Friday, 3 April 2009

Bangkok Pt.2

The main reason for our second trip to Bangkok was to sort out our Vietnam visa. This had annoyed me the day I realised how long it was going to eat up out of our time in Thailand (a possible 7 days). Especially when it was something we could have sorted out back home. I was really looking forward to getting back to Bangkok however as in retrospect I realised I had had a really awesome time there the first time. It was just the fact we had spent 5 nights there previously and a possible 8 nights here again was a little bit too much.

Our plan was to get the visa process up and running as soon as we could and then hopefully have some time to go trekking up in the north for a couple of days once we had got it so before we got our flight to Vietnam on the 2ND. This is something we could have done had if we got our act together and sorted it out however we didn't which meant we spent a further 8 nights in Bangkok taking our total stay in Bangkok to 13 days! If you read any guidebook or speak to anyone about Bangkok they will more than likely tell you to do a max of 3 days there! I was there 13! But once again I don't actually really regret this at all as once again I had an amazing time there.

Like my last visit to the capital I spent a high percentage of my time being nocturnal. I spent all but one of the 8 nights there out and about around the city and got in most nights around the 6am mark. This is something I don't really do back home ever so it took a great deal out of me emotionally and physically as by the end of the week stint I think my heart may only have been beating twice a minute and occasionally I was forgetting to breathe. Doing this also put heavy strains on my budget but I didn't really care to be honest was having a quality time.

Now the main reason for me doing this was a half Thai/half Chinese girl called Lee who I met on my first night out in Bangkok. Now to be honest I wasn't really sure whether to mention her in my blog or not as this is "Where is Rob?" not "What is Rob's love life up to?" but I thought as she played a large part in the reason I ended up there for 8 days and didn't go trekking I thought I would give it some inches. I then also realised this is my blog essentially just for me so I can talk about what I want and when I read this back in a few years will remind me exactly why I was there so long, anyway....

Lee was cool and I spent a lot of time with her during my time there. After credit card frauds and losing my phone it was just nice to kick back and chill out with a local girl for a while. Went out all but one of the nights with her and spent the last couple of days together as well. This did mean however I totally sacked Tommy off this time and only really saw him in the mornings but he is a big boy and can look after himself. One great thing about this for me was I got to get up to things I normally wouldn't have seen or done had I just been seeing the city with other travelers. I got a taste of normal Bangkok life hanging out in malls, grabbing a bite to eat and just messing about in an arcades, I even found some Guitar hero! The nights out were good as well as I was going to places off the backpacker trial as along with Lee and her other Thai friends visiting spots not normally visited by the lonely traveler. I even ended up in the gay district one night which was just mental. Went to several gay clubs, which I have never done before but thought it would be interesting and something that could only add to my traveling experience. Also the fact I was there with Lee did help things. I even got hit on several times. This was slightly flattering but being hit on by a guy was a rather strange experience.

I had a great few days with Lee and was the main reason I didn't really get up to that much in the 8 days I spent back in Bangkok. When I head back to Thailand will hopefully be seeing her again if all goes to plan. Enough about that... here is a bit about the other stuff I got up to while I was there.

One thing we did manage to do was go to Chatuchak Weekend Market. This is an absolutely huge market that takes place every weekend in Bangkok. The market covers a total of 35 acres and has around 15,000 stalls there (Couple of facts for you there). We got a map of the place as we entered breaking the place down into its various areas but we still managed to get lost in the place, it was huge! I am pretty sure the only things that aren't available at this market are things that are electricals, as I don't think I saw any. As well as things that are illegal, although I'm sure if you knew the right people you could pick anything that comes under 'illegal' there also. To be honest I wasn't really expecting much when I headed over to the market. I thought it would be just a huge place selling nothing but rubbish. I turned out to be very wrong. There was loads there and I even picked my self up a very "Björn Borg" looking pair of shorts. Possibly the campest item of clothing I have ever purchased but I think they look the nuts and were only 6 quid after some bartering! They are light blue with white pin strip and I am sure will pop up in various pictures as I travel. Very snazzy.

At the other end of the retail spectrum we also did an afternoons shopping in the "Central World Plaza" an absolutely amazing shopping center far better than anything I have been to in the UK. Being in there didn't feel like Thailand at all as it just really wasn't the sort of thing I was expecting to find there. It was very western and the sort of place the affluent Thais went to shop. It had all the big names you would expect to find and then some more. The place sort of looked like it had just landed from space in Bangkok as the building itself was ultra modern while everywhere else surrounding it was a bit of a slum. I brought another pair of shorts, this time from Topman and then some better flip-flops as my fallen arch was starting to bother me again and wanted a bit more support. It was nice to hang out in a "nice" clean place for a change in Bangkok and gave me a break from the sweaty mess that makes up the rest of the place.

Trying to be a bit more cultured after several days of just nights out and buying stuff we headed over to the "Wat Pho Temple". The main thing to see at the temple is the gold plated reclining Buddha. The Buddha is 46 meters long and 15 meters high, and is designed to illustrate the passing of the Buddha into nirvana (apparently). It was impressive mainly due to its size but also the gold coating obviously made it look pretty good too. There wasn't really much else to do there and when we got there is was starting to close for the day anyway. So we walked around a bit looking at a few of the statues and buildings and then made our way back to Khoasan road for some food. It felt good visiting some sights for a change as it just made me feel I was making the most of my time travelling, like I did in Japan with all the intensive sight seeing I did there.

As hard as it is for me to say the most memorable things about my second trip to Bangkok was the fact I went and lost my iPhone. I was an absolute mess when I felt my pocket only to find it was no longer there, was completely gutted. As sad as it is to say I loved my phone, I did, I used it for literally everything it was brilliant. I have no idea what actually happened to it whether it fell out of my pocket or I got pick pocketed, all I know is that it is no longer in my possession. I am now stuck with some piece of Samsung shit which every time I look at it is a painful reminder of what I have lost. Although I have my fingers crossed for a 32gb version to be released in June which I may try get my mitts on, Sterling permitting of cause.

So that concludes my second trip to Bangkok as well as my entire trip to Thailand. I have found my time here to be a emotional roller coaster full of highs and lows. Horrible cliches aside I felt a lot happened to me while I was here and while at one point really wanted to leave, now the dust has settled, I am really going to miss this place. Once I got over the culture shock I felt a little on entry I loved this place. So much so that I will cut my time short in Nam and Cambodia and Laos so that I can have a few more days in this crazy country. Well that's the plan anyway, who knows what the next few weeks will hold.

But for now Onwards to Vietnam....