Bangkok revisited – more impressions

Sep 30th, 2007, 04:31 AM
  #1  
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Bangkok revisited – more impressions

Some of you (the ones with a good memory ) will probably remember that I went to Bangkok and Thailand in May and I posted a little story about my “first impressions” of the city. I’m in Bangkok again at the moment in connection with a short business trip to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and on the way back I had to stop in Bangkok for a meeting so I got a couple of days here.

Once again I have ventured of around in the city. I have seen many of the major sights and that actually feels very comfortable as I don’t have to rush around to cover that and I’m also pretty relaxed when it comes to all the tuk-tuk drivers that comes up me to try to drag me along on some sort of bogus tour, the various tailors that will give me a “special deal” etc.

Yesterday I started out on the river express boat but this was actually a bit different compared to what I had taken before. This cost 20 Baht and featured a lady speaking away about the various sights along the river. Unfortunately it was not that easy to hear what she was saying as a combination of the bad speakers, her English and the roaring noise of the engine. I jumped of in Chinatown and walked around there for a while and it is fascinating to walk thru these narrow streets. There are small stores every where and even if the streets are narrow you will have to be on a look out as people transport merchandise in there on both motorcycles and carriages. In some cases it was unbelievable to see how much you are able to pile up on one little scooter. As always it was warm but when you can get a bottle of water for 10 Baht it is not a problem keeping hydrated…and for another 10 you get a Redbull to keep up the Energy. Some of the stores had a funny combination of stuff for sale…one had cotton buds, car wax, toys etc.

After a stroll in the area I went back to the river and took a regular express boat to the Grand Palace stop where I got of but I walked along the river banks. There are still some old soi’s (side streets) going down towards the river. I went into one and it was like peeking into someone’s living room as I could see people sleeping on the floors in some houses, kids playing or watching TV, a dog barking like mad at one of the doors etc. The alley was really dark and it seemed like it gets flooded if the level on the river rises and hence the houses was elevated about 1 ½ meters.

There are stray dogs and stray cats all over the place but they don’t seem to be aggressive. So even if I sometimes have been a bit nervous from stepping over dogs that are sleeping in the middle of the pavement, I have never experienced being attacked. Along the way around the University there were lots of fake stuff for sale…and it was funny to see a police patrol sitting with their feet up in their car right next to these people selling fake stuff. I assume that even Thailand has laws about selling fake stuff and that the police is supposed to enforce this.

We had lunch at a small place about 10 minutes from Khao San Road. It was a place run by some Indians I think so there speciality was roti with various dips. We had a full meal for 4 guys for about 350 baht. I was glad we had a Thai guy with us so that he could take care of the ordering of food as it didn’t seem like they spoke much English. But the funniest part was going to the bathroom. I had to step over parts of the stuff that were coming in for dish washing and manoeuvre myself into the small toilet. When I closed the door it felt like there was a 100 degrees in there and I assume that this was because the kitchen ovens were right next to the toilet walls so it was radiating heat . It was of course a standard squatting toilet but for a guy that does not really matter that much.

We did make a short stop on Khao San Road. This is not my favourite place in Bangkok and we just had a beer here and people would come up to us all the time asking if we wanted to buy various stuff. After you have said no ten times to the same thing, it starts getting a bit annoying. But I have gotten pretty relaxed when people come up to me and say “Hello my friend” and have a special offer. I just smile back and sometime I play along for a while and it is always fun to pull their legs when they ask you where you are from. I sometimes say “East Timor” or Namibia just to give them a hard time

To get back to the hotel we took a river bus from around the Golden mount area to Nana. If you don’t walk around Bangkok you will not notice that there are still quite a few canals but they are quite well hidden. But for 12 baht we took the boat but again I guess it helps to have local knowledge or to be with someone that speaks the language I now think I have taken most varieties of public transportation in Bangkok ranging from subway, skytrain, bus, Chao Praya main river express boat, taxi, motorcycle taxi, the side river “bus” etc.

Bangkok is still one of my favourite cities and I’m sorry that my English is not better as I don’t think that I am able to really capture the atmosphere of Bangkok in words. But for me it is still an adventure to walk the streets of Bangkok as it is so different from back home in Norway. The food stalls that you can find everywhere (and that has great food by the way), the heat, the exhaust and roars of buses that are driving past you, the combination of smells from food, incense, sewer, the tuk-tuk drivers that are trying to find out where you are going and trying to convince you to go on a tour.

I’m actually a bit sad and happy that I have been here a number of times before. Sad as there will never be anything like a first time in Bangkok and getting an overdose of all senses compared to what I’m used to. But I’m also happy that I have been here before so I can avoid some of the problems that you can run into here.

I’m not sure that I have really given any useful information here but I’ll be happy to try to answer any questions. But I hope that I have managed to give some sort of description of the city. If you get a chance to go here, don’t hesitate. This is a city that deserves a few days so don’t plan for a 1 or 2 day stay…go for 4-5 days instead. Bangkok, what a city!

