Wednesday, 20 February 2013

TRAVEL: Bangkok, street food, bargaining and the experience.

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It was past midnight when we touched down at Bangkok's International Airport and boy we were tired, hungry and in need of a cold shower. Or at least thats what I needed. I've had flights a lot longer than three hours before but this one felt long and short at the same time. Don't bother understanding, I can't explain it myself well enough for you to understand either. Anyways, when we checked out finally, withdraw me self some cash, we proceed on to find our hostel in the middle of the night with a strange airport taxi driver who seems to be having a hard time understanding english despite the fact that Bangkok is in fact one of the worlds most touristy city. It is just a simple thought derived from a fact, nothing boogie woogie on my statement assesses anything bad. Anyhow, after i-am-not-sure-how-long but 400baht worth of taxi ride, we finally arrived at HI Hosteling International about 15 minutes walk from the ever famous Khao San Road. Our hostel is pretty cool, it is clean but nothing fancy. Perfect for three young adults to spend a few nights without paying an arm, leg or a kidney even. Yeah, it was pretty cheap. 1200baht a night for an air-conditioned, bed and breakfast three bed family room with a hot and cold shower. What? Score! The place isn't the grandest but who cares. It has been our sanctuary every night during our stay. It was in a good place too, quiet and never noisy. Although, I found it difficult to bond with other travelers because the place seems to be more for traveling groups like ourselves. So unlike the other hostel's I stayed at where young travelers usually bond at the lounge or bar area. Anyhow, we saw a few landmarks quite close to our hostel after crazily hiked the Ayutthaya street from the 'closest' sky train station to our hostel for nearly three hours. We saved about 100baht from that walk. I would say it is worth it. I am not sure if my friends would say the same. We were quite beaten up after thinking it was close, which obviously was not. It did gave us the idea though on what kind of area our place was located and what kind of things we can expect around it. We found some cool stuff around, especially some temples and even experienced a road block to give way to some high rank officials (we think they are royalties) who obviously needed to avoid the Bangkok traffic. It was cool. Thai people really do know how to build extravagant and finely detailed temples and I was caught in awe whenever I see one. They have obviously extremely fine taste on art. Their temple designs are really, really fine.

Our stay in Bangkok isn't really all picture perfect especially the moment I braved the famous Bangkok street food on our second night after my famous line, and I quote "If the white people can eat from the streets, I too can." And then it backfired. Oh yes it did. I don't know how the hell it happened but it did. So all ears (well, eyes.) on this, in Thailand or not, street food is something you should be careful at. Perhaps you know that already but do not get me wrong, I am not fancy fancy and believe me, I do love street food. I was so upset when I got back home about the fact that I didn't get a chance to enjoy the ever famous Thai street food but instead found a new best friend in the form of 7-eleven. Anyways, although I didn't get a chance to enjoy other famous Thai food my friends did. One even ate bugs! Bugs are over my limit. I barely eat meat let alone bugs. Yuck. My friend enjoyed it however and even said it was good. Jeez. Brave lad indeed.

Anyhow, though the food section has been absurdly limited for me, shopping wasn't. I never enjoyed shopping before until I learned how to bargain. Boy, I was good at it! Hah! I'll have to give credits to me momma for this one, she's the absolute cheapo you'll never ever get the hang of. In Thailand, perhaps in most South East Asian countries, you can always bargain for the product you intend to purchase and note: Do not show any signs of pity, remorse or guilt when you bargain-- that is a massive sign of weakness! You cannot be a weakling when you bargain. Bargaining is like war, you should let your pursuit win the enemy over. If the vendor does not agree with your price cheapskate, that means it is either your price is really low or you are a foreign not originating from that part of the world. I don't want to sound racist or sadist but this fact is true, if you look different (caucasian, african, etc.) your price does not just double, it doesn't even triple, it is beyond more than you can perhaps think of. So you have to hold on to your flag before you surrender and make sure that you are getting a reasonable price for your stuff. Bargaining is an art. It takes a lot of training. I've had a lot of rip-off experience and it was not a beautiful feeling. In Bangkok or any South East Asian countries, expect vendors trying to rip you off by selling you their products on so high price. In Thailand though, when it comes to shopping people get carried away. I got carried away. In their Weekend market at Chattuchak (Skytrain, Mo Chit station.) with its many different stalls to indulge at, it is absolutely normal to get crazy. I have expressed my hatred towards shopping but markets like this fascinates me because of the versatility. I can roam around and see many things and don't get frustrated as I normally get whenever I am in a mall. Chattuchak weekend market is a must visit if ever you are in Bangkok, you will enjoy roaming around its stalls and might even score some cool stuff along the way. They also have numerous malls to visit in Bangkok for shopping also but do not expect bargaining there, they normally have fixed prices but at some, you can always try. If you have sensitive stomach like I do but would like to eat some Thai food not from the streets but rather close speaking of authenticity, you can go to some mall's food court for some sanitized Thai food at an affordable price. Insider tip though, avoid saying 'little spicy'... Save yourself some hard time because it just do not work. Thai cuisine is rather spicy, either deal with it or choose some with no chili at all than waste food because you just can't eat it for being too spicy. A lot of foreigners suffer from this especially those who came from countries whose cuisine either does not involve or use little amount of chili in their food. I raise my hand as exhibit A. Filipino food is far from Thailand's, both are great but I personally couldn't handle too much chili either, sadly.

Anyways, we visited temples after temples for a couple of day's and practically just enjoyed our night away at Khao San Road. Cheap beer while having a foot massage.. oh boy, I never thought heaven can feel that good. It was so relaxing! Thai's know their foot massage. I can attest to that. I would highly suggest visiting Bangkok and experience the city's splendors and see for yourself how fascinating your adventure can be. Oh and speaking for an adventure, I have one last tip for you adventure junkies:

When in Bangkok we found it difficult to communicate with the locals therefore our first days was mostly trial and error. We concluded that Thai language is too phonetical for us to learn phrases resulting mostly in conflicts whenever we attempt to replicate some words to locals who always stare at us in either fear or confusion. We devised a great plan, we list down all tourist place, addresses, our hostel's address and a short description where it is, street names and asked the receptionist to write those in Thai. It has been our map to the city. All we have to do was to show the Thai writings to the taxi or tuktuk driver and we are all good. We never had any problems after that. Just a small thing but it does help quite a lot.

Thanks for reading!

E.

6 comments:

  1. Woe nice post!!! I added you by g+!
    I like your blog! would you like to follow each other with GFC?
    Besos, desde España, Marcela♥

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  2. I love your blog too, and I am now following
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  3. Went to BKK last two weeks and enjoyed the whole 5 days. I can't believe it at first but I survived BKK on a 70USD budget for the entire 5 days.

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    1. Yes, it was pretty cheap over there :)

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