I’d say it took me from around January (when I first booked the tickets) till I arrived at Heathrow for me to actually accept I was going travelling alone. However, given that I had around 20 hours on trains, planes and in airports I had plenty of time to emotionally prepare myself. So on arriving in Bangkok airport – a real shit hole. I felt ready, basically. My first stop was, my hotel, the D & D Inn on Koasan road, the main tourist area in Bangkok. I’m not really sure how to describe this unique blend of Asian kitsch and Western capitalism. I have never made it to Vegas, but from what I’ve seen on the Hangover, there are some similarities. Bar the gambling, though weirdly lots of laughing gas, not that I indulged. Drugs are bad kids.
Anyway on finally arriving at my hotel at around 8 am, the kind folk let me check in early and I promptly passed out.
On awakening I felt it was time to explore. Like any good tourist I avoided the local cuisine and had a sandwich for lunch before taking in some of the sights – which basically amounts to lots and lots of temples. I think one of my favourite aspects of Bangkok is that it really is so rich, just walking around and taking it all in was enough to keep this simple soul happy. It’s extremely chaotic, and away from the tourist area (which I’m pretty much convinced is run by Israeli expats) there’s a huge amount to see. I quickly learnt that Thai people like their food fried, and preferably on a stick. At cooking class I later learnt they also liberally douse most of it in sugar – in fact Thai tea (alas not to be confused with chai tea) is basically cold tea with condescend milk. As a nation I’m rather concerned about their risk of diabetes.
I also had, I now realise, a naïve presumption that they would all speak English, though I am happy to say that despacito has made it to Thailand, alongside, weirdly Tesco.
Now, in England our monarchy has had something of a revival thanks to Wills & Kate, but we ain’t got nothing on the Thais and their love for the King. He is everywhere – on bank notes (apparently if you tear or stand on money you can be jailed), on street corners – the guy’s marketing is exceptional. Think chabad style rebbe loving. This was confirmed when I went to the Royal palace, which as well as offering a throwback to my Sem days with some pretty Mea Shearim style dress codes in place was exceptionally stunning. Take a look at google images for some more info – far better than anything I could hope to take. Thronging with Thais coming to pay their respect, many were dressed all in black (the old king died several months ago) for some sort of prayer service. This stretched out morning period seems pretty typical of the Thai people, who from what I’v gathered are a pretty intense nation, though that could just be a hugely insulting cultural stereotype.
Now to the nightlife, like I already mentioned I am essentially staying on the equivalent of the strip so finding bars didn’t prove too problematic, and neither did finding drinking buddies. I was soon invited in by Australian tourists whom with, I have to admit, I drank a little too much. With buckets costing 100 baht (Like £3) self restraint is rather challenging, although the next night I am proud to say I learnt, not impossible.
Like all good night outs, my second began with a funny story. After a long morning wandering around Bangkok I decided to do some sunbathing on my rooftop pool. On lying down I heard what, I was almost sure, was the unmistakable twang of a Northern Jew, although given my track record with accents – Irish and Scouse are similar, right? I wasn’t yet ready to interject. So whilst playing on my phone I listened in and waited for confirmation, hearing names like Ella, Alex and Elliot my confidence grew until I finally caught the word Israel. If I was a carton character, at this point I would have twirled round the room, but I’m not so instead, and pretending like I hadn’t been listening in on their convo, we got talking and it turns out they went to my school (although younger than me) and invited me to break the fast with them at chabad. Not only did I get fantastic pargiot, but we also met a group of Israelis.
Thankfully, it was a pretty mellow evening – most Israelis travel for months and you can’t really spend half a year with a hangover. But, just to clear one concern up, given my deliberately provocative instapic of a number of arms alongside #sorrymum there has been some suspicions that I got a tattoo. I am happy to inform all those concerned that the tattoo is indeed real, made from the finest henna in all Thailand. And will disappear around the time I head back to the UK.
I am now on the way to Pattaya having shared a taxi with an Israeli and two Germans – go figure. It is pouring, but given that I am on an air conditioned coach for the next two hours I’m not overly fussed. So I will sign out here because I have a rather delicate disposition when on moving vehicles. .
Thanks for reading, hope this isn’t overly gap-yah of me and don’t panic folks next instalment (after the Full Moon Party!) will be out next week.