Five days into the voyage and we are still learning about the modes, attitudes and conducts of travelling. Before we left, on several occassions, we were warned of the dissimilarity between the Thai culture and our own. What we were not forewarned about however was the perennial bleating of the ‘Tuk Tuk’ drivers, the toxic fumes of Bangkok (Pepe wants to purchase a filtering mask whereas Jakey wants to absorb even more of the wholesome air) and the dire state of the country’s taxi rank.
Problem #1 – Duration into the trip: 20 minutes.
After talking to our Japanese ‘father’ in the airport, we went to the taxi rank. All of the airports taxi’s belonged to a company entitled ‘Meter Taxis’, whose name was conspicuously presented via a salient sign on each of the subsequent car roofs. Despite this however, once we entered the cab, the over-zealous driving insisted that there was no meter-fare available.
So despondently we left the vehicle and found a new driver who would not charge us a prerequisited extortionate rate, as instructed by our guru, Anthony Jacobs.
This however came at an expense; our personal safety. A duff lock, a wiper blade (yes, just one that cleared only half of the windscreen) which struggled in in its battle against the falling rain to clear the tinted glass, and a car boot that was secured by a thin piece of rope!
Later that day after surveying the area of Sukhimvit, we decided to have a Thai massage. Essentially, we were both just taken to our own personal torture chamber and abused for the following hour. Afterwards though, for the first time since our arrival, we experienced the hospitable nature of the Thai people as we were offered a cup of herbal tea each, which Jakey vigorously refused. On the hand however, in stark contrast to this amicable gesture, in the restaurant we ate at for dinner, the waiter gaved us an ‘uncapped’ bottle of water (which had no doubt been refilled with intoxicating tap-water).
After our meal we observed the nightlife in the surrounding area, but we think we ended up in ‘Go Go Bar’ central, as opposed to a cultured drinking area.
The next morning after breakfast we boarded a bus without air conditioning and headed for Koasan Road. Once we arrived, we checked in at the ‘Bella Bella Guesthouse’ which is now, unlike KD, our second home. That night after dinner we watched the England game against Austria in a bar swarming with Brits and Thai people wearing authentic ‘David Beckham No.9’ jerseys. There, we met a guy called Peter whom we may meet up with in Australia.
On our gentle stroll back to the guesthouse, we encountered Thai Boxing in its rawest form when a Thai waitress threw her butchers knife to one side before proceeding to maul her fellow co-worker to a steady death.
After purchasing our bread and water for the day on Sunday afternoon, we found a ‘Tuk-Tuk’ driver named ‘Chi’ who became our personal chaffeur for the day at the reasonable price of 75p each. We told him to take us to the numerous markets in Bangkok, but by the end of the journey we had only visited 3 temples, two suit shops, a shopping plaza in Siam Square and a fruit market that was about as clean as Thailand’s tap water.
To compensate for Chi’s failed attempts to take us to any markets (the fruit market hardly counts), the next day we took a 3 and a half hour bus to Damnoen Saduak where the floating market is situated. As the market closes at 11am we decided to stay in the local province overnight so that we could visit the market during the early hours of the following morning (8am). The prior day when we arrived in the area, we arranged for a boat driver to pick us up at 7:30 am, but the arduous worker arrived at 7:20 instead! Once there we bought a photo album, a notebook and a bunch of bananas to fill our depleted stomachs as the night before we barely ate; in the restaurant despite asking for just noodle soup and rice, we were given fish soup and pork rice. The night was salvaged however through our musical renditions of ‘All the Small Things’ and ‘Sex Bomb’ on the resident karaoke machine, which were performed to an elated audience comprised of 5 or 6 Thai’s, who just wanted a quiet meal.
The next days will be placid due to Yom Kippur and then we will leave Bangkok to tour Thailand.