Oh You Cheeky Bangkok
It’s hot. Damn hot. And the sweat starts to trickle down our foreheads as the shirt on our back slowly glues itself to our skin. Nice. It’s Bangkok baby – we’re sitting on plastic chairs, eating a spicy noodle soup and already got scammed by some random locals.
We arrived here in Bangkok with a little or almost no research on the country whatsoever. We had really busy five days in Cambodia and planned to read a little bit about Bangkok and Thailand in general once we were here. As it turned out we would have saved much anger if we would have known about all the scams around the area.
So we arrived from the airport and we knew from an email our hostel sent us earlier, how we were supposed to get there. As we were changing from Skytrain to taxi, a serious looking man helped us to figure out our way to the hostel. He told us, that we wont be able to check in before 2pm and we should first go to a tourist information centre and they will be more than happy to help us with the visa for Myanmar. Being a little naive, we then followed the mans advices and took a Tuk-Tuk (which was already waiting for us) to this very tourist centre. We got suspicious when the driver just wanted 20 Baht for the drive. He dropped us off at the tourist information centre but as it turned out later, no one could help us with our visa for Myanmar (obviously not…). Then the Tuk-Tuk driver said there is no way he is going to drive us to our hostel as there was a bombing in the area and it is not save to stay there and offered us a completely overpriced alternative. We then knew that what was going on was a big scam. We walked off, took a taxi to our hostel and asked what was going on. Apart from the bomb which blew off somewhere close to our hostel, everything else we were told was absolutely fake. However, they said we are absolutely save in our area… kind of…
We were later told not to believe anyone and just ignore everyone who tries to help us. Bangkok has it’s own rules and we had to learn them fast.
The next day we got up early and had a rough plan on where to go. It was no easy task as the city is huge and has so much to offer. We decided to go for the most important sights around Bangkok. Our first stop was a huge complex which is also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Wat Phra Kaew is the colloquial name of the vast, fairy-tale compound that also includes the former residence of the Thai monarch, the Grand Palace. As we were standing in front of the 94.5 hectare ground which encompass more than 100 buildings we didn’t really know where to start. Again we were stunned by the architecture of the different buildings and all the sparkling details all over it.
After straying around for several hours we went on to the next big sight Bangkok has to offer – Wat Pho. The compound incorporates a host of superlatives: the largest reclining Buddha, the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand and the country’s earliest centre for public education. Almost too big for its shelter, the genuinely impressive Reclining Buddha, 46m long and 15m high, illustrates the passing of the Buddha into nirvana.
After all the temples and Buddhas we took a ride along the Mae Nam Chao Phraya river and watched the sunset from a rooftop bar with a view on the Wat Arun which we climbed just before. Ahhh… mazing!
The day wasn’t over yet. We went to check out the night markets and ended up eating a surprisingly delicious dish in China Town. Why surprisingly? Because we didn’t really know what was served to us as we were sitting on plastic chairs in the street but it tasted delicious… :)
The roads were immensely crowded around the markets and we lost any sense of direction in this mass of people. We didn’t stay for long as we were about to visit another market the next day. Instead we went home, changed and head into the crazy Bangkok nightlife. We went to the main Backpacker nightlife street where everything, and we mean *everything*, was offered to us. Scorpions, Ping Pong Shows, buckets full of different types of alcohol, massages and so on… The Khao San Road is a crazy place and the night out was big fun for sure.
The following day we went to the Chatuchak weekend market. Among the largest markets in the world, Chatuchak seems to unite everything buyable, from used vintage sneakers to baby squirrels. We easily spent the whole day strolling around the over 15’000 (!!) stalls. We got lost several times in the sheer endless aisles of the market but this was no bad thing. Every time we discovered new stalls with even weirder offerings. There were literally no limitations on what to sell. Fascinating… and sometimes a little bit disturbing at the same time.
As you already read in an earlier post we have been to Myanmar the last 10 days and are now back in Bangkok again. The blog entry of Myanmar will follow shortly…
But until then, so long…