One Night in Bangkok
Updated: Nov 11
I think my next article needs to be all about how to prepare for touching down in a new country.
Seriously - I have written extensively about packing, flying, eating and traipsing about. I've even written a travel journal!!!
But it never changes... I arrive... and suddenly I'm completely mystified...
It's not like I just suddenly land without warning... I actually plan for this. To be honest, I'm no travel expert. I tend to plan horrendously at every turn. It's true.
I'm rarely prepared.
As soon as I arrive, the same things go through my head as they did in the last foreign country I was in...
How do I say hello?
Do I need a visa to be here?
Why didn't I check the weather?
What is the currency?
What is the exchange rate?
Are there any ATM's in the airport?
How do I get to my hotel?
Take it from me... right now... it's a brilliant idea to actually screenshot the location and name of the place you're staying. And once you've done that... TRANSLATE it all into the local language. It will save you loads of time and wasted energy, going back & forth & back & forth & back & forth with the lovely, yet utterly confused taxi driver.
For all the travel I have done around this gigantuous globe, one would think it might be a fairly good idea to download the area map before I land?
No... it's never crossed my mind.
Not ever once.
Another issue I have is figuring out my E-Sim card.
Don't be like me.
I'm a mess when it comes to those things and jeepers, creepers, I don't know how they work... or how to properly make them work. Not without a complete emotional breakdown, anyway. It's a crap shoot... and my ignorance has resulted in many monies lost.
As soon as I disembarked... I was exhausted beyond any justifiable doubt. All reasonable, educated, experienced and, one might venture as far as to say, seasoned thought completely escaped my brain. I wasn't thinking about downloaded maps and exchange rates and taxi directions... nope. "One Night in Bangkok" rushed in and took up permanent residence in my head... and refused to budge.
"One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me..."
I couldn't stop singing it.
I still can't. I'm writing this blog, "One Night in Bangkok" is swirling around in my noodle.
The taxi had NO idea where I was going.
My Thai language proficiency wasn't really up for the challenge of providing directions to a downtown Bangkok hotel.
The driver kept snapping shots of my own screenshot and then trying to converge it with his... which is something I never knew could be done. Who'da thunk?
I was headed to The Victory Hotel... and he kept on repeating it... something along the lines of, 'wick-tee paw ko tell.' I never thought we'd reach my destination, but he managed to pull it off and get me there in one piece.
I was astounded.
A friend of mine pre-warned me about the obscene amounts of 7-11's here... and I laughed her off... but let me tell ya... they're everywhere. When I first checked into my hotel, the first thing the man at the front desk mentioned was the 7-11 around the corner. Odd, but true.
The truth, I was hungry, but exhaustion won over and the bed offered much more appeal than a microwaved hot dog. Do they have North American fast food at the 7-11's here? It's crossed my mind a few times. Or is it cheap, microwaved red curry and peanut sauce grilled chicken sticks?
Thai... 7-11 style.
Guess time will tell... as I'm sure it won't be long until curiosity gets the better of me and I wander in.
I slept a LOT on the plane, which is surprising, as normally I just rock back & forth, biding my time as the little plane slowly works its way across my monitor. I tried to watch a couple movies, but my attention always seemed to veer off. At one point, somewhere between Tokyo and Bangkok, I became fascinated with the Pamela Anderson documentary. I quickly closed that off when I realized the passengers around me probably thought I was watching something dirty.
There was a lot of nudity.
My Victory hotel was slightly less than a victory. It was a bit of a dive, but what can one expect for $25 per night? The funny part is that I had upgraded from another place, where I was originally paying $14. Can you imagine? $25 is actually posh pricing for Southeast Asia, but not so much for central Bangkok. Actually... to be honest, my hotel was meh... it was not too bad!
It really wasn't.
The 4 floors I had to climb to get to my sanctuary only proved to remind me that I desperately need to get in shape. I'm sure that will happen. Afterall, I'm sure we all know so many people that have come to Thailand and really knocked it out of the ballpark it in the health & fitness department.
I'm sure I'll be no exception to the rule.
I woke up the following morning and literally had to force myself out of bed. I could have stayed there the entire day, drifting in and out of slumber. Please note: Bangkok is 15 hours ahead of my normal routine. Jet lag and I used to be such good mates. It didn't bother me and I didn't bother it. Now... we really hate each other. It has the ability to really knock me on my ass.
Big time. There are some real downsides to getting old.
I aimlessly wandered the streets, with no particular destination in mind. I allowed myself the enjoyment of being in a foreign country and not really knowing what awaited me around each corner. The atmosphere was warm and humid, and I embraced the liveliness and hecticness I'd always associated with Bangkok.
