After what felt like an eternity in the jungle (AKA Sayan/Ubud), on the 12th December we finally got to a city. And a big one at that.
We arrived at the small airport of Don Muang. The airport was fine, there are always signs guiding you to nearby toilets, baggage claim and passport control, aren’t there? It’s only once you’re through passport control that the problems really start, isn’t it? Once you’re actually in the new country with no clue where to turn to, who to trust. It didn’t help that I’d been reading about all the money scams, bag snatching and dodgy taxis in Bangkok.
But luckily (or not), I’d also read about the official taxis at the airport, and how you should ignore all the other ones and head to the official ones, where you have a lady taking your details and you can complain if anything goes wrong. Supposedly it keeps the taxi drivers in line and forces them to use the meter. Supposedly.
We find the official taxis, there’s a queue, and suddenly another queue magically appears out of nowhere (hint: not really a queue, just people cutting in front of you). We wait for a good 30-40min and finally it’s our turn. We try to explain to the girl where we’re going, she calls a driver and both of them try to understand where the place is. At this point I don’t feel particularly confident in the system (what system?), but hey, this is the official taxi queue, so trust it.
The taxi driver seems nice, he gets our stuff, shows us the meter is on and tells us about the airport surcharge and the tolls we’ll have to pay ourselves. It’s OK ‘cause I also read about all of this before so this all seems legit, and I’m super happy that after all those years being such a duffus I am finally travel-savvy. Watch out Bear Grylls and Anthony Bourdain, there’s a new wise-gal in town. Or not…
Two minutes into our ride it becomes clear that the taxi driver has escaped a mental institution.
He turns on country music, and he goes mental. I mean MENTAL. Laughing out of no where, kind of like a psycho, dancing – both him and the CAR!!! In the highway!! At HIGH SPEED! He is swinging the car like he is on a steep slope in the Alps slaloming his way through the traffic, except we’re NOT skying in the Alps we’re on a FREAKIN’ HIGHWAY! With other cars! Thank the UNICORNS for Bangkok traffic which prevents this maniac of murdering us a few miles ahead. Still, even nearly not moving, the slalom persists. I have to close my eyes and pray. Again. He keeps shouting he is ‘taxi driver number one’ and that ‘this girl ugly; that girl pretty’ ‘pretty gaaaaaal!’… also he likes pointing out all the farangs and laughing hysterically. I look over at Gonçalo, he looks like he might murder the guy. ‘HAHA no money no honey HAHAHA’ – that’s the taxi driver again…
We finally, by some miracle, get to the hotel, but oh wait, he decides NOT to stop and only stopping a few meters ahead. In the middle of the road, obvs. What the fuck?
He says ‘oops, hahahaha, turn around?’, clearly not wanting to turn around, and to be honest we had enough of this, and I’m glad I’m alive so let’s just walk. OK. He hurries out of the car, takes our luggage out and proceeds to leave it in the side-walk FIVE METERS AWAY from us. In a city famous for bag snatching. What the actual fuck?
Hello Bangkok indeed.
Other than this life-threatening experience we actually really enjoyed our days in Bangkok. We stayed in a new hotel and it was lovely (did you know new hotels are much cheaper and willing to give you loads of freebies? Yup, I am Ines Bourdain Grylls indeed!). Anyway, back to the hotel, it’s new and it’s in the middle of the city, the bed is super comfy and guess what?! NO GIANT GECKO NOISES! No snakes, no cockroaches, no mosquitoes, no weird flying ants (seriously read my newsletter). Toto, we’re not in the jungle any more.
Other than sleeping like babies we did loads of stuff in Bangkok (admittedly not the ‘usual’ touristy stuff, only some of it): walked loads, went on boats, visited temples and the royal palace (OMG never seen so many people in one place, honestly Mufasa’s worst nightmare come true right there), searched for the best padthai in town only to find out it was closed, went to the park, the flower market, the mall, watched Star Wars… Wait what? That’s right baby we went to the movies and it felt soooo good. Also the popcorn was out of this world.
So no, we didn’t do the floating markets and backpacker’s street and can’t remember what else that was also a ‘must’ that we didn’t do. But by this point, nearly two months after we left, we’re craving ‘normal stuff’, like going to the movies. Also the fact that I developed a nasty skin rash on the first day, due to walking loads and it being scorching outside, helped.
Trust me, I’m not a huge fan of malls, but when it’s 700 degrees outside and you’ve been living in the jungle for one month, mall is paradise. Mall is life.
Here’s what happened at the movies…
We’re sitting ready for the movie to start, our gourmet popcorn nearly finished (yeah we bought the big size, yeah we’re animals) and just as we were chatting about don’t know what (probably how good the popcorn was – may it RIP), everyone suddenly stood up. I mean everyone. We immediately rose to our feet too, I mean you don’t want to be the loser who doesn’t look like he/ she knows what is going on, right? What was going on was the following: the king of Thailand had died a little over a year before, and the new King (I am assuming, his son) had only recently taken over (the kingdom). So they had this little slide show of pictures of the old king and the new king, and it was all very sweet. It was paying homage, I guess. It was surreal, but great, to feel like part of something so special. It was really sweet.
Another ‘must do’ that we actually did, was checking Bangkok’s amazing rooftops. Well I say rooftops plural, but really there was only one. We picked the Redsky bar, next to the mall (where we watched Star Wars) and it was AMAZING. And when I say amazing, I mean ‘holly shit that is really high up’! They have sooo many sky-scrappers, and most of them have rooftop bars with amazing views over the city. I think you’d need a whole month to visit all of Bangkok’s rooftops and see the city from all the different angles.
It was pretty awesome, even though I was terrified the whole time. Don’t mock me, it’s on the 56th floor, or something crazy like that, meaning my legs wouldn’t stop shaking the whole freaking time. It was great though, we saw the whole 360 view and left without spending a dollar ‘cause I was so terrified we had to rush.
We then rode the BTS (the overground train) all the way to the hotel, and it was beautiful because they had all the Christmas decorations up.
We walked a total of 34km in Bangkok, admittedly some of it in the mall, but hey, it’s still walking, so we deservingly spent our last afternoon just chilling by the pool.
Bangkok was really great, we’d almost forgotten how much we love city life.
Here are a few snaps:
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