Bangkok: Street market on Silom 20.
Today I planned on getting my train tickets to Chiang Mai. My plan was to try the Sky Train for the day and explore where I could. I go in search of a breakfast at my favorite market street. Silom 20. I find a skewer of chicken satay and they give me some rice in a plastic bag to go along with it. Rice is their favorite thing. It goes with every meal. Good breakfast. I head for the closest sky train station and ride the sky train up to Siam Station near the big Siam Mall. I figure that gets me closer to the train station where I can get some train tickets to Chiang MAi.
Bangkok: Street food on Silom 20.
I see an information booth near the mall and ask them whether I should get my tickets from the train station or from a travel agent. They say a travel agent and they give me instructions on how to get ot one. On my way there a man sees me studying my map and he starts talking to me as we are walking along. He is an older retirement aged man who said he used to live in America and was a teacher there. Along the way right before he has to take his turn to get to his house another man joins us and he is walking to work and he says he is going by the TAT office so he can get me there. So we walk along and talk along the way. He works in a sporting goods store in the neighborhood of the TAT office. I wonder if I am being brought to a non acreddited TAT office by some touts (but everything seemed to work out for my travel plans) At the travel agent the agent gets me my train tickets to get to Chiang Mai and the airline tickets I need to get to Bangkok
to get the train and then the tickets to get back to Bangkok again to go home.
Bangkok: Siam Center shopping Mall.
He also suggests I get my room in Chiang Mai arranged and then book a trek as well. I like to work these things out myself usually but what the heck. Life will be a lot easier. Welcome to Thailand where the tourist can get things arranged for themselves easily and conveniently at one of the MANY travel agencies. Thailand is full of them. But not all of them are TAT authorized (Travel Authority of Thailand) through the government. It is best to use a TAT office but I am sure you can get things done properly at any other. The travel agent needs to write up my itinerary and print up my tickets so he says I should come back in an hour or two. I was thinking of getting over to Khao San Road
to check out the famous backpacker haven.
Bangkok: Khlong cruising to Khao San Road
He suggests riding the khlong ferry over that way. All I have to do is walk up the street outside till it crosses the Khlong and then look under the bridge for the ferry pier.
I find the bridge and the pier and then sure enough 5 minutes later a boat comes along and I pay my 10 baht to get off at the Golden Mount stop that he said I needed. The Golden Mount sounds interesting too but there is only so much time and energy in me. The boat cruises down the khlong and sinse it tends to throw up a big splashy wave off the bow they have a tarp strung up to keep the passengers from getting dysentery from the dirty khlong water. None of the stops are marked with anything so I asked some people in front of me where the Golden Mount stop was and they said they were getting off there too.
Bangkok: Ferry boat on the Khlong.
Once off the boat I made my way down the street towards Khao San Road. This is a major road with huge multi lane traffic circles and it is difficult to cross these streets. For one of the crossings we had to wait a little more than 5 minutes. That was with me watching and following the locals lead. Along the way I grabbed an Orange Fanta. The vendor wanted the glass bottle back so I chugged it and as I was drinking it I watched a woman making a beautiful stir fry, in her wok on the street next to the McDonalds, from start to finish. (The picture is in the ones for the Street Food review below) Back along my journey I am close to Khao San Road so I ducked into a side alley to check out some vendors. I eventually popped out in front of the end of Khao San Road.
Bangkok: Streets near the Victory Monument.
You can't miss it with all the banners, signs and tourist activity. Walking down the street you see street vendors selling tourist stuff like t-shirts and DVD's. There are a lot of fun looking restaurants and bars that look out at the street. I ducked into an internet cafe/bar and had a beer while I caught up on E-mail. Next to me was a guy with a British accent but when I asked him where he was from he said he was from Denmark but that he had learned his English in England. Back out on the street I finished off walking down Khao San Road and walked down another street and through some market alleyways. I saw a few good Guest Houses back off the main street. I got back to a main street and started walkng through some of the vendor stalls along that street.
Bangkok: Wat Ratchanatadta.
They have a tarp seperating them from the street to shade them from the sun and weather but they are narrow and tight only good for one way walking traffic. This crowded street market was full of ladies underwear and was not the shopping I was hoping for. I kept having to stop and squeeze past women doing their shopping.
After that I made my way back toward the Khlong. I had seen some nice looking lunch spots so I was on the lookout for them. I stop at a steet food vendor and try to ask what is in the stir fry. I ask if it is moo (pork) or kai (chicken) and they seem to indicate that it is neither. The woman tries to ask another man how to translate it but I never get a good answer. I order it anyway becuase it looks so good.
Bangkok: Ratchadamnoen Road
It has a meat and some interesting green pea looking spice stalks in it. As it turns out the meat is very bony. As I am there a couple of other people order the same item and I watch them to see how they deal with the bones. They both seem to spit out a few of the bones but work their way through most of them. After a while I get a little tired of all the work and I spit out most of the bones. It tasted pretty good but was way too bony. The green pea like things had an interesting sagelike taste. I later figured out that the meat was probably chicken heads. The dark spots of meat that I saw were probably the red facial markings of the chicken. Didn't taste bad though just dificult to chew through.
Back on the khlong I get my boat.
Bangkok: Near Khao San Road.
I end up sitting next to the only other Farang and he was from England. He has visited Bangkok many times before and likes the city. I get back to the travel agent, retrieve my tickets for Chiang Mai and then head back to the Sky Train. I ride the sky train till I get to the neighborhood where my hotel is for my last night's stay in town. Might as well scope out the neighborhood and locate my hotel so I don't have to search for it with my heavy bags. Which was good becuase I walked right by it the first time. I will be staying at the Grand Inn and it is a small place and as I eventually found it has a storefront door that is only 6 feet wide on a busy street. The entrance leads into a hallway that leads back to the tiny lobby.
Bangkok: The ever so famous Khao San Road.
Pretty cute though with a nice Thai style. Looks like I scored on this one. Back out on the street I wander around a little and explore the neighborhood. It is in a nice downtown setting and that feels safe and easy to get around.
I take the Sky Train back to my hotel. The people on the train seem to be a younger crowd. Like the older people are not into riding the new sky train system. Maybe it is too modern for them. It is a nice clean mode of transportaion though. At this time of day it is fairly packed and I have to stand. Once off the train I hear a huge roar of racing motor bikes. It is the front of the pack racing away from a stop light. It is rush hour and the traffic is bad.
Bangkok: Riding the Sky Train is fun.
Along the street back to the hotel traffic is backed up and never moves at all in the 4 blocks that I walk along it. Every square foot of the road in the stopped traffic is packed with vehicles (motor bikes in the tight spots). Quite crazy!!
Back at my hotel I am happily tired after a satisfying day of exploring Bangkok. The Thais idea of snacking all day when they see a good meal has spread to me and I am not all that hungry after eating my lunch meal at around 2:30 PM. I head across the street to the local Mini Mart and get a snack of cold water, some orange Fanta and some peanuts. I relax in my room and prepare my bags for my trip south to the islands tomorrow.
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