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Sep 30th, 2007, 04:53 AM
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Gard-thanks for your impressions of BKK. I remember reading your trip report before our first trip to BKK, it was very helpful. We've gotten to the place where the tuk tuk drivers don't faze us. Just a firm no and keep walking does the trick.
Gpanda is offline  
Sep 30th, 2007, 07:10 AM
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Gard
Thanks for the new post. I couldn't agree more... Bangkok, what a city! And I agree that the very first trip is a true awakening of the senses. But I still enjoy each and every trip to Bangkok.
Carol
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Sep 30th, 2007, 08:00 AM
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Hi, Gard! I do, indeed, remember your most recent report of Bangkok. As you know it is my favorite city.

Like you, I really don't care for the "tourist boat" the Chao Praya Express. I'd much rather ride on the water taxis with the locals.

And your English is excellent, by the way. Thanks for posting.
Kathie is online now  
Sep 30th, 2007, 11:05 PM
  #5  
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Hi

Thanks for the feedback. I will write a bit more as I also had a nice walk from Asoke to Silom yesterday...it is amazing how quiet Bangkok can be when you walk along some of the canals. Even if the canals were dirty we still saw some BIG lizzards in the water But right now I have to get back to work. I'm online on a Starbucks on Sukhumwit

Regards
Gard
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Oct 2nd, 2007, 01:43 PM
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On day 2 in Bangkok I went for a short shopping spree in MBK in the Siam area. It is funny to see some of these shopping stalls (not in the more fancy malls) where there are lots of people on duty and some seem to be very bored. One girl was cutting her toe nails, one was trying to catch some sleep resting on her own arm, one girl was squeezing a zit and many are busy putting on make up using tiny mirrors.

Go out in Bangkok on a Monday by the way and you will see thousands on thousands in yellow shirts. The yellow colour seems to be the colour for the King and light blue is for the Queen. I don’t think that we could ever convince the people of Norway to do the same for the king of Norway.

I went to Asok BTS station and after a drink at the pool bar at the Grande Sheraton Sukhumwit I took a walk around the block. We took a right turn into the main road from Sukhumwit and after 200-300 hundred meters we took another right turn and walked along a canal. First we went thru some residential areas and once again I felt like I was looking right into someone’s home as people was going about their everyday business when we walked past. The water of the canal was really murky and I didn’t expect to see anything live in there. But all of a sudden we saw movement in the water and a huge lizard swam away. Further in we saw another big lizard crawling on land and into a pipe. It was such a contrast leaving the busy and noisy Sukhumwit road and all of a sudden walk along a canal where it was so peaceful.

We continued to walk and after a while we walked on an elevated path in a Muslim dominated area. We met two young boys there…about 8-10 years old and there were carrying a small cage with HUGE beetles. I guess they had bought them as pets and we got to take some pictures of them and the boys were laughing when they got to see the pictures of themselves afterwards.

In the end we walked into Lumpini park. This huge park is located at the corner of Silom road and we walked a bit into Silom road as well. We were hungry so we decided to have a snack and we sat down on plastic stools on the pavement and ordered chicken and rice from the local vendor. The meal was like 30 Baht per person so you can eat for next to nothing in Bangkok. It sets things into perspective when you order a coffee at like Starbucks and it turns out that it cost like 4 times as much. Silom road is where you will also find a night market and also the infamous Patpong area…but I don’t think I will go into the detail of that in this report ;-)

Buying something from a store is a different experience here in Bangkok compared to back home. First you have to melodic “Sawasdee Kah” greeting when you walk into the store and the traditional wai (the greeting on putting the palms together). This is not to be returned if I’m not mistaken but smiling back never hurt anyone. When you do buy something you get the Kap kuhn kap (thanks) and another wai. The Thai language seems to be hard. We jumped into a taxi and we had gotten instructions to meet up with someone at Baan Kanitha. In Norwegian there is not really much fuzz when saying this but to get the taxi driver to understand this we had to put our feelings into pronouncing it.

I’m back in Europe now and I miss Bangkok already.

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
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Oct 2nd, 2007, 01:55 PM
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AAARRRGGGGHHHHHH..... you're done reporting ALREADY?? I was really getting into those big lizards you wrote about... lol

Sorry your trip was so short. Until next time...
Carol
simpsonc510 is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 08:06 PM
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I will be in Bangkok next week and around the country for nearly three weeks. What is the deal with the painting elephants?
bayouland is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 09:36 PM
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Hi

I have not heard anything about painting elephants...but I did run into a elephant in the middle of town. I was walking along talking to my brother on my cell phone. All of a sudden I was about to walk right into a small elephant. It was a couple of guys that were taking the elephant through a bar distric and I guess they were getting money from tourists that were allowed to feed the elephant.

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
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Oct 4th, 2007, 05:49 AM
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The painting elephants are in the north, not in Bangkok.
Kathie is online now  
Oct 5th, 2007, 05:00 AM
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Hi again

I have uploaded a couple of videos on YouTube.
Here is one the lizards that we saw when walking along the canals: http://youtube.com/watch?v=vSapf7Vad-w

And here are the two boys we met that had some pretty big beetles as pets (sorry about my cheesy talking in the background):
http://youtube.com/watch?v=3CfpCmt_ixk

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
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