Will try to capture today, yesterday, and the last two nights in this post.
Two nights ago after getting shots and before leaving Sukhumvit 4, I started off the night by enjoying some Thai Whiskey with our gracious hostel owners (husband and wife) and some other backpackers at the hostel. One was from Malaysia, one from France, one from Argentina, one from Portugal and one from Brazil. This is probably the reason I love traveling so much – meeting people from so many different places and backgrounds. I exchanged contact information with the Argentinean and Brilliancy, both who offered to put me up when I travel in those countries in early 2013. After whiskey, my bro, the Portuguese guy, and I checked out Soi Cowboy. Didn’t go into any of the bars but the 3-4 block madness was plenty colorful.
Next day changed out of a hostel and went for a hotel on the west side of Bangkok on FeungNakorn near Chinatown. Took a stroll up FeungNakorn road and swung by Wats (temples) and shrines as we made our way up towards KhoaSan Road. I deliberately chose to stay away from Khoasan accommodation-wise b/c it is very backpacker heavy – while I generally enjoy the company of most backpackers, the “popular” areas in many cities (popular due to guidebooks) can draw a certain subset of that crowd that are not really my style – it is also way noisier and any hotel or hostel you stay in, good luck getting to sleep before 2. Knowing that it is a backpacker heavy and english-heavier area, most of the travel agencies there charge exorbitant rates for day trips out of Bangkok that would be half the price if arranged on your own.
Sure enough, on arriving to KhoaSan, we saw more non-asians and heard more english in an hour than we’d seen or heard the entire trip. The markets up there were also more geared towards conning the non-Thais and the vendors were definitely more aggressive in trying to get your business. Loads of knockoffs up here as well – Beats by Dre headphones, suits, purses, backpacks, anything you can think of for a fraction of the price. After leaving the KhoaSan market, we went over to the Democracy Monument and then headed back to take a break. At night we left to go to Chinatown. At 10pm, there were thousands of flower vendors selling every type of flower and arrangement imaginable in the span of about 3 blocks. I’m guessing they come from farms outside of Bangkok, but who could be buying all these things is beyond me. We continued on through Chinatown and eventually got lost, which proved to be a blessing in disguise because we went up to Zoom 4 Zoom 5, a really nice bar overlooking the Chao Phraya River. After a few beers we were exhausted and went to bed.
Today we went over to Wat Pho, which had the biggest Buddha statue I’ve ever seen and probably will ever see. He is reclining to represent his transition into Nirvana Wat Pho itself was pretty incredible. Lots of Buddha statues and impressive intricate design on everything, including the rising spires that are so tall they are difficult to capture in picture. From there we went up to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Keaw, which was even more impressive than Pho. By the end of it, I was becoming desensitized to the beauty of it all – much like all the churches I saw in Europe, after you see 3-4 incredible amazing temples, you start failing to appreciate each temples unique aspects. My numbness also could have been due to the heat – today was the hottest day we’ve had and we felt it – 95 degrees and 90% humidity all day – makes 4 hours seem like 8. We just got back to the hotel, which is really nice after the heat. We are staying at Feung Nakor Balcony (nice Koi pond and open air lobby – nice to be in a hotel again after a hostel for two nights, but more expensive). A nice breakfast with coffee, eggs, toast, meats, and juice is included.
Tomorrow we will go back to the Red Cross to get Hep A shots before we head up to Pak Chong and the Eco Valley Lodge, which we will use as a home base for some hikes and elephant rides through Khao Yai National Park.