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Living Loose in Bangkok

The reverse culture shock

overcast 28 °C

The best way to explain the contrast between walking the streets in India and then in Bangkok is that it is similar to the difference between a nunnery and a brothel. Getting out of the taxi on the Kho San Road in Bangkok we walked into a world of decadence unknown to us for three months. We must have looked like people recently returned from some kind of war as we trudged, wide eyed and shell shocked through the crowds of white skin as Westerners drank, danced and partied on the streets wearing next to nothing. All lit up with neon lights and advertisements, ‘Chang Beer Girls’ stood outside the bars calling at you to come and have beers and buckets of alcohol that they promise are ‘Very very strong and contain very little mixer’…. After three months where our decadence involved a hot shower in the room, possibly a TV and if your lucky three bottles of Kingfisher to share between two, it was initially quite scary seeing anything you could possibly ever want for a night out offered to you so blatantly! Needless to say, we adapted quickly, found a hotel room and took off into the streets of Bangkok to get our share of the party.

Just to cement the fact we were not in India anymore and had now reached the commercial capital of South East Asia was the toilet in the first bar we went to. That may sound a little strange… I’ll explain. When you are away from your hotel room in India there is a great trepidation that comes along with needing the toilet. Even when the restaurant or café looks pretty clean the cleanliness of the toilet cubical can be a whole new unexpected level of filth; sometimes leaking water, sometimes no water at all and once quite clean… apart from a bucket full of poo in the corner. As such when someone in your group has to succumb to nature and be the expedition party to investigate the toilet everyone wishes them good luck and sympathises with their plight. Imagine our surprise when the first toilet visited in Bangkok was a Japanese style toilet with heated seats, buttons with sound effects to cover up indiscretions, water flying from every angle and both toilet paper and air freshener to hand. Might be a simple thing but we laughed for a good 30 minutes and decided that this part of the trip was going to be very different to the last! Bangkok started well.

The city is huge, bright and glittering and in the days we were there I think we only scratched the surface of what it has to offer. No worried there as we are returning in a couple of months to meet the Hobson for her holiday escape to the Thai Islands!

Around a visit to the spectacle that is the Grand Palace Temple Complex to see the Emerald Buddha (which is actually made of Jade but hey ho…) we explored China Town and the centre. With few expectations we packed up and headed out on the Saturday to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Somehow to our delight we ended up lost in the animals and pets section for at least a few hours and witnessed the strangest menagerie of animals for sale as we wandered further into the covered market. Starting out with pedigree puppies we felt comfortable. Further in, the baby rabbits with hair clips keeping their fur out of there eyes were slightly more disturbing but equally as cute. However when we got to the trained squirrels who were wearing a dress and a floral bonnet as they fetched and carried things for their owner we were thoroughly entertained but also questioning our moral compass and therefore skipped out (with another quick stop at the puppy farm), past the impromptu cock fight taking place in the central ring of the market, and back into the light in order to get a beer and avoid any further animal cruelty.

There was one thing for which Andy could not hold out for in Thailand and that was to see Thai Boxing and although slightly perturbed by the prize his commitment was sure. Imagine the delight when a friendly local informed us, ‘festival today! Big Fight free in square!’ Hoping for great things we headed out in a Tuk Tuk and arrived at the square where a huge open air ring and seats had been set out in front of a floodlit government building, with strobe lights and TV cameras announcing, “Thailand VS THE WORLD”. A succession of Thai fighters paraded like cockerels across the stage before taking part in… well beating the crap out of each other. Don’t worry, they all prayed beforehand and bowed to the picture Thai King which means they are guaranteed to survive. It was as entertaining watching the crowd’s make up and reaction. Thai boxing is such a part of the national culture and there were older people, children with mothers and grandparents all cheering away for the fighters kneeing each other in the neck. A strange but entertaining tradition…. I am starting to think that ‘strange but entertaining’ summarises Bangkok as a whole!

With our fill of the city complete for the moment we made a split second decision on a whim to skip out on our plans for Chang Mai and head instead to Cambodia to visit the Cooks for Christmas… Onwards on the international bus which seemed such a good deal at $7….

Posted by Annie Thornton 01:10 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand bangkok drinking freedom

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