bangkok revisited

Posted in bangkok, thailand by moonwire on October 9, 2009

My last night in Bangkok. I’ve been here for a week now and it’s been fantastic. I did not do much at all. I shopped for new clothes, got a haircut, a Thai massage, ate and drank, went out a few times at night, caught up on sleep, washed all my clothes in the machine,  I read and listened to music. This was a well needed break from the crazy traveling around.

The shopping is amazing. There’s lots of cheap clothing to be found, but there’s also favourite stores like Mango and Zara (Western prices, though). I got rid off most of my old stuff, that I’d been wearing for months.

Another thing that amazes me is the people. For a city this size, they are remarkably friendly and helpful. Really easy going as well. You see the craziest things here. Guys in shirts and ties wearing mascara and lipstick, ladyboys that are obviously men wearing women’s clothing and high heels. Anything goes here. Sure, there’s people begging in the streets, but relatively not that many. And none of them have displayed any agressive behaviour.

I stayed at a wonderful hostel in Silom. It looks like a boutique hotel. Very industrial and lofty. I had booked a private room as I don’t like dorms and I’ve enjoyed hanging out here very much. A cool place to meet other travelers as well.

Though I have not done a single thing, I have not been bored for a single second. I love it here.  It has all the conveniences of the Western world but it still has Asian charm. It’s cheap and cheerful.

I didn’t take any good shots and truthfully, photography hasn’t been on my mind that much. I really feel like I hit a peak in Cambodia and it’s hard to keep it going.  Especially since having ‘access’ was so much easier in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. I’ll get back into the shooting mode again when I go to Vietnam (with my sister, who’s flying into Singapore tomorrow). This week was about relaxing, enjoying just being here and looking good 😛

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escaping cebu

Posted in Uncategorized by moonwire on October 3, 2009

After two days of Iloilo, I was ready to move onto Cebu. Definitely hoping for a better experience. Well, the moment I left my hotel, I already had some street kid lunging at me. And that pretty much set the tone of the day.

When I arrived in Cebu, I took a taxi to my hotel and while the car stopped, another street kid tried to open the door, which I had wisely locked. A few minutes later, I saw a guy sitting on the sidewalk, only wearing a dirty t-shirt, no pants.

My hotel was nice enough and in the afternoon I decided to go to the mall. I had thrown out the clothes I was wearing in Manila wading through the flooded streets and I needed a few new things. On the 10 minute walk to the mall, I already got grabbed twice. Then when I got out of the shopping centre, I actually had some guy trying to grab my bag. I went to my hotel room, had a good cry and booked a flight out to Bangkok for Saturday, not thinking about the typhoon that was going to hit Manila that very same day (luckily it didn’t).

By this time I was in a state of panic. I did not want to be in Cebu any longer and I did not want to get stuck at the Manila airport, either. Luckily, there was a direct flight for the next afternoon to Singapore. I booked it immediately.

When I arrived in Singapore i felt such a great sense of relief. Back in civilisation. I took the train to my hostel in the North East part of town and at night I walked around and just marveled how nice it was. Outdoor restaurants with people eating curry and noodles, cars stopping at traffic lights, people being nice and well behaved. I did not get hassled once.

Unfortunately, in Cebu I noticed that my beloved ricoh GRD camera had a jammed lens. Not that I wanted to take photos there, but now I wasn’t able to shoot digital at all. Luckily, Singapore is electronics heaven and the next morning I went into town and bought a ricoh GRD III.

Then it was time to fly to Bangkok. I have 6 days here as I need to be in Singapore again on Saturday to meet my sister. The curious part of me wants to explore the area around Bangkok but the exhausted part of me just wants to relax, have a good time and save my energy for my next adventure, which will be Vietnam. I have been in 7 cities in 9 days… the exhausted part might just win this time.

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bangkok (part 1)

Posted in bangkok, thailand by moonwire on August 11, 2009

I decided to fly from Krabi to Bangkok, instead of making the 1000 km. journey by train or bus. I booked a cheap Air Asia ticket online, got a bus ticket to the airport in Krabi and off I went. I arrived at the Bangkok airport at around 6.30 pm.

