First Time, Great Time
(I returned from my first holiday in Thailand and felt all sad and gay. I emailed Stick and told him off my feelings and how I wanted to return and work in the land of smiles. He unexpectedly emailed me back and provided some much needed advice. This is a small account of my little adventure. I won’t bore you with the day to day details, just a few of the more interesting bits. A fresh prospective from a first timer.)
2:25am local time as I walk through the labyrinth that is BKK International Airport.
It is my first time setting foot in this unfamiliar land and actually my first time travelling to a non-English speaking country.
I have come alone. No friends to meet. No real objective, just live and experience.
Of course I have some goals I want to achieve, eat an insect, shooting range, markets, Cowboy. All the usual tourist things but no real purpose other than finding purpose (cheesy, I know). It’s not that I’m looking for enlightenment, just looking.
“Hey, you want taxi?”
“Umm, no thanks”.
I’d read all about what to expect (Stickman site included) in regards to being ripped off etc… and how to avoid it, so I felt my research was good and I was prepared.
Walking, walking and have no idea where I’m going. The place I’m at looks exactly the same as the place I was at 5 minutes ago. I’ve been in the country less than 20 minutes and I’m bloody lost in the airport, plus all these pricks keep yelling at me from all directions and all floors, even two levels up! I keep expecting to see David Bowie walking on the ceiling.
The Kiwi in me wants to tell ‘em all to fxxx off politely, but my head and research suggests otherwise. Frustrated and jetlagged.
“Yes please, the XXXXX Hotel, near Soi Cowboy I think”.
“Woe dude, too much”
“This Bangkok, this Airport, you hotel very far, Thai baht very cheap!”
Too tired to give a shit, let’s go.
“OK, let’s go”
In the country 30 minutes and already ripped off. Cool.
3:00am on the motorway and there’s cars everywhere. Strange but this is exactly what I wanted to see. A big city that never sleeps. Hustle and bustle.
As the porter shows me to my room he walks around touching things and saying their names. “Phone, TV, fridge for drink, phone.”
Ok, the dude wants a tip but I’m not feeling it. I’m not an asshole, I just don’t think doing your job and pointing out the obvious constitutes me giving you money.
He walks towards the door and closes it behind him. The problem was, he was in the room when he closed it. Approaching me in a tip toe like manner and whispering.
“You want girl.”
“My girlfriend she come your room.”
“It’s ok, thanks anyway.”
“Very good (wink wink).”
Dude, It’s 3:30 in the morning and I just ended a 14 hour journey, if you don’t get the fxxx out of my room with all that tip toeing shit…
Morning has broken, like the first moooorning.
As I arrived in the night I still haven’t seen Bangkok at all. Finally after all the planning, packing and travelling now all I have to do is walk outside.
I’ve read so much about the first impressions people have, of the smiles and warmth of the people, of the sweet smells of jasmine and spices in the air. I step outside and it hits me like a smash in the face with pooh baseball bat.
“Jasmine? What fxxxen jasmine?”
The smell is like a warm fart that’s just gone through an engine, all hot and diesely. Seriously, think about that for a minute. That is the perfect description of it. Ponder it because it took a while for me to nail it down (admittedly, walking around Bangkok I did experience the sweet smells I had read about).
Smells are great, even bad ones. They store in memory banks and make you feel things. You associate different smells with memories and emotions. It all adds to the experience.
Walking around Bangkok different smells were introducing themselves to my nostrils and reintroducing themselves, then all mixing together the way paint did when you were little, you get a shit-coloured grey in the end.
People were… people. Don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe I was hoping that I’d be worshipped by these strange ewoks like I was C3PO, their long lost god returning with my mighty biceps and a magical penis. Not the case. It got to the point where I was happy just to make eye contact, and it was unusual if I received acknowledgement from anyone not selling something. Ah, just like home.
Walked around Bangkok for 7 hours on the first day. Street food was excellent, tuktuks noisy, weather hot and sticky (but I liked it), traffic terrible, beggars were tragic and people were just people.
I was surprised by the amount of ugly chicks around though. I mean, I was expecting Thai beauties, and there were a few, but there was also a huge amount of ugly chicks around that looked nothing like the girls on the Thai Airways ad. All in all it was a very good day.
First night in Bangkok and it’s off to Cowboy.
This is what I’m talking about! This is what those Stickmanites were on about! This, is, the, shit! Lights, beer and naked chicks. Paradise.
The first place I went in (big place on right about quarter way down, lots of blue lights) and I fell in love with a skinny Chinese looking girl named …can’t remember. I barfined her almost straight away. I know, I know, but this girl was very … ok I’ll be honest, she was gorgeous but it wasn’t that that sealed the deal.
“Umm… I don’t know, I’m a bit scared.”
“Why you scared?”
“Well I only just arrived in Bangkok and I can’t tell who’s a boy and who’s a girl.”
At that point without saying a word she lifts her skirt, opens her legs and shows me the place where the donkey kicked her.
Before I leave, her friend gives me a hug and I feel a hand in my pocket. It seems that she must have been watching me because she new exactly which pocket I had all my money in. I grab her arm and look her in the eye. She gives me a ‘oh, ha ha, no big deal’ look in return. Now I could do a few things in this situation but the truth is I really didn’t give a shit. You see, I am no angel either and where I come from (area, not country) you gotta have your wits about you 'cos crime is just another occupation. It was nothing personal, she was just trying to get hers.
