Days 15-17: Bangkok again
After arriving back on the mainland at Don Sak pier again my Russian companion from Ko Phangan, whom I will call Ms Russia, and I got off the ferry and waited for our bus to disembark the ferry as well. After some scrambling about figuring out which bus we were to take, we loaded up our stuff into the luggage hold and boarded the bus. Unfortunately we were seated near the back, where the toilets were. Luckily there weren’t many patrons to the mobile loo and there were only a couple of moments where the waft of ammonia bothered me.
The 12 or so hour journey went by relatively quick with a stop-by at a terminal giving passengers an opportunity to stretch their legs and grab a bite. With a few bouts of sleep on the bus, we arrived in Bangkok in the morning and spent a good 10 minutes figuring out how to get out of the terminal.
Ms Russia was off to stay in Khao San road and I had booked a highly rated hostel on hostelworld.com called Bed Station. After a not so pleasant stay in Khao San road, I was prepared to pay the slightly pricier tag of 450THB per night (200 more than my hostel on KS road). We bid our goodbyes and headed off in our separate directions.
Arriving at the hostel around an hour later, I signed in to the amazing hostel. The decor was modern with a bit of an industrial feel to it. I felt the use of materials made the hostel feel clean and cozy with an emphasis on concrete, exposed bricks and wood (as opposed to vinyl, tiles and so on). I really liked the organization of this hostel with a lift to access all five floors of it and a common shower/bathroom on the fourth floor. The free breakfast consisted of bread and a variety of spreads, nothing fancy but thoughtful. Check-in wasn’t until 2pm so I mulled about for a while, streaming some Suits.
After running out of episodes to watch, I decided to do what I planned the previous day which was to do some more cheap shopping! On my list were MBK, one of the newer, bigger malls in Bangkok and another mall called Terminal 21.
MBK wasn’t as fantastic as I had heard it to be, 5 or 6 floors with only 2 of them having good shopping in the Thai style of small shops lined in a grid. I met up with Ms Russia and had some street food right outside the mall and then we headed off to Terminal 21, two or so stations away on the BTS (a skytrain transport line).
Terminal 21 was better, a more boutique style of shopping with greater variety and more unique items for sale. The mall is themed with each floor decorated according to a country. For example, the ground floor was themed Rome and had statues. The other floors were themed Paris, London and some other places I can’t remember. The dresses on the women’s boutique floor were quite pretty though the prices were in the higher range costing at least 800THB but usually around 1500 – 2000THB and above. The men’s level was a bit better for prices but all in all my favourite shopping place in Bangkok is still Platinum mall in the Pratunuam district.
After shopping, we went to Soi Cowboy. A lane filled with strip clubs and bars, it was what was pretty much a red light district of Bangkok. After a couple of beers at a sports bar, my companion returned back to her hostel and I ventured off to experience the place alone. Hearing stories about the ping pong show, I heard that many would not watch it again and I decided to stay clear of that for some self preservation.
Having never been to a strip club, I wandered into one of the curtained doors, being ushered in by presumably the lady of the house. The night was still young, probably around 6pm, and there was only one other patron there. A middle aged Caucasian man in his 40s. A stage was there with three poles, about a metre from the bar with three girls who danced unenthusiastic-ally. The girls rotated every song, with one girl going off and another going on. In total there were around six dancers who would keep rotating.
I sat by the bar with my beer and observed the often talked about rituals of old Caucasian men (or man in this case) and Thai women. The man couldn’t keep his hands to himself and would touch the dancers somewhat inappropriately. I watched the seedy behaviour and appointed myself as interim bodyguard if anything escalated (in my head anyway).
The man then started to leave and the prospect of being alone in what I realized was more likely a Go-Go club, I downed my beer and followed suit. It was a rather awkward and uncomfortable experience to say the least.
I headed over to Khao San Road after dropping my shopping off at the hostel to have dinner with my travel companion on the journey to Bangkok, and her new found Peruvian friend from the hostel. Enjoying the cheap, delicious street food for one last time I got a disappointing Pad Thai but finished off my meal with a good mango sticky rice.
My second day back in Bangkok and the last day of the trip left me in a solemn mood. Not really sure what to do with my last remaining day, I met up once again with Ms Russia.
It was the day my trip would finally end. My flight was at 9pm and so I had one last day in the capital of Thailand. Opting to do my shopping, I returned back to the Pratunuam district with the intention of going to Platinum mall again. An IT mall was on the way there and I wandered into it, buying myself some cheap tech gear including a Powerbank which I wish I had got before embarking on the trip. Following that, I walked one block over to Platinum mall and spent what remaining cash I had on clothes and then returned back to the hostel to chill until my flight time.
Receiving a text from Ms Russia for lunch, we met up and then wanting to maximize my food experience of Bangkok, we went hunting for street food. Finding an alley, we ended up with some chicken noodle thing which was pretty tasty but left us wondering if food poisoning would follow. Luckily, no food poisoning was encountered.
We collectively decided to get a massage following lunch. I had been in Thailand for two weeks but had only taken one massage in that time and thought it would both kill time before my flight and make use of the 200THB, 1 hr massages. Entering our chosen massage parlour, we picked the 1 hr traditional thai massage. With nothing but a thin curtain separating the three beds used for the massage, along with the old looking flowery sheets and dim lighting it felt like another kind of place.
I was directed to the middle bed with what I gathered to be an elderly lady to my right and Ms Russia to my left. As I sat in darkness waiting for my masseuse, it was a rather uncomfortable predicament as I questioned my life choices. My masseuse showed up soon enough and it was a man and I sheepishly went along with it from my lack of assertiveness. Most of the massage involved me trying not to die as elbows dug into my muscles and some uncomfortably close thigh massages left me feeling violated.
After the massage, which was unexpectedly uncomfortable, we headed off in our different directions as I went back to the hostel to prepare for the airport. The hostel was close to Phaya Thai station and I walked there to take the Airport Rail Link, looking and feeling rather like a fool cradling my duffel bag full of shopping. A straight train costing 45THB, I reached the airport around half an hour later and began my reluctant journey home.
My two weeks in Thailand was one of the most amazing times of my life with so many unforgettable experiences. I met so many other amazing people from a great array of countries and learned about many different cultures and languages. Travelling solo was the best decision I could have made, it pushed me beyond my comfort zone and gave me so many opportunities that would not have come by if I traveled with others. But that will be a whole other post by itself!
From Bangkok, to magical Ko Tao then to party Ko Phangan then back to Bangkok again, Thailand was truly an unforgettable experience!
Below is the dive video of my 14 dives on Ko Tao. Armed with only a GoPro and with bad visibility, I tried my best with my amateur video editing skills to create a highlight reel of my diving experience. I don’t believe this video at all captures the freedom and awe-inspiring moments that I had underwater but alas, it will have to do.