Khao San Road to Sukhumvit

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So yes, for my first night in Bangkok, I made the mistake of booking a spot near Khao San Rd., the biggest tourist trap in the city. I read in Lonely Planet that a lot of backpackers go there to lodge (some do – mostly fake, wanna-be hippies), so I was hella surprised to show up and find it to be the crack hole that it is. The area is like Vegas crossed with Pier 39, full of clueless families with kids and rager fratboys. Unless you’re the type to get naked for no reason, smash beer cans on your head and drink yourself full of barf til 11 am, I highly unrecommend that area. However, if you’re down for a truly unique “cultural” experience (I use that in the broadest sense possible) , go ahead. Just know what you’re getting into before you jump in there. Bedbugs and all sorts of lice are definitely a possibility.

The upside of Khao San (pronounced “Ko San”) Rd. is that it’s near the main temples in Bangkok (Emerald Buddha, all that stuff). Had I planned my trip ahead of time, I would have gone straight there during my first day in Bangkok. Oh —  and they do have some good clothes and jewelry, I must admit. So in reality it’s more like Telegragh Ave., a frat party, Vegas, and Pier 39 combined.

Instead, I did something more ordinary. Darrel put me in contact with a bunch of his folks in Southeast Asia, so I hit up his friend Joe to get his advice on things to do. I was still pretty clueless at this point – didn’t know what to see, didn’t know how to use the SIM card on my phone, didn’t know how to catch a train or do shit. I hitched a ride with a tuk-tuk driver — which are infamous for ripping tourists off — and found the nicest, humblest guy possible who only charged me 80 Baht to get to the mall that Joe was at – MKB or Mabukong Mall. I think it helps being Asian out here, even in touristy areas. They’re nicer to you. Sometimes.

We ate mall food while I got insider info from Joe. Thanks to him I got GREAT  advice for everything I needed to do, from rearranging my itinerary to getting my phone working. Since he was shopping for a birthday present for his girlfriend, we proceeded to hunt for earrings in one of the biggest malls I’ve ever seen in my life. The mall is so big that each section has a number and a letter.  Jewelery happened to be in Section 2B.

After about over an hour of searching (one store wanted to charge him $30 US for a pair of earrings that you could find at Ashby flea market for $8US), we found a cheap jewelry store where I proceeded to be his personal shopper. Guys are so funny, they are HELLA unobservant about certain things (when someone once asked Dario what my favorite color was, he replied “blue” and justified it by saying that I wear a lot of jeans :)!! I asked Joe what colors his girl likes, what type of jewelry she wears..but .he had no clue. We had to search through photos on his phone to figure that out. An hour later we finally had a handful of pretty decent inexpensive earrings to go along with his other spa treatment gift. He was pleased with the selection.

Oh yeah – I also decided to mail some of my shit home. I paid about $50US to get rid of some of my gear that I probably won’t need and felt better about my lighter backpack. My shipment will come to me in like “1-3 months”. I think it’s gonna arrive by boat.

While cheap massages are famous in Thailand, Joe recommended that I go to where all the “stars” get massages – at the Health Spa in Sukhumvit. For $900 baht (about $30) I could get a 2 HOUR extravagant massage. I was hella down. I thanked him for all his help that day and went on my way.

I was by far the scrubbiest looking person in the lobby waiting area when I went to get a spa treatment. 2 hours later I realized that I had just received one of the best massages I’ve ever received in my life. My masseuse pushed, she stretched, and did a lot of great techniques that I’ve never experienced before. If you’re in Bangkok, definitely hit that spot up! Plus they have great “after spa treatment” tea.

After my spa day, I found a hostel recommendation from my Lonely Planet guide in Sukhumvit on Soi 1 road and went straight there. It was a little grimier than I imagined (I haven’t been to a hostel before), but really down to earth – cute blue bunk beds in my room and a bar and a pool table in the downstairs common area. There I met a couple from Ireland (Anya — and some guy whose name I can’t remember) who wasn’t actually staying at the hostel but was friends with the owner, Dave. They were trying to get tickets to the south of Thailand, so I quickly befriended them and joined them on quest to navigate Bangkok’s public trans system to find the train station.

Since the train station closes at 10 pm, we only had an hour to find the spot and get our tickets. We took the MTB down to Asok, jumped on a connecting train to Bang Sue, and waited. Even though it was 9:30 pm, the trains were straight packed. With less than a half hour to go, we had to go 11 stops til we got to the end of the line. We were pretty sure we weren’t gonna make it.

As we finally exited the station, we flew out past the gates and down the station hallway. After turning a corner, I let out an exasperated scream – it was HELLA far til the end of the hall, with no stairs in sight! (think long BART station underground corridors x2) We lamely ran down the halls (in slippery and noisy flip flops — I thought I was gonna eat shit) until we finally found the exit.

At this point we only had about 5 minutes til 10pm. I frantically asked a local guy where the train station was and ran across the train tracks to the ticket kiosk. With the clock ticking 2 minutes past 10 pm, we were relieved to find the ticket booth still open and were able to buy our tickets for our trips. We couldn’t believe it. The painful journey getting there was not done in vain.

On the way back, my new friends showed me an open air night market/restaurant area where I could get good Thai food. While they went back to the hostel to go party with Dave the owner all night, I sat down at the last food stand area and got a plate of pad-see-ew. It was a really gorgeous evening. The weather was pleasant, I was buzzed off of a Black label and coke, and I was hanging out with some local Thai folks who were watching the Manchester City vs. Arsenal game on the TV above me. AND I was eating some bomb-ass Thai food (the noodles were skinnier than mien – interesting).

Manchester City scored the only goal of the game, sending everyone around me into cheers. At that moment I realized: this is the side of Bangkok that I love.

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Posted: December 20, 2011

Author: Tiffany

Category: Asia, Blog, Thailand

Tags: , , ,


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