Days 4, 5 and 6 – December 9th, 10th and 11th
Multi-blog!! I’m really behind and stuff is happening so fast. I’m currently on day 8 (December 13th) as I write this. I’m sitting on the top deck of a Government run bus service waiting to set off for Chumphon where, hopefully I will arrive sometime around 05.00h to catch a connecting ferry to Koh Tao Island at 07.00h. The bus should have left at 21.00h but it’s now 21.15h and no sign of departure yet! If I don’t make the 07.00h ferry I will have to wait until the 13.00h sailing! Oh well, guess I can have a look around Chumphon.
So, back to the tale in hand and days 4, 5 and 6. Day 4, Thursday December 9th was a particularly good day! As I already mentioned in the previous blog, I had a meeting arranged with Topsi via the couch surfing website. We met at 14.00h at a shopping mall called Central Pinklao. I was there early (I know, shocking huh?) and Chantal, a lovely young Canadian, turned up just after along with a friend who had accompanied her to this random meet up! He must have sensed everything would be ok as he soon left and headed off for some food leaving me, Topsi and Chantal to grab a taxi to the floating market. Unfortunately, when we arrived we discovered the only day it’s not on is a Thursday!! It all worked out though as we headed off towards a riverside restaurant as recommended by Topsi. I finally found out what the trucks full of people cruising the streets are. The local bus service! Not for the faint hearted, you really MUST be a local to know how they work and where they go. I really loved it as this is definitely something I would not have experienced had it not been for Topsi, and to top it all off they were super cheap.
We arrived at the restaurant and I prepared for my first proper experience of Thai food, and it was very good. Believe it or not, there was a dish on the menu called macaroni in tomato ketchup with chicken! For real! Fortunately for me, Topsi ordered a similar dish in tomato ketchup before I ordered mine so it was clearly an acceptable Thai dish. Honest G’uv! It was very nice, although the portion was way too much for me. I didn’t want to offend anyone by leaving it but Topsi assured me it would be fine. The Chef would only give me 50 lashings instead of the usual 100!
Live update – it’s 21.30h and still no movement!
After lunch we took a walk along the river to a park where we sat for a while and watched some street entertainers practise. It was at the park that I had my first experience of the National Anthem being played out in a public place. Everybody stands still, and if you’re sitting down you MUST stand. (It actually happened today in the bus station and I’m sure I looked like a proper pro when I stood up!) Chantal had to get her bag as she was staying with Topsi that night so we headed in towards Khao San Road which is one of the liveliest areas of Bangkok. Chantal was staying nearby so we grabbed her bag and left it at a place setup to cater for backpackers, the name of which escapes me but, I’m going to look it up as it should definitley be in the notes of anyone thinking of backpacking around Bangkok.
Live update – 21.37h and we’re off! It’s a bit wobbly up top, haha!
So, with Chantal’s bag safe and sound (and at no cost may I add!) we headed off towards Khao San Road. I was looking forward to my first experience of Bangkok nightlife and I wasn’t disappointed! If Khao San Road was a dinosaur it would be T-Rex. Bigger, louder and more dangerous than anything else around but full of energy and excitement. I dare say if you stayed around too long then, Khao San would chew you up and spit you out without too much pomp and ceremony before moving on to it’s next victim!
It was great to be sharing the night with two new friends, it would have sucked on my own! We spent sometime at a bar drinking some of the local beer from a quite brilliant beer tower, with a cylinder of ice through the middle battling against the high 20 degrees Bangkok night heat to keep our beer cool. A couple of live music acts kept us entertained with some acoustic tunes, the latter looking uncannly like a Thai version of James Peene – freaky!
With the beer flowing freely, it was time to rock out some of my infamous dance moves! First up was the lawnmower (copyright Richie Vids) and it went down a storm, even the musicians appreciated my efforts!
After that there was only one thing for it – CLUB!! Topsi took us to the hottest club in town, LAVA (get it? haha!). It was a slow burner but eventually the dancefloor was full, Chantal was getting down and expressive with her modern dance!
No time for a burger afterwards, oh no, it’s fried crickets all the way baby! YAK!
During the walk back up the road to catch a taxi, I had my first ladyboy encouter. He/she approached my, gently rubbed my tummy and said ‘come with me I show you good time!’. Now, trust me when I say this, he/she was stunning! Honestly. I had to ask what a ‘good time’ consisted of, and then the hand went lower and he/she said ‘come with me and I’ll show you’. I’ve been using a line to get me out of all sorts of situations lately and it’s generally something like ‘ok, maybe I’ll come back later but my friends are ahead and I need to catch them up!’. On this occasion I’m just so glad it was true! It was only when I caught up with the giggling pair that Topsi informed me of my new friends’ sexual orientation. I was stunned. Unbelievable, but a great lesson for what was to come at Patpong market later on in my stay!
Topsi very kindly invited me to share a taxi back to hers and experience a full blown couch surfing moment. It was awesome to experience a true Thai home and I’m very grateful to Topsi for letting me stay. She even provided me with a toothbrush!
It was an early rise, 08.30h as Topsi was heading off on holiday. We took 3 moto-taxis to the main road. Another lesson, as I wondered about the guys on the street corners in flourescent jackets sitting on bikes. You just hop on, pay a few baht and they take you were you wanna go. No helmets, no leathers, just hop on! I was thinking about the whole setup and how this could never happen in the UK when, we came over a crest in the road and the back end went wobbly. We had a puncture!! Fortunately he was a skilled rider and he brought the bike to a stop without incident! He promptly hailed another bike, I hopped on and was on my way again. We stopped just around the corner and the 2nd bike got the whole fare, not sure how they work that out afterwards!
It was here was said our goodbyes, Topsi headed off on holiday, Chantal disappeared on a bus back into the heat and smog of Bangkok and I hailed a cab back to my hotel. After the late night and very early morning I was pretty tired and, after a shower, managed to sleep until 15.00h! My tailor made shirt was waiting for me at the hotel and very nice it is too! Haha! (pic to follow on later blog due to popular request!)
I spent the rest of the evening sitting in reception blogging and researching for my trip south. The receptionist must’ve felt sorry for me, either that or she was just super friendly as she kept plying me with drinks and things to eat!
Got to bed for the first time at a ‘normal’ hour. It really felt like this thing had properly started.