Bangkok Has Me Now

Posted on August 15, 2011

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My first trip to Bangkok was four years ago, and it is fair to say that it was not a place that I had particularly fallen in love with. I had found the sordid and busy nature of Khao San Road, the travellers ghetto, overwhelming, and become tired of constantly being pestered buy street vendors to purchase useless rubbish with my rapidly diminishing money. It was fair to say, then, that I was not looking forward to returning this time.

We gained a slight reprieve from the Khao San madness by checking in to a hostel on the parallel Rambutri Road, the excellent Green House hostel. After sleeping most of the day having arrived at 4am but unable to check in until lunch time, we spent what remained of our first day checking out the ‘sights’ of Khao San, having some drinks, and listening to the varying qualities of live music that comes from every bar. The next morning, after being disappointed by the news that the Palace was shut in honour of the Queen’s birthday, we hired a tuk tuk to take us to some of Bangkok’s main tourist sites. These included the impressive Standing and Sitting Buddhas, as well as a climb up Golden Mountain for some impressive views over the city. The only down side, and one I had expected, was that our tuk tuk driver, in return for the cheap fare, wanted us to briefly browse in a tailors and then a jewellers. We did our ‘duty’, though how the shops in question fall for this particular ruse from the driver (he gets a food voucher with every customer he takes to the store) is a mystery to me.

That evening we ventured to Chinatown for an excellent shrimp meal at a local restaurant before returning to Khao San Road to negotiate that most stereotypical of all Bangkok’s tourist attractions: a visit to a ping pong show. After settling on a price (in Bangkok it is never clear whether or not you have overpaid, though you guess that you probably have), we were bundled into a taxi and driven to a large warehouse-style bar a few minutes away. The format of this particular show was that a 30-minute show was performed again and again, meaning that those paying to watch only actually saw anything new for half an hour. After a woman spent a few minutes shooting ping pong balls into a bowl (but mostly missing), another smoked a cigarette and another shot a banana into the air before the show was concluded with an awkward-looking sex show. The stag parties and lonely old men loved it. We, on the other hand, were less impressed and left, with departure fixed for the next morning.

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Posted in: Experience, Travel