Bang! Cock!

Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
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Trip End Dec 24, 2011


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Saturday, November 12, 2011

12/11/2011:

Our bus to Bangkok is INSANE. It thinks it is a plane with reclining seats, in-journey TV, blankets, free food and a ground-stewardess. The chairs recline back so we are almost laying down, very comfortable with tons of leg room, so the 10 hours go by very quickly.

Driving to the bus station at dusk with sights of Bangkok is beautiful, but a little overwhelming as we haven't seen a huge city in a little while. The flooding isn't evident on the elevated highway, and only mildlyt when we pull up into the station, a few roads have shallow flooding. We are swamped by 4 or 5 taxi drivers when we get off the bus, and they seem to tell us that the Ko San road is flooded by gesturing to their knees to show the level of water. So we decide to go to the place that Judith stayed at, the Shanti Lodge, which is a little less central.

The place is very nice, dutch owned and very culturaly aware with info in the room about adapting to thai culture and urging patrons to be patient with staff whose english isn't perfect. The restaurant/bar is open at the front but hidden by green vines facing the road. We have a quiet evening, tired from the journey and play some cards.

13/11/2011

We have breakfast at the lodge and get chatting to a girl from Belgium who we saw the night before, hard at work on her laptop. We leave Judith and Tina chatting and head to the Ko San Road with the idea to trace our steps from the day we arrived. On our way we stop at a little shop on the corner, Claire see's some balls of wool and remembers her lonley crochet hook in her bag. The little Thai woman inside speaks amazing English and draws us a map of the sights to see in the area. She writes the names in English and in Thai and offers to be our guide the following day. We say that we already have plans but have a chat with her about where we have been. The standard of English here is far better than in Laos, especially for the older generation.
We arrive at Ko San to find no flooding in sight and have a coffee in the same place we did at the start. It is nice to be here without jet-lag and we enjoy the fact that it is somewhat quieter, probably because of travellers avoiding Bangkok incase of flooding. After coffee we stroll down to the river front and then we see the flooding. The lower platforms nearest the river are now completely under water. Along the street, water flows out into the gutters, but the sand bags put to control it do just that. 

When we start walking south to get onto the main road into the city centre a Tuk Tuk driver tells us that the are is closed due to flooding. So we walk back down the Ko San and bump into Judith and Tina. We make plans to maybe meet Tina later at Cabbages and Condoms for dinner, and Judith comes with us to the Bangkok arts and culture centre.

We walk (for a long time!) and take in the Bangkok sights, passing through busy markets and quieter streets, tourists and locals, traffic and tramps until we get to the arts centre in need of some air con.
The space is impressive, aparently heavily inspired by NYC's guggenheim. (which Claire calls the googly woogly because she can't speak properly.) There are shop spaces in between exhibitions on the first 4 floors, including the 'empower, womans lib store'. The two main exhibitons on the top floors are a painting competition to celebrate the king's 84th birthday, and the other one is based on water related natural disasters. The quality of art in the first exhibition is amazing, and although the subject seems a little dated to us, the paintings certainly are not. Some are portraits of the king and others take on a more modern art interpretation. We spend most of the time playing 'where's wally' spotting the king reference in each piece. (No disrespect to the Thai king intended, the term 'wally' is not in reference to him personally, we are sure he is a lovely bloke.)
After we are done being arty, we get on the sky train into the heart of Bangkok's business centre for dinner at Cabbages and Condoms, the beautiful restaurant that our beloved tour guide Lek took us to when we arrived! We wait for a while for Tina, but when she doesn't show we go ahead and order. Just when we tuck in she arrives with lots to tell of her crazy day in Bangkok, including pictures of her punk rocker Tuk Tuk driver.
After dinner we decide to make and effort and go to a bar. Tina picks out one from her guidebook described as 'futuristic' so we try and find it. We come across a big white building that looks like a giant tampon made of sheet metal and set up on concrete pillars. The whole place is lit up in stark white and blue lighting and a beautiful Thai lady and equally beautiful Thai man stand with clipbord and podium in tow. We rock up looking sweaty in our jeans and t-shirts, but they kindly let us in anyway and we see why when inside, the place is dead. Drinks cost more than a night in a cheap guesthouse, but we treat ourselves and sit outside where we have our own waiter who changes our ashtray everytime we flick ash into it. (well, not quite but you know what I mean.)
After our stupidly expensive drinks (even for London standards) we get a cab back to the lodge for a few drinks. And then we meet .. Frank.
Frank is originally from Germany, with the accent to boot, is about mid to late 50's, quite fat, has the presence of 'Rain man' and "works for Interpol". During a beer run at the bar Tina (a lawyer who knows these things) tells Jo that if he did work for Interpol, he wouldn't have told us he works for Interpol; he also wouldn't have told us the stream of conspiracy theories that he tells as if they are fact... 'interesting' guy. It gets more interesting. About ten minutes after sitting with us (not before a whole lot of jittery back and forth mind) he asks if his freind can join us. He tells us they have been freinds for 20 years so of course we say yes of course we're happy for him to join us. Good, he says, my friend is in the bag. Claire thinks it is a gun and braces herself, however it is a snoopy teddy bear. This is Scooby Doo. Wow. Frank's friend is a 22 year old scraggly teddy bear, that looks like it has been sexually abused and which he makes speak and dance and say weird things.  
As the evening goes on, Frank gets more unsettled/unsettling. We are all rather pleased when he leaves, and the conversation errupts into lots of, "whats the fuck?" s. After a very interesting evening, we crawl to bed.

14/11/2011

Wrecked and still a little drunk, we have to be out of our rooms by 10am. We sit with Judith and Tina for most of the morning drinking stupid amounts of coffee. A couple of Australian guys join us for a chat, one has a tiny turtle he bought at a nearby market to put into the guest house's fish tank. After a while we jump in a cab to our airport hotel, bidding goodbye to the city of Bangkok as we go and saying that it doesn't seem likely that we will never be back.

Our driver drives at ridiculous speed to the hotel and gets lost for a while. Ironically, (because we booked a hotel next to the airport incase the flooding was too bad in the city) the road to the hotel from the highway is the most flooded we have seen, at least a foot of water. The driver tries to drive through it, but we tell him that we will walk as the car definitely can't swim, and it is rather a lot of water. 
On the side of the pavement, there is a little raised wooden platform to walk down. Of course, we ignore this and try walking on the dryer side of the pavement. However, the water underneath the slats causes them to move when we tread on them so luckily for us a big car from the hotel is driving by from an airport pick up and it picks us up.  

The rest of the day is brain dead. There is TV. And room service. Fly tomorrow. Nuff said.     


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