Final day in Bangkok

So it was a rather slow start to the day after dancing until dawn last night/this morning with new friends I will never see again… Anyway, it was all good fun and my knowledge of the Top 40 (do we still call it that) is growing fast. And talk about not being able to leave your work at home – in one bar I got chatting to what I thought was a nice guy – turned out to be a member of a Swedish white power movement. He showed me his tattoes and talked me through his views. I said I needed the toilet and made a polite escape… Maybe a case study when I’m home?… The gettaway led me into the arms of a group of gay guys from Australia who took me with them on their quest for a club with a pumping dance floor. Oh happy days.

A late breakfast followed (actually, it was more like a late lunch). And as I sat on the Khao Sarn Road, it struck me it’s sort of the Asian equivalent of Magaluf. Lots of tattoes (when I say lots….) and heaps of excessive daytime drinking. Maybe it’s just because I am here over the xmas period.

I took a stroll around Bangkok this afternoon and found myself a little park right by the river where I sat, thought a lot about anything and everything, and started reading George Orwell’s Burmese Days to get myself in the mood for the next 3 weeks. It’s had a promising start so far, but then I am already a huge Orwell fan. This was my view – nice.
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Bangkok is truly a city of extremes. In just a short stroll this afternoon I saw everything from the backpacker excesses of the Khao Sarn road…
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…to the gated house of one of the Thai princes…
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…and a row of houses next to the river that might be a bit of de-cluttering…

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I haven’t ventured into the central business district and smart areas of Bangkok yet, but will do that next time I’m here on my way home (deep breaths, supress those tears…).

And so to Burma! My flight is at silly-o-clock so it will be an early one for me tonight. The hostel is confirmed for Yangon (keep your fingers crossed readers), and I’m trying to line up a guide for some trekking between Kalaw and Inlake Lake. Very very muchly excited…

Bangkok adventures

So, I arrived in a hot and balmy Bangkok on 4 January and caught a taxi (outsmarting a driver intent on subjecting me to all the scams the Lonely Planet warned me about – I win) over to the Khao San Road where my simple but clean hostel is located. Cars can’t drive down the road, so he dropped me at one end and I had to weave my way through the throngs of people to the other end. Not easy when you have a backpack and guitar strapped to you. My sheer bulk seemed to part the masses and I got to the Rikka Inn safe and sound.

The hostel is actually ok – clean, well run and with a rooftop pool. Sorry, did I mention the rooftop pool? Again, I say… Nice touch, especially after a busy day’s sightseeing.

It was about 10pm by the time I had found the place, checked in, sorted my stuff and showered off a whole day’s travelling (unbelievably I am now half way home – in distance, maybe, but certainly not in terms of adventures). There was no way I could call it a day and get an early night so I headed out to explore.

The Khao San Road is completely bonkers – packed with people, commerce, sounds, smells, and good times 24/7. At 10.30pm I was enjoying a foot massage (complete rip off at $2 – outraged, Bangkok), then headed to a bar that had caught my eye/ear on the way to my hotel earlier; nothing like the sound of live music to get me interested. Like a moth to a flame. I headed in, ordered a beer and enjoyed a fantastic Thai guitarist/vocalist making his way through the musicians songbook of crowdpleasers. Noted several for my own future career. After a couple of hours the bar was packed to the rafters full of revellers – it was so full of life and carefreeness. It was intoxicating.

The next day (yesterday), I set myself a schedule of temple-gazing, starting with the Grand Palace, which is a complex of golden and colourful temples and palaces that are so utterly beautiful words don’t do them justice. Neither do my poor photography skills, but here goes…

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Hilariously, there was also a miniature version of Ankor Wat there – dammit, I have already bought my plane ticket to Siem Reap…

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I then walked on to Wat Pho, grabbing fresh pineapple and cool water along the way. This temple houses a gigantic golden buddha, laying along the length of the temple.

There were also beautiful mother of pearl engravings at the foot of the buddha and also pretty carvings along the side.

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By this time, I was all templed-out (yikes, I have another month of temples ahead…). I walked to the river and took a boat across to Wat Arun, but thought better of it so caught the next boat back, found a riverside street cafe and had a bowl of rice and bottle of beer. This was my view of Wat Arun.

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Later I headed back to the hostel for a cool off swim, a good read of my book (A Casual Vacancy – finished today – ok, a good read, and decent characterisation, but no Booker Prize winner). Last night there was yet more live acoustic music. Was sorely tempted to ask if I could play but chickened out… Their loss…

Today I had great plans for sight seeing, but they were abandoned over breakfast when I became engrossed in my book and the whole day has been one of slovenliness and people watching. I seem to remember that being in the job description for the role of quartergapyear manager.