Chang, Chow Mein & a Culture shock

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Saturday morning and I was up way before my alarm contemplating if an hour before the hour we had already allowed ourselves was too early to be up and ready and staring at the clock. I got up anyway because I was to excited for life that morning. After sorting myself out and waking Robbie up to half a bowl of my already eaten porridge and a brew I was nervously unpacking and repacking the hand luggage, you’re always bound to forget something but I was determined to keep on track of my one designated job, the hand luggage. Anyone that knows me will know how pretty unorganised I can be (even though I look like I’ve got everything under control) it’s a good job Robbie’s such a woman when it comes to packing otherwise I’d be going with my clothes in a carrier bag. We bought these savvy little zip up packing cells from Kathmandu that you pack your clothes into and then they go into the big bag to save you emptying your whole in search for those pesky bikini bottoms that have managed to wedge themselves into a shoe or something.

Anyway we were off trooping down the road with our backpacks on and in search for our first caffeine fix which didn’t get suppressed until the hour and a half trip to the airport was complete. Once the bag was checked in everything seemed a little more real and my excitement was in overload, there wasn’t much else to do than get ripped off for a bacon and egg roll and coffee and wait at the gate.

The flight to Singapore, shuttle transfers and flight to Bangkok were an absolute dream, that good that I didn’t even have a nap! Which is super rare for me and I think the only plane I’ve been on and never slept. Arriving in Bangkok I was kind if just relying on Robbie as he had been here before and knew exactly where to go. So I followed trying my best to sneak photos and videos of everything I saw as well as trying to keep up through the mass of people.

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As we were a little tired messing around with a shuttle or train didn’t seem worth it so we jumped in a taxi and headed for Koh San Raod- the popular backpacking area. Robbie had stayed here before and knew roughly where to go, the lights got brighter and neons took over so I knew we were here. We gave the taxi man 450 baht and headed down Koh San road to the bottom where we thought the hotel was, Robbie knew that if he saw a subway he would know where to go. So tackling the Saturday night crowd of travellers, lads on tour and Thai street vendors with our backpack we wrestled our way to the opposite end of the street to where we needed to be, turns out the taxi driver had dropped us off right outside the hotel we wanted. A quick dash back up the street parallel we were all checked in, bags down and heading out for my first taste of Asia and a cold bottle of Chang ( which I only find acceptable with quiet a few squeezes of lime) we found a nice little bar right on the road, I was in my element the people watching here is amazing.

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I was determined to spot a lady boy and just like that out of no where she appeared, I know people joke about this but when you actually witness them first hand they put real women to shame, she was beautiful and eh hair, make up and clothes were on point, I was in awe until she walked past and Robbie was laughing at me and we continued with a lengthy conversation about how?? But we will leave it at that I suppose it’s for them to know and us to never find out, unless you want to pay of course? Tonight was meant to be a quick beer and a wander but about four hours later using each other as a leaning post we made it back to the hotel.

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I think the excitement of being in Bangkok woke me up before 7am, in my defence my phone said 8am but until I had got Robbie up, dressed and out on the street I realised the actual time and had no plans of telling him how early it was until he was fuelled with coffee. As much as it was our first morning and we were on a breakfast hunt I don’t think street food would settle well in our Chang infused stomachs, so after finally finding eggs on toast and a mug of coffee we were super ready for the day.  Like anywhere touristy you are hassled in the street for everything especially the taxi drivers, I was dying to have a go in a tuk tuk, after telling the tout we had been before he gave us a reasonable price of around 40 baht to drive us around for as long as we wanted… 40 baht is about $2, that’s £1 for us English. So in the back of our pink and green machine I was holding on for dear life, I don’t know where or even if these people learn how to drive properly but we joined the rat race down the back streets and onto a main road.

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We stopped at some beautiful temples, had a look around, I chased loads of stray cats and then we left while our driver waited patiently outside greeting us back to the Tuk Tuk with a huge smile and wave. One of the agreements that the Tuk Tuk drivers have is that they take you to suit shops and jewellery shops in the hope that you will buy something from the owner. I’m not being funny but two backpackers are not up for a three piece tweed suit in 37 degree heat, the material is very beautiful however and the suits are very well made so if it’s your thing then Asia is definitely the place to get something tailor made. In this agreement the driver gets a fuel coupon to fill up his ride, as our guy was so nice and it was pure comedy pretending to be interested in neck high, floor length silk dresses. We spent some time in there so the owner didn’t get annoyed with the driver. As our time was coming to an end we asked to go to the floating markets, the driver knew the boat guy and got us a discounted price which we were to keep quiet about! I really wanted to see the big floating markets but they were way out, this boat took us down the river and around the old town in Bangkok, where for over an hour we could see where people lived right on the river.

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The river that I’m also guessing was some sort of sewage system for the houses but there were children jumping in, splashing around and waving at us so happy. These kids have nothing but what they do have is each other and the ability to laugh and play which is more important than anything! We passed what looked like a hollowed out log, these were mini floating markets selling refreshments and trinkets, there was also a bar and a florist which had hanging baskets as a doorway. The boat dropped us at the Grand Palace and a huge street market which we wandered around after noticing the price for the palace and no desire to see another Buddha we caught a Tuk Tuk back to the hotel. That night we decided to go out for a drink on Koh San road. As you can’t go to Bangkok and not experience this. After a few Chang’s the taste become bearable and it goes down nicely. After listening to some amazing acoustic guy belting out old school rock songs and playing spot the lady boy from our perfect people watching seats we went and joined the crowds on Koh San. Half clothes market, food stalls, street vendors and lads on tour we decided to join the masses and a take a pew in the pirate bar ‘Koh San Road Central’ and it was busy!

Locals, tourists, backpackers and 100’s of staff eagle eyeing even the slightest hand raise or look and they are straight over for that sale. We didn’t move all night which had its repercussions when we had to hold each other up to get home. What was a great night of letting loose and drunk conversations was somewhat interrupted by two typical Brits abroad sporting straw hats, Koh San road vests and a Thai girl on their arm. Standing on their chairs and having multiple photos of themselves holding up two small bottles of Absolute vodka amounting to a grand total of £50, big money ballers right here. It was so embarrassing to watch and laughing out loud was the only way to get past it, after dragging the poor Thai girl he had clearly paid for away we weren’t to far behind them in the search for some Pad Thai street food to settle the Chang.
On the way home we passed a young girl with the biggest scared eyes I have ever seen and guess who was sat next to her another white westerner! Now I know it’s legal here but just because it is don’t abuse it! I was so shocked and upset that people think that it’s okay, it’s not at all and I got so passionate about it how it’s become okay and tourists abuse places like this for a cheap thrill.
Did I enjoy Bangkok, yes! I loved it, maybe because it was my first taste of Asia, maybe because the culture difference was more than I expected, the food was amazing, the beer was cheap and the company was tip top, all the amazingness aside, did I agree with Bangkok. No. Tourists are slowly going to taint the best places. I know we’re all tourists but there’s a clear divide between tourist and travellers and what kind of people are going to change cultural places into the next Ibiza and Malia style destinations.

BUT all that aside, Bangkok you were an absolute pleasure and I’m so happy that my first taste of Asia was here and with someone who had already been because it is quiet daunting when you first get there. Packing up the backpack again and heading to Vietnam in the morning, somewhere new for both of us and what will seem a world away from what we just experienced.

DCIM100GOPRO

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