Saturday, January 10, 2009

First day in Bangkok

So, we took off from Seattle at noon on a Thursday and arrived on Saturday at 1am in Bangkok after a layover in Seoul. 
The flight itself wasn’t too bad.  Although it took 30 hours, the food was pretty good.
We arrived in Bangkok just in time to spend too much money on our first Taxi ride.  We spent 500 baht ($15) getting from the airport to our hostel, which was probably about 300 baht too much.  Oh well, live and learn.
The guy we agreed to a ride with ended up directing us to another person who drove the van.  We had no way to communicate with him, but did end up at the hostel around 3:00 am.  It was completely booked, but the owner allowed us to sleep on a mattress pulled into a room usuaully used for language classes.
Leslie liked that room better than the one we had the next night.
We woke the next morning to try and find some foold, with little luck at first.  We meandered down Sukhumvit on foot, trying to find our way downtown.  We were just looking for a a bit of food, but couldn’t find anywhere that gave us enough information in english to order.
There were large cooked birds hanging in storefronts and a sidewalk about a foot and a half wide that was either broken or incomplete, it didn’t really matter which.  We were the only non-Asian people to be seen and there was absolutely no English.  Crossing the street was a non-starter, so when we found a cross-street we doubled back, found an overhead bridge and used that.
Storefronts were about ten feet wide, usually with a person or two out front.  Some had meets and vegetables hanging out front as people conversed out front. 
We also got the opportunity to pass through our first pack of wild dogs, and second. . . and third. . .
After about an hour of walking through the area with stomachs empty we sat down to take a look at the map.  A dog ended up taking a little more interest in us then we wanted.  We hailed a cab and told ‘em to take us to Chatuchak Market, which was the first thing I thought I could pronounce that I found in the guide book.  This cost us around 180 baht, ($6), and was about as far as airport to hostel. 
Chatuchak is a gigantic weekend market.  We started by trying to find some food and saw a cart with some vegetables on it.  We ducked down a side ally that looked like there was food down there.  Leslie saw a cart that looked good and decided to approach the vendor there. 
She asked how we go about getting food, at which point the woman behind the cart said in near-perfect English, “Well, this is back of store, you want food you go to front of store”.  At this point we realized we had ducked into a service alley. 
We went where indicated and got Pad Thai.  We explored the market for a few hours and found $4 soccer jerseys, $5 Chuck Taylors and $20 northface backpacks.  Leslie ended up getting a pair of pants. 
We then attempted to find somewhere on the river, so started walking West, which looked like a little ways.  An hour later we realized we had no idea where we were going and hailed a cab.  The first cab couldn’t understand us, so we got right back out. 
The second apparently didn’t understand us either as we asked to go to a park and ended up at a huge mall.  We found a bench to try to figure out what to do next and after a bit of discussion, found that the woman next to us was listening in.  “Yeah, we’re lost” I told her and we learned that she was from Portland. 
She informed us that she’d been there for a few weeks.  She’d spend 1000 baht on her first Taxi, so we didn’t feel so bad.  She also showed us how to use the SkyTrain and Metro.  240 baht ($8) for two all-day passes.  Much better. 
In retrospect, we owe that cab driver a favor.  He didn’t understand us, but figured out that nobody else would either and took us to a transportation hub.  I’m guessing we grabbed the taxi from next to a skytrain station.
We took the metro to the river and found a river taxi that spends all day hopping up and down the river.  We’ll do that tomorrow. 
We meandered looking for a place to eat, but didn’t find much.  Eventually we grabbed a wooden-floored bus and went whipping through town, we had no idea where we were going but it was fun.  It was small and cramped.  I hit my head on the roof.  It was 15 baht. 
We ended up getting out because Leslie saw what she thought was a restaurant,  we ended up in China town in front of a Chinese opera.  The guy working at the operahouse talked to us a bit and then the guy a little down the street.  He helped us get a Tuk-Tuk for 20 baht that took us to a state-run tourist station.  We’re heading back there next week to buy tickets to South Thailand. 
He then took us to a tailor for unbeknownst reasons.  I think it was because he was taking us to a seafood restaurant and he didn’t think we were dressed up enough.
Then, off to the restaurant where we got food with some odd spice in it. I liked it, Leslie, not so much.  Mine was kinda fun because it came in a pineapple. 
At that point it was about four and we headed back to the hostel as we were completely tired and still not completely adjusted to the time-change. Finding our way back was no easy feat, as the train didn’t go all the way and we made the mistake of assuming that the side-streets were numbered the same on both sides of the street.
One more cab ride and we found our way to an adjacent alley.  We made it back, but it definitely was more work then we wanted. 
We were going to read books and hang out at the hostel, but instead fell asleep about 6pm.  As a result, it’s now 3:30, but that’s not too bad as Inter v. Cagiari is on the tube. 
I did manage to make it into the dog house one more time though.  I thought I’d make Leslie feel better by locking the door as I came downstairs.  I didn’t realize, but I accidentally locked her in.
A nice Japanese (I think) guy came downstairs while I was writing this thing and muddled through that Leslie couldn’t get downstairs.  I let her out, but she informed me that she has now been in jail for a bit.  I got demerits for that one. 
I’m gonna try to get some more sleep though.  Don’t worry everyone, we’re doing great.

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