November 14th, 2005 – by: alanmica
View from my room in the TongPoon Hotel
I arrived for the first time in Bangkok
on a humid afternoon in
November 2005. I had only just started backpacking, having gone to
Mexico for three weeks about 2 months earlier, so I am pretty green.
But I know that I wanted to save as much money as possible, to always
try to get the best deal, and always pay as close to the same price as
the locals whenever possible. With this in mind, I arrived at the
airport, and know I didn't want to take a taxi, this is just way to
easy to be taken advantage of, I don't know really where I want to go
and would have no way of knowing if I was being driven around in
circles. I consider the bus, but don't remember if it was the 1 or the
4 to get to Big Jim's hostel, or which stop to get off at anyway.
Taken poolside at the hotel, we are on the 9th floor and there is a freeway level with us, just to the right of the photo.
head for the train station, I know that the train from the airport is
10Baht, and then I'll be in the middle of town and can find an internet
cafe if I don't like the hostels mentioned in my Let's Go Southeast Asia
guide book, so off I go. I have no trouble at all finding the train
station (it was right across the street from the old airport) and aside
from the long wait for the train, I am enjoying being here, the
uniqueness of smell of Bangkok, watching the geckos scurry along the
walls of the station, and watching the Bangkok traffic stream by
between the train station and the airport I watched all manner of
motorized machinery roll by.
Finally the train arrived, and much to my surprise there was plenty
of room for me to sit, I even had a seat by the window.
Here I am in the pool, you can see the freeway here, just beyond thr fence. And I see now for the first time, the rooms start at 800 Baht, so I didn't do too bad after all.
The train is
comfortable, no out of control AC like many of the busses that
cris-cross Southeast Asia that I will learn to dread and prepare for
with blankets and my jacket, (really the only time I put the silly
thing on while I'm in this part of the world), just simple fans gently
circulating the air on board. The train is fairly empty for the hour
long journey into the Hualamphong station in the heart of Bangkok,
plenty of time for a friendly Thai "professor from Chang Mai" to chat
me up. He advises me that since it is my first time in Bangkok that
maybe I didn't want to stay in Khaosan Road, I might be an easy target
for the con-artist that work their magic in the backpackers ghettos.
Since I don't really have a better plan, I let him directed me to a
hotel owned by a "friend of his" that is very near the train station,
only about 20 Bhat by tuktuk. I arrive at the TongPoon hotel and am
told the room is 1000 Baht for the
night. I know that I am probably paying too much, but after the 14hour
from Honolulu, and the previous night without any sleep in the hostel
there (a whole other story). I get a private, "western style" room
with a bed, TV, hot shower, locking door all the basics you would
expect in a hotel room. It is not exactly a clean room by any means,
cigarette burns speckled the carpet, the mattress is quite hard by my
western standard, but it's on the 11th floor, it overlooks the national
stadium, and I am content. I have been in the country for less than 6
hours and have learned almost as much about the Thai people in that
time as I will learn in the full 60 days that I spend in Thailand. I
discovered that, yes it is true the Thai people are very friendly (at
least one of them was), but see most encounters with me as a way for
them to make a little money, as I felt that he was getting a something
for his efforts bringing me to this particular hotel.
After I checked in, and told the bellhop no, I did not want him to
get a girl to come to my room and give me a massage. I took a shower,
unpacked my, now obviously too large, pack and reorganize it (this
would turn into a favorite hobby of mine, much like rearranging the
furniture in my house whenever I have nothing better to do). Then I
spent a few minutes enjoying the balcony of my room and looking out
over the lights of Bangkok! I thought about taking a quick dip in the
hotel pool, but hunger beckoned me out into the streets of the Siam
With much excitement I go out into the Bangkok night!