A Travellerspoint blog

Convert.

sunny

Sam says:

Okay Bangkok. You've won me over.

We paid $5 (!) to get to the other side of the city last night, an area named Sukhimvit. It's an ex pat and well to do community, which was evident by the number of bars like The Australian and some Irish pubs. It's also the area where a lot of bangkok's nightclubs are. It was definitely more my scene than the smelly debauchery of Koah San Road.

We also ventured down Soi Cowboy. Quite an experience. Look it up. ;) We also tried sangsom, aka Thai whiskey. It is actually rum, which was a disappointing discovery for me. But the fabled spirit is actually pretty tasty. They serve the stuff in buckets with Coke and Red BULL here. Could prove problematic for my liver.

It was great. I just needed to get out of the tourist district. (duh, huh?)

Everyone here is so friendly. Thailand definitely is the Land of Smiles.

Well I'm writing this on my iPhone, and I've maxd out my patience. So peace out Bangkok. It's been real.

Today we are going to the ancient city of Ayuthaya. Then off to the the islands! YES.

Posted by Sam.and.Avery 16:57 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

What's that smell?

Bangkok.

sunny 85 °F

I almost had a breakdown today, on the sidewalk of Samsen Road in Bangkok. Wedged between scantily clad tourists, never-ending street stalls and racing traffic, I thought I was going to lose my shit -- which is a very uncool thing to do in Thailand.

We had spent the past three days touring wats, sampling cuisine and braving the chaotic Bangkok traffic. With all of its sights, smells and sounds, Bangkok had bared it all to us. It was intense, fascinating and, at times, shocking. I had loved the food, the charming people and the interesting views. But then, on that sidewalk not far from the fabled Khao San Road, I had had enough. Maybe it was the choking humidity that had beaten my sweat-wicking shirt. Maybe my claustrophobia decided to finally arrive in full force. Maybe I just needed something to eat. It was ugly, whatever it was.

"Are we almost to the hotel? I can't stand this place anymore," I said to Avery.
"We still have to cross the canal."
"Ugh. Seriously? I can't do this anymore."
Pause.
"What," I hissed. "You can't be mad. I can hate something if I want to."

The heat and humidity had really zapped my debate skills. I bought a bag of mangoes for 55 baht (little under $2) and a bag of coconut dessert things for 40 baht. But the food and scooter/vehicle traffic was moving quickly, so I had to wait until I reached the hotel to eat my street finds.

After a shower and some air conditioning at the hotel, I was feeling a little better. I decided to walk down the soi (small street that is somehow related to a larger one, like Samsen Road).

  • **

Bangkok really is an assault on the senses.

Touch/Feeling

The first thing that hits you is the humidity. It clings to every surface, coating your entire body in a perpetual wetness. It fills your lungs, burns your eyes. It is intense. But it is also warm; a welcome respite from the Midwestern cold.

Sight
Bangkok is a feast for the eyes. From the glittering golden pagodas, to the hot pink taxis, to the blackened sidewalks, the colors here are so vibrant, so distracting. It's like a continually moving kaleidoscope, spinning around me. Scooters, taxis, tuk tuks, street vendors, wats, flowers, golden strings of flowers. Then there's the images you'd never see back in the States, like people cooking from a cart on the sidewalk, washing dishes on the street, beautiful, intricate wats covered in gold, glass, jewels, giant Buddhas staring solemnly forward. It's almost too much at times.

Smell
I really can't even begin to describe the smells that permeate this city. One minute there's the sweet smell of sticky mango rice, then the wind will change and the smell of stagnant water and sewage will fill the air. After the rain last night, the streets smelled like a cat litter box. There's always some kind of odor in the air, sometimes really amazing, a lot of times really bad.

Taste
Ah, Thailand. My taste buds will never be the same. Rice, noodles, duck, fried veggies. The food here is amazing. That's really all I can say. And always an adventure. Tonight we want to try some legit street vendors. I'm a little apprehensive, as they cook everything right there on the street in the little carts. But it's the freshest around. We tried some Pad Thai today from a cart, and o.m.g. so good.

