The Pasty White Eagle Has Landed
I made it.
25 hours later, after suffering through a form of jet lag that had me fucking hallucinating on the final leg of the trip, and now I’m sitting at a restaurant on Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand, munchin' on some squid and puttin' back a beer.
This place is a trip.
I’ve lived in Canada my entire life. This is by far the largest and busiest city I’ve ever visited, and I’ve already seen so much. Problem is, I have no idea what the fuck I’ve seen, which makes this travel blog more like a trip down Alice’s rabbit hole where the facts and fiction are blurred into one magnificent pile of tomfuckery. And I think that's kind of the point when you consider Bangkok and all of its strangeness, but I’ll do my best to parse it down for you folks.
I’m spending one day in Bangkok before I venture down south to Koh Mak, and the only thing I know for certain is I’m staying at The Street Hostel just off Khao San Road. Last night was my first ever stay at a hostel, and the highlight so far was a mostly-naked, passed out Thai dude lying across two bean bag chairs, ass in the air, breathing heavily. My current regret in life was not taking a picture. It’s like the “after” picture in a soon-to-come Dustin before and after Thailand photo set.
I stayed in a hostel with 15 other people, most of them German, and most of them women. Unfortunately, I smelled bad and the jet lag is making me look even more like a meth addict than usual, so I didn’t strike up much in the way of conversation except for the most basic of pleasantries, such as: “May I see your supple German breasts?” Thankfully they didn’t speak great English, and I escaped the hostel with my dignity in tact. PHEW
With one day in Bangkok, the goal was to get clothing, contact solution, sunscreen and bug spray. That may not seem like a lofty goal, but for an idiot traveler, everything is lofty. [UPDATE: I failed miserably and only managed to track down contact solution]
I started by heading to Khao San Road, the famous backpacker, tourist haven in Bangkok, and I quickly became overwhelmed. I think I’ve gazed upon a million people already, and it’s only fucking midday. For the first few hours I wandered around and pretended to know what the hell I was doing and where I was going, but truthfully I didn't know my head from my arse. It’s like I’m on a different planet filled with men who look like women, a bunch of big tits in frilly, floral-patterned tube tops, and a shit-ton of 7-11’s. And when I say a shit-ton, I’m talking about a literal shit-ton. I’ve walked into stores and only realized, after I paid, that I was in ANOTHER 7-11. There are even 7-11 t-shirts in most of the clothing stands, and the weird thing is: the Thai people actually wear them.
After wandering about like a lost, happy idiot, I soon ran into a group of tuk tuks, which are like motor-bike, suicide machines with driver's who chain smoke cigarettes. One thing that solo travelers need to know about Bangkok, is that people selling shit (everyone) are attracted to solo backpackers like flies to shit. So when I walked by the scam artists selling tours for 20 baht (like $1), they began to salivate and struck up a conversation with me, showing interested in my beard, because that's apparently all I am these days.
They were nice guys, of course. I was to receive a tour of Bangkok’s temples and waterways for a buck, and immediately I knew there was a catch. Still, I was intrigued to see the depth of their deception, and after saying “no” to begin with, I returned an hour later and hopped on “Bill’s” tuk tuk, where he outlined all the places I would go, and promised it would cost me fuck all. The only catch was that I had to go to a tailor and show interest in suits, try one on, and then promptly leave. He said there was no obligation, and I knew that was a load of shit, but I said OK, because they were going to take me to the Giant Buddha temple first, and that was on my to-do list for the day.
Enter the tuk tuk. I was told by a bunch of people that they’re pretty crazy and dangerous, but in the three trips I’ve taken so far, it’s been a breeze. You agree on a price at the outset, hop in, and they get you there faster than any taxi because they weave through traffic and give a general “fuck you” to all traffic rules. I love it. I’m going to drive this way when I get home. Be a trend setter. Fuck the police.
