I arrived in Bangkok and was easily able to buy a very affordable Thai sim card, instantly rendering my iPhone usable in the taxi on the way to my accommodation. After the usual difficulty in finding the place and it not being immediately clear to me that we were in the right place when we did arrive, I arrived at my hostel – the sister hostel of the one I had stayed at in Phuket in 2013 – to find a great vibe of many travellers chilling in the outdoor common error, clearly preparing to head out later, and a very friendly check-in dude. That night, as planned, I went straight to bed.
After as much sleep in as I could muster I rose ready to start the day. As I went to put sunscreen I realised I was without so went down the street to find some. This proved not to be an immediately achievable task as sunscreen is not labelled as sunscreen in Thai convenience stores but as cosmetic cream! Upon further examination however, it became clear that such products are sunscreen but with Thai marketing.
That day I used the hostel computer to book onto a few tours for the next few days and headed off to explore the large shopping centres. It took me a good half hour or so to walk toward them, during which I explored the scene beside the long major road and dropped into a small market I passed. At the top of one of the shopping centres I found an entire floor of food and had some tasty and extraordinary cheap (50 baht, or less than AUD$2) noodles after eventually choosing them among a crazy array of local food options. I took a taxi back to the hostel and noticed how long it took in the amazingly awful traffic! The traffic was in fact moving so little that at one amusing point the taxi driver left the vehicle completely (without a word) to duck into a convenience store, buy snacks and get back in.
Later at the hostel I ate some dinner – delicious pad thai – and joined some hostel mates in the outdoor mingling area. It wasn’t a big crowd tonight – for some reason there had been a big group of people partying the night before, a Sunday, when I had just arrived and had to go straight to bed due to exhaustion – but this night was very mellow. So when one friendly Finn said he was going to meet a friend at Khao San Road – the super touristy street on the other side of Bangkok – myself and another Spaniard joined him. That night the three of us hostellers and his Thai friend partied in Khao San Road, ending up at ‘The Club’ where the Thai friend so often frequented.
The next morning I had booked onto a tour of the King’s Palace but was in no state of awakeness to embark on it that early so had to decline when the hostel owner came into our dorm, woke me and asked if I was going (a tad intrusive). I had already emailed to cancel but obviously too late. That afternoon, however, I did go on a boat tour of the Bangkok river, which was fairly decent and included changing to a larger boat on the way back that had a buffet of fruit, some Thai food and simple drinks.
Back in my hostel dorm I was greeted by a lady who was meeting a friend she had previously met travelling in – you guessed it – Kao Sanh Road. So after hopping in yet another lengthy taxi we headed there to meet him and several of his hostel mates, resulting in a very merry party at a fabulous Thai restaurant in the street next to Khao San Road where a local magician entertains you as you eat. The food was cheap and good – although I had some food envy as my dish was a little funky and there had been so many options.
We then proceeded to party around Khao San Road in a similar fashion as the night before, except that after the road was closed down by police at the 1am curfew we were able to locate an after hours club a tuk tuk ride away upon suggestion from a fellow traveller. This club appeared to have just closed when we got there, but after a while people started to go inside and we followed them to a very dark room at the top. When one of us tried to use the torch on his phone to find the others we were chastised by a manager or security guard: evidently they didn’t want anyone to be able to identify anyone else who was dodgily in the illegal venue! We had a great time partying in this hilarious venue and wished each other merry Christmas as the clock struck midnight!
The next day – Christmas Day, although this had rather slipped my mind as it didn’t much seem like it at any point – I was woken too early by the bus driver of a tour of some temples that I had booked. He had come so early that I hadn’t had time for breakfast (or to get up at all) so I rushed to dress and get on the tour bus. We then proceeded to drive around to various hotels to pick up other guests. The problem was that we had to wait for a very long time for all these guests; including over an hour at one hotel for a large Indian family, who was seemingly unapologetic when the tour guide explained that I had been waiting for a long time.
When we eventually got the tour going – it took a very very long time to even get to our first stop in the appalling Bangkok traffic – I was weak with hunger, rendering me also unable to cope with the heat. After I took off my shoes to enter a temple and came out to find them – as I thought, stolen; but really just pushed by someone to a lower, less sacred level in a pile with other people’s shoes – I was in no mood to continue the painful tour and saw on Google Maps that I was within walking distance to a metro ride back to the hostel, which if we went any further I would not be. Instead, I would be getting further and further from food or the hostel in the awful traffic. Instead, I bade goodbye to the tour guide and strode off to the metro station to get back home. On the way home I faced the dilemma of what to eat and settled on one of the many amazing toasted sandwich-like goods from a 7 Eleven, but unfortunately selected one that was an odd mix.
Back at the hostel I ate cashew chicken in the outdoor common area as others joined for socialising. A good crowd eventually gathered, along with one of my new Dutch friends from the night before who had joined us from his hostel – before we all set off to explore the nightlife. We first walked through one of the cheesy red light district streets – which was a little too impressive to a couple of the American travellers, in my view – before walking a fair way to find another street that one of the hostel managers had suggested was replete with nightlife. Unsure where to go in this street we found a place that was obviously quite an upmarket kind of outdoor restaurant/hotel place, found a long table and all ordered food (I had a tasty ham covered pizza) and drinks.
Afterward we agreed to taxi (after various barterings and disagreements) to another street that had a few proper clubs that locals attend. We were aiming for the big club named Route 66. Unfortunately, most of the guys were wearing thongs / flip flops and could not get in without paying a few baht to buy some (cheap) shoes outside. Yet most refused and left, leaving only myself and two friendly guys who had gotten in with our legitimate shoes. Actually, I was wearing thongs too, but obviously the rules don’t apply to women! All the Thais were dressed quite classily, as it was a large club with many cool rooms. The three of us quite enjoyed ourselves until the close of the club, which was unfortunately only an hour or so later. On the way back to the hostel I cheerily played ‘One night in Bangkok’ on my iPhone and the three of us exchanged contact details.
The next day I had time only to rise and head to the airport via metro and bus. An incident of note, however, is that as I was hurrying to the metro and fearing I was late, my suitcase must have bumped open over a bump in the footpath without me realising; for a gentleman on a motorbike appeared beside me carrying my toiletry bag that had fallen out! Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. (I didn’t realise it at the time, but my Pacsafe portable safe must also have fallen out; unfortunately I didn’t miss it until two islands later when I found myself in a room that had no locker – exactly for what I had purchased the Travelsafe!).