Previously on NG2013: Pre-departure
Rika Potter has waved her wand and I am spell-bound to finish the November Getaway 2013 series (or at least write this post).
On my birthday I hopped on a 4.35 PM plane to Bangkok. The flight from Jakarta took about 3.5 hours and there was no time difference between the two cities (GMT+7). This time the pilot did not make birthday announcement on the plane. Phew!
After obtaining visa on arrival and meeting with the travel mate whose flight from Singapore was one hour earlier than mine, we took the City Line train to Phaya Thai station (45 THB). There were 2 train lines heading to the city and the other one, the Express Line, was the expensive one.
To The City!
Exiting from Phaya Thai station and out into Bangkok street at night I was feeling.. that particular mix.. excited and scared at the same time. Not that I didn’t feel it from the time the travel plan started but up until Phaya Thai station it was kinda bit dreamy and also everything seemed to be no different than my daily routine when I knew exactly where to go and how to. But when I was outside the station, trying to get a taxi to the Happy House, it seemed reality pinched me in the cheek and said: let the journey begin!
So the journey began with waiting for the right taxi, that is the taxi that was willing to take us to our stay using meter. My guide book said that most taxis would use meter.. not! Within minutes I could see how it was done in that spot: flagging down taxi, asking to use meter, getting a no answer, giving the destination place, haggling for the fare, if deal – getting in, if no deal – back to step 1.
It was not like there was shortage of taxi there, the travel mate and I had been flagging several taxis in just few minutes before we decided to get in the next taxi that would agree on 150 THB (the guide book said going places in the city usually costs 60-100 THB).
Mr. Taxi Driver that agreed to take us did not speak that much of English and kept asking to see the map and address on the hostel booking print out. The hostel was supposed to be near the famous backpacker street, Khao San Road, but it seemed Mr. Taxi Driver didn’t recognize it.
He asked fellow local for direction, ‘Happy hou, happy hou’! while I whispered the ‘s’ ending inside my head. (Note: it seemed in the three countries that I visited, the local tends to omit the ‘s’ at the end of an English word).
Somewhere along the way Mr. Taxi Driver pointed to a group of people in the street and said ‘Mob! Mob!’ Then I saw what would be the reason why most taxi drivers were a bit reluctant to drive to our area. I knew that there was a demo going on in Bangkok before I left but my searches told me that it was on other side of city so I assumed they were not in my route and certainly I didn’t expect them to still have activities past the sunset!
Anyway, the mob/demo seemed to be a peaceful one that night and we safely checked in into Happy Hou. This is the end of day 1… not!
To Khao San Road!
Happy Hou was within 5 minutes walking distance of Khao San Road and that’s good because I found several accommodations on Khao San Road and I wondered how the guest could sleep at night (well, they probably didn’t). This crowded street is a line of restaurants and bars with loud music, travel agents, massage spots, clothes/souvenir sellers and food sellers.
Some street food sellers, snack and heavy meal sellers alike, didn’t have sitting area so people would buy and eat it while walking. I finally got to taste Pad Thai in its original place and leisurely enjoyed it sitting down on the floor in front of one closed store. A beer seller girl who had just set up her stall in front of us chatted us a bit, telling that she was from outside Bangkok. She offered drinks to which we politely declined and then we continued strolling down the busy street.
People of all ages were having fun along this street. Yes, I spotted families with kids at approaching midnight hour. I saw man dancing solo to the song played in one bar and people around him laughing and clapping his performance.
I saw lines of beach chairs full of foreigners enjoying massage outdoor (I was tempted to snap a picture but didn’t want to make them feel like they were some kind of tourist attraction. Well, they were kinda to me haha).
I saw people staring at exotic food, like scorpion, and apparently I was not that adventurous enough to try it. Taking picture cost 10 THB. I was kinda hoping to see people who bought and tasted the food, to see their reaction but I found none that night. And I saw KFC and Burger King (the latter was recently open).
The street next to Khao San Road was still alive at midnight as well. This street whose name is still unknown to me had restaurants and bars as well but the music was not as loud as those in the neighbor street. We picked a random restaurant and had Thai Papaya Salad (Som Tam) and Tom Yum for supper. I didn’t know that unripe papaya could be that delicious and refreshing! You shouldn’t go into that ripe state, Papaya, just die young (in my stomach) and stay yummy in my memory.
Tummy’s full and the battery’s low. Time to head to bed in Happy Hou. Good night, Bangkok, see you later.
Plan: arrive in Bangkok Reality: arrive in Bangkok, Khao San Road