Originally posted on another platform on September 2010

Second post or our 3 month tour around Asia

Dubai (UAE) – Bangkok

After another 7 and a half hour flight (by the way, what a downgrade plane wise from Etihad), we reached Bangkok.

Many things have been said about airports, security, etc… Truth is, we only needed to fill in a small paper to get another stamp in our passport.

In the airport, we met with David’s friend, who was flying from Phuket. He lives and works in Khao Lak, just an hour away on the west coast. It was him who reserved a nice, cheap hotel (Sunrise Residence) in bangkok’s city centre for three nights.

The first impression I got is that the city is enormous!!! The airport is only 30 to 40 minutes away if there’s no traffic. Unfortunately, EVERYONE seemed to be on the road the day we landed, as it took us close to 2 hours to get to the hotel…price was prearranged and it was next to nothing !

While in the cab, we saw:

1) how they drive in Thailand (like mad people)

2) the different methods of transport:

  • bicycle – they carry everything but the kitchen sink.
  • motorbike – aaaah the auld mopped
  • motorbike with added “box” – it’s either on the right or the left (not a sidecar, but an aluminium box where you can either carry things or sit on the border.
  • tuk tuk – fast!
  • car
  • lorries

Considering how many different types of methods of transportation there is, I am not surprised about the traffic. In an aim to resolve this issue, the Thai government has been building roads over roads and bridges over bridges… Madness!!

When we got to the hotel, we went for a nap for two or three hours and, as we were in bang on the city centre (Silom), we went for a stroll around Lumphini Park. It was while on the way to the park that we realized how truly dirty Bangkok is ( I’m really sorry to say it but it’s true!) . We also saw, however, how very lively this city is with all the bazaars and stalls in the street. As the city has its own “eau de Bangkok” we decided against eating anything off the street.

The park us very nice and gives views of the emerging sky scrappers in the city. It really is a lung in the heart of the city too and people use it to jog around, do Thai Chi, as a gym (I’ve a picture of some very old equipment in the park) and to just walk around. It was there that I truly realized that I was in Asia, when a Komodo dragon came out of nowhere to cross the path and get into the lake… Very very cool.

After visiting the park (and slightly affected by jetlag), we met Paul and went for a couple of pints in the irish pub in silom (had to be done). It was there that David started feeling a bit under the weather, so we decided to get back to the hotel.

The following morning, David felt a bit better and it was me who started to feel a bit wrong. Buddha belly…not nice!!!! I think neither of us ate for 36 hours, all we did was drink water and Gatorade.

The following two days, we made plans depending on how we felt. We did well and saw the standing Buddah, the Royal Palace and the temples surrounding it (right beside the palace, we had our first meal in 36 hours in a market) and we did an excursion down the river … Well the truth is that we fot the local transport with all the Thais and the monks and for 20 cent we saw Bangkok from one end to the other.

People in Bangkok are very nice and, on a couple of occasions, one or two locals stopped  to help us. For instance, we were looking for the river and a gentleman came over, told us where it was, stopped a tuk tuk for us and negotiated the price. He also told us that the Government pays for the petrol on all tuk tuks, so the maximum a driver can ever charge you is 70 baht. The vast majority of times, they can you from one place to the other for approximately 20 baht (50 Euro cents).

Unfortunately, not all tuk tuk drivers are that nice and, after leaving the temples we got into one that was offering to take us to 3 sites for 20 baht. I was hesitant (I had read guides about that sort of scam) and I told David about my concern, but we decided to continue on the tuk tuk anyway… If things got ugly, we could always just get out. We got to the first sit (Standing Buddah) and there was no problem.  On the way to the second one, I started feeling that something was going on and, of course, the driver was stopping in front of a chinese gem shop. We said that no way were we going to get in and he kept on saying, “Please do it for me”… We left him there with the agreed 20 baht. Thankfully, this was in the middle of Bangkok in a safe area so we didn’t care too much. It’s a pity that people like him give a bad name to the Thai, but there’s malicious people everywhere…

The last night in Bangkok was funny (in handsight) and offered a great lesson to be learned!. David was still feeling a bit under the weather but I was starving, so I decided to get some take away from outside and eat it in the hotel (classy, I know!).  As I was going down the stars I  hears a couple of raindrops and I thought it would not be anything… I had of course forgotten that we were in the middle of rainy season  which means that, while it doesn’t rain all the time, it does rain heavily for 2 or 3 hours everyday, generally at night time.

So, yeah, I left the hotel with a mini umbrella that Reception had lent me (thank God they insisted!) and walked the 5 minutes from the hotel to Si Lom…. I could see the owners of the stalls rushing to close and I was looking surprisingly at them thinking to myself “for this??” . Little did I know that just 30 seconds after having tghat first thought I would have to run and take refuge in Burger King….

So…. We learned a couple of things in Bangkok….

1) If it rains, do not lave wherever you are (and if you are not indoors, go to the closest coffee shop)
2) If you get a tuk tuk, tell the driver to go to the place you want…. Nowhere else!
3) If you go to Bangkok, don’t miss the palace and the temples beside them… they are amazing.

Take care!