Bangkok - Richard and monk
Day three of my time in Bangkok here. Did not sleep too well last night, so a tocuh of jetlag, I think. It is still quite early in the morning and I left Richard in bed while I came down to upload some photos and write a blog, down here in the hotel lobby.
First impressions have been very good, after the drive from the airport through the grey suburbs. Ended up in a backpackers/westerners area of the city around Khao San Road. Unfortunately, I had lost both the name and address of the hotel where I was supposed to meet Richard, which meant about an hour of wandering around in the heat until some kond lady showed me the way, whereupon I found Richard waiting for me on the balcony.
We are staying at the Thai Cozy House, which has smallish but clean rooms for 15 euro a night and some very friendly staff, most of whom know Richard from his five previous visits to Bangkok. I arrived with longish hair and a beard (both of which have now been removed) so they were not too sure whether to believe we arebrothers.
The area around here IS a tourist hell-hole, but it is really not too bad. The streets and buildings are quite old and have some character, there is plenty of life on the streets, from pavement restaurants/eateries, to impromptu massage parlours (we have both had a foor massge for 2.50 euro each, and even a whole cocktail bar/terrace set up in the forecourt of the Shell petrol station at night. I am very impressedat how enterprising the Thais are. I had feared the worst, and Fred will understand this betterthan anyone else, when I first saw there plastic heads with pigtails, beads and rasta hairstyles advertising for people willing to providesuch services to the young westerners. Horrible. But I have not seen too many of them around. The tourists do seem to be the ones we were happy not to see too many of when we were travelling around Africa last year, young people without much sense of where they are, here for the cheap booze and the full moon beach parties etc, downloading music for their i-pods, living in their backpack ghettoes. A mix of nationalities, with many Irish and Israelis (I suppose that Thailand is one of the most accessible countries for young Israelis), but alos French, British, Skandos and so on.
Anyway, Richard and I have spent two days wandering around the streets of the older parts of Bangkok near here, towards the flower market and Chinatown. Plenty of character and lots of commercial life. Bustling would be a very apt term. Good to see so many women working and in fact it would seem that they would be the bosses around here. The temples, both Buddhist and Chinese are an exotic delight, a riot of colour, although what the beliefs exactly are, is something I have not much idea of.Not so many monks to be seen at the temples and in fact we have seen more of them walking around the markets looking to buy contraband DVD's!
We have got ourselves preparedfor our further travels by applying for visas for Cambodia and Vietnam, which should be ready by Tuesday evening, so we are taking a bus to Angkor Wat on Wednesday morning. This bus takes 7 hours to complete the last 140 kms on the Cambodian side...... worse, it would seem than the buses in Ethiopia.
Otherwise, I can say that the weather is excellent, really not too hot at all, dry and a cooling breeze most of the time. Food is excellent and cheap - we had red snapper on night and prawns and mussels last night, for about 5 euros each. Not sure what the plan is today, but now I will join Richard at breakfast as he has come down and is reading the paper.