Always heard that Bangkok was a busy hectic city and was not let down. Flight over boring and uncomfortable – 7 hours cramped into a seat, constantly sliding under the seat in front of you as soon as you fall asleep. Arrived at the Suvarhahabhumi Airport – sleek, modern and clean, travelators all the way to the immigration. Seemed to have walked for 10 hours until reached the said immigration. Everything efficient and organized. Upon emerging from the hotel, hit by a wall of humidity the like of which had never experienced before. Deep intake of breath with Mike laughing and saying that this is like a cool Tennessee day.
A surprisingly short walk to the airport – and we are riding an express train, changing the lines twice more, all the while people and street watching. Was surprised not to be pushed around by throngs of tourists and backpackers, but instead surrounded with regular local people going to and from work and school (judging by what they were wearing).
Had planned our route in advance and were going to travel by river to the Grand Palace. Informed by a Thai man with very long fingernails that the route is cut short due to Royal Boat Parade. He suggested that we go to pier 3 instead and promised a very short walk to the Grand Palace from there. Happily agree and find ourselves in a long tail boat with a huge, smelly and noisy motor merrily speeding down a rather polluted river. Told by Mike to keep mouth tightly closed in case water splashes around and poisons self, but can`t contain shrieks of excitement as the boat bobs up and down and a cool wind whips my hair around.
15 minutes later arrived to pier 3, the Chinatown. See suspicious activity in the water – and as we approach, see 2 huge schools of catfish are being fed by tourists and locals. The fish splash about and generally behave in a very strange fashion. After taking many photos, shudder and turn away.
Mike confident that if we walk to the left long enough, will reach the main road along the river. After walking for 20 minutes in the muggy heat around what appears to be an area of Chinatown specializing in textiles, decide to seek help. Two nice Thai ladies point out that we are better off taking a taxi and kindly negotiate a fair with a tuk-tuk driver. Once seated in the said tuk-tuk, which starts driving at a break-neck pace, miraculously avoiding motorcyclists weaving in and out of lanes loaded with babies, textiles and boxes and numerous pink taxes, feel rather like in Anthony Bourdain documentary. Every new turn brings a multitude of delicious food smells and our stomach start rambling, so when the Grand Place turns out to be closed, we immediately reroute to a restaurant I found online. Restaurant turns out to be a great catch as is by the river and full of locals with us being the only tourists. Order up a feats or Thai dished with seafood, and once again feeling like two Bourdains, eat every last thing – fried oysters, seafood stir-fry with noodles, tiger shrimp in pepper sauce and spicy papaya salad with seafood. Very spicy. As in even Mike is breathing extra heavily and I am seating red-faced soaking my burning tongue in beer. Waitresses and other guests smile smugly.
After our feast, walk around for a while, searching for treats (me – exotic fruit, Mike – local beer). Find both and, feeling daring, jump into the second tuk-tuk of the day, change to express train and finally arrive at the hotel.
The best thing to do after a long flight and even longer walk? A swim at a luxurious outdoor pool, almost in complete darkness with only a few lights in the pool on.