Here I am six weeks into my travels, and just in case you haven’t picked up the subtle hints from my Twitter updates, life out here is Pure Awesome.
I’ve been in Bangkok for a few days now, after leaving the comfort of my Phuket haunts behind to venture towards the as yet uncharted North, where I check into Spicythai Backpackers tomorrow morning after a 12 hour train journey over night. – Seated sadly as all the beds were booked up. My fault for leaving it too long before booking the seat.
So since my escape from the Wat Suan Mohhk Meditation Retreat, I’ve been to the Full Moon party on Koh Phangan, where too many Mushrooms was the common theme among the group I was with, of course in my case I enjoyed it! It was a fun weekend which was an cloud of music, lights, dancing barefoot in the sand, buckets of drink and random conversations with strangers. To be honest, it was too busy to be my normal scene, and many of the people were exactly the people who go to all the clubs I avoid back home, but I was with Awesome people (Well, before I got lost in my Mushroom trance, and after I found them the next day!) and it’s another Thailand activity ticked off the list.
Here in Bangkok I’m staying at the Hostel International Sukhumvit (HI Sukhumvit) which is a wonderful place, less then 5 minutes walk from the Sky Train station which has allowed easy access to tons of sights, considering in the past I’ve not really ventured far beyond Khaosan Road I now feel like I have visited Bangkok properly. I’ve been to several of the big shopping centers such as the MBK Center, Siam Center, Siam Discovery Center, MBK been the most interesting, much more of an indoor market type feel in parts, more traditional shops and fast food (Thai style) in other parts, the other malls been much more western in look and feel, with known brands and prices that pretty much match what you can find back home with little effort on the Internet.
My more random adventures involved meeting Chris – A fellow traveller from Phuket Backpacker – within seconds of getting to the hostel, so I checked in, and walked right out the door to take a trip to the big weekend market, which was huge though much of the stall contents is identical shop to shop, there were some unique items here and there, and I found it very worth visiting.
Yesterday on the way back from getting tickets I found myself and Ruth – Who I’d just met at the Hostel, also needing tickets to Chiang Mai, so we headed off together – faced with a Tuk Tuk ride to the Sky Train stop we wanted as our plan of walking rather then getting the Underground didn’t really work! We were offered a cheap fare of 10 bhat each, but would need to visit a Tailor on the way and spend 10 minutes there, so, it’s basically a scam, but I was impressed the guy was up front about it, and hell, we had noting better to do, so we agreed, and bounced around busy main roads, down back streets and wound up at the tailor where the guy seemed to focus on getting Ruth to buy a suit set rather then me, I suspect my look suggests I am not really one to be buying suits, but who knows. He was asking about £50 per item, so jacket, trousers and skirt for £150 which you could easily get down to £120 if not less was actually a really good price, to be honest I really wish I had enough money to get a suit made up before I headed home as it would be very handy for interviews! Anyway, we played along and then decided we’d done enough to head out, and on the way the Tuk Tuk driver did try and take us to one more stop, we firmly declined, and insisted we go to our requested destination of the MBK center, and to his credit he smiled and agreed without hassling us any more.
Last night was also the inauguration of President Barack Obama in America, and I was pleased to find that as we arrived back at the hostel the small TV in the corner of the lobby had CNN’s live coverage of the event, so we added into our plan of drinking a few beers on the roof time to watch the event unfold later in the evening – Washington D.C been 12 hours behind we had a few hours to drink and banter with the girls we discovered already up on the roof, and at about half 11 when much of our group decided to turn in, I picked up my laptop and settled down to watch history unfold.
There was an eclectic mix of people watching from the lobby of this Bangkok hostel, a few Americans – Included a woman who was a proud Republican – Which stood out as most Americans you meet travelling are committed Democrats, or at least that’s been the way things have seemed to me so far – Australians, and various Europeans. Some people clearly cared deeply about what was happening, others were just having a beer and watching the ceremony just because it happened to be on. Personally, I was fairly moved to see so many people taking an interest in the event and was impressed with President Obama’s inauguration speech, and now if anyone asks “Where you the day Barack Obama was made President of the United States?” I’ll know exactly what I was doing: Drinking beers on a roof top garden in Bangkok.