Sunday, October 2, 2011

Buckets in Bangkok

First of all, I am already crazy about this country! It's only been under 48 hours in Bangkok so far and I am having the time of my life.

After getting settled at the hotel, I headed out to Tesco Lotus (basically like a Walmart that has anything and everything you can hope for) to pick myself up a Thai phone. I got the good ol' basic Nokia for around 700 baht ($23 US dollars). They use a pay-as-you-go system, which caused a bit of difficulty to figure out how to "top up" my phone with credit, especially without someone in sight that spoke much English. Eventually I got it sorted and picked up an international calling card as well to call my parents. I hadn't eaten since the flight, so I braved the Thai food court and pointed to something that looked appealing, not really knowing what it was. WOW - the spice level was unparalleled to anything I've ever had. I love semi-spicy food - but this was an electrifying rush of intense flavor that left me feeling dizzy.
I went to sleep much too early, only to find myself wide awake and starving at 3 AM. I met up with my British friend who was experiencing a similar jet-lag and we went in search of food. There wasn't  much happening around us at this time (our hotel is not near the center of Bangkok) so we were forced to go to a McDonald's which I was not thrilled about. When we came back, we met two more British "lads" who were entertaining in their drunken stupor. We all made plans to check out the infamous Grand Palace the next morning, but by the time we went to bed it was after 6AM so it was decided we'd save it for another day since it deserves at least half a day.

The next morning we met another English fellow who knew Bangkok well enough from previous trips. We took the Sky Train (Bangkok's better version of a metro or subway, but it is elevated above ground with nice views and MUCH cleaner than those in NYC or London. The air con is also a nice relief from the humidity!) We took the Sky Train to the center of Bangkok, and from there a taxi to Khao San Road - the backpacker's hub.

I've been warned to be careful with street food, but then I've met plenty of people have never gotten sick from eating anything. Our first stop was an incredible pad thai stall - unbelievable! The food is so delicious and cheap everywhere, around one US dollar give or take for a meal.

We ended up spending most of the day and evening wondering around and drinking. We stopped somewhere for a fruit platter as well - AMAZING! Pineapple in America is a joke compared to here. We hit up a book store where we each got a book and I am sure we will swap - refreshing to know English books are readily available. I am finishing up "The Road of Lost Innocence" about a Cambodian woman sold into the sex trade but I picked up a copy of the famous "The Beach" which takes place on Koh Phi Phi Island in Thailand. I hear it is a must-read, much much better than the crappy Leonardo movie.

We spent the rest of the evening drinking cheap "Chang" beers and cocktails. Buckets of cocktails are very popular here - and boy do they make them strong! We met a couple vacationing from the Philippines - they spoke absolutely perfect English and were wonderful drinking company! After listening to some great music and having had our fair share to drink, we started the trek back to the hotel to call it an early night since our course begins this morning. We loved our cab driver - he was hilarious with an excellent choice in music (cough Radiohead) and he let us practice our awful attempts at the Thai language on him. Taxis here are mega cheap - it was less than a dollar each! I was up at 4:30AM, getting better but still pretty awful. At 9AM - in a couple hours - we will all meet in the lobby for our transfer to another accommodation (a bit further outside of Bangkok) where our TEFL course will be held. I am sure they'll keep us busy with the course for the next three weeks, although we do have weekends free to explore.

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