Through my meandering, I managed to stumble upon The Giant Swing and Wat Suthat. I wasn't necessarily dressed as appropriately as one should be, in order to enter the temples, but it didn't prevent me from poking around outside and taking some photos. My first Thai temple!
Before learning to say hello, yes, no, thank you or goodbye in Thai... I set out to memorize, "no cilantro please," as I've already realized it's as popular here as everywhere else. More so, I might add. Dumb herb. In addition to this culinary inflexibility, I have made it a real goal to try NEW things.
So often, I tend to fall into the trap of familiarity... NOT this time.
Well... to begin, I took a traveler's recommendation and made my way to a small street-stop restaurant and had my first Thai red curry... without cilantro. Not first, ever. First... in Thailand.
Turns out the 4 floors of the Victory didn't succeed in moving me along further towards my fitness goals... and after two sleepless nights, I made the decision to check out. Right outside of my 4th floor bedroom door was an enormous piece of machinery that made a large clanging and banging noise all day... and all night.
Bless him, the owner did move me to another room, but that happened to be below the machine... and directly beside the construction. So I got to listen to clanging and banging AND drilling! It was not exactly the Bangkok welcome wagon I had been expecting...
It didn't take much consideration before I opted for Khao San Road over this nightmare. Khaosan Road is a famous area of Bangkok, known for its vibrant entertainment scene. To put it mildly, it's party central.
I thought it might be a fun place to visit... not stay.
Now... it was looking up.
I booked my remaining evenings at Khao San Art Hotel and off I went.
When I arrived, the girl at the front desk was very insistent on letting me know that the room was small. In fact, her incessant echo managed to take me from a state of acceptance... to nausea... to paranoid.
"It's a very, very, very small room."
I get it.
Was I going to be too big for the room? Is this room only for tiny people?
Have there been constant complaints?
Was it caving in?
Were they covering their ass?
Granted... It is the size of a jail cell. There is only one window, which looks directly into the stark, narrow hallway. I have a door, a mirror and a single cot.
And that is FINE. My only real complaint is that there isn't a table or even a shelf. I've had to throw all my stuff on the floor. Come on... give a girl a small table...
Jet lag ripped through me again and I spent the entire afternoon asleep. I awoke at 9:30pm and figured I could easily just stay in bed... or I could take advantage of my surroundings and hit the payment to explore. Afterall... I was right around the corner from the most famous and infamous street in Bangkok.
I tried fried pumpkin... though they spelled it 'pumkin' on the menu.
I also tried a frozen Kamikazee, a Coconut slush and a Madame Musur... whatever that was. Tasted like cranberry, apple juice & gin. I figured if I'm in the land of making the hard man humble, I might as well do my best to put on my party hat...
I got a massage.
No... let me rephrase that.
I paid to get BEATEN up.
Perhaps I should have also done a little research on what exactly a Thai massage consists of before being so willing to hand over all my money! The massage was 'performed' on a firm mat, and the guy used his entire body to create deep pressure. I think I was in worse shape limping out of the parlour than I was when I went in. There were moments I could have screamed out in agony, but I decided to remain calm and endure the pain.
I'm tough like that.
Khao San was sensory overload at its max. In fact, it was even a little too much for me. I have to admit that I was much more an avid fan during the day time hours.
There were alligator grills, bbq bugs, insects on sticks, laughing gas and hoards of people everywhere! Every step you took, you would bump into someone trying to lure you in for a massage... or for food... or for a cocktail. There were nightclubs, tattoo & piercing parlours, trinkets, lotto, jewelery, clothing stands, weed shops, karaoke, ping pong shows and so, so much more. You name it... it was there. You could eat a mango, buy some shoes, get a tattoo, sing karaoke & get high ALL at the same time. In addition to this, tuk tuks, mopeds, bicycles, cars and trucks filled the streets, laying on their horns in feeble attempts to evade gridlock in some sections.
As usual, I am consistently lured in by the trinkets, but so far, I have fought the urge to purchase anything. My pack is already at full weight and capacity... and I fear I will begin to dump unwanteds within days...
I really have no idea why I'm not a smarter packer.
I really do try.
And I have to end on this note...
Yes... I escaped the machinery and the construction... BUT...
There is a really old guy in our hotel who, I suspect, is dying...
He sits in the downstairs café all day long... and smokes... and hacks.
He hacks and hacks and hacks and hacks.
People move away from his table because it's so repulsive.
When he's done hacking downstairs... he comes up to his room to hack the night away.
And guess where his room is?
Right next to mine.