Well I made it. That was a long series of flights. The flight from Atlanta to Tokyo was not so much a journey as a temporary lifestyle. I watched four complete movies and some TV, ate three and a half meals, read and slept.
I’m staying at a place called the Sawasdee Bangkok Inn. It’s alright. Sawasdee means hello, so when you say “Sawasdee” to a taxi driver he says, “Sawasdee” and you look at each other until he realizes your an idiot. There are at least half a million Sawasdee guest houses around Khao San Road, which is where the backpackers congregate. The taxi driver from the airport new all of them except the Bangkok Inn.
It has been exceedingly easy to get around in Bangkok. Most of the taxi drivers and Tuk-Tuk pilots speak enough English, and there are helpful people seemingly everywhere. Yesterday, I toured my legs off seeing some of the major sights in Bangkok, including Wat Po and the Grand Palace, and took a boat trip around the canals. On the canal we were served a tasty beverage by a woman who paddled up in a small boat.
Today I got up at 11 and finally felt rested up. I’ve applied for a visa to Laos, and purchased a bus ticket to Chang Mai in Northern Thailand. I’ll head up there tomorrow night. The train was booked up except first class.
I took the subway out to an area of Bangkok that has a lot of western stores. There’s an Office Depot and a Tops supermarket and two KFCs within a block of each other. There were also a lot of American clothing stores. It amazes me that people here will pay 25 dollars for a shirt at an American mall store when they can have shirts custom made for a fraction of that, or buy them from a street vendor for a dollar. Logos are everywhere, most of them are unlicensed.
The traffic is not as bad as I expected. The motorcycle drivers are crazy, and you see some weird loads. A Tuk-Tuk is like the front end of a motorcycle with two rear wheels. They don’t seem to be much cheaper than taxis, but they’re more fun. There are also some vehicles with two wheels in the front and one in the back. Sometimes they are peddle-powered and sometimes motor powered. They’re used for hauling things that can’t somehow be tied to the back of a moped. Today, I saw one with three large (five foot long, maybe 80 pound) propane tanks. I couldn’t quite get a picture of it.
So far, so good. I am, as usual, more excited about the trip now that I’m here.