There are big cities and then there is Bangkok, a mass of malls, huge streets, lots of noisy traffic, crowds, and to top it off tropical heat and humidity. We arrived early in the morning to Kao San Road, which even at that hour was partying with bars in full swing and street revelry, complete with a Thai man break dancing on the street. Walking past him and looking for places to stay, we were continuously turned away as it was too early for checkout. We did arrive at 5 in the morning!
My bag was feeling heavy so we found a hotel lobby and put out heads down for a while to work out the sleeps from our eyes and to kill some time. After a while got going on and after visiting more hotels and different side streets found a dingy little place after looking for two hours. Another thing about Bangkok is that it's expensive. It was still early, so we slept for a bit and after breakfast headed out to Chinatown, which in my opinion makes up the cultural heart of any big city. Finding the right bus took a while, perhaps in the stifling heat we weren't thinking correctly and wasted two hours standing on the wrong side of the street. The place is getting ready for the Chinese New Years so lots of lanterns were up for the celebrations. The highlights included the Golden Buddha, made entirely out of solid gold at 5.5 tons! There was also a huge covered markets with lots of clothes, daily household items, and kitschy souvenirs but also had some good street food of spicy Mango salad, spice covered Pineapple, and fried Banana with Coconut. The market continued on to an Indian area with lots of restaurants and more street food, when I spotted a pan (betel nut with leave, spices, and sweets) stand and got a huge one that I could barely fit into my mouth. We came back to our backpacker area with Thais singing American tunes at bars and after eating some street Pad Thai called it a night.
Its amazing that even after just a few days you get to know the surroundings and so the next day took us out to Jim Thompsons house, an American entrepreneur who in the 1960s introduced Thai silk to the West. We had far better luck with the local buses this time and the beautiful house that's tastefully decorated is now a foundation after the man himself mysteriously disappeared in 1967 in the Cameron Highlands, while on a picnic. Theories on his disappearance abound and many think he was abducted, eaten by tigers, or taken out by the CIA. No clue has ever been found. The remainder of our time was spent visiting a few temples, riding the Chaopraya Ferry, and watching the partying that takes place nightly on Kao San Road and the surrounding streets.
We go next from here to Ranong, a coastal town on the Andaman Sea to do a visa run to Myanmar to extend our Thai visa for another 15 days.