Monday, April 02, 2007


One Night in Bangkok, and 3 days in a stove!

I was very excited to go to Bangkok for all the same reasons that you might be excited, but mines were a bit more unromantic than what one might expect. I was excited to go to Bangkok for a song. Plus, I always thought that Bangkok was close to the sea and even inclusive to a bay in which junks would go from one side to another. Well let me tell you the only sea you can see is a sea of people night and day. Although you do have a river crossing the city, it doesn’t help you to cool off. You better look for a piece of shadow if you do not want to die alive melting on the asphalt. It was a long weekend of constant shadow fight and melting standing with a low ATTITUDE from me. I melted in 3 days and only recovered last night. But let me tell you what happen.

Khao San Road, or the famous backpacker street

The first day was very hot (40º), and we wandered in the world famous backpacker street, located in the Banglampoo area of Bangkok not far away from the Grand Palace and the Democracy Monument. The famous KSR, Khao San Road, is certainly the place in Asia were you find more tee-shirts and shorts to the square-meter than rice per kilo-meter in a taxi trunk. Am I clear? Not really, Ok just pretend that It’s a busy place where you find everything you need to bring back home for your friends and family at a bargain. On one side you can buy the tee-shirt that you always wanted to make but never had the chance to ask, and on the other side you can buy the International Press-Pass you always wanted to have to enter all the cocktail-shrimp party back home. A Pad Thai and 2 beers later, we were ready to tackle the first temples [WAT in Thai].

I am guessing, it's at at Khao San Road where
Leonardo D. start his trip in the movie The Beach ,

We left the bigger one for later (Grand Palace), and join the force of the second zone backpacker to visit the left over domes. Every Wat or temple is cover with gold. Some are pure and fat gold and some are fakes and just cover in gold. But all of them are shinny and hot when it’s 41 º C. under the sun. Water bottles were drunk to balance out the sweet we were poring on each other. Fun day under the sun!

Grand Palace

We took the river boat along the river and been dropped at the final stop of the line. We finally at night, enjoyed our first relaxing AC break. We had cocktails at Bamboo, in the Oriental Hotel. That place was a compilation of exotic exoticism on the menu in a very western temple of luxury. The jazz singer that was next to us was almost ready to sing the blues, but we only saw her ASSISTUDE leaving the bar in her red dress. Sometime I wish I could be a small tiny microphone to amplify the sound of red dresses.

Grand Palace Guard

We wanted to prolong the night to visit the world famous lipstick on the floor (Bed Supperclub) but ended instead in a nearby Pad Thai place preceding the not so far away Zanzibar bar where 2 (s)expats were fighting each other to who was the worse singer ever. J. and I fall asleep on our chairs and decided it was time to do it properly in bed instead.

Another Guard at the Grand Palace

On our way back and after a false alarm cab drive (the driver ask us to leave the taxi after he found out it was not the hotel he though it was), we saw a baby elephant crossing the street of Bangkok at 2 in the morning and by 47 º C. Life is strange even for the one who sleep standing still.

The Subway at the MBK station

The next day we woke up early to run all over the place and do as many places as possible. But imagine having at 9 in the morning already a 56 º C. in your face. You walk slow and make sure that each movement you are doing has a purpose for your safety. We were going to the Grand Palace and we arrived a bit early on the schedule, so we were convinced by 2 locals to take their Tuk-Tuk and go around a pre-determined route and see the 5 things you need to see.

Madame Universe 1867

We were asked to stop at one particular place (a tailor) and spend 10 minutes, pretend to shop and in return the Tuk-Tuk driver would receive a coupon of free gas and he would charge us a very moderate amount. The deal was on and we were almost happy. That was the beginning of the scam. They took us not only to the tailor, but also to another one and we were yield at when we only spend 10 minutes in the shop. A very brief yet intense discuss resulted in all of us left in the near by temple with no Tuk-Tuk to pick us up. They left us alone! It was 76 ºC. and we were almost boiled from inside. Their NASTITUDE was way more insupportable than the heat stoke.

Her Husband

Along the way we meet few intersting people who told us a bit a history around the Wats. Along the way we meet few interesting people who told us a bit a history around the Wat. Here it was the oldest Buddha, there it was the heaviest one (5 tons of pure gold), and there it was the emerald one. All of these did not help us in our fight against the heat. It was 145 ºC and I was close to etherize my soul. The cooling at the lunch time at the Desk did help us to save only few minutes from my life.

Their son

BUT everything changed after that.

Emerald Buddha

There is not better than a local to show you the best places in town. Or, there is better than a local in fact. There is this special hybrid called expat-migrant, the one that you met few years back home and who decided for whatever reason to move somewhere else in a very remote place, at the very end of the road.

And you remember saying to yourself … “But, why is he or she going so far away?”

Now you know WHY … it’s to welcome you and show you the best spots in town. Well he or she did not move for you, but it happens that you still have an email and just before the beginning of your trip, you contacted her or him and she or he said "Sure come along here is my phone number and called me when you are in town." Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

So we went to at Taling Pling and had dinner with the friends of friends of my friend based on their recommendation. And guess what ! It was a superb dinner with things on the table that I could not have chosen because I did not know how to pronounce them. There is not worse than having a waiter coming to your table telling you that he has a “Bargy-Tuian Kyo Jauin With the Green-Butter Sauce” and nobody ask for it, and since everyone has already a plate in front of them it must be yours. Embarasing ! That's why I like so much Chinese restaurants, because they all give number to each dish. I usually take the 42, easy to remember, and rather than changing menu, I change restaurant but keep ordering the same number 42. You would be surprise how the 42 could be different from one restaurant to another.

Anyway, the friends of friends of my friend did a wonderful job in ordering and explaining how everything was made and how to eat it as well. We hate like crazy and I finished almost all the plates. My favorite ones were the Chicken in Pan Dan Leaf, Tom Wum soup with Prawns (Spicy), and finally a Water Chesnutt desert in some plain liquid yogurt. We then finished the night in the redish Red-Light district, in the not so famous gay-land in Bangkok, but very alive and full of SASSYTUDE. Ex-lady-boys dressed up in drag keens serving 3 liters pitcher in a dark and very narrow street close to the busiest night life area in Bangkok make you feel good about having a friend who knows friends of friends in Bangkok. The night was hot (temperature wise) yet refreshing (drinks wise), and was prolonged by a late last beer at the hotel, before the last crashing bed.

Chiness gift at the Grand Palace

The last day, we finally spend it at the Grand Palace under 14324242ºC, took some shots but we all became liquid and disappeared in the air. Sole pictures taken at the time could prove we were human at some points. Tons of water and baths did finally help all of us reshaping in human body only few days later for the best of our memories.

Bangkok is a great city only at night, during 3 days you are cooked alive. Heard about the famous Thai cuisine, well the secret is a slow cooking during the day.