Some street noodles down the road and what’s-her-name had her hair in a bowl of chilly, or sugar. Either way I think there was a noodle under there somewhere.
A couple of filthy looks from people and a quick piss in a phone booth (her, not me) and we were off to the hotel. Classy.
“UOARGH! OOGH! URGGFS!”
That’s her vomiting on the sidewalk just before we got there.
“I better take you back to the bar, you’re wasted”
“No, I make you happy.”
“No you’re too pissed, I have to take you back.”
“Mmm… ok, but no kissing.”
I know, I know, but I just couldn’t help myself. I had to. She made me.
Anyway the night ended shittily (it’s a good word, use it in a sentence). But all in all, it was a great night.
Early up and off to Wat Pho.
As I approached the wat, tuktuk drivers and passers by approached me.
All spitting out a different version of the same crap I’d read about on the internet. The last one was a young Thai guy who looked like a student.
“Falang, where you go?”
“To check out the temple.”
“No, it closed today, Buddha holiday.”
“Nah, bullshit.” (research)
“No, I work there, it my day off for Buddha holiday.”
“I can take you another one, and to my friend factory. You like wood?”
“Oh, you big man. You want girl?”
“Dude it’s like 9am.”
“My other friend have shop, very cheap for you, gold.”
“I’m going now.”
“No I said it closed.”
He aggressively grabbed my arm.
Now I’m a pretty big guy even in my own country and I’m also an athlete so I look the part. Add in a few face scars and a bad hair cut and I’m probably not going to be your first choice if you feel like picking on someone (just being honest, believe me, I wish it wasn’t the case, many people judge me too soon but I’m actually not into violence. One of my scars I got when I was just 8 years old, I slipped in the shower and smashed my head on the basin. Tough guy). Despite this, the Thai guy had no problem trying it on.
Instead of thinking this guy must be crazy, I was thinking, this guy can’t be alone.
“Hey dude, get a job.”
Off to the wat. Shoes off, Reclining Buddha, Thai massage, beautiful.
Now one of my goals was to eat a deep fried insect.
Later that night I ventured to the famed Koh San Road and found my desired delicacy.
“Oh fxxk that!”
Speaking out loud when I saw them on display in real life.
“No way, nope, no fxxxen way. That goal can kiss my ass, I ain't doin' it”.
You see I had been alone for a few days at this point and already started speaking to myself (I did pluck up the courage a couple of days before I left Bangkok for home, and by the end of the night I was munching on maggots and crickets in the Sideline Bar in Patpong like popcorn at the movies).
Oh the famed Koh San Road. So many websites, so many stories. So many fans of this small infamous strip.
The famed Koh San Road, what a shithole!
To me it was full of the worst kind of tourists on the planet. Not necessarily backpackers, just losers (sorry, L word). I’m not saying that I’m any better but shit! It seemed as though they were lost in an alien world full of weirdoes and wannabes. Wanna be what? Thai? But this ain't even Thailand. It was some sort of black hole that had transformed this corner of Bangkok into the foreigner toilet of Asia. These foreigners being the pooh shat out of their countries of origin.
Chatuchak (spelling?) Market.
Well what can I say that hasn’t already been said. It sucked.
Ok, that’s not entirely true. It didn’t suck. Just the stuff they were selling did.
The place was an experience and a good one. It was massive and I couldn’t do the whole thing. Apart from a couple of different items like scorpions and snakes there wasn’t a whole lot to it (IMO). Not sure if you have a Two Dollar shop in your countries (A shop where everything costs $2. Everything from can openers and kids toys to stationery and hardware. All cheap Chinese made crap with an expiry date of ‘when it leaves the store’) but that’s what the whole place seemed like. The whole of Bangkok shopping actually. One big ugly cheap but not cheap $2 shop.
On to MBK and it was much the same. Not the same as Chatuchak, just the same over and over again.
I’d spoken to friends about their wonderful buys in Bangkok and the great things they had picked up at MBK on the cheap. But when I got there it was just like five massive floors with the same damn 3 shops over and over again. Maybe it’s a guy thing, maybe it’s just me but I thought, fxxk this shopping crap and headed back to the hotel.
Chiang Mai for a couple of days.
Walked out of the hotel and onto the street but there was something strange.
I couldn’t quite figure it out until I realised that, as busy as the streets were, there was nobody walking on the street I was on. After a couple of steps I found out why.
I suddenly became aware of a peculiar screeching noise. I don’t know why I never noticed it earlier but it was so loud it was almost drowning out the sound of the lawnmower powered tuktuks driving past. First day in Chiang Mai, fresh out of the hotel, new clothes on, same jandals though, and in the space of two minutes, covered in bird shit.
Oh, that’s why nobody was walking here.
Because there’s about a million swallows perched on the above trees and power lines dropping bombs all over my bad hair cut.
Chiang Mai. Elephants, guns, off road jungle driving and bird shit. I loved it.
Back to Bangkok and etc etc…
A few more tales and few more laughs. Oh, and of course the women.
I did have a little touch of the GFE at the end of my stay but those experiences are submissions in their own right.
I had an absolute ball in Thailand. One of the best experiences of my life and I will definitely be back. I spent way too much cash and even though I knew what was going on I got ripped off on almost a daily basis. It was more than worth it though.
That's a refreshingly frank and honest first-timer's report. It's nice to read about your first impressions of the city itself and not just in the hotel room. And I have got to agree with your descriptions of the likes of Chatuchak and MBK. So true!