Bangkok, wow! What an interesting city! I love it so much and there is so much to do that I can't leave. I take my bags and walk to the train which will take me to the city. On the way I stop by the shop that says "Local sim cards". Remember my story about Indian sim card? It took me the whole day, they sent me here and there and here again, I had to fill numerous applications, take pictures, and provide a local address with a local reference! It took me the whole day! Listen to the Bangkok sim card story now ... you pay $10, you get a sim card, it takes a whooooole freaking minute! :) I get on the train with hundreds on signs leading to it. Everybody's smiling at you, greeting you, taking their time to help you, opening doors for you, helping you with the luggage. I have never had an easier arrival than in here! You just can't get lost or freaked out in a city like Bangkok! The train is clean, efficient, fast, people wait on the sides when the doors open letting the passengers get off first. I was so tempted to push in at first! :) The Thais are so fashionable! They wear very outgoing colorful weird cloths, weird nails, weird contact lenses, too much weird make up, they all have weird gadgets, weird couples, he's shorter and younger, but he looks cool and wears the coolest cloths ever. People are dressed like they just got out of a fashion show. Unfortunately Thais have a big problem with very bad cases of acne. Ladies wear the shortest shorts ever, and no one is staring at them except me :) Everyone is so polite, quiet and respectful. WoW!!!! I have no idea who the Prime Minister of Canada is, but an hour after arrival in Bangkok, I already know who is their king. His picture and posters are everywhere. Huge billboards on streets and schools, government offices, in all stores … people love their king!
First hostel where I arrived is in a very traditional Thai neighbourhood. No one is really speaking English, but everyone is so helpful, it doesn't really matter that they don't. I settle down, and go to meet my friend who lives in Bangkok for 2 years now. We meet at the mall, and it's the best mall I've ever been to. It's called "Terminal 21" and every floor is like a different city. A man dressed up like a pilot opens the doors and salutes you. There are Tokyo, London, Rome, Istanbul floors all selling appropriate things with appropriate decor. In the restaurant, the lady who serves us bows down every time she comes to the table.
Shopping is great and cheap. I bought Esprit shorts with a tag on it that says among other countries, Canada $44, Thailand $9. The shops are all original, good quality with a fraction of the price. If anyone comes to visit Thailand, please do yourself a favour and come with an empty suitcase! :) The toilet is amazing. It has so many buttons which control the temperature of the seat and the water, the volume, direction, pattern. It should become a tourist attraction! :)
In the hostel we all gathered up and went to see the royal palace. Man, this palace is expensive, but oh so worth it! Everything is decorated with statues, dragons, door keepers, "gold" plated and glass plated buildings and stupas. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen! We ended up in the most touristic part of town, everybody left and I had a problem catching a taxi back. The taxies wait at the ends of the street. I tell them where I need to go, and they tell me $7, what?? It should cost around $2 (taxies are so cheap in Thailand, $2 for 20 minutes). I tell them to use the meter. They tell me that it's too little for them, I tell them that $7 is too much for me. We don't settle on anything, and I do what I usually do in a place that's spoiled by tourism, I walk a minute in any direction until I get out of that area and catch a taxi on the road which happily turns on the meter without you asking for it.
Next day I went to a few more sights. I saw huge reclining Buddha, 42 meters in length! And 100s of Buddhas sitting around it. People are exchanging their bills for small coins and drop them in small iron buckets that align the walls of the temple generating a musical melody. Then I saw a temple with spooky stairs to the top, but offers good views of the city. The river is used as transportation too, and there are public boats that go along the river, with smaller boats that take you to the other side at every station.
I've never seen that many tourists in my life. Maybe there are many tourists in Europe, but it's hard to tell who's a tourist and who's a local. Here because local people are Asian, it's easy to see the tourists. At some boat stations, the tourists way outnumber the locals. Among the tourists, there is huge number of expats, not surprisingly, most of them are male.
