Arriving in Bangkok

April 1, 2017

I made it safe and sound from Montreal to Bangkok. Well, okay, safe for sure, sound may be debatable given a decided dearth of sleep. I calculated that I’d been up over 40 hours but hadn’t gotten more than 4 hours sleep, total.

Anyway, I didn’t want to sleep upon arrival, knowing I wouldn’t sleep later that night if I did. So, I decided to enjoy the air con for a bit before exploring the area and finding food.

It was a long ride from the airport, with the latter part of it in stop and go traffic, but the car was comfortable. In fact, nearly all the cars I’d seen were brand new and sparkling, which came as a bit of a surprise.

My hostel was at the end of a narrow alley connected to other narrow alleys that branch off narrow streets, so it should be fun to explore, and I saw plenty of food stalls on the way in . . .

I also figured out that 1 CAD was equivalent to about 25 baht, which made it pretty easy to calculate.

The lady who ran the hostel there was very friendly and helpful. She seemed confused as to why I had so much luggage for a five day stay, kept asking if someone else would be joining me.

On my first full day in Bangkok I did not get lost. Anyone who knows me well knows that’s a big deal. When the driver taking me from the airport to my hotel had cut into a long alley (alleys here are called soi and are more like very narrow lanes, with addresses and even vendors) and then had to turn down a couple dog-legs before stopping, well, I was sure I would promptly get lost the moment I stepped out of my hotel.

But I’ve figured it out . . . at least this tiny area, anyway. The city has enormous blocks criss-crossed with alleys that act as extra space for addresses (especially shops) and short cuts to the main roads (these alleys are even occasionally labeled as “shorter way to”).

So I’ve learned to navigate my current neighborhood and even found the place where I’ll be doing my training, just a 20 minute walk from my hotel (10 if I use one of the soi).

The food is good but especially remarkable for its price. The meals I’ve had, essentially various stir fries with rice, would be considered just fine in a sit down restaurant in Montreal, but I got mine on the side of the street and paid less than $2 for one and about $5 for the other, though it included a large beer.

I ventured into one of the city’s largest malls. It’s rather impressive, like a whole other world. There are shanty towns just blocks away but the mall is world-class, all shiny chrome and designer brand items. It’s also where I’ve seen the most tourists.

The traffic is . . . intense. It’s also the source of the city’s noisiness but you kinda get used to it; it just fades into the background since it’s so constant. There’s no yelling or shouting or screaming children, just traffic and some construction, and it all just feeds into the city’s energy.

Bangkok isn’t what I’d call pretty, but at night it really comes to life, feeling like something both pleasurable and dangerous, like an exotic sex act.