters taking over the airport. I was a bit worried about my flight, but there were no problems and the airport was clean as could be. My friend Vicki from high school, was my main reason for visiting and she was waiting to meet me at the airport. She is 5 months into a year long English teaching contract. We headed back to her apartment, located in the east of the city by Rajamangala Stadium, pictured below. Her apartment is on the 13th floor (yes, they have a 13th floor!).
And the courtyard below.
I unpacked, showered, and then we headed out for dinner and drinks. I had my first local dish of pad thai and it was delicious! We then headed to Santika, a popular nightclub, which I found out burned down 2 weeks later on New Years Eve, killing 59 people. While I had fun time there, it’s kind of weird to look back and think that everything burned down. Very tragic, the place only had 1 entrance/exit, which got clogged of course when the fire started…
Sunday, December 14th
Woke up by 9am and it was 85F outside. I planned poorly and was forced to wear jeans as we grabbed brunch at a local place. Vicki and I headed to the Chatuchak weekend market, my main reason for flying in on a weekend. It takes place Saturday/Sunday and is a huge open air market that has about 200K – 300K people visit daily. You can just get lost in tiny corridors and stalls, it’s amazing. I bought a new warm weather wardrobe for maybe $20 USD, everything was incredibly cheap. I bought a huge Deuter (German brand) backpack for $40 USD after haggling, when I know this backpack should cost $150-200 new. Probably counterfeit but it lasted me the rest of the trip, so it was a good buy! The food was amazing as well, plenty of pork stick stands and green tea ice pops.
We headed back home by 5 or 6 and then I ventured out to a massage place. It was such a great time, seriously. 2 hours of thai massage for about $12 USD. Thai massage is very forceful and strong, it involves lots of rubbing to increase bloodflow, painful at times, but very worth it. I returned to the apartment and immediately passed, I just felt so good!
Monday, December 15th
Up by noon and grabbed breakfast at a different place. I had some coffee which tasted delicious, but I found out it was because Thais like to put 3-4 creamers and a cup full of sugar in. Vicki had the day off from teaching, so we headed downtown in a klong, one of the many methods of travel in Bangkok. They are wide, long boats that fit about 40 people and travel on the narrow canals left in the city. There are docks every 5 minutes or so, but the interesting thing is the boats never stop, they just slow down and coast by. Everyone hops on and off in a few seconds. A 45 minute boat ride all the way downtown costed about 40 cents.
Here’s one of the infamous tuk tuks as well, terrible to get around with. The drivers just try and take you someplace that sells jewelry and charges you too much.
We walked to the Wat Suthat and this old Buddhist arch, which people used to swing from and try and reach this bag of gold that was tied to the top, but once too many people died, the King closed it off.
We were headed to the Wat Phra Kaew, a giant golden temple with a giant emerald Buddha inside. I believe it’s also the King’s palace part of the year. We ran into a monk along the way, there are actually alot of them wandering around! I think the color of his robe signifies which temple he is from.
From here we headed more “central” downtown I guess, toward the main bridge that cross the large river that cuts through Bangkok. Below are some boats and the river. In the second picture, you can view the garbage build up. It’s one of the weird contrasts I noticed in Thailand and China. With labor being so cheap, people are paid to clean everything, the streets are always very clean, but the water is always completely dirty. I don’t know why they don’t clean the water.
We continued on to Th Khao San street, the main foreigner area. Tons of hotels and hostels built up in this area, so this where everything English is and where everyone is trying to sell you something.
I found this to be ingenious, with everything being counterfeit, why not steal music too?
With the sun falling, we grabbed dinner at the Hemlock cafe and I had some delicious mai tais, trying to sample everything thai related. One of the random things I want to point out is 7/11. It is a clean, respectable establishment outside of the US, they sell everything and anything and are everywhere, it’s very nice.
I think I will pause here and finish Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday off later, I have alot more pictures and stories to post. Look for Part 2 soon!