In the evening I meet my friend again and ask him all about Bangkok and its culture. I ask him if he dated any Thai girls. On this evening I learn everything there is to know about sex tourism in Thailand. He tells me what's the point of dating white girls. They're so picky, they want too much, they're playing hard to get, they're unsatisfied with everything and expect too much. On the other hand Thai girls are so easy. You don't even need to pick them up. All you have to do is be white! Thais are hanging out where the expats do, and in a vision of a white guy launch themselves at them. He told me that they don't have any guy nights out, they try to do it every time, but it's always cancelled because every friend is going to the bar and is surrounded by 4 Thai girls. What's the point of having guy's nights out? Everybody wants a white boyfriend, or a chance to sleep with him, or just have a drink. He said that you can take your gf out once a week and she'll be the happiest person ever. Every guy's self esteem rises in Thailand. If you're socially awkward, if you don't know how to speak with girls, no problems, just book a ticket to Bangkok! Sex tourism is a big problem in Thailand with a population of 70 million, 3 million are sex workers. It's hard to make a life in villages, and all the girls dream of scoring a white husband, most of them don't though and the only option for family’s survival is to send the girls to go-go bars. At first it's looked down upon, but after the family can buy larger rice fields, or get modern gadgets such as TVs, bikes, cars, the neighbours seeing that, send their own daughters to big cities. We went to one of the go-go bars. Ladies are dancing topless with numbers on their skirts most of them with fake boobs, you just sit around the stage with a menu and order anyone/thing you like. I have to tell you, the girls don't look too enthusiastic though. Bangkok should be renamed as Bang Cock ... it seems to be appropriate for here. We ordered a drink, and after 1 drink I had enough. On that street full of go-go bars, a lot of very young girls have c section scars, I guess from big white babies who can’t make it out of small Thai women. Afterwards we went to a club. The music was very good, Thai band was playing, and by listening to them you could never guess they're Thai. Again, lots of old white men are hanging around young Thai girls. I mean really old, like 70 years old, barely walking, with barely any hair left, and are with 20 years old, doing to them anything they want. Most of them having their hands right there. Every time I see it, it disgusts me, and I see it often. Not only in Thailand, but I guess here it's much more open and common, but in all of SE Asia as well. I'm getting used to it though, and am trying to understand it. Old white men have problems at their countries getting a girl other than a hooker, and it's gonna cost them a fortune. They can get girls (and who wouldn't want to) in SE Asia for $5, at most. They're happy, the Thai girls are happy. It's a win win for everybody. On the other hand I'm thinking if sex tourism was not allowed in here, maybe the girls would do something else more productive? I'm a bit against that, but very pro marriages. The guy can have a Thai girl who's gonna cook for him, and clean for him, and care for him, and not be all fussy like the white gfs/wives. The Thai girl gets security, money, and even the least white gentleman is the biggest gentleman in Thailand, because from what I heard Thai men treat their wives very badly. They're the kings, and wives are servants. There is no opening doors, pouring a drink, putting a coat on, a woman does all that. Women work more, don't go out, don't drink and only do the household stuff and care for their babies and husband. Inter-racial marriage sounds like a very good option to me for both sides.
I come back to the hostel at 4am, when Petra comes into the room, wakes me up and says that they're having a party on the roof. We partied till 7am and I went to bed smiling. She asked me why am I all smiley, I tell her that I had more fun in that one night that in 6 months in India (well maybe except Varkala)! :)
In the morning, I'm all sleep deprived moving to Kho San road. The most touristic small stretch of road probably in the whole of SE Asia. Everything is compared to it, and if you see any movie that's shot in Thailand, for sure Kho San road will be in it. A few of the hostels that I checked were full, and I went to a hotel. Kho San road is crazy. It's full of shops selling t-shirts, shorts, dresses for $3 each, fake brands, fake documents (licenses/press/diplomas ...), different bugs, worms, crickets, scorpions, everybody wants you to go to the ping pong show. I wanted to go, but heard from everyone how disgusting it is, so didn't, western restaurants serving the best and cheapest food ever, clubs upon clubs upon clubs. Guys are walking with T-shirts saying "Here just to have fun". 7/11 on every corner, not only on Kho San road but everywhere in Thailand. With a huge variety of everything and a strong A/C it's the best store ever. Everybody smiles and greets you when you walk into the store (maybe not on Kho San road) and I'm learning how to smile again.
