Have you ever felt ecstatic that you’re still alive? As I write, my heart is beating hard against my chest and my palms are sweaty; I am alive! Only a couple of hours ago I was sipping a mug of coffee and devouring a chocolate brownie whilst listening to Debussy’s Clair de Lune, completely chill and musing about my day, wondering what I’d name my next blog post – ‘Cats, Colour & Coffee in Bangkok’ was a maybe.
Cats, Colour & Exhilaration – Day 3 in Bangkok
Bangkok is a completely contradictory city. On the one hand, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of temples scattered amongst urban dwellings and makeshift stalls, all beautifully calm with tinkering bells, burning incense, and a respectful quiet to allow Buddhists to meditate; and yet, on the other hand, as soon as you step out of a temple you have to be immediately alert and aware of what’s around you so that you aren’t knocked down by a careless driver (yes, they go onto the pavements, too) – the air, as well, somehow seems more pungent out in the open. Even by night, the sound of traffic vibrates through the walls; Bangkok truly is a city that never sleeps.
From The Beginning…
I began my day with a gentle stroll to Bangkok National Museum, which houses historical artifacts, art, and a cute cat that’ll seem friendly until it horrifyingly latches on to your shirt with its dagger-like teeth. I’d like to think it did this affectionately, but still, we’d only just acquainted ourselves (I wasn’t comfortable with biting). Also, I didn’t have my rabies jab before travelling, even though I knew there was a rare (but real) possibility of being infected by a rabid animal. I’m pretty sure it didn’t have rabies, but I quickly made my excuses and left.
I’ll write in more detail about Bangkok’s National Museum in another post (hopefully someone will want to read it), but to sum up, I think it’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re interested in the history of Thailand and enjoy art. A temporary exhibition of modern art in particular gave me lots to think about.
Upon leaving, my stomach tactlessly made itself known, so I didn’t waste time searching for the perfect eatery; instead, I walked along a busy main road until I spotted a place that served food. I took my seat and scanned the menu. I couldn’t understand it, apart from the word ‘Coke’, but there were small pictures of meals so I ordered the one with the egg, rice and a salad-looking thing next to it (and a coke, of course). After ordering – or pointing – I relaxed; I was going to be fed. That’s when I looked around and became aware that I wasn’t just the only Westerner in there, but the only tourist. Not a problem, I thought, until my food came and I was dared by two shiny chopsticks.
Painstakingly, foolishly, I balanced a miniscule amount of rice between them, and took a disappointingly meager mouthful. I overheard a family laughing…
Luckily, although unexpected, my food also came with a small bowl of soup, which meant that I also had a spoon (and a back-up plan). I unashamedly gave up after a couple of attempts and grabbed my trustworthy spoon. I scribbled a thought in my journal (which I won’t commit to):
“think that’s why we have an obesity problem. We scoop everything up easily, greedily…they’ve struggled.. learnt to be patient – balanced”
Walking back, I knew that I’d pass Khao San Road, so thought I’d check it out by day; I’d been here the night before and gulped a glass of red – alone – in a busy restaurant (again, I’ll write a post with my best tips on dining out alone, of which gulping red wine isn’t one of them). By day, it was much less threatening, and I confidently strode past parked up tuk-tuks, food stalls, massage palours, tattoo and sex shops, before a window caught my eye.
Now, I don’t get my nails done often back in England (if once a year), since it’s so expensive and it just seems like a waste. However in Bangkok everything is cheap, so – you guessed it – I got my nails done. Granted it was just a manicure, but still, I have shiny new nails now!
I went on, and, in the spirit of pleasing myself, and fully aware that it was bound to happen at some point, I entered a Thai massage palour. If I explained what happened next in any detail, I’m worried it’d come across as inappropriate (despite it being just a foot massage), but oh-my-God, it was good! In all seriousness, I’ve never heard (or felt) so many bones crack in such a short space of time, and that wasn’t a bad thing.
[Update! I have since had a full body Thai massage in Chiang Mai, which was even more amazing!]
By the time I left, it was so hot, so I returned to my hotel for a little respite. I had plans – eventful plans! – but that massage relaxed me too much and I ended up having an afternoon snooze. That’s one of the fantastic things about travelling solo – I don’t have to feel so guilty about being lazy; besides, it wasn’t like I hadn’t done anything!
…To The End
Bangkok Flower Market, also called Pak Klong Talad, is the largest wholesale and retail fresh flower market in Bangkok. I got a taxi there, which, although the quoted price was 100 Thai baht by my hotel, the driver (unlike so many others) actually charged me the correct amount as stated on the meter – 50 baht (that’s just £1). Because of his honesty I tipped him an extra 20 baht. In comparison, I got a tuk-tuk ride back to my hotel (not a proper car/taxi, like before), and he still charged me 100 baht (double) for the same journey! I understand why the majority will overcharge tourists, but it still doesn’t make it okay. Anyway, I’ll get onto that return journey soon.
Bangkok Flower Market By Night
I’ll continue this tomorrow (sorry), but also, thanks for reading if you made it thus far! It’s um.. 4am here. I really have to start sleeping when I should. Here’s an image though (more to come!)..