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Hi all! I am now in Bangkok! I would like to say that I am thoroughly enjoying this diabolical city but that would be me lying. It’s not awful, but it is definitely not a place I will come back to often if I can help it. I had such a dizzying, wonderful time in Hawaii that getting here was a bit of a shock to the system. Landing in Honolulu with the smell of plumeria and white ginger flowers wafting through the airport is a far cry from landing in Bangkok and being bombarded by the heat, pollution and aggressive taxi drivers.
My time in Hawaii consisted of surfing in Maui and the North Shore, swimming underneath waterfalls and floating the days away in the Pacific Ocean. Staying with my Dad was an extra special bonus before embarking on this trip alone. It was nice to have the comfort of family around knowing that soon enough I would be out on my own, far away from the nest and any familiar territory.
I arrived here early Sunday morning and had opted not to stay at the usual backpacker area on Khao San Road and decided to stay in the district of Din Daeng (which I now use as a bit of a swear word in my head – ‘Din Daeng that’s cheap! Din Daeng! What is that nasty smell?). Turns out Din Deang was dang dull. So I decided to move to the Sukhumvit area, which looks about the same as Din Daeng, just bigger buildings. The same pollution, massage parlours, hair salons, street vendors and thick traffic exists everywhere I go. The smell here is a mixture of exhaust fumes, rotting garbage, street food, hot cement, a touch of eau de sewer and I am sure the dog poo also contributes to this nasty little concoction of acridness..
There are a lot of things I have seen that have made my heart ache: little kids sitting on the sidewalk begging for change, a baby elephant being lead through the busy streets as an attraction for money, a man with no legs dragging himself along the sidewalk, cats making the most horrifying noises and dogs trying to navigate their way through heavy traffic on their roads to nowhere.
I hate to knock a place entirely though. There are SOME good things about Bangkok. The multiculturalism here is mind boggling. I thought London and New York were melting pots, this place has it all! Walking down the street is a downright cacophony of languages competing with each other over the traffic noise. In fact, the coffee shop I sit in right now has 7 other people here and not ONE of us is the same ethnicity. This, I like. I learned the proper way to say ‘thank you’ in Thai today from my barista and he seemed quite pleased at my efforts to learn. I feel such sympathy for the people trying to make a living here. The average pay/day is about $4, so it is no wonder one gets accosted at every turn to purchase something.
I am now staying at Suk 11, a fancy dancy cozy little guesthouse with a/c and hot water even! I feel good there. Alas, I must venture on! My next stop is Chiang Mai. This is where I will meditate, do some jungle treks and perhaps a home stay with one of the hill tribes. Their is also the hippy town of Pai and Mae Hong Son where I can go zip trekking like Jane through the jungle – oh-a-oh-a-ohhhhhh!
After that, it’s Laos and Vietnam...I will keep you posted...until then, laa kawn!