I'm practicing my Thai. Learning how to say "thank you". Khop kun ka, khop kun ka, khop kun ka. I repeat it 10 times, for half a day, saying thank you to everybody for no reason. But every time I say it, I need like a minute to remember it, I get out of taxi, wait a minute, don't go, don't start driving, just wait ... oh damn it, I forgot again! This language just doesn't make any sense to me :)
Food is so yummy, and there is so much of it, especially street food which is very famous in SE Asia. On one street, the street food is so famous, that even people in Ferraris come to eat it. A lot of it is spicy though, so I can't have it, the whole dish just looks red from all the chilies. Needless to say I learned pretty quickly "my pet!" - not spicy! Thais love their fish, salty fish, dried fish and sea products. Of course most of the time you have no idea what you order, or even what you eat, just point your finger at something and hope for the best :)
Bangkok is awesome! So easy, so fun, so yummy, so cheap! Best food, best massages, best fruit salads and banana pancakes. Kao San road has massage spas after massage spas. Half an hour foot massage $3, full hour body massage $7. I did a lot of massages, but I always thought that traditional massages away from the tourist area would be better. No way, after being 3 months in SE Asia and having many many massages, Kao San road massages are the best! You get out of the club at 2am, and the street reclining chairs all full of people getting a foot massage :) Massages are usually done in big room with 10-20 people getting massaged on the mattresses that cover the entire area of the room, kinda feels like a harem :)
Thai massages are very interesting. I understand why all guys just love it. The girl pretty much sits right on you, between your legs, on your butt, massaging almost everything. Getting into weird positions, massaging you with her hands, legs, elbows, feet, knees, walking on you, stretching you in positions you've never been stretched before. It's fun and good! :) Thai massages are very appropriate in Thailand and probably most spas offer happy endings.
While I was changing from a hotel to a hostel, a girl on the street asked someone where she can find a cheap hostel, I was walking right by and said that it's exactly where I'm going. Her name is Cassidy, and we hung out for 4 days together. She's only 21, but so mature, responsible, smart, funny, an amazing person. At 15 she already saved enough money from working as a babysitter and went to travel to New Zealand on her own!
When we were talking, she said a phrase "yesterday when I was in the jungle in Singapore..." huh??? I asked her to repeat ... yesterday? Singapore? It's so funny. Another guy I spoke with also said something like, "last week when I was riding a bike in Philippines". It's great travelling! :)
We went to some museums which weren't that great, and then to a palace. In Thailand everyone wears short stuff, the less the better it seems, but you should wear covering cloths for temples and important monuments. Sometimes they give it to you for free, sometimes you have to rent it, but in this palace not only you had to wear covered cloths (as I did), but it was to be a skirt, which you have to buy! WTH??? It's an obvious technique to rip tourists off, and I refused to go in.
In the evening we went out. All the bars are full, everybody is competing with the bar next door by playing the loudest music and by serving the cheapest cocktails. Buckets are very popular in here. They cost the cheapest, they're the biggest, with the most cheapest alcohol, giving you the biggest effect followed by the biggest hangover. I had one, it was disgusting. No more buckets for me, no matter how cheap they are. Sometimes they could cost as low as $1. Next we went to a club which was full of locals for some reason. We found one group of Westerners and came to dance with them. They had 2 local friends who were too much fun, dancing, singing, making fools of themselves. The white guys weren't so much fun though. One of them started talking to Cassidy, a minute later they're already making out. Well that's moving quickly I thought. The next minute she grabs me by the hand and drags me out of the club. What happened I ask her? She said that the guy asked "do you have to be with your friend all night, or can you come to my place?" She said that "I'm not a Thai hooker!" and stormed out of the club with me. We changed clubs. There I was dancing on the stage when one guy approached me and started dancing next to me. I asked him to show me his best moves, he grabbed me by the hips and started rubbing himself against me. I go find Cassidy and tell her that my night out is over, it's really not my scene. I feel exactly what she said to me one night "Everybody is too young, or too drunk, or French!" :) Thailand, and indeed most of SE Asia is full of drunken 20 year olds, and it's very very annoying! It's also summer, and everybody's on their school/uni vacation, and it's impossible to find someone my age. It's hot, it's cheap, it's a party place, it's easy, drugs are available on every corner, every bar advertises happy hour, free shots, buy 1 get 2 free, girls come free, it's a 20 year old paradise! People get so drunk that they can't walk straight, look straight, the dorm is empty till 3am, and when I wake up at 11, I try to quietly get out of the room not to wake anybody up.
