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Bangkok Dangerous finally realized

July 31, 2010

I’m out of my dusty, rooster-crowing, rice gorging, locals smiling village of Nanongthum and plunged into the blunderbuss insanity of Bangkok – hilarious, yet seemingly unneccessary, loud and intimidating.
Bangkok is fascinating but I’m finding it difficult to branch out and immerse yourself into the heart of things.  It’s bloody massive for starters – 12 million people within the metro.  Since I’ve arrived, I’ve met up with Ashley, one of my good friends from Ko Tao, as she herself has just arrived from a trip throughout Myanmar.  I’m staying in a hotel in the in famous Khao San Road neighbourhood.  Certainly nothing special but a cheap room with access to a hot shower and A/C, which is more or less palace living compared to what I left in Nanongthum.
Khao San is wild.  It’s essentially ground zero for all the 20-something backpackers of the world landing in Thailand.  It’s like reverse culture shock hearing all these different languages, loud music and lights everywhere you go.  Some of the things you can spend your money on challenge the imagination.  I particularly like the counterfeit IDs such as licenses, student cards and even bachelor degrees.  You can go see ping-pong shows, roster (cock) fights, there’s semi-professional break dancers in the street that always attract a crowd, clothes and trinket shops with more trendy T-shirts than you could wear all summer.  There have got to be 2 dozen tattoo and piercing shops within 15 minutes walking distance between each other.  There’s a huge shee-sha bar with live music and draft beer, falafel stands open 24 hours and the endless number of touts trying to get you to take cheap tours of the city to shop in gem stores or suave, Indian looking dudes trying to get you into their shop so they can cut you a suit.  It’s all madness but a helluva ride.
Now the thing is, Khao San for all it’s indulgence and counter-Thai culture is exceptionally accommodating for the standard, Western backpacker.  You can find a cheap room, cheap meal and any manner of entertainment your heart desires and the best part of it all is more or less everyone speaks English.  So having this bubble with all these other people in the same sort of situation you’re in makes venturing out into the vastness of Bangkok incredibly daunting.  Sure, I’ve picked up a touch of Thai since living in the village but certainly not enough to make sure all my needs are looked after, especially if I had a problem and couldn’t rely on someone to understand what the issue is.  My other hesitation is that I’m more or less already home mentally and not as interested in jumping off the band wagon into this relatively stressful and challenging alternative.  Perhaps if I were fresh to Thailand and had a little more time and money to explore, I’d be more inclined but as it is now, I’m going with the flow.  Mostly.

Yesterday I missioned across Bangkok taking the bus and the efficient Sky Train to a neighbourhood on the other side of town.  There I spent nearly 3 hours lying prone more or less in constant agony until the glorious finish well after the sun had set.  There, I chatted with a really cool Thai dude who has travelled all over South East Asia, among other places and had lots of interesting things to say about Bangkok and Thailand that I wouldn’t have expected to learn hanging out in Khao San the whole time.  In addition to his primary profession, he ran a local restaurant which was quite nice.  He gave me a T-shirt when we said good-bye.  To find out what business I had with him, google his name “Little Joe” and see what you come up with.  Otherwise, I’ll share with you when I get home.

Today, Ashley and I are going to head up to the outdoor Chatuchak Market – one of the world’s largest.  I have a short list of things I’m hoping to come across so I’m really looking forward to it.

In sad news, I think my camera was stolen in my last few days back in Nanongthum.  I keep my whole kit together and my underwater housing and cables were left untouched so I suspect foul-play.  It’s not the end of the world, and it’s possible to replace the camera only but the tragic thing is I’ve lost many photographs I had recently taken.  Luckily most of my underwater shots were backed up on my iPod.

3 more days until I’m on a jet plane.  Coming home will be excellent.

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