Sunday, July 17, 2016

Four Days in Bangkok

Left Hanoi for Bangkok on a quick one hour Jetstar Pacific flight. So before we knew it the stewardesses were in their jumpseats ready to give us our buh byes. No beverages were served and had to pay extra for our checked luggage, but only paid $80 U.S. per person booked a day in advance so couldn't complain. At Suwannaboom airport I had no idea where to stay in BKK mainly due to procrastination on my part. So I bought a coffee just for the free internet and found a hotel with the best reviews on T.A. For one thing I really wasn't that excited about being in Bangkok but felt it was necessary to be in the city / country where we'd be flying home from a few days in advance just in case. So we decided to make the best of it. We hired a taxi for 500 TBH and headed south to the Bangkok-Loft Inn in Chon Buri. It turned out to be a bad location because there was nothing within walking distance, so I asked the concierge to hail us a taxi, we want to go to the infamous Khaosan Road in Bangkok, smack dab in the middle of the craziest street in BKK...the Dang Derm hotel. With Khaosan being backpacker central I did not exactly want the night life, but decided to give it a shot for one night because I didn't know where else to go. You know its touristy when you have a McDonalds built into the first floor of your hotel. On Khao San Road you have a huge confusing mix of travelers...families with kids, hippies with or without dreads (dreads available for purchase), backpackers galore, young couples, older couples, rich college frat boys on spring break, recent grads, honeymooners and locals...its all walks of life on one small road (if you ever backpacked Asia you've most likely been here), you know its bad when an Italian couple mistook me for an Italian asking me which way to the grand palace...luckily they understood my spanish. So the street stays blocked off to vehicles and the Thai police have setup camp on the corner complete with CCTV (I guess things get out of control here regularly) so because of this we were dropped off at the end of the road with all of our bags and had to walk halfway down this crazy road to our hotel. We checked in and realized quickly, this was gonna be a pretty exciting place when the front desk clerk described the balcony rooms as you know loud music "boom boom sleep til 2:00am". So we chose rooms on the back side of the hotel. At least it included a free breakfast for $42.00 (1500 baht) a night..a bit pricey when the most we had ever paid was 500 ($15.00) a night (yes I'm a budget traveler). We had a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant on the balcony of "Greens & Cheese" and did a bit of browsing in the street afterward. Got a bit annoyed from the guys on the street trying to sell you canal boat tours, a ride to the airport, tuk tuk city tours, rides to the Grand Palace, nicknacks.... light up helicopters, buckets of beer, or a silk suit. One guy with a fortune tellers cap on and long beard literally came running at me from the other side of the street and said sir sir you have a great spirit I can see it and I can tell you why would you like me to read your fortune and I smiled and said in Thai "Yee suu Koong Chan Fai". He looked stunned and took two steps back without saying a word... It means "Jesus is my lamp". I continued walking... The street vendors were interesting also with their carts of everything from coconut ice cream, and pad thai to fried scorpions and crickets on a stick. Still no monkey meat on a stick, but plenty of squid and pork liver on a stick (I'll pass). Mai Kop Koon Kop = No thanks So at dusk the music begins "boom boom boom..techno", and the 18 to 20 somethings go to the street and start dancing wildly to the nonstop techno music being blasted from four different clubs right next to each other in front of our hotel. And then around 2am the party ends and all those who are severely inebriated attempt to drag and claw their way back to their rooms. There was a German girl whom, from what I could not help from hearing (outside our door) was sick and locked out by her room mate, and violently banged her head against the door as she sat against it. Then the door opened...yelling and fighting, and the sounds of things crashing echoed the halls. The fight finally ended when hotel security showed up, and this was the first night, needless to say I moved to a different room the next day...and this was supposed to be the quiet room... The next day we decided it was a bigger headache to move than to stay and deal with the chaos. We booked a guided canal boat to the Grand Palace. The 6ft asian water monitor lizards hanging out along the banks were interesting. The trip included boat vendors and the catfish feeding frenzies, but sad to see the poverty along the banks. The tour was better than I expected, however at the palace, Chinese tourists outnumbered all others 50 to 1 and traveled in large groups by van or bus and their guides held a sticks in the air with small stuffed animals or glittery objects on the end to keep