Where am I now?
Where is Bangkok?
South East Asia, on the south central coast of Thailand.
It’s one of the those exotic places that has its name murmured by travelers all around the world. Food, culture, weather, people, low –cost, vibrant night-life, Bangkok has it all.
I arrived from Japan around midnight and found a sketchy guy and his normal looking friend to drive me to the city. As it turned out, he was just a retired guy who used his van as a taxi to make extra money and get out of the house. He ended up being my private chauffer for the next few days. When I got to my hostel/hotel, I was surprised by how modern the city was and how nice my place was. I mean, what you get for your money in Thailand is pretty hard to explain and easy to get used to. I went to sleep, jet lagged and tired the first night.
I woke up and went to explore the city. It was a culture shock to see things here that would never happen in the U.S. For example, to see an entire family on a small scooter in downtown Bangkok, or small children running barefoot trying to sell flowers or gum, was initially strange. But you get used to it fast. I hopped in a taxi to meet up with my friends. Garrett was in Korea the past year teaching English, and Steve met him out there a few months ago, then they started to travel through Thailand. We’ve all known each other since we were about 12, and it was cool to all meet up again in a place like Bangkok. My 25 minute ride cost under $4, which would have easily been like $40 back in Chicago. They were saying just near the infamous Khao San Road (that’s what it’s called, even though San means Road).
Khao San Rd. is like the backpacker mecca of South East Asia. This place is unique for sure. You walk down the half-mile stretch and see everything from groups of Lady-Boys (some of them look a LOT like women), to markets, groups of hippy looking backpackers, people selling knock off watches and bags, night clubs, outdoor restaurants and bars, to families pushing a stroller and couple walking browsing through the market. A lot of second-hand stuff is sold there also, because a lot of backpackers get so broke they sell their bags, watches, clothes, etc., anything to prolong the stay in Thailand. Which is understandable. Khao San is an assault on your senses. The smell of fresh Thai food is everywhere as you walk down the street vendors, as is the occasional stench of sewer, which mixes and makes you wonder what exactly you are smelling. You hear hard core metal rock in one ear, and current American hip-hop in the other, while you’re standing in front of a 10 year old Thai kid playing some strange instrument and being offered tickets to “ping pong” shows (if you don’t know what a ping pong show is, look it up, I’m not explaining). We went back to their place and booked our train ticket to Chiang Mai, which leaves the 11th at 9 am and is 12 hours long. I kind of wanted to fly, but G talked it up and said it would be a cool way to see the country-side, so we did it. After walking around a while we decided to go back to my place so my friends could take a hot shower, which G hadn’t done in a year or so, and Steve at least a few months. Which I thought was funny because growing up these kids had nice big houses in the suburbs, so to see them getting all excited about my normal shower, was shocking to me.
We chilled out at my place until my driver picked us up to take us to a department store to eat and see some Thai boxing. The boxing was set up in a nice professional arena at the base of this giant department store and had a nice crowd. It was really cool to watch, but I was a little disappointed that it was between a French guy and a Scottish guy. It was still cool though. We headed back to the hotel to chill, drink a little, and relax until 11pm when the driver came back to take us to some of his local favorite spots. I’m gonna filter this part of the story, but let me just say, he had a different idea of what we meant when we said we wanted to party with girls. We had him drop us off back near some bars and partied around there until about 6am or so. It’s not a bar scene like you would imagine. Almost all of the bars are set up so they are more like little stands facing a strip and everyone kind of hangs out and goes from place
to place. While I was walking around, a little kid, no older than 6-7, came up and head butted me and said, “hey man, you buy rose!” and pushed a fistful of roses up toward me. I was like, “what!? it’s 3am, go home!” But he was persistent. He found me later, because I kinda stand out, and joined us at the bar. Long-story short, that kid hustled us with all sorts of little games and tricks and ended up going home with about 2,000 BAHT or like $60. Only in Bangkok. Word spread fast to the other lil hustlers and soon I was surrounded by little kid’s with roses. We decided to move on and headed to a nice, legit, club called Insomnia. We were pretty much the only foreigners in there, so it was cool to be a part of the local scene. We partied until about 6am or so and kinda went our separate ways as we got split up talking to different people. Steve’s story is an epic tale to be told another time, but his night ended up to be a crazy story.
I woke up and went to the hospital around noon to get some vaccinations for the different places I’m headed. I was shocked when I was filling out paper work and they waked me my religion, and insisted that they needed this information. That was a culture shock. I headed back to my place fell asleep for a while. I met the guys out pretty late near Khao San and we partied out around there until about 5-6am. While we were I out we all met some really cool people from all over the world; Holland, Germany, Sweden, France, England, the list goes on and on. We left a club when it closed and wandered around Khao San, hanging out, drinking, watching in amusement at the dozens of “Lady-Boys” looking for some one to take them home. I wandered up to a group while taking a video to show people what’s up, because it was a group of half girls and half lady boys. I’m normally a loud, friendly, guy when I’m having fun, so I was SHOCKED, I mean SHOCKED, when the he/she lady-boy turned to me and said, “GO HOME NEEGA!!! NEEEEEGA!! GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY!” I was like, holy-shit, that’s @#$!ed-up. I just laughed at her/him and was like…”umm okay,” and walked back to my friends to tell them what that racist he/she just said. It was an experience to say the least.
Day 4(night 3 continued)
We stayed out probably too long considering we had a train to catch. We got back to the hostel my friends were staying at around 6am with a group of 5/6 people we kinda picked up along the way, a melting pot of the world. G and Steve passed out and I woke them up to get their stuff together around 8. I knew we were pushing it because my place was clear across the city and I saw the traffic in the morning. Their drunk asses got ready all late and had us really PUSHING out time limit. I ran into my place after sitting in traffic, grabbed my stuff in like 5 minutes, and hopped back in the taxi to head to the train station. More traffic. We get to the train station at 9:10 am, run to platform 9. Empty tracks. I show my ticket to a Thai looking guy and he points to track 10. We all just run across the tracks, and bolt onto the train. Before we even sat down the train was moving, I’ve never cut it that close. We found our seats and laughed at how ridiculously close we cut it to the train. I sat back and breathed. Then I realized I forgot my tri-pod at the hotel. Shit. I’ll get it next time I’m in Bangkok.