Our first night train experience this trip turned out to be a comfy one. The Thai trains are in great shape complete with full length sleeper berths and a nice dining car. We ate some dinner and it had a distinct Darjeeling Limited feel, if you know the movie.
After dinner, the nice Thai man who ran our train car with German-like efficiency transformed our seats into a top and bottom bunk in about 2.3 seconds. No joke, I was gonna get a video of him or something, but all it turned out to be was this blurry photo because he was moving so fast. After he finished, he turns to us and says “Thank you, have nice night.” Walks away.
We got off the train and headed to the famous backpacker district of Bangkok, Khao San Road. Bangkok is basically the hub and main city in all of Southeast Asia, and it’s huge. The area near Khao San Road it’s backpacker central, where there are millions of tank tops, tuktuks (motorbike taxis), bars, clubs, street food, and definitely hawkers trying to sell you everything under the sun.
So we get our taxi from the bus station to Khao San Road, and we are walking down the street when another backpacker flags us down. He says he needs help, and we say of course we will help. His name is Erik and his Dutch self just off the plane from Amsterdam. All three of us try to find a place to stay in the area and finally settle on a marginal place. Erik was in a bit of a culture-shock coming from Europe, and understandably so! Asia is a strange mistress the first time around.
The three of us get dinner that night and share moments talking about our first time in Asia. Erik is a really nice guy who is on his first backpacking trip. Such a thrill ride going alone! Of course we showed him the traveler hospitality and gave him some tips for the next few months. We went out for some drinks after, then called it an early night due to travel.
We had a few goals with our three days in Bangkok: they were 1) get cleats for the upcoming ultimate tournament in Cambodia 2) See the Grand Palace 3) Have fun I guess.
First up was the Grand Palace. Bangkok is one of the hottest places in SEA (maybe its all the concrete), and in the Grand Palace, you have to wear long pants and a shirt (no tank tops). They actually provide you with clothes as long as you give them a deposit, but its just balls hot the entire time. That said, the Grand Palace is extremely ornate and extremely amazing.
On Saturday, the three of us went to THE MARKET. This is the only market you need to know about in Bangkok, the Chatuchak Weekend Market. There are something like 20,000 stalls and 35 acres of pure Thai knock-off souvenirs, home décor, shoes, designer shirts, restaurants, swords, musical instruments, etc. This is all about our first main goal; to buy cleats. We had a hell of a time finding cleats in the first place, and finding cleats big enough for both of us, in the second place. I have normal size feet for the US, but HUGE feet for asian sizes. I finally found a size that would fit so I snatched them up. Maria had a hard time, but she found some too soon enough. Erik was looking for a guitar, which sadly, was not found.
The next day we got on our bus to Siem Reap, Cambodia…. finally a new country!