We get to the Giant Buddha Temple, and they stop off at this kiosk which asks that I pay 40 baht to enter. Immediately the alarm bells go off, because research has told me that this temple is free, and I make the decision there and then that I’m ditching this guy once he lets me off and doing my own thing from that point forward. I was waiting for the first real scam, and there it was. So I got off and disappeared onto the temple grounds.
You walk past a bunch of tuk tuks and tourist vans, and then you’re in this serene environment, full of greenery, statues and captivating artwork. There was a museum and numerous temples on site, besides the Giant Buddha temple, and I visited those first. The best experience was this smaller temple where a Buddhist monk of great renown (his picture was all over the museum) was sitting still as a statue above everyone else, and there were a dozen or more Thai surrounding him, praying and chanting. A little awkwardly, I took a seat on a mat, did my best impression of a dude that can actually cross his legs without breaking a hip, and joined them.
I was welcomed. A few of the Thai looked over at me as I removed my hat and turned off my cell phone (super important), and they smiled and nodded, hands clasped in a respectful gesture. I returned the sentiment, and we sat there together, listening to the gong go off every few minutes, and looking upon this serene monk, still as a wax statue. He was incredible. You could almost feel the power in the room, and he was the center of it. I’ve never felt anything like it in a Christian church (what I grew up with), and I am beyond grateful for that experience.
After about thirty minutes, I got up, bowed my head in reverence, left a donation and then left to see the other sites on the temple grounds. Unfortunately, the Giant Buddha was under construction, so you could only see him through the scaffolding. Still pretty cool, though.
I then checked out the museum, saw some pretty cool shit, talked up some cute German girls (so many Germans here . . . WTF Germans?!), and then met a group of Indians who shared a cigarette with me and took a million Snapchat pictures, apparently to prove that they met a white-ass Canadian in Bangkok.
Enter potential disaster: I went to leave, and somehow “Bill the tuk tuk driver” found me and tried to whisk me away to finish the rest of the tour. I politely told him “no”, but the fucker wouldn’t leave me alone, so I greased him 60 baht for gas, before he made a scene and I ended up in a Bangkok prison.
Lesson: Don’t take the tuk tuk Bangkok tours. This should be obvious, but I tried it out for all of you, and now you damn well know.
The hilarious part in all of this is, twenty minutes later, I hopped on a different tuk tuk to Khao San Road, and by fluke the driver dropped me off at Bill’s tour area, where I received glares and promptly got the fuck out of there.
Not surprisingly, I found a bar and decided to get licked on beers, all the while enjoying watching this dude with fried scorpions try and persuade people to eat them. Another German couple tried them, an American dude shrugged like it was no big deal and promptly walked away, and a group of Japanese girls screamed and ran away. For my part, I was just amazed that a live scorpion back home costs a couple hundred dollars at the pet store, and this guy is selling them for $4 for people to chow them down. It kinda felt stupid not to try one, so I fucking did and . . .
It tasted like if you decided to fry lobster and then accidentally left it the boiling oil for three days. Only recommended for dudes trying to either scare or impress a woman. And if you're a woman? Well, the fairer sex is just a whole lot fucking smarter.
As the day progressed, I decided I needed to get the hell off of Khao San Road. It's super cool, but it's like the country fair: any longer than 4-5 hours and you're asking to get fondled by a carnie who's been ogling you since you stormed through the gate. So I did the only smart thing I could think of and asked a buddy of mine for a recommendation. He told me to check out Soi Cowboy, to which I enthusiastically responded: "Yeah, alright, sure."
So, I guess Soi Cowboy is a district in Bangkok full of lady boys, strip clubs and a bunch of 65 year old white dudes looking to fuck.
Not entirely fond of contracting genital warts on my first night in a new country, I found a small pub a little off the beaten track, slammed back a few Jameson whiskies, ate a Dutch sandwhich and then got the fuck out of there.
Lesson: Return to Soi Cowboy in 35 years when you're desperate AF.
That about wrapped up Day 1 in Thailand. Next stop?
The beautiful island of Koh Mak!