Bangkok: At Least Part of It

Although Erik and I had spent a few days in Bangkok on our way to Chiang Mai, we decided to give it another go as last time we were there Erik was at the mercy of what is now known as his everlasting fever.

We spent our first day trying to see some of the sights closer to our hostel, but when you’re talking about a city the size of Bangkok it was actually a lot of walking and a very small portion of the city. We made our way to the Golden Mountain passing other beautiful temples along the way.

DSC01219WBefore making the climb, Erik threw in a few baht for good luck in offering to his Chinese Animal the Cock.

DSC01222WAfter a short and mercifully shady climb we were rewarded with great views of the city that seems to stretch in each direction forever.

DSC01225WThe only time I remember a city that seemed as large are when I had similar views of Athens, Greece.

DSC01226WAfter stopping at what is arguably the best pad thai shop in Bangkok for a quick lunch, we headed along to explore the hectic streets of Chinatown.

DSC01229WThe many street vendors and what seemed like hundreds of gold stores gave the neighborhood some real flavor.

DSC01230WWe were particularly interested in the flattened squids and ducks that were out for sale. We’re not quite sure but it looked like they had been emptied and then flattened so that all you were purchasing was a duck shell with no meat or insides. Erik even found a large pack of replacement batteries for his bank verification device at a great price.

DSC01231WUnfortunately for us Bangkok is a fairly expensive city and the only affordable accommodation we could find was just off the main backpackers area of Khao San Road. Luckily this time around we were able to find a place somewhat off the main strip which proved to be a quiet retreat compared to the booming club music that shook our room until 6 am at the last place we stayed in Bangkok.

DSC01336WIf you’ve never heard of Khao San Road, let me try to describe it for you. It is the ugly epitome of a city spring break. Each and every shop, bar, and vendor caters to the typical three and four person groups of frat boys and spring breakers.

DSC01337WTouts call out to you offering massages on the side of the street, hair braiding  cheap bathing suits, tattoos and less cheap beer. Vendors walk around selling overpriced insects and fruits.

DSC01344WHere is a video to give you an idea, reminds me a little bit of Halloween on State Street in Madison.

Khao San Road

But we thought; hey as long as we’re here why not embrace it? So, we set out to live the nightlife of Khao San Road. We did it correctly right from the start getting cheap pad thai and big beers at one of the 8 7-11 stores and ate our dinner on the road in front of a closed store.

DSC01339WWe spent the night bar hoping from old VW vans selling cocktails, to lively bars that had signs outside promising strong drinks and no ID checks. We didn’t make it until 5 am with the other partiers, but we made a good showing for ourselves and had a good time observing the craziness mostly from afar.

DSC01341WOur last morning in the city we got up very, very early to catch one of the first public transport longtail boats up to the last stop on the river that lines the city. Packed on to the boat with locals we were surrounded by yawns and students on their way to school.

DSC01354WAfter a short walk from the peer what is arguably one of the most atmospheric markets we have been to yet, and you know how much we love markets.

DSC01360WVegetables bursting out of baskets on the floor lay next to seafood so fresh it was still moving. Squids, eels, turtles, fish and mussels were just a sampling of the spread. I was very tempted to take home samples from the largest piles of curry paste I have ever seen, but settled instead for a typical breakfast of sticky rice.

DSC01365WThe mild breakfast was much appreciated however, when we made our way through the animal parts vendors who had every part of an animal you could imagine on display for sale.

DSC01368WEven though we only had time to see a very small section of the city, I like to think that we got a good sense of the culture and sights. Next time I would love more time and money to explore the roof top bars, and elaborate restaurants of central downtown.

 

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