It's impossible to sight see in Bangkok. Everything's closed for 2 hours for lunch. Even when I try to wake up early to go see a temple, a monument, a museum, I still have to have breakfast and get there, even if it's 10:30, it's already too late. The place shuts down in an hour and then what will I do for 2 hours until it opens up again? I've been to Bangkok for 2 weeks, and I didn't see much. To properly sight see, you need to wake up at 7, now you ask yourself ... is it possible to wake up at 7 on Kao San road?? After 1 day though I got so tired. I saw palaces, museums, took boats, I did so much, I was drugging my feet back to the hostel when I look at my watch. It's 4pm. 4pm??? Man, in Canada I would still be working for an hour, and in here I've seen so much, did so much, that I can barely walk, and I remember a joke "Work shortens your life by 9 hours a day". Consider commute and hour there and back, and its good 10 hours/day.
One evening when I returned back to the hostel, the manager told me to change room. I was thinking about something else, was kinda spaced out, and didn't pay much attention to it. I didn't even ask why. While I was moving to a different room a thought occurred to me. Why am I moving? I asked the manager and he told me it's because 2 friends came and they need to be together in the same room. If I had a friend they would do the same thing for me!! I could not believe them ... but I am with a friend!! But by that time, it was already too late. And they stayed there just for 1 night!! I moved from a 6 bed girls dorm, to a 10 bed mixed dorm, on a top bunk (which I hate) and a locker which barely closes, shower that barely works and doesn't have any hooks in it, and guess what, I'm paying the same price! After that they told me the wrong bus to get to a market, and advised me to go by taxi to an island which is 4 hours away when buses go there every half an hour. I'll let you guess where the managers are from? India of course!
In Bangkok there is one street full of malls. Mall after mall after mall. One day Cassidy and I went for a mall day out. Sometimes you don't even need to get out on the street. Malls are full of the most modern cinemas I've ever seen. You can go to a first class movie (usually better for couples) where you sit on a love seat with blankets, pillows and full service during the movie. On the board that shows movie times you have trailers running next to each movie, humongous and excellent food courts, fountains, ocean world, discovery center, wax museums, fashion shows, best ice cream ever, best cakes, best stores. Bangkok feels like Las Vegas to me where everyone tries to out-compete everyone else.
In the evening went to a sky bar where "Hangover 2" was shot. The elevator wasn't working and while standing in the line waiting for it to be fixed we started chatting with 2 guys in front of us. They're from Belgium, both operating successful businesses in there. They said that they don't like Americans (Cassidy is from America, and I'm a close neighbour) cause they don't remember names, they just ask for names to be polite, but never actually remember them. I was wondering what's more impolite to forget names, or to never ask in the first place (they didn't!). They said that it's much better to be married, cause you can enjoy such a wonderful bar with your loved one. I asked them, what about a boyfriend, or a friend, or your parents? No they said, wife is much better. One of them is divorced, the other one has a gf who stayed at home. They didn't offer us drinks and Cassidy was bored out of her mind. Despite them, the sky bar is amazing. The best bar I've ever been to. It's made Hollywood style with live music, beautiful bar on an illuminated platform, a fountain, and all that on 50th floor overlooking the whole Bangkok. Cassidy had a flight that night and we had to leave. The guys left with us asking me what will I do by myself, and that they know a good area to party. I just took their map, made a mental note where that area is and sat in the cab. Cassidy said, didn't you notice they were flirting with you? Oh wow, when I think back it makes sense, but I guess I was so not interested, it completely flew over my head :)
I still don't have a slightest idea what to do in Bangkok or in Thailand, and for breakfast I sat myself in a restaurant and dissolved into LP. I look up and notice a single guy sitting on the table next to me. Hm ... I think, what are the chances of him sitting there, because of me! I'd say pretty high! I looked at him and gave him a hello smile. Adam asked me what I'm reading and I said LP. He wore sunglasses, and it's always tricky to flirt with a guy wearing sunglasses. He took them off, and yeah, he didn't look too bad, in fact he was very very cute. We chatted for an hour, and decided to do something more productive. LP came to the rescue and we went to China town. I don't know how, but we couldn't find it. We were walking back and forth, in circles. There supposed to be thousands of stalls selling everything on earth, but