Today is the day I start my three-month residency at The Content Castle on the island of Koh Samui, Thailand. The beautifully furnished house and clear ocean (minus the odd gobi and piece of seaweed) makes it difficult to recall my first encounter with Thailand… Kind of.
A city thriving off deceit and desire, Bangkok has been in the tourist game long before its neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia. Heavily bleached skin leaves its residents with talcum powder like features, and heavily applied western ‘perfection’ creates a translucent self-image.
So immune to tourism, there’s a feeling of untrust when negotiating prices, where to go and places to eat. Mine and Jake’s time with turbo tuk-tuk drivers was interesting, to say the least. Lost in Bangkok may be a good title for a film, but it’s not one to be featured in.
Amongst our many adventures, we were asked to stop midway through the journey to have a nose around a tailoring shop. Jake, after whispering to me to just go along with it, later explained that the drivers receive a commission for bringing customers to said shops.
But before any of this, before you even set foot in the tuk-tuk, be sure to set a price. Don’t pay more than 150 baht for a 20-25 minute journey; they will often use the trick of ‘oh but there’s traffic’ to withdraw more money from you, but unless it really is the usual commuter time of day, don’t fall prey.
We were dropped off unintentionally in the middle of the night at Benz House (an actual hotel don’t worry), in Ratchathewi, much too far out from the main tourism sector that we wanted to be, but surrounded by these huge shopping malls. Scattered around the city, these monster malls come with themes such as fabrics, phones, and even airport terminals.
In search of the Siam museum, our driver dropped us off at the Siam shopping centre *sigh*. This beast of a building is home to an IMAX cinema, bowling alley, humungous food court, Seaworld aquarium and hella gadgets. The top floor is a dizzying height and looking down, your eyes are lost in a neverending escalator ride down. Perfect for a rainy day, cinema screenings out here start from 160 TBT and you can meander around the hundreds of shops for hours.
Other malls, particularly in the Ratchathewi area, food courts are on the top floor and are cheap cheap. The ground floor is market-like in an air-conditioned hall with many stalls selling on behalf of wholesalers. Haggle as if your life depended on it.
During the few days we spent in Bangkok, we did manage to experience a fraction of what is usually on offer. A word of advice for early risers like myself, do not expect much in comparison to the nightlife. Take a siesta mid-afternoon and prepare for a night of culinary delight and one or two (perhaps three) freights.
On another note, the night markets are fab! Filled with clothes, souvenirs and countless food options, the first one we went to was wonderful, but once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. On to the Palace we went, only to find it off-limits (and the museums, and some of the temples). However, we did manage to have a peek inside Wat Pho nearby.
One thing you will never be short on is bars. Take your pick from the luxury, the ladies, and the damn right skatty. But beware, fellow travelers, for bar fines add up (and I’m not talking alcohol) plus ‘ladies’ might not always be who you think they are. Bangkok we’ve had our moments, and we’ll be sure to be back, but it’s time to get to work.
P.S. I love you beretta.
Eat: Different. Grow some balls (you could probably eat some too come to think of it) and try that scorpion – one to tick off the list! How do they catch them though…?
Drink: And play at Soi Cowboy. No further comments.
Do: Check the bloody government websitegovernment website before you travel anywhere. We were happily sold tickets to Bangkok in amidst a massive cultural change for Thai people. King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed on the 13th October 2016, and the country has since been in a year of mourning. As a result, a monochrome dress code descended and countless memorials and posters appeared in homage to what many considered a Demigod.
Yellow marigolds have been grown in abundance, blanketing Thailand in respect for the late King and the royal cremation is to take place on the 26th of this month. Thai police and military lined the streets to keep the order of the millions traveling into Bangkok for the ceremony, and to advise tourists to move on from the capitol. We were in Bangkok for a very brief amount of time and ran away with our tails between our legs, embarrassed to be such naive flouncy tourists.
Stay: Somewhere you pick, not your driver. Make sure you know exactly where you’re going, right down to the address and a picture of what the outside looks like. We stayed at Benz House that looks like a cheap Las Vegas hooker hotel in the middle of nowhere. We weren’t impressed, but equally weren’t in the mood to find somewhere else.