Dec 18, 2012

One Night in Bangkok

I felt the heat creep up on me slowly as I walked off the airplane. Even inside the airport terminal, I could feel the oppressiveness of it. The closer I got to the exit, the more the heat engulfed me and the more my reality set in. And then the sliding doors opened and here I was, in the middle of hundreds of people, and a suffocating heat that made every pore in my body scream. Hello, Bangkok.

We had just about 24 hours to explore the bustling city before heading to Singapore, so after checking into the hotel, we hit the streets to find our first meal. A restaurant wouldn’t do. We were hungry for more than that; a cart by the side of the road, filled with mysterious delicacies only seemed appropriate. After all, we were in Bangkok.

We had been told that Khao San Road, a popular shopping street, was the place to go for street food. Although, from where our hotel was located, there was no direct way to get there so we took to the internet to map a bus route for the latter part of our excursion. Once we got off the MRT (Bangkok's metro system), we asked a subway attendant where to find the bus we had looked up, and were told to take bus 53. We knew nothing about bus 53, but then again, we knew nothing about Bangkok.

While waiting for the bus to arrive, an older monk befriended us. We chatted for a few minutes about where we were from, what we wanted to do in Thailand and where we were going. After finding out that we were heading to have dinner on Khao San Road, he told us that it was “only for white people” and if we wanted good food, to go to Chinatown (where he was headed) and eat there. But, determined to continue with our original plan, we stayed on the bus after he got off. Of course, a few minutes after he left, we realized we had no idea what stop to get off at and no idea where we were going. With no signs or English speakers, we took a wild guess and hopped off the still moving bus (that’s how they stop…they just slow down and let you jump off) and landed ourselves in a random bustling neighborhood of Bangkok. 

After wandering around for about 20 minutes thanks to a near useless map and a combined terrible sense of direction, a kind 7-Eleven employee pointed us in the correct direction to our destination. Unfortunately, that’s all he was able to give us, as we were still very lost in a huge new city. We stumbled upon a few beautiful temples and ended up walking for about an hour until we found attractions that were recognizable on our vague map.

And the monk was right – Khao San Road, or only white people road, was just a long road littered with bars full of tourists. Luckily, there were many food carts, so we were finally able to eat! Meat on sticks, pad thai with shrimp, a fragrant lime-y soup with noodles, chewy sugary doughnuts and a couple of cold beers. (And for dessert, the boy had a dried scorpion on a stick!) Mmm finally Thai food in Thailand – and it was amazing!

After fully satisfying ourselves on delicious street food, we paid too much for a ride in a tuk-tuk and made our way back to the hotel in time to pass out for many long hours of much needed sleep.