View from the hill!

View from the hill!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

3 flights, 20 hours in the air, 15 hours in the airport and 2 days later I have finally arrived in Bangkok. Getting here was a bit difficult thanks to snow, ice, mechanical problems, missed connections and lost luggage but I made it in one piece so am thankful for that!

Lonely Planet's description of Bangkok pretty much sums up my last 3 days...
"This high-energy city loves neon and noise, chaos and concrete, fashion and the future. Although it's constantly on the move, everyone is stuck in a traffic jam somewhere within a mountain range of skyscrapers and soot-stained apartment towers. And past the ringing mobile phones and blaring pop music is an old fashioned village napping in the shade of a narrow soi (lane). It's an urban connoisseur's dream come true with the past, present and future jammed into a humid pressure cooker. Because it's a revolving door for travel throughout the region, you'll be confused and challenged when you first arrive, relieved and pampered when you return, and slightly sentimental when you depart for the last time."
Upon arriving at the Bangkok Airport I had no bag, no guide book and no plan. My first task was to make my way into the city and find a place to stay. After putting out several couch surfing requests none of the people I reached out to were able to host me. I didn't stress too much about not having a bed to sleep in because I knew there would be plenty of hostels and guesthouses and I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to find a place. However, after wandering up the backpacker haven Khao San Road I quickly learned that making a reservation may have been a good idea. The first few guesthouses were full and before I headed further up the road I decided to stop in an internet cafe to check my email. I was pleased to see an email from a friend of a friend, Bill, who lives in Bangkok and offered me his guest bedroom. He sent over his address and miraculously I found it without too much difficulty (I was quite impressed with my navigation skills seeing as I was on the opposite side of town and had to take a tuk tuk, taxi, subway and sky train to get there!). I could not have asked for a better place to begin my SE Asia trip than Bill's gorgeous apartment. It was also convenient seeing as though I would be without my backpack for 2 full days, so staying with Bill meant I did not have to go out and buy all new toiletries.

After a short nap I joined Bill and his friends for dinner. On the walk over he explained that he was embarrassed to be taking me to this place for dinner but told me the food was awesome. It wasn't until we walked in the doors that I realized why he was embarrassed, he took me to a strip club for dinner! Soi Cowboy is a single lane strip of 30 bars comprising one of 3 red light districts in the city. The bar we went to had 5 naked girls up on stage dancing as we ate our delicious ham and cheese sandwiches. Bill knows the owner, an American guy who cooks up one of the best Western meals in the city. For only 200 baht (about $6) we got a massive sandwich with home cured ham and swiss, potato salad, deviled eggs, and a bowl of bean soup. After dinner we headed to a sports bar and played some pool before going to Soi 33, known for it's "girlie bars." These are basically bars where men go to pick up a woman for the night, scantily clad girls dance and serve drinks as they butter up their prospects for the night. I guess I should mention that this was Bill's best friend's last weekend in Thailand. He had lived here for 2 years and works with Bill at United Aid and is moving on to his next assignment in Sudan. So needless to say the weekend was filled with drunken farewells and girlie bars! It was definitely an interesting welcome into Thailand....but I loved every minute of it!

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