The 22 hour flight to Bangkok was long, and as per my frequent misfortune the headphone jack in my seat was jammed on the 16 hour straight to Japan. Not the best luck, but hey, how can you feel pessimistic on a flight to the other side of the World? My buddy Pat whom was also travelling with me to meet Nick shared his headphone jack with me and we crushed the complimentary wine and watched movies the whole way. Some quick advice: be courteous with the liquid when your sitting window seat on a 16 hour flight, especially when those around you are doing the normal thing and sleeping, to better adjust to the future time zone. After waking the Japanese man up 3 times in 2 hours to use the bathroom after I’d broken the seal, I had felt bad and opted to strategically climb over him, which is hard to do under the radar when your buddy is laughing out loud next to you, secretly hoping you trip. Needless to say the rest of the flight would have been very awkward had he opened his eyes and saw me straddling over him trying to climb out. During a short stop in Tokyo to switch flights, the thrill of merely trying a green tea flavoured Kit Kat overwhelmed my curiosity and had me hungry for more. Upon arrival around 8pm, we we’re greeting by Nick and Alexis, two long absent familiar smiling faces, and that calming sense of home came over me – for a little while, until it was abruptly followed by the surging adrenaline that would keep me up for another 10 hours.
From the moment we arrived in Bangkok I was instantly entranced by the busy streets, colourful lights, and congestion of foreign people surrounding me. People from all over the world, here at the same time, all for different reasons. We stayed on Khao San Road, which is a backpackers haven. Its a 1km strip with many hotels, restaurants, massage parlours, travel agents, tattoo shops, markets, and more. You can stay, eat and buy just about anything you need on this street for cheap, and bargaining is pretty easy. We dropped our bags at the Rambuttri Village Inn, a nice hotel with two roof top pools and air conditioning (to which we would find was the best 10 dollar investment of our lives.) You see, you can live well for cheap in Thailand, staying in a hostel for around 4 dollars a night, but if you splurge that extra 6, you can have it all. Back into the crazy Khao San madness, we caught up, and laughed our way through a liquor fuelled night drinking buckets filled with vodka redbull, costing 200 baht/per, which is around 6 dollars Canadian… We lost count after 6. In that first 10 hours I had ate a scorpion (to which my amusement tasted like salted nuts), was served by an infamous Lady Boy, heckled by 6 year olds trying to sell us just about anything. We smoked sheesha, and danced in the middle of the street with strangers, eaten open fruit off a street vendor, (which you should know is a definite DON’T) and consumed one to many Chang’s – and this is just from what I remember.
But if I learned anything from that night its that Thai hangovers are probably the worst hangovers you will ever have. It is 30+ degrees in Thailand in May, and walking around a city like Bangkok for a few hours and you can’t drink water faster than your sweating it back out. Its congested on the walking strips, trying to cross the street is like playing chicken, drivers are yelling tuck tuck at you, and the smog gives it a distinct and slightly pungent smell. But I absolutely fell completely in love with it. The streets excited me, and the foreign surroundings fascinated me. We spent the first day strolling around the walking street, and eventually found Wat Chana Songkram, a century old Buddhist temple you could roam freely. I have always been a little ignorant to religion, as I never really believed in praying to a certain being, however, Buddhism always made sense to me, and as I have grown have been enthralled by the Buddhist teachings. I lit incense and meditated, really focused on the moment, stopped thinking and just was, and I was happy. The happiest I had been in a long while, and it was around noon on the first day.
Bangkok is a very interesting city, it can be hectic and overwhelming at times, but you can find complete solace and quiet across the street in a temple, I had only spent a few days there before catching a 15 hour overnight bus to Chumphon to catch a ferry to Ko Tao (might I add for less than 600 baht) but It didn’t take long to realize coming here would be one of the smartest decisions of my life.