all we find is a major street with Chinese characters and nothing else :( Then we waited for a boat to take us back. Schedules are confusing and so are people. Some say there is boat, some say no boat. We waited for an hour getting soaked under the dripping roof, and at the end took a bus. We were so lucky, people who didn't know any English at all, pointed us to the bus that dropped us off right on Kao San road. We agreed to meet up for a drink later that night and things started evolving. For the next 3 days I was floating somewhere on cloud 8 or 9 in a fairytale designed especially for me :) We went to a museum, played pool, ate awesome food, went to bars, movies, to sky bar again, chilled by the pool in the hotel. There were couples there trying to make the "dirty dancing" lift in the water (http://cdn.blu-raydefinition.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/lift-600x338.jpg?d9c344), and they plainly sucked, screaming and wining, and not getting anywhere close to the pose they ended up in the water time after time. I was looking at it, and was itching to try it too. We did this pose in the circus, and I know how to jump into it and where the guy supposed to hold me. It's on the hip bones, and not on the stomach where the couples were doing. 1, 2, 3, I jump, and perfectly hold the pose in the air with straight back and straight legs, all stretched out :) I hope the couples didn't see us, I think they were sleeping, or pretending not to notice.
btw, I stayed underwater for 2 minutes and 45 seconds without air, my new record by far! :)
On our last day together we went to a trip around Bangkok. I don't know what happened but we barely talked. The trip was nice though. First we went to the floating market. Thais and SE Asians in general use the water a lot for transportation purposes. Most of the people live on river edges fishing for their living. On the floating market, there are more tourists than locals. LP advised to get to the town a day before and go to the market early in the morning before the Bangkok crowd arrives. It still is a cool experience as you get hooked to the selling boats checking out all the weird stuff they have for sale. I didn't buy anything, just had the famous Pho - beef noodle soup. We then went to a war museum built near a bridge that was used to supply weapons, and was bombed by Americans even though there were tens of prisoners of war tied to it. Next we went to a more interesting though just as painful place, a tiger palace. There are 20 or so tigers living in a zoo kind of place with 100s of tourists arriving daily to take pictures with them. Even though they claim that they feed the tigers before hand and exercise them before making a public lunch time appearance, when the tigers are having their siesta, there are many talks about drugging the tigers heavily to make them veeery calm and veeery sleepy. There are children working there who hold your hand while walking from tiger to tiger to relax you as well.
Back in the hotel Adam tells me that he has to pick up his friend in the airport. Yeah, I know I tell him, don't worry, I have stuff to do. No he says, I'm actually asking you to leave. He tells me that he hasn't seen his friend in ages and they need to catch up. I don't get it, he told me before how excited he is for me to meet his friend. I ask him if anything's wrong as I'm aware of my ability to blab stuff without realizing the effect it makes on people. I pack my stuff in silence and move back to the hostel. I feel like I've just been pushed from the cliff. I don't understand what went wrong and what makes things more difficult is that it ended in a second and I know that I'll never find out, will never see him again, and will not have the chance to thank him for the wonderful time that we had. I sit in the hostel in a terrible mood on the verge of crying, but an hour later I convince myself to get out and to get it out of my mind. I'm travelling, Thailand is great and I want to be in a good mood. Though for many days later I play the time we spent in my mind thinking of the breaking point, trying to understand ... 2 months later, he added me on facebook and apologized for behaving in the way he did, apparently he has a gf back home and all over the sudden started to feel guilty about it. I'm not happy about it, but I'm happy that he had enough guts to tell me that.
In the hostel I was talking to one guy about my plans, where I'm gonna be, what I'm gonna do. I have 3 months in Thailand, so I have as much time as I want to hang out in Bangkok. 3 months? He asks me. Everybody is given 30 day visa on arrival. When I checked visas for Thailand, it talked about a 3 months visa, but only if you actually make one. Free visa on arrival is only 30 days, and I was so sure that I have 3 months that I didn't even check my passport. Sh*t! I only have 2 weeks left in Thailand, and all I've been to is Bangkok. Not that I regret it, but I have to move fast. I quickly pack my bags and leave first thing in the morning to the island of Ko Samet.