I should have blogged this weeks ago –forcing myself out of my lazy blog funk!!
The first day of October and I was treated like a tourist princess. I had asked Marius to treat me like a tourist and he did just that! He took control of the whole outing.
I walked from my place to the bus stop at Big C Chaengwattana. There are no bus schedules so estimating commute times is nearly impossible. The buses come and go however they please and don’t always stop EVEN when you are waving at them. I wish I could say standing and waiting at the bus stop is pleasurable…but man oh man is it ever hot on your legs when the sun hits you! Took me about 40 minutes on the 166 bus to get to the Victory Monument stop. From there I caught the BTS skytrain to the Siam stop. Love the BTS! It runs so efficiently and air conditioned. I don’t always get a chance to sit, but the asian TV ads are able to distract me pretty well! From Siam I walked a short distance to MBK where Marius and I met up. We walked to the canals where we hopped on. Marius was telling me that not many tourists use the canals as a mode of transportation. The price of tickets has stayed reasonably low. The signage to locate the docks are not clearly marked with English maps or names so farang/falang (like myself would have no idea how to differentiate the different stops)! So glad he was with me or I would have stayed on the boat all day. The operators of the boat shoo people on and off the boats so quickly that you NEED to be ready to jump off when it is your stop. What would have been around a one hour bus ride was a cool 20 minute scenic boat ride. We walked passed The Grand Palace on our way to Khao San.
I finally got to see Khao San Road…during the day. As a popular backpackers stomping ground, it takes on two different personalities! Around midday they stop all the vehicle traffic along the road and make it “night life friendly”. I was excited to see all the food stalls and especially the little collectible trinket stalls. I finally saw the tourist Tshirts! We stopped in at a couple of used bookstores to search for some books my Daddy-O recommended for me. No luck finding them but I found LOTSSS of other books. Don’t think I will be buying a new book for awhile!
Soi Rambutri was a lot quieter. A gorgeous stretch filled with restaurants. We passed a fish pedicure salon! I want to try it one day. The sensation of having fish pick away at, and then eat your dead skin must feel so weird!! We stopped for food and drink at a funky little restaurant. We were both attracted by the shade and fans!
We boarded a boat at the Phra Arthit Pier and headed towards Sukhumvitt. We chose to board the local boat (that was more than half the fare) as opposed to the tourist or farang/falang boat. We had to hop on the BTS for a couple of stops. Again I was a very happy tourist looking at ALL THE SHOPS. It was late afternoon so the stalls weren’t too busy. I witnessed my first car accident while trying to cross a busy intersection. Marius and I heard this extremely LOUD CRUNCH and saw a bus drive into the left side of a truck. We heard the crunch then saw the bus TRY to keep moving straight..further metal on metal action. It really felt like slow motion. Luckily there was no passenger in the truck. Both vehicles were turning left and it seemed like it was the buses fault..but who knows how that issue was resolved.
We went to some more book stores and found another restaurant to stop and eat at. The restaurant was cute and quirky. As we progressed into the meal I was reminded to always pack insect repellant. The bugs were relentless and forced Marius to run to the nearest 7 Eleven! I ordered sticky rice and mangoes. I was surprised at how sweet the rice was. I don’t remember it being this way. I felt like I was being hit with a huge sugar rush.
It was a great day of sightseeing.The humidity was a great excuse to pop into different places for refreshing drinks!I loved being navigated around and not being stressed about getting lost.
Forgot to mention we also saw the building and alley/soi where Hangover 2 was filmed.
Thanks for reading! The countdown is ON until I move back into the city. EXCITED. I. am. to be closer to friends!!
I woke up to my delicious breakfast of: sticky rice, fresh fruit and coconut yogurt. (As I type this I notice little ants crawling all over my keyboard – They better stay clear of my fingers or they will be squashed or blown away!) Pi Loong brought over some freshly cut up papaya for me because she thought EVERYBODY loved it…I am the minority. That is one fruit I just do not enjoy. I did try a piece since I haven’t had a piece in years. I will admit it wasn’t as bad as I remember it being but I was not a converted fan!
After breakfast we had a look at my map AGAIN. I just feel so disoriented. In New Zealand I was trying to circle places on my map where; hostels, hotels, Babies Home and friend’s lived. In general I have a horrible sense of direction and was really wanting to get a visual of where everything was located. My Thai/English map is pretty detailed but it is still so hard to find anything. Pi Loong says there are just so many streets in Thailand! I had the address of Hope Academy School and Pi Loong said she knew where it was, but I wasn’t convinced. To her defense; she knows the Suhkumvit area really well. She was born in Thailand but has been living in the United States on and off for 18 years. I keep calling her my little American because she is so westernized now. All I knew was we had to head towards Victory Monument then walk a few blocks more to the school.
We caught a bus easily. I like how passengers pay their fare once they are seated. A bus attendant comes to give you your ticket and change if needed. What I will have to get use to is hailing the bus and climbing the stairs as it is moving. I watch people hop on with their flip flops and I worry that they will miss a step and fall and get crushed! We got off at the Victory Monument stop and thought we were going the right direction by walking along Ratchawitee Road. Unfortunately what we were not aware of was the fact that we were going in the opposite direction. We kept walking and walking and I couldn’t see ANY building numbers. Pi Loong asked a motorcyclist where to go and HE LED US a Stray BIG TIME. She had advised me to always ask a motorcyclist if you are lost because the “the streets are theirs”. They will always know the roads better than taxi drivers. Well my first experience with them wasn’t amazing. We passed a street sign pointing out different locations of landmarks. It showed that Victory Monument was behind us. At this point I had a strong feeling we were lost and going in the opposite direction. It was HOT and I was getting disgusting purse sweat! As we kept walking she informed me that the motorcyclist said he would take us to our destination but she said NO WAY! She was too scared and never rode them. She said we were learning by walking. After more walking she finally asked another 2 motorcyclists for help. I was confused when Pi Loong told me okay we would go with them. She had passed up the last offer. Now I knew we were lost. I was excited to finally be able to stop walking!
