First day in Thailand.
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Hey Yâ€™all, I know itâ€™s been a long time coming- two months now, but Iâ€™m starting from the beginning. And donâ€™t worry; this was just the first dayâ€¦
My first day in Bangkok is almost a blur now. Almost. I woke up in a room with pink and blue walls with little golden Buddha statues set into seemingly random positioned alcoves set at odd angles about the room. Down three flights of stairs that were obviously made for people smaller than myself, (I felt like a ballerina, balancing on tiptoe to get to the bottom) there was an open dining area complete with drooping vines, orchids and rustic furniture. I had a huge, fabulous breakfast, the star of which was the vitamin c drink- I donâ€™t know precisely which citrus fruits took part in this elixir, but wow!
Jill and I eventually made our way to the infamous Khaosan Road- a twenty minute walk from Shanti Lodge.
We didnâ€™t last so long on Khaosan, a clogged artery in the heart of a massive, crowded city overrun with backpackers and tourists. We took our chances on what seemed like a friendly tuk-tuk tour of some local Wats(Buddhist temples). Our guide- Joe, seemed like a nice enough guy so why not? Ten baht each and heâ€™d even take us to the TAT(Tourism Authority of Thailand) so we could check out the prices of bus tickets to take us north to Chiang Mai in the following days.
Joe ended up taking us to two, instead of three Wats while he waited, impatiently smoking cigarettes on the street outside. He also took us to the TAT, who told us to go to the bus station and sent us on our way. He then took us to get suits fitted. In confusion we were shuffled towards a glittering store front where we were greeted by half a dozen Indian men in shiny black shoes and silk ties asking what occasion we needed clothing tailored for.
At one point we found ourselves in a tourist agency- an "unofficial" TAT with peeling wallpaper and what looked like old postcards supposedly depicting the fantastic treks we could be taking at the best price. The pictures were all tucked between thick pieces of chipped glass placed on top of four large desks where a few girls in muted suits sat looking completely uninterested in anything but their own daydreams. And then there was this one guy, this one guy who just looked nuts was their also. He was not dressed professionally, but seemed to be in charge. He was on a cell phone most of the time we were talking to one of the girls and then decided he should take over our discussion all of a sudden. He motioned to the girl that we should come to his oversized desk so he could sort us out. We sat down and it was all I could do to not to laugh. He was working his jaw so hard I was wincing against the inevitability that I would hear a loud "click" at any second and it would just come unhinged and fall off onto the dirty floor. He continued to talk on his phone, while through black and stumpy teeth he mumbled to us and pointed at pictures while we gawked in amazement at the situation we found ourselves in. Joe was hustling us.
The truth came out somewhere along the way. If we stayed in any of these places for at least ten minutes, the business would give him a gas card, therefore supplementing his business. The twenty baht he had offered as our fare was useless to him he later shouted at us as we tried to negotiate our way back to wherever we came from. I have never had the experience before of telling a taxi driver where I want to go, and have him say directly and firmly over his shoulder back at me, "no". He had to feed his family, he was getting frustrated and gesticulating wildly as he glared at us through the side view mirrors, so we went from place to place- the businesses trying to shuttle us out of there in under ten so as not to have to give Joe the gas card, and him pacing the sidewalk outside sweating us being in there that long.
Finally, he got one and decided we deserved to go where we wanted at that point, and he took us back to Khaosan. I donâ€™t remember what we did that night, but we left Bangkok the next day.