Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Wild Side of Bangkok

My mother and I arrived in Bangkok a little after 4am and since public buses were miraculously still running we avoided the dreaded tuktuk/taxi dilemma and within no time had arrived back at The Overstay where we had left some lugofgage. We hung out there a bit before doing some sightseeing and I was again struck with the sentiment that I wish I could have spent more time at that hostel. Our day of sightseeing began with visiting the Grand Palace, then deciding it was too hot and crowded and giving up on the palace, taking a picture in front of it instead so we could claim we were there. We visited Terminal 21, a bizarre mall with a different country theme on each floor, made even more bizarre by the fact we were there - the jury is still out on which of us hates malls more, and later a walk through Chinatown. I seemingly blinked and found myself standing at the ARL station hugging my mother goodbye.

The first time I was in Bangkok I had taken it easy, nerding out with boardgames and night markets, this time I was meeting up with my Dutch friend Freddy who I'd met in Chiang Mai and we were staying at a hostel on Khaosan Rd so there was no mistaking that this time would be different. My suspicions were proven when I met up with him and within moments we were on Khaosan Rd having what would be the first of many drinks that night. Having been in Bangkok multiple times Freddy was the perfect tour guide into the hedonistic wild side of Bangkok.

Drinking & Laughing Gas
On Khaosan Rd you can find a myriad of things, which we sampled ranging from cold beers and buckets of booze to laughing gas. The buckets I've grown used to but the laughing gas was a first. We sat down at one table to share a bucket and next to us was a Thai woman selling balloons of laughing gas that tourists would buy, inhale and exhale almost instantly  experiencing a laughing gas high. A truly bizarre experience.

Ping Pong Show
Yes I saw one. It could be worse, that was Freddys second time seeing one in two days. I'd been torn about wanting to see one since it sounds terrible but weird enough to be intriguing. Which is exactly how it was. Getting there is a bit of a scam with the tuk tuk drivers and negotiating the prices (we agreed on 700bht for 2 then once we were there it became 800bht) but soon enough we had our free drinks and were inside. Sure enough we saw the girl who was able to bounce multiple ping pong balls into a bucket at the other side of the stage which left me wondering how you discover such a talent and also wondering how I can be so terrible at beer pong when that lady on stage can aim so well with her "no hands" version. There were a few other acts as well each weird in its own unique way and while it was an incredibly bizarre experience the earlier drinks and the good company dulled the weirdness somewhat.

Freddy forcing me to try a scorpion

Freaky Street Food
Normally street food is something I am wild for but on Khaosan Rd there are a few street food additions I didn't care too much for.  As it would get later, the scorpion vendors would come out to play and I may have even glimpsed a few giant spider dealers but I was excellent at ignoring those. My first night Freddy kept threatening that he would get me to eat a scorpion. I successfully avoided it the first night but was less lucky on night two. Freddy stopped one of the vendors and bought two scorpions as we tried to convince the lady that we wanted the teeny tiny ones not the jumbo ones she tried passing us. We counted to 3, he succeeded at eating his and after a false start I managed to get mine down in one gulp. The taste itself wasn't so bad but I could feel legs and pincers and other unsavoury bits that were impossible to chew and swallow. It made me wish for more silkworms and crickets.

My second stay in Bangkok was short but jam packed with weird adventures and as I was leaving for Myanmar I knew I was in for a drastically different experience.