In a tuk-tuk in Bangkok
I arrived in Bangkok
around 11 at night. While being excited about finally being in a place that I could go out, drink, and eat without breaking the bank, I was nervous about being in a somewhat third-world country for my first time. We were dropped off on Kho San road, and seeing the capitalism run amok with all the tuk-tuk drivers and prostitutes competing for our attention didn't ease any of my worries. We walked around and found a cheap guesthouse called the Wild Orchid. Once we showered, changed, and relaxed we were ready to hit the strip. It was about 2 a.m., most of the bars were closing down and the party was moving out to the street. As I was walking I was so entranced by all the people and vendors and lady-boys and general chaos of the place that I didn't notice the huge brawl breaking out in the street ahead of me.
About 1 dollar for pure joy.
All of the sudden some white guys were fighting with some Thais. Then more Thais came and one of them smashed a bottle over someone's head. The remaining farangs (foreigners) started to run off. Not wanting the farangs to get away unscathed a Thai guy launched a 40 oz. beer bottle at one of them barely missing his head but hitting me smack in the shin. I must have been in shock because it didn't hurt but my leg started bleeding everywhere. "Welcome to Bangkok," I thought and just kept walking bloody leg and all. Then a very nice prostitute (possibly lady-boy) told me to stop so she could look at my wound. Being concerned she proceeded to take her beer and pour it on my leg to clean the blood off. Then an ambulence motorcycle pulled up and bandaged my leg and drove off quickly.
street performers on Kho San
I thanked the prostitute and went back to my guesthouse wondering what I got myself into. But after a couple days I adapted quite nicely and really started enjoying the place. You can't walk down Kho San road without being harassed/propositioned every ten seconds for tuk-tuk (a ride somewhere) or boom-boom (you can figure this one out). Walking home at night you will have to do some twists and turns to dodge some prostitutes but the food is great, the people are all friendly, and nightlife is lots of fun.
To quote Tom Robbins, "Simultaneously a frantic, high-tech juggernaut and a timeless Asian dream, Bangkok straddles like no other metropolis the boundary between acrid and sweet, soft and hard, sacred and profane. It's a silk buzz saw, a lacquered jackhammer, a steel-belted seduction, a digital prayer. Its numerous temples and shrines are obscured by clouds of mephitic exhaust, its countless vices and crimes by smiles of tender delight; and through it all, Bangkok manages to maintain the most graceful balance, a grace no less genuine for being well-rehearsed and no less pure for being supported by con men and whores." I couldn't sum it up better myself.