this summarizes how i felt the entire time in bangkok
My enthusiasm for a return to Bangkok
had nothing to do with pingpong shows. After a long night on a bus, and, in turn, longer day of catching up on sleep in the station, hostel lobby and finally a bed, it was at last time to head to the airport and pick up Alisa. My sister was joining me for a month-long tour of SE Asia and temporarily ending my days of solo-traveling. As it turned out, she arrived just in time. One day later, the Bangkok airport was flooded with political protesters and completely shut down. It remained inoperable for 10 days as the PAD's demands for the resignation of Thailand's prime minister were heeded. The fortune of Alisa's timely arrival allowed us to sit back and follow the breaking news as interested, but unaffected, observers.
alisa and i on khao san road
Not everyone was so lucky, however, as many of our fellow travelers--as well as the entire Thailand tourist industry--were flung into panic mode and creative new game plans for reaching desired destinations. But aside from the daily news coverage and ongoing conversations among backpackers, it had no real impact on our lives, so we went about our business of seeing Bangkok.
Our time in the city coincided with my procurement of every ailment I'd avoided thus far on the trip. The day before Alisa's arrival, my back went out. It was minor in comparison to the months of agony my spine and I have enjoyed together before, but nonetheless untimely when attempting to cart a big backpack all over Asia or partake in other minor tasks such as, you know, walking. The day after she arrived, I picked up a fever.
I couldn't understand why everyone else wasn't pulling on sweatshirts and layering up in the 80 degree weather as well. It's amazing how your body can simultaneously shiver and sweat. Then there was the complete lack of energy, headaches, sleeping anywhere I could sit for longer than 2 minutes (including the Vietnamese Embassy), loss of appetite, and a curious but constant prickling sensation in my palms and soles. In short, I was a barrel of fun.
I was a pathetic excuse for a tourist. But I had seen very little of Bangkok and it needed to be touristed. Our grand plan to see the Grand Palace was mucked by some not-so-grand tuk-tuk drivers. In an attempt to score customers, they stand outside the palace and wait for the right opportunity to be "helpful." In our case, we were told it was closed to foreigners because of a national holiday and we should return at 3.
In the meantime, we could pass the hours, of course, with a tuk-tuk tour of all the other temples and Buddhas in town. We'd been warned about these guys and weren't foolish enough to fall for it. However, the whole national holiday thing threw us off. Everyone we saw inside was indeed Thai and school groups had seemingly flocked in from the far corners of the country. We circled the entire palace searching for an honest answer and way in. By the time we made it to the gate--that was, in fact, wide open to foreigners--and went through the hassle of adjusting our outfits to match the skirt and covered shoulder requirements of the temple (and thereby knocking our projected fashion-sense down about 10 notches) our time had dwindled away. The 30 remaining minutes didn't seem worth the overpriced admission fee.
So 10 feet from the entrance, dressed in an oversized men's button down and ankle-length sarong, we turned around. In life, you have to pick your battles and your entrance fees. And this one just lost.
It wasn't a touristic failure, however. In our lap around the palace, we had inserted a stop off at the reclining Buddha. It cost roughly 80¢ to examine the 46-foot long icon and was well-worth the price. I felt satisfied with the alternative and could guiltlessly leave Bangkok and its palace to the healthy and well-rested tourists.
Our exploration of the city was mostly by foot. We wandered in giant circles around our hostel neighborhoods. We walked past parks, store-crammed streets, shopping centers, and a slew of other interesting sights we couldn't be bothered to notice because all of our attention was devoted to the ground.
To walk around Bangkok means traversing miles of uneven sidewalk, construction zones and vendor carts. We didn't dare look up for fear of serious injury or disappearing into a pot hole. But I'm sure it was all quite lovely.
On the third and final night, we took in the sights and sounds of the infamous Khao San Road--in all its tourist and vendor-packed glory--with some familiar faces. Peren and Emily, my English friends from Phi Phi Island
, were also in town. Actually, there were a lot of familiar faces on Khao San. Not gonna lie...it does the social ego well to have to stop every 10 minutes on a major street in Bangkok, Thailand because you see yet another person you know.
emily, me, sujai, alisa and peren
My Phuket friend Emma was in the collection of random run-ins. As well as a number of recognizable named or unnamed faces from the wee hours of Apache mornings. I met many people while working at that bar, and I believe half of my former patrons were now cruising along this road.
The girls, their friend Sujai, Alisa and I grabbed dinner and meandered through the rows of souvenirs before calling it an early night. I'm afraid my lack of energy hindered even my enthusiasm for a night out with friends. Considering we all departed at ungodly hours the next morning, no one put up much of a fight. I knew I'd see the girls again soon, and we'd all had our share of the deafening music and relentless wooden frog-toting tribal women of Khao San. Maybe we're just getting old, but sleep unanimously won out in the end. Goodbye Bangkok.