them together. The palace was impressive although no longer inhabited by the king and queen of Thailand it is now used for military and miscellaneous offices. Got to see the changing of the guard. Don't wear shorts or you'll have to stand in line and pay to rent pants. Watch the video here: The next day we went to MBK mall which puts the Houston galleria to shame six stories of everything imaginable which was fun especially negotiating for half an hour with a girl for a fake rolex which I backed out on at $60 USD she wouldn't come down to $45. Finally found some shirts my size too bad for the big guys. Next we went to eat the best pad thai on the planet...Thip Samai Pad Thai. If you go to Bangkok and you want to know what Pad Thai should be...this is it. Went back to the hotel and checked out the roof top pool on the 12th floor of our hotel...pretty cool to see all of Bangkok lit up at night. The next day we booked a trip to the floating markets with taxi driver Mr. Noodet (good english) He stayed with us all day as we did a tour of the floating markets and the train rail markets. Watch the video here : The floating markets were a blast and we all got a good laugh as our boats bottle necked and banged and wedged together blocking the river and all the time buying and selling underway. Then at the rail markets the vendors all drop their awnings to let the passenger train pass by, with vegetables, fruits and seafood just a hair from touching the wheels and trucks as it passed by. All things must end...We packed our bags and left the Dang Derm hotel and Khaosan road at 11pm for our 2am flight back to Houston. Its a weird feeling... the trip is over. We'd seen and experienced so much...four countries, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, 12 hour train ride across Thailand, two hour jet boat across the Gulf, two days on a Mehkong river boat into Laos, three flights, cabs, tuktuks, songthows, canal boats, bicycle taxis in Hanoi, fishing trip in the Gulf of Thailand, waterfalls at Doi Luang National Park and Kuang Si Falls in Laos, islands walks at low tide, riding motorcycles in Hanoi and Luang Prabang, three hour bus from mountains of Chiang Mai to Phayou, and even an elephant ride through the river, It all seemed so surreal. This was the end of our trip ...Never in my wildest dreams ...Made even sweeter by getting to experience it with family. Thanks to all who stayed in touch and read the blog. So long for now...until next time. Daveed
Hotel we decided not to Stay in.
Khaosan Road from our Hotel restaurant balcony.
The Dang Derm Hotel
Gotta love Thai Food
D&D Hotel across the street from the Dang Derm...owned by the same people, but cheaper
Thai Tea with Milk...try one!
Back packers
Back packers
Cheap Pad Thai?
The party begins
Its fun to just people watch sometimes
Worms, crickets or grasshoppers???
I had to pay 10 baht for a photo!
Fried tarantula or scorpion on a stick :/ Saw a guy buy a scorpion and hang it in his beard...
Saen Saep Canal Tour photos
Asian water monitor
Canal catfish feeding frenzy
Massive monitor lizard
Our boat driver. Never spoke a word..just smiled.
Tough job.
Long tail canal boat
Flower on the bow for "protection". Here many believe in tens sometimes hundreds of gods to keep them the point they seem to live in constant fear, which as a Christian gave me an erie feeling and saddened me.
His shirt says "Hammer Strength". Lol
Son helping mother into boat. One thing you can respect about Thailand is the family unity and loyalty for life.
Monks holding coffers is a common sight. If you donate they say a prayer.
Grand Palace Map...Beginning of our Grand Palace tour.
Grand Palace
Waht at the Grand Palace (Buddhist temple)
Palace Guard
Mom with Palace Guard
Changing of the Guard
MBK Mall. Massive mall with everything...Starbucks to fame Rolexes
Thip Samai Pad Thai. If its the best Pad Thai in BKK its the best in the world.
Read the article
Two cool paintings at the restaurant I wanted to take home.
The start of Bangkoks famous Damnoen Saduak floating Markets
Mr. Noodet our guide to the floating markets and Maeklong railway markets
This ladys smile made me want to buy from her.
Grilled squid on a stick???
Grilled squid boat vendor.
Rice hat and dreadlocks...a cool look.
Lots of smiles at the floating markets...everyone was happy!
Take a photo with a sloth or a boa...for a fee of course.
Rice hat boat vendor.
Goodbye nice floating market people!👋
Hello Maeklong Railway Markets!
It was perfect timing...Mr. Noodet assured us we would not miss the train(which passes every three hours). And it rounded the bend just as we got there!
Chinese tourist photo op!
Veggies right next to the rail...wash em before you eat em.
Horshoe crab??? Is there any meat on those things?
Goap anyone ... Oh I mean frog anyone?
Flounder look exactly the same on the other side of the world! Maybe they were imported from Galveston Bay??
Yes. It is what you think it is...
Grilled whole frog on a stick!
the end of the railway markets
Back to BKK airport, for our flight home
Qatar..DOHA airport
Doha, Qatar
Flying over Iceland