Massage, street food, temples and tuk tuks
05.11.2013 - 07.11.2013 25 °C
We arrived in Bangkok airport yesterday evening after two long flights. We went as directed to fill out forms for visas, one of which was missing and we were misled by some very grumpy Thai workers. Basically, all Thai people seem to give one word answers. My conversation for example, went like this: Me: there's no arrival and departure cards out here, do you have any?
Man on desk: No.
Me: Do you know where I can get some?
Man on desk: Yes.
Man on desk: Not here.
Me: Where then?
Man on desk: Round there.
Me: Where abouts?
Man on desk: There.
I gave up very quickly and asked someone else. She handed me a card with no pen to fill it out, and I went to find out where we could get cash to pay. A man working on another desk told me that I could get cash after paying for the visa which obviously was impossible. He then told me I can get visa and don't have to pay. So we filled out our forms, got in line and waited a while before another lady came by, calling all UK citizens as we do not need to fill in forms or pay at all. After spending that hour senselessly, we were feeling slightly frustrated, and being herded with a huge swarm of American tourists into several groups which were supposed to be lines, leading to booths which were not open did not help. In the end, we jumped under a barrier into the shortest line and got through immigration in about 45 minutes. During this time we managed to befriend an angry American businessman who jumped right in behind us and chatted away for ages about his hate for Bangkok airport. He was very sarcastic and kept saying loudly 'I just LOVE how unorganised this is. All the NEAT lines and HELPFUL staff'. He was quite funny and seemed to like us but was almost definitely a serial killer.
Anyway, we took a taxi through the city which was huge and different to what I expected. There were giant billboards up in lights and we had a nice aircon taxi. Our hotel is basic. I'm almost certain that our room was used during the filming of 'the beach' and the green walls had greasy sexprints all over them near the bed. Lovely! We have no aircon but a big fan which doesn't really work and the shared bathrooms are right down the hall ( we appear to be sharing not just with humans but also with an army of ants). But this is backpacking and we are embracing it with open arms. Our twin beds were covered with silky blue sheets but towels were included so that's a bonus! We paid 1620 baht for three nights which isn't bad and we leave tomorrow. Our first day in Bangkok had been so hot! We walked all day, first to explore Khao San road which is the main touristy area, and we went and collapsed by a fan in a coffee shop, were we laid on the floor on some cushions. They are meant for sitting cross legged but we made ourselves right at home and laid down ordering nothing but two cokes which we pretended to drink for around an hour. Then we went to get changed into appropriate clothing (long pants and a top covering shoulder) and took a tuk tuk to the Grand Palace and a neighbouring temple - the temple of the Emerald Buddha. It was amazing inside! We had to buy entry tickets which were 500 baht each but well worth it. Everywhere as far as the eye can see is gold and bright coloured tiles. All along the inside, walls were lined with murals of what looked like monkey people fighting, being beaten, playing in water, riding elephants and doing basically everything you can think of. There were demonic looking characters too- some with several heads and much was painted in gold. The buildings themselves were covered in gold tiles, with little bits of colour and detail, and there were statues everywhere. We were lucky enough to be able to go inside the temple where monks were praying, and lots of people were meditating in silence. I couldn't get any pictures because there were no cameras allowed, but you can try to imagine gold literally everywhere! golden Buddhas! gold edged mirror! gold walls. It was amazingly peaceful and we were both really impressed. We went to the kings palace next, and saw the changing of the guards, and I know how immature this sounds but their march does look exactly like a skip. Anyone who's seen them marching would agree I am sure, that their soldiers do look quite camp. The palace was huge and the gardens were well kept. The whole place was obviously very well looked after and although it was really hot, it was enjoyable.
After that, we took a tuk tuk back which we bartered down from 250 baht to 60 baht, and the driver seemed pretty annoyed with the traffic. I got this impression when he decided to pull out of our lane and drove pedal to the metal into oncoming traffic, swerving in where there was room. I honestly thought we could die. Thank god it only lasted ten minutes! After that, we got into the hotel, got showered and dressed then went for dinner at a restaurant near some markets and close to Khao San Road. Gordon Ramsay would have had a fit. For one thing their fries were advertised as 'McDonald comparable!'- and that was supposed to be a positive! My vegetarian dish had a full on chicken breast inside which I picked out , our starter came after my meal and Brads meal came ten minutes after I'd started mine but we didn't complain. We smoked some apple flavour shisha which was pricey at 300 baht but really nice. Then I ordered a waffle for dessert with ice cream and chocolate sauce. This is where trouble started. It took twenty five minutes to arrive and didn't have any sauce. I asked for it and the waitress said yes but never came back, once I'd had only two bites, and all the ice cream had melted I asked again for sauce and a waitress said they had none so I told her I wasn't paying. She then got the manager who made a massive deal out of it and told me I'd eaten it! I told her is had two bites and am not paying when it's three ingredients and one is missing, she then sent someone to get sauce, and I stood my ground and said no, it's soggy, cold and out of laziness a waitress lied about not having it so no I'm not paying. She tried to guilt me by saying the waitress would have to pay then to which I replied fine, if she can't be bothered to bring over the rest of my dish which is now ruined she can pay because I'm not. Seriously it's not that hard I work in hospitality and I wouldn't be that rude!
We walked down after that for a massage which was upstairs in a nice cool room. The sign on the door as we entered warned us no farting allowed which I thought was hilarious, and we each had a half hour back and shoulder massage. Some was amazing and they used a nice warming cream, but after a while she started slapping me and twisting me like a pretzel, cracking my back and pulling my head around. Weirdly though, I did feel relaxed after and so did Brad but that may be from the laughter. Oh and before I got rubbed down they washed mine and Brads feet which I hated because I can't stand my feet being touched and I was squirming around while this strange Thai woman tickled my feet!
Today I went for a walk when I got up initially to go for breakfast, but my stomach was bad and the heat was too much so I went back to bed and we both slept until five this evening! We ventured out for food which was really good. For only 140 baht I got rice with stir fried vegetables and cashews with a watermelon fruit shake. We walked through the night markets dodging motorbikes and saw some interesting g sights. One giant bar sign read 'cocktails very strong. We do not check ID card', there was a woman with a stall selling fried bugs, scorpions and cockroaches, a man selling fake ID cards including NSW and Uk but I doubt they would be any good as his sign read 'also vadidily paper'. That's not a word mate. I got an amazing coconut ice cream in a coconut for 40 baht with nuts on top from a street vendor, and tried to get a tuk tuk home as it rained. The man we asked was trying to charge us loads and we realised he was so drunk that he couldn't sit still and that was a government approved tuk tuk! We decided to walk home. So now we are all packed for Chiangmai tomorrow, and we are booked for the floating markets in the morning. So far so good!