I had called a few hotels from the Lonely Planet guide, but they were all full. If I arrive at night, I usually like to have my first night booked so I have somewhere to go.  In this case, I took the airport bus to Khao San Road and just started hunting. Well, I had already heard about this, but being there confirmed it. Khao San is loud. Really loud and it’s an all night long affair, so I just started walking to find something in the side streets. The first few hotels were full. One of them, the Lamphu House was one I really wanted to stay in, but they had no rooms. I looked further up Soi Rambuttri and found the Siam III guest house. They had a room. I checked in. The room was nice enough and it was quiet, yet still in the heart of a very lively area.

Soi Rambuttri, the street where my hotel is located in Banglamphu.

On my first day I decided to walk to Siam Square, in the new part of Bangkok. The subway/sky train service doesn’t extend to Banglamphu, the old area of Bangkok where my hotel is located, so I decided to walk. I knew it would be about 4 kilometres but I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to see something of the city. Well, I did. I got lost and ended up in Chinatown. Then I discovered the secret to Bangkok’s road system and maps. Every intersection has a number and once I’d discovered that, it was very easy to make my way to Siam Square. However, just before Siam Square I found the MBK mall. After all, I was on a shopping mission for five things; underwear, flip flops that don’t hurt my feet, a raincover for my backpack (very much necessary here in Thailand in the rainy season), B&W film for my camera and books.

Bangkok is heaven for shopping. I managed to find everything I needed. And except for the film, everything was very cheap.

My walk through the old part of town was lovely. As soon as you get out of the tourist ghetto of Khao San you’ll see the real Bangkok. Lots of little alleys with people sewing, selling all kinds of food and other stuff and just going about their business.

The new part of town is just hell, in my opinion. Lots of bigger stores with loud music, lots of concrete, traffic jams and fast food outlets.  It’s just anonymous to me. Might as well be in Blok M in Jakarta, the business district of Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong. It all looks the same to me and I have no interest in it. The older parts of said cities are wonderful, though. So I’m sticking to that.

The Skywalk around Siam Square Station.

At night I went out in the streets around my hotel. Lots of little stalls with t-shirts, food, bars and restaurants. Very very lively and very busy. It has definitely much more of a backpacker vibe than any other place I’ve been to so far. With backpacker vibe I mean people who do not have a bunch of toddlers in tow or those resort types that tend to hang out in packs and crowd the sidewalks.

This morning I checked out of my hotel as I had found a room at the Lamphu house. While I was having my brekkie, I saw Sarah, the woman from SF who was my neighbour in Phi Phi! That was really cool. We had a nice chat, talked about what we both had done since we left Phi Phi (we left on the same boat).

At noon I checked into my room and it is absolutely fantastic. Wooden floor, contemporary asian furniture and everything very light and airy with a huge balcony. I don’t mind roughing it for a couple of days here and there, and I have, not even being able to take a real shower for days, but when I find a nice room, it certainly is bliss. Living out of a backpack is slightly unsettling and being on the go all day, every day for months at a time is a killer. It is nice to be able to read and relax in a comfy room. Like today. My feet are still hurting from my approximately 10 km walk yesterday. It’s not just the long walk, it’s also the stifling heat, humidity, traffic noise and air pollution that adds to it. I’m taking it real easy today and mostly enjoy my room.

One of the many street food stalls on Soi Rambuttri. You can have a pad thai and 2 spring rolls for a buck at these places.

I just went for a walk around the Banglamphu market and I saw the river and then I decided to walk back and just spend the rest of the afternoon writing my blog and reading my book (Alex Garland’s ‘The Beach’. It’s good.). Tonight I’ll go out for a stroll in the area and tomorrow I’ll hit Chinatown when my feet aren’t aching so much anymore.

One rainy morning on Khao San Road.

Bangkok is cool. I’m really enjoying it here. I’ll have three nights here at the Lamphu before I head to Kanchanaburi (three hour train ride north east) but I know that I’ll have to come back to Bangkok before heading to Laos so I might even stay more than one night next time.

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