  • **

I felt a little better today after I watched some bad TV with Avery (there are only two English channels in our hotel). And after my rough day, I decided I deserved a little TLC, in the form of Thai massage. Thai massage is nothing like an oily American version massage. It's so much better.

I walked down the street by our hotel, where I knew of three massage places in a row. I randomly picked one, took off my shoes at the door and was greeted by a tiny Thai woman. She was probably less than 5 feet tall, and 90 pounds. She led me to the back of the building and up a tiny staircase not built for giant American feet.

Thai massages don't involve oil and more about kneading and pulling than rubbing. And instead of laying naked on a table, people wear very loose fitting pajamas.

So I donned my pajamas and laid down on the floor mat.

And, it was so so beautiful. She kneeled on my back, dug her elbows in my calf muscles and twisted me in ways I didn't know my body could twist. At one point she kept saying, "Relax your body. Relax." Then she twisted me around like a wet rag. Intense, but so so amazing. I'll never be able to get a greasy massage again. Just not the same.

And as she was kneeling on my back, squeezing the air out of my lungs, I decided to give Bangkok another chance. You may be smelly at times, quite chaotic and a little bit crazy Bangkok. But you're definitely not boring.

I drank my herbal tea, paid a whole $6 for my 60 minute massage and felt relaxed, refreshed. Then I almost got hit by a taxi when I walked onto the street.

You may be smelly at times, quite chaotic and a little bit crazy Bangkok. But you're definitely not boring.

Tonight, Avery and I are heading to Sukhumvit Road -- home of night clubs, expat bars and go-go shows. Should be interesting. Then we get on a night train, headed south for Koh Tao. I'm not going to lie -- after the chaos of Bangkok, I am looking forward to some quality sun and beach time, mixed with a little SCUBA diving.

Internet is slow, and I'm too lazy to upload pictures at the moment. I promise to upload some in Koh Tao. Between diving and laying on the beach, maybe I can find some time. ;)

Posted by Sam.and.Avery 03:53 Archived in Thailand Tagged city bangkok chaos humidity Comments (3)

Our Lives in a 104 Square Foot Cement Tomb

Sam says:

I've moved a lot in the last five years; I was beginning to feel slightly nomadic.

1 move to college; 3 moves during college; 1 move to Ham Lake, MN; 1 move to Minneapolis, MN; 1 move out of an illegal rental unit; 1 move to apartment across the street; 1 move to storage unit; 1 move back to Hazen = 10 moves in 5 years.

Though moving is an absolutely horrendous experience every time, it does have its perks, such as learning how to let go of items in lieu of moving them. So far, I've said good bye to one vintage loveseat (sorry great grandma!), an extra large recliner, a 10 gallon fish tank and a 27 inch television (plus several boxes of clothes and random junk). What furniture of mine remains? Double bed, nightstand, dresser, desk, office chair, gamer chair, cube storage thing and a buffet that once held a fish tank but now is pretty pointless.

So when Avery and I decided to jet off to SE Asia for a few months, we weren't too worried about what to do with our stuff. We rented an 8' X 13' storage space and filled it from top to bottom and to the door. Avery's Tetris skills FTW:

It fits!

It fits!

Packed.

Packed.

And now for the cliche lesson learned section (you knew this was coming):
I'm pretty amazed at how quickly I've adapted from having a one bedroom apartment full of stuff to about five boxes and a backpack. And of those five boxes, I probably only need two.

One of my friends recently got back from a nine month trip overseas. She carried a couple backpacks of stuff the entire time, picking up and dropping stuff along the way as she needed it. When she returned home, she opened her closet and just started throwing things out. It was too much; she didn't miss it, didn't need it.

Who knows. Maybe I'll be dying for my worldly possessions after 14 weeks of sleeping in random beds and wearing the same outfit every three days. Or maybe I'll just stop paying the rent and let the storage place auction off my stuff.

10 days until we fly out!

Posted by Sam.and.Avery 16:50 Archived in USA Tagged packing stuff preparation Comments (2)

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