Fourteen years after seeing that film, I'm finally here. Angela and I have been in Bangkok for a few days now, having safely made the flight from Tokyo last Monday. I'm happy to report that so far, we're having a blast. I'm actually surprised at how much Bangkok is living up to how I imagined. It's dirty, congested and a little bit shadier than we're used to, but I actually like that; lately I find that the cleaner, developed countries of the world don't excite me as much (probably part of the reason I struggled to fall in love with Japan). What I'm after, these days, are adventurous, exotic, otherworldly places that don't resemble anywhere I've been to before, and so far Bangkok is ticking all those boxes.
As a result, it finally feels like we're on our way. Florida was an interlude between two adventures. Japan was supposed to be the start of our grand Asian journey, but everything there felt a little too safe, too familiar, to really count as adventure. Now, in Bangkok, we're finally in true "backpacking" mode, slowly easing ourselves into the lifestyle we'll be following for the next however many months: sampling new foods every day, learning the local phrases so we can communicate, hanging out with other backpackers, embracing the heat and the sweat so as not to become irritable, trying to avoid getting scammed, watching our wallets, taking hundreds of photos...
Maybe one day all this will get old. But I hope that's not for a long, long time. Here are some photos from our first two days.
|Leaving Tokyo behind us on the last day of March...|
|...and stopping for a five-hour layover in smog-covered Shanghai, China.|
|On the Shanghai Metro, which was actually pretty similar to Seoul's.|
|Posing at Pudong Airport, before taking our flight to Bangkok, which landed at 2 in the morning. We took a taxi to our hostel and went straight to bed.|
|The next morning, we went to the roof of our hostel to get our first glimpse of Bangkok by daytime.|
|Then we went for a walk around our neighbourhood, which is pretty close to the backpacker haven of Khao San Road.|
|Everywhere we go we see these golden-framed images of Rama IX, the reigning king of Thailand, and the longest-serving head of state in the world.|
|Wandering through street markets on the way to Khao San Road.|
|We bought some delicious coconut ice cream from this guy...|
|...and since that didn't fill us up enough, onto the scorpion-on-a-stick!|
|We enjoyed a few drinks at a local bar, then explored the nearby streets as night drew in.|
|One of our room-mates at our hostel, Mike, joined us for some more exploring later that evening.|
|At night, Khao San Road becomes a lot busier and a lot louder: boom-boxes blast dance music down the street; vendors, tailors and ticket touts coax you to buy their wares; and the smell of street food attracts hungry passersby.|
|Our first try of Pad Thai. We've since had it several more times at different establishments, and it only gets more delicious each time. We're loving the fact that you can eat wholesome, delicious meals here for just a dollar, sometimes even less!|
|We haven't had a Thai massage yet, but since they're also very cheap I imagine we'll be trying one soon enough.|
|As we walked down Khao San Road, one of the many vendors stopped us and offered to take us to a live ping-pong show. Curiosity got the better of us, and we agreed to have a look.|
|He let us try out his tuk-tuk.|
|Driving to the ping-pong show.|
We weren't allowed to take pictures of the show, and I won't describe it in great detail, but suffice to say, it involved entering a very dimly lit strip-club with a circular stage in the middle, where we watched as naked women entered consecutively, each one performing a different "trick" with her private parts. These included projecting ping-pong balls into buckets, opening beer bottles, smoking cigarettes, turning water into wine, firing darts at balloons, etc. It was, at turns, bizarre, amusing, disturbing, and a whole host of other adjectives, and after an hour of it we were ready to leave and return to the relative sanity of Khao San Road.
|The first site we went to was Wat Intharawihan. Like most temples we've seen here, it's utterly beautiful, with ornate, gilded rooftops and dragon-like formations.|
|It also has a 32-metre-tall standing Buddha.|
|Locals pray and leave gifts at the Buddha's feet.|
|Just as we were about to leave, this man sold us a small cage filled with birds. He told us that if we set the birds free within the temple grounds, it would give us good luck.|
|At the jewellery store that the tuk-tuk driver took us to, we were allowed to watch some goldsmiths making new creations.|
|Then we were off to another temple, or wat, this one called Wat Benchamabophit.|
|That evening, back in our area, Angela had a tasty Thai green curry.|
That's it for now. We're having a lot of fun here so far, but because of the intense heat, and the fact we have much more time, we're taking things a little slower than we did in Japan. So the blogposts might not be quite as frequent. But there's still lots too look forward to throughout the month.