Whoa! What a trip. Bangkok is the hub for all travel, so I'll be back before I know it. Gosh, where to begin. Talk about sensory overload! BKK is a place a million smells, we'll start there...then throw in a million or so people and a huge tourist population along with endless shopping, eating, touts and did I mention smells? Given all of these factors, it's amazing that I stumbled upon the Villa Guest house just outside the city near Khosan Road in East Banglamphu. This is about as good as it gets, although my first impression wasn't as promising...
As I hoofed it across town to search for this guest house which was explained in my guidebook as "not well sign-posted" I thought to myself that it would be nearly impossible to find. A few finger points and broken English conversations later and I was there. I walked down a long front corridor down a side street or "soi" just off the main road to a wooden door. I rang the bell, and a small elderly Thai lady came to the door and greeted me. She said the room was 250 Baht (about 8 dollars a night) and that she did indeed have a room open. I took my shoes off at the door (as is customary) walked my bare feet across the old teak floors and to my new room. Upon setting backpack down, I was excited to hear some other travelers speaking English in an Australian accent. I introduced myself to Shane and Dylan, and we immediately got to chatting. Dylan a bit more on the timid side, and Shane rather lively. Dylan and I went to get a bite to eat, and came back to Shane and another guest named Brian (actually a high school teacher in Cambridge from Boston!) finishing off a bottle of whiskey. We followed them down the street to a blues club and had beer or two. This was the smallest pub with live music I'd ever seen, but, man did it rock. A large Thai (a rarity) stood belting gout American classic rock while her 4 piece band sat squished against the wall and not phased by the lack of space. We somehow managed the only remaining 4 seats right front of the band. We capped the evening with deep conversations and a second bottle of whiskey. We joked at how we were the Fantastic Four (all staying at the same guest house) the next morning at breakfast.
Before breakfast, I jumped on a local bus at 8am amidst many Thai's on their way to work in order to head to the train station to get my ticket in advance for my travels north. I ended up at the wrong end of town (which was just fine by me) and had to taxi back to the train station. Something got lost in translation when I told them I wanted to go to the train station, they took me to the bus station. I have since learned how to say these phrases in Thai! The bus ride was worth it though. 15 baht (about 50cents) is cheap price to pay for a tour of BKK, especially cuz I got to ride shotgun in the bus! They drive on the left side, and the shotgun seat on the bus is the best! It feels like you should be driving! So fun.
I returned to find the boys back at the house ready to eat. We did, relaxed a bit after a long night, and welcomed in two new travelers names Sandra and Michael also from Australia. We had dinner and a chat with them and woke up and did some great yoga in our front sitting area this morning at 6:30am.
Today it's off to Kanchanaburi, which is a river town just west of BKK. About a 3 hour bus ride. It is home to the Bridge over The River Kwai, right near the POW camp from WWII. There is a 7 tiered waterfall there and 3 rivers that converge to make for an amazing weekend getaway for Thais. I've heard there's a floating Karaoke boat that should be a hoot!
Living page to page i a guidebook is really something. I feel so free...
Pictures next time.