Bangkok’s main backpacker area is centered on a road called Khoa San: it is really infamous as being rowdy and trashy, but it is one of the areas which you just have to visit while you are here
. It is also going to be the setting for the next "Hangover 2" film, if you’ve ever seen the first one they’re gonna trade Mike Tyson’s tiger for an evil monkey….honest. Our guesthouse is about 5 minutes away from Khoa San, so we started the day by going down to have a look around. As we were getting closer there were more and more market stalls and more and more hung-over 18 year old London teenagers roaming the streets, but when we actually reached Khoa San it was nowhere near as bad as we had expected! The markets were actually incredibly cheap and everyone was really friendly: I think that now we have survived the horrors of Kuta in Bali we can survive anywhere and Khoa San seemed pretty tame by comparison! After we walked around for a little while we decided to head to the canal barge to get our passports back. On the way we started to notice a huge golden bell that was raised on a big hill in the middle of the city: as we got closer to the canal we realized that we were only a few streets away from the bell. As we had a couple of hours to spare, we went exploring to find out what the bell was. It ended up being the best thing we did during our time in Bangkok! The bell is part of a Buddhist temple called The Golden Mount. It is raised above street level by a huge hill that has been built to house it; you climb a set of circular steps that go around the outside of the temple and then climb a really steep stairwell to the roof of the temple to see the bell at the very top.
The temple was so incredibly peaceful: there were monks everywhere, bells tinkling, people praying and chanting. Because we were raised so high up the hill we had amazing views of the city and felt very privileged to get such an unusual perspective on Bangkok: despite being in one of the world’s busiest cities, we both felt calm and serene sitting on the roof and soaking up the atmosphere.
We could have stayed there all day but we needed to collect our visas so we descended the hill and caught the canal barge to Siam Square. At the embassy we were incredibly happy to find that we had been granted our Vietnamese visas!! Yaay, we’re going to Vietnam!!
Later we got some food from one of the food halls and decided to go watch a movie at the cinema. We haven’t been to the cinema since we were in Katoomba, Australia back in October so it felt like a real treat to go. When we got there we found out that Bangkok has got an IMAX theatre and considering that it only costs £5 a ticket, compared to £16 in England, we decided to give it a go. The screen was colossal and the sound was amazing…shame the film was pretty rubbish, but we really didn’t mind because we were just happy to see a film in IMAX. Afterwards we got a taxi back to our guesthouse and decided to try some local beer from the corner shop….the only problem was that what we thought was a bottle of beer, turned out to be the cheapest arsed rice wine imaginable. It tasted more like anti-freeze than alcohol and we gave it up as a bad job and settled in for an early night: we still haven’t fully recovered from the bus to Bangkok and we are starting to look like a pair of zombies!
After catching up on some much needed sleep we were up again with the lark for our second day in Bangkok. We were treated to yet another amazing breakfast and we stocked up on plenty of coffee to keep us going during the day. We had a lovely surprise this morning when we realized that the guesthouses book-swap area had copies of the two guidebooks which we still needed to buy: Lonely Planet guides to China and Beijing! These would have cost us a fortune to buy at home, I think the China guide is over £35, so we were made up when we managed to get them for free here… they weight a ton but we don't care, they were free!! Our only plans for today are to head back over the Siam Square area to pick up our passports and visas from the Vietnamese Embassy at 4pm… until then we had the rest of the day to explore the city!