It was only when I had walked through ‘Nothing to Declare’ and the humidity descended that it hit home I was in a different country, different continent even. New Zealand was far behind. This was the start of a new adventure, and this time I wasn’t going to be alone. It was with mounting intrepidation and excitment to be reunited with one of my best friends that I queued for a taxi.
This is where I fell for my first scam. I paid a set price instead of insisting on the meter. I had read and been warned about taxi drivers trying to get you to pay a fixed price, and so you should always go by the meter which is invariably cheaper. However he said words such as a road toll and bridge fare which threw me so there I was a sucker to the tourist scam. Dammit, I thought I was more worldly that this.
As I drove towards Bangkok, my base for the next few days, I was slightly surprised to be reminded of home. The motorway overpass into the city just like M4 does into London, and on the way to my grandma’s house.
Bangkok is a large city bustling with street vendors, motorbikes and 7/11’s. Once inside the city it didn’t feel much like an exotic place but a hazy maze of busy roads filled with people going about their daily life.
On our first full day we ventured to the Myanmar embassy to apply for a visa. On the way back we wandered towards the river and had lunch at a street vendor which had set up plastic tables and chairs underneath the platform of the sky train. This was our first experience of thai street food. I liked that this place was busy with the local people, it confirmed that it must be good. We enjoyed the meal, I got rice and pork and Zorro got noodles and pork. Welcome to the next 4 months of food. Rice or noodles? Noodles or rice?
Due to living at the opposite ends of the earth and in different timezones for the last year me and Zorro hadn’t planned anything. This meant we had to set aside some time in Bangkok to sit down and figure out a plan of action. And it worked out well as we could stay in the relative comfort of the hostel whilst it was pouring with rain outside. Due to it being the end of the wet season there were still daily showers for 2 or 3 hours.
We took a local boat down the river one evening to find the infamous Khao San road. Along the way we passed the Grand Palace, can tick that of the list now (we were on a budget and didn’t want to pay the 500 baht entrance fee).
Khao San was simply horrible. It reminded us of the strips you get in the Mediterranean party towns. Full of bars, tattoo parlours and market stalls selling compulsory traveller elephant pants. As you walk down, you are hounded with reps trying to sell you anything from suits to beer to scorpions. It was everything people had warned us about but we had to experience it ourselves. Now that was ticked off, it was time to leave Bangkok. Wahoo. I for one couldn’t wait to get out the city.
Our route from here takes us North, up into the green mountains of Northern Thailand.