Monday, May 10, 2010

One night in Bangkok (is plenty)

I hope that song gets stuck in your head now because it's been in mind for two weeks now.

After about 18 hours of travel, I made it to Bangkok after picking up Jake in Singapore along the way. He spent all last week there for some training for work. Our week in Thailand is going to focus on beaches and cocktails and relaxation, but we couldn't come this far without at least checking out this amazing city. According to the news, the anti-government protests have become more intense, and we've seen lots of armed policemen, but so far we feel pretty safe in our hotel. We selected our hotel in the heart of the restuarant/nightlife/massage (read: sex industry) district thanks to a friend’s recommendation (thanks Travis). It’s a good one, as it’s right in the middle of everything, even though we're not really keen to go walking around at night.

Above is a view of the street from our hotel window, featuring a tuk tuk (three-wheeled taxi vehicle) in action. Below is looking out over the pool on the 16th floor, where I brought my new snorkel gear for a test drive.

Yesterday we made two attempts to head across town to visit the Grand Palace and the river where you can take boat tours through the canals of the city. Both attempts met with failure.

The first time we hopped in a cab and asked for the Grand Palace, the driver took us about two blocks and motioned us to get out and walk. Okay, maybe he didn't want to take such a long drive. We tried again, and the driver seemed a bit more cooperative. He quoted us 200 baht, which at $8 nzd sounded fine, and drove us through the parts of the city we'd seen on the news lately, including an area that was barricaded by tires and barbed wire. After maybe 20 minutes he dropped us off at some museum -- nowhere near the palace -- and refused to go farther.

So we'd been had. It was obvious to us then, but we made the most of it and the Jim Thompson Home Museum actually turned out to be pretty cool. (Jim was an American who made Thailand his home after WWII.) It's a very calm and relaxing place where we felt much more at ease than the busy, crowded, vendors-in-your-face feel of the other parts of Bangkok. Can’t wait to see the islands!

Across the street from our hotel was this very authentic, very affordable looking eating establishment. But after hearing numerous war stories about friends getting sick on vacation in Asia, Jake and I kept strictly to bottled water and food that is prepared specifically for foreigners. I admit our approach is neither glamourous nor culturally immersive. We're not famous for our strong stomachs -- we're just being honest.


Dave said...

Are you two on a quest to hit every island and beach? You're off to a good start. We're all going to be talking trash about you at the reunion! :) But honestly, if I left my credit card in wife would send me back to get it.

Corey said...

According to some research I did, Jim Thomposon went for a walk on Easter Sunday in 1967 and disappeared, never to be seen again.

And, as many theorize, during Jim's time in Thailand, he may have been in deep cover, still working for the CIA. The Thai silk industry may have just been a cover.

Awesome story.