So my first motorcycle experience in Thailand was scary FUN. My friends KNOW I love me some motorcycles. The faster the better! But these drivers weave in and out of traffic like they own the road. I was peering inside peoples’ cars and inches away from touching their side mirrors. I thought it was great that Pi Loong was facing her fears and that we might actually make it. WELL while on the motorcycles our drivers stopped a few times to ask for help. So my confidence in finding the school was wavering. They dropped us off at a building and told us we were close to where we needed to go. IT WAS NO WHERE NEAR the right place. We were both frustrated at this point. Pi Loong wasn’t happy that they dropped us off at the wrong place and now we were more lost. Well we eventually did make it back to Victory Monument by way of taxi. I think there is around 5 lanes of traffic that loop around the Monument with 8 different turnoffs? That may be an exaggeration but It is one busy place. We had been so close — if we had just taken a different direction when we got off the original bus ride. Luckily we DID make it to the school. I think it took us 3 hours or so to make it but it was worth the journey. The school didn’t’t look anything like the website pictures. It is located down a soi (small side street) and I never would have found it without actively looking for a sign. I was relieved to see a receptionist when I entered the building. Unfortunately I quickly realized the receptionist that spoke English was on a break and this girl covering barely spoke. Considering it is a language school to Learn Thai you would think they would have had someone who spoke more English than she did. She kept trying to get me to fill out enrollment forms. I was trying to tell her I was already signed up and paid my fees. I wanted to know the class schedule and if I needed to sign in? Pi Loong was trying to help translate but it was making the girl more confused. She was on the phone a few times to tell the receptionist they had lost my paperwork and she didn’t know what to do. At this point I BEGAN TO WORRY that maybe I wasn’t signed up as a student and my middle man had organized my visa but not my tuition fees. I was trying to get a hold of him and he wasn’t answering his Thai number. That made me nervous. I WAS NOT GOING being scammed was I? The girl was asking me for my passport and if my paperwork had gone to Laos? Thankfully another staff member that spoke English cleared everything up for me. He informed me you simply show up for classes. Again, that seemed odd. How did they know I had paid a year’s worth of tuition if they couldn’t even locate my paperwork? Oh well not my issue. What did rattle me a bit was when the staff member was asking me why I didn’t speak Thai. He was asking me what level of Thai I felt I was. I answered that I was definitely a beginner!! He didn’t seem to believe me. I explained that I was raised in Canadian and therefor never learned Thai. Hence the reason why I had enrolled for classes. He thought it was funny that I didn’t know Thai. Like he was expecting me to be fluent in it. Kept asking, “Really? Really why don’t you know it”? Hopefully these classes pay off! After at least an hour of unnecessary waiting we were finally able to continue our day.
We caught the BTS Skytrain back to the BIG C near the hotel. At this point it was around 4:30 and I was exhausted and sweaty. I was hoping to go back to the hotel and shower and grab a quick nap before meeting a new friend Kaimook at 7:00 at MBK. Pi Loong thought it was best we go on the BTS Skytrain and head over to MBK now. I half-heartedly agreed. I had not planned on looking or feeling the way I did to meet a friend for the first time. I wanted to freshen up but it wasn’t really my call. I would get totally lost without Pi Loong’s help so whatever she was saying goes! I bought a pass for the BTS and tried to catch a couple minutes of sleep. We got off at the Siam stop…and then Pi Loong started to ask for directions. We weren’t lost this time..just needed a little push in the right direction. I felt the need to apologize to Kaimook when I saw her. She had come straight over from work and was dressed in a lovely skirt and blouse with gorgeous heels! I was in my denim shorts and tshirt…with frizzy haggard looking hair. It was quite the contrast. She laughed it off and said I looked like a tourist. Oh man I will need to class up the wardrobe once I am employed 🙂
Photo found on google images
MBK is 7 story shopping mall that is VERY popular to both tourist and locals. There are so many different shops and gadget booths. Kaimook was my technology angel that night. We went to her friend’s stall so we could get the “friends discount”. I got my internet all sorted out. I traded in my locked iphone 4 for a gently used unlocked iphone 4s. They transferred all my pictures and some of my contacts over. I had to buy a data plan for my sim card so I could get 3G internet and wifi but I am all hooked up now. It has been great to actually have an Iphone that works again. I used to have to push the home button repeatedly until it worked. Taking pictures was a nightmare because it took so long to get to the camera! I am also glad I didn’t buy an internet stick for my laptop because it can share a network with my phone. So convenient! It will be nice to be back to only having one phone! In Ne w Zealand I always had to make sure I had to have my Iphone (to take pictures and wifi) and my NZ phone J
We dined at a yummy Thai restaurant then said our goodbyes. Pi Sangwan met up with us at the hotel later that evening. It was so nice to have Pi Loong and Pi Sangwan together in the same room again!
This was a pretty long blog. I plan to keep the upcoming ones shorter. NOT full day experiences anymore. Too time consuming trying to stay current on my blog and journal!
Thanks for reading
xox Amanda Sumalee
PS. The 3G internet is great when it is working. Unfortunately for me it is pretty sporadic. Just decides when it wants to work! Luckily there are a lot of free wifi areas close to the apartment and most bus stops have TRUE wifi host spots which is my service provider.
PPS. Remember you can click on ANY of the pictures to make them bigger and clearer 🙂