We made it! Our first night in Bangkok was pleasant and we both got a good sleep, waking refreshed at Udee Hostel. The room and service was brilliant, and well worth the 1200Baht we paid. Private room and bathroom, air-conditioning and breakfast included, all for $35 a night? What a deal!
After a lazy breakfast and a slow start to the day, we met my friend Rachel, who had kindly offered us a place to stay with her friend Nick. We caught a taxi there cheaply and were shown to our house for the next 3 days, in Soi Kolit near Phaya Thai Train Station. A quick catch up with Rach and we decided to head to Chatachuk Markets, as they are only open on weekends and we may not get another chance while in Thailand. It was a very pleasant afternoon strolling through the markets, where everything from food to textiles, shoes and homewares are sold. Rach tells us that anything we could think of could be bought here, and we weren’t disappointed. We had a yummy lunch – my first thai meal since arrival and I was as happy as a pig in mud with a spicy green curry. The total bill was only 300Baht – about $9 – and I realised I was going to like this place. Not 10 minutes later I was tempted by a frozen banana covered in chocolate sauce and sprinkles. To be honest, I was full from lunch, but being such a fan of the TV show Arrested Development, I couldn’t resist my first opportunity to visit a real frozen banana stand. “There’s always money in the banana stand, Michael!”
Rach and Nick had planned a relaxing BBQ with friends that afternoon and invited us to join them. After Chatachuk, we headed back to Rach’s house to meet her friends, all living in a friendly apartment block resembling the one from Melrose Place. There were Australians, French, Turkish and Spaniards all living there, for different reasons and different amounts of time, all hanging out together regularly for drinks, dinners and BBQ’s. Everyone was really friendly, even more so once the beers and rums were introduced. For the record, thai rum – SamSong Rum – is not too bad really, but best served with Coke!
We headed home early to get a good nights sleep, and made it back there by ourselves almost trouble free. We got dropped by a tuk-tuk in the wrong place, but managed to catch the train to the right stop soon after. Clearly, we are naturals at this!
The next day we headed out on our own, with a visit to the Grand Palace. It felt like a big theme park, everything covered in gold and mirrors, making the glare almost unbearable. It always surprises me how decadent religious buildings are, and I felt the same way here. I remembered looking at small, thai inspired jewellery boxes back at home, and wondering who had the time to put all those sequins and mirrors onto tiny wooden boxes. But this, on such a grand scale, was amazing. We visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, who is in fact made of green jade, by the way, and discovered that someone clambers up his mosaic’ed throne 3 times a year to change his outfit. Now that’s commitment!
Later in the afternoon, after lunch with Rach and Nick, we checked out Khao San Road by day before visiting it again at night. It didn’t actually feel as touristy as I expected although I suppose it reminded me of a quiet night at the Ekka, with food stalls offering everything from meat to kebabs to corn, and enough fluoro lighting to give me a headache. Or maybe the headache came from the three cocktails I had…. Hmmm…
Here are a few photos from our adventures so far… There’ll be more on facebook or on the main page, coming soon.