20.07.2009 - 27.07.2009 32 °C
I arrived in Bangkok on July 20th in the morning. Since I had previously arranged for a ticket out of the country there weren't any troubles at immigration (learning from the Mauritius experience...). Outside the airport gate there were the usual people that try to sell you a ride into town with taxis or express buses. In India these guys are totally useless, because there's no way they are going to give you any information with which they will not make any money. So I started ignoring one that was talking to me as I used to do it in India. Since he was insisting I started talking to him and when I told him I intended to take the public bus, he actually helped me and told me where to go! It's funny how people are different. In India, although the people on the street are very helpful, the vendors prefer not to sell you anything than to sell you something at a fair or local price. And generally people that want to make money out of you will not help you in any way that won't benefit them. In Thailand this seems to be different, this is a major readjustment I have to do in my head, because I don't want to be rude to them (in India it's not considered rude to ignore people that try to rip you off, it's just how people act). Anyway, for those who might come to Bangkok, here's how to get into the city without paying hundreds of Baths: From Exit Gate 8 take the airport shuttle to the bus terminal. From there there's bus 556 that goes to Khao San Road. Khao San Rd is a tourist hub, but it's still the cheapest are in Bangkok. For the cheapest places look in the streets around Khao San Rd. I found a room for 150 Baht per night.
I spent the first 3 days recovering from a cold I caught in the Kolkata airport that was cooled down to refrigerator levels. In the next 3 days I just strolled around and looked at some temples. They have a big temple complex here (the Ko Ratanakosin), which is supposed to be the Thai equivalent to the Vatican. But since I've seen plenty of Buddhas in India and in other temples already I didn't feel like spending 300 Baht on the entry fee.
I went out during the week-end with some people from couchsurfing. That was quite fun, a girl that lives here showed us around the go-go area and little Arabia. That was a pretty fun night. In the early morning as I was walking home, I was picked up by a crazy Taxi driver who drove me back to Khao San for free. This guy was so much fun, too bad that his English was nearly as bad as my Thai.
I really like Bangkok. It's a city that makes you feel at ease and at the same time you can be sure that something is going to happen, good or bad. I like that feeling. I think it's one of the places on Earth where I wouldn't mind living.
During the whole week here in Bangkok I have been pondering if I should spend my next 10 days in Northern or Southern Thailand. Northern Thailand has Chiang Mai and Pai, a lot of culture, mountains and forests. Southern Thailand has the islands and beaches. In the end I decided to go down to the south, because on my way up the Mekong in Laos I will probably pass through similar landscape than Northern Thailand. So tomorrow I take the train to Surat Thani from where I'll either take the ferry to Ko Tao, or first the bus to Phuket and from there the ferry to Ko Phi Phi. I'll decide in the train.
All in all a quite uneventful and quiet week.
Here are some pictures from Bangkok:
The Mae Nam Chao Phraya River. There are public transport ferries that can take you around town much faster than buses that have to deal with traffic jams.
Strolling through the back alleys... There are small canals like this one everywhere in central Bangkok.
On of the temples, the Wat Ratchanatda.
I decided to go to Ko Tao, so I got out of the train early at Chumpheon.