Category : priča
Thailand. A long desired and planned destination. After months long preparations, reading of various forums, consultations with the travelers who experienced the Thailand tour, we are ready. The Croats are having their Christmas lunch and we are boarding the flight to Bangkok. The best Christmas ever! After 14 hours of flight via Doha, we arrive from Croatian -10 °C into Thai +35 °C.
It wasn’t a one night in Bangkok but a two-week tour Bangkok – Chiang Mai – Krabi. There are two of us along with his friend and my friend on the journey.
The arrival into the urban jungle of spaceship skyscrapers in a city of nine million souls leaves us breathless. The eyes wide open are not enough to soak up all the city has to offer. We want to see it all at once.
The time zone difference and all the warnings and advices in relation with going to the third world country rumble in our heads: food poisoning, thefts, frauds, strict laws, be careful not to insult the royal family, ladyboys…… Hey, slow down a minute…. Bangkok just wants to meet us, lets relax.
The first impressions from Bangkok streets: traffic chaos, crossing the street on green light is a mission, lots of cars, buses, mopeds, tuk-tuks, subway, above ground skytrain and wires – lots of wires on the poles. What they all connect, we didn’t manage to find out. But we found out why Jo Nesbo named his book Cockroaches. They are everywhere, but with a good balance you wont step on them. The streets are dirty…. ok, they are as well dirty where we come from, but in a different way. This chaos entertains us, we quickly adapted and approved this city’s friend request.
At first we were careful when eating in restaurants, but it wasn’t long before we let go and indulged in street delicacies, masterfully prepared in improvised kitchens on moto-trailers along the street. And no, we did not get poisoned and we did not have any digestive disorders. In fact, the street food was way more delicious. And the best of all was fruit and squeezed fruit juices. We finally found out how bananas, pineapple and mango actually taste like. We also tried durian, a yellow fruit with a scent of smelly socks, but edible. After a week of vitamin shots our hair was ready for Loreal’s commercials, and our nails were like covered with colorless nail polish. Wow, Thailand has a positive effect on us.
Of landmarks, we went to see Wat Arun and Wat Pho. They are the Buddhist temples located on the bank of Chiao Phraya river. The simplest way to get to them is by boat. There are plenty of tourist boats, but we picked some sort of a ferry which locals take to go across, for just a few bahts. To enter the temples, you need proper clothes which cover your shoulders and knees, and at the entry taking your shoes off is required. The most impressive lying Buddha is 46 meters long and 15 meters high. They say it is made entirely out of gold. We took a stroll through the gardens surrounding the temples shrouded in some kind of a zen atmosphere, watching the monks in their orange robes pass by. The bonsai trees, decorated statues, statues of Buddha at every step and lots of cats and dogs wandering around. It is interesting how people there aren’t noisy and loud as in some other tourist locations in the world. The city is full of posters: “Respect Buddha! The Buddha is not for decoration.” Seeing that, the retail store Kik back home, with their Buddha statuettes for 29.99 HRK immediately comes to mind. I wondered what would such a statuette, put beside the TV, mean to average Croat? Nothing. He would have imagined himself as having a taste for interior design.
There is also a Royal palace nearby, in which we didn’t go since we weren’t having proper clothes. It was just a couple of months after the king has died so the entrance to the palace was allowed only if you were wearing all black.
Having hired the tuk-tuk driver after a short bargaining, we went to the Khao San Road. Bargaining with taxi drivers in Thailand is a must or else you will end up paying your drive several times more. They will always first offer you the highest price with a remark “good price for you, my friend”. They see tourists as walking bags of bahts. Of course, you have to be reasonable and not underestimate them. Very quickly they accept the 50% discount. Since there were four of us, we shared all the transfers and it was really cheap.
The Khao San is the most famous street in Bangkok, full of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, street vendors, massage salons…. a summary of the city in one place. There is no way you can capture it all with your view. It is full of tourists from all around the world. You walk, look around, soak up the magic of Bangkok. The music from the bars is interrupted by occasional massage salon offers: “Massaaaaaaaaage?”. It sounds very funny when you say it out loud.
We treated ourselves with the coconut, in fact with the coconut milk from the fresh coconut. We expected something ultra-tasty with the scent of mom’s cookies, but it wasn’t like that. It doesn’t have any special taste but is also not bad. Not being able to resist the attractive offer of fried bugs and worms, led with the thought “when if not now”, we treated ourselves with some worms. It was the lesser evil between grasshoppers, scorpions and tarantulas. If you don’t think about what you are eating, it feels like you are eating flips snack.
The most elegant transportation in the city is skytrain (BTS), something like above ground train. It is fast, clean and a bit over air conditioned. What impressed us while waiting for the skytrain is the way people wait for it at the station. Everyone respects the yellow line and stand in line one behind the other and no one enters before everyone exits the train. We who are used to the Balkan style elbowing, as if boarding the train means life or death, just looked at ourselves discreetly and obediently stepped into the line so that the Thais think that we too are from a civilized world. After exiting the train, you can immediately proceed into one of the space ship shopping centers. Most of the time we avoided them because they are fabulously expensive. Bangkok rightly wears the name the New York of the east.
The food in the City of angels is diverse, mostly Asian. Like in all great cities you can find something for everyone. We mostly ate pad thai, papaya salad, soups, fish and seafood. The soups are a hit, especially Tom Yum with green curry, shrimps, plenty of vegetables and ginger. And it is very spicy. When you order a meal in Thailand, make sure you point out the degree of spiciness or else you wont be able to eat it. The non-spicy meal for them is still spicy.
For the warm and humid Thai evenings, a good beer comes in handy. The beer offered is mostly Chang, Leo, Tiger and Singha. They are somewhat milder than European but it is good so that we don’t go through The Hangover.
Bangkok is a huge city and it is impossible to see it all. It’s like when you go to Louvre, Paris and you must decide what to see. To us, it was a base for a journey north, to Chiang Mai.