Going ‘Schizo’ in Bangkok (July 27th -30th)

So what does the heart of South East Asia have to offer? Well, basically everything! I found myself to be a variety of personalities while enjoying the eclectic city of Bangkok. Here, let me explain!

We all found ourselves early in our stay hollering from the 3rd floor of the Lumpini boxing stadium. Here, I felt like a Thai man after a day of work coming to the fight to gamble away some Baht (Thai Money). This was not only an incredible experience, but such a fun time as well. Everyone was cheering and screaming out bets. It was exactly how you would imagine a Muai Thai fight to take place; it seemed almost like an underground type activity. These fighters literally train their whole lives for these events, and it showed by watching a couple scary knockouts. Legs, knees, and elbows flew with nonstop action in all directions. It was definitely something I wanted to experience while in Bangkok, a very intense local tradition that left me feeling Thai! Watch out!

We rented a tiny room for four nights in this never sleeping city (Personally I never slept as well). The room was exactly as you would think when the concept of backpacking comes to mind. Just 1 bed, with a bowl for a toilet that required no electricity to flush, only flood it with water. There were showers outside, shared by all the guests and the walls were made of thatched bamboo strands. Here, I found myself a backpacker. Khau San Road, the street we were staying on, was backpacker heaven. Americans were the endangered species, but not Caucasians. Literally white people from all different world nationalities make their way to Khau San Road where you find tons of people strolling past eager venders selling everything from useless knickknacks to delicious cuisine. Clubs are heard on every corner blasting techno beats which really adds to the outside atmosphere. Dreads and little braids are common and to a normal person in the states, these types of travelers could easily be mistaken for hippies. When I strolled up and down this street, a backpacker I was.

As far as eating is concerned, I found myself a connoisseur. I was experiencing new exotic flavors for the first time. If you think Mexican is spicy with their couple of pepper species, come out here and experience Thai cuisine. I found it delicious, everything from the little meat sticks sold while walking, to the hole in the wall restaurants. The flavors were rich and intense. Coconut curry lived up to everything I expected, but on average, it would take 2 bottles of water to get it down. The Phat-Thai proved to be a crowd pleaser. It was a great time ordering four exotic dishes at a restaurant, and sharing it amongst ourselves. What a delicacy Thailand is!

During a river boat ride, sitting in the very front of the long, gondola type vessel, I found myself thinking how romantic it is here in Bangkok. Cruising up the narrow canals, watching children swim and fish from their raggedy houses built on stilts, it kind of felt like we were honeymooning through the city. There are several reasons people travel, romance is one of them. Bangkok, in a very simple way, has romance in the air!

However, some travel for sex in a much more unromantic manner. Thailand has a huge sex tourism industry, and well, one of my personalities on this trip was that of a sex exploiter. I found myself watching the world renowned ‘Ping Pong Show’! I won’t get into detail too much, but let’s just say ping pong balls may have more uses than you think. On top of that, there was much more to the show then just ping pong balls. Dangerous ways of using strings of nails and razorblades, blowing out candles, shooting darts to pop balloons held by audience members, smoking cigarettes, and drinking bottles of soda will now forever be embedded in my mind. Michelle even got to participate by helping pull ribbon (I’ll answer any questions you have about this show…just ask!). As I sat there, watching these girls ‘entertain’ with these acts, I couldn’t help but feel as sleazy as the owners that were forcing them to perform. Would I watch the show ever again….heck no! But if I went back in time I would definitely be up for seeing it once. After all, I learned with some imagination and hard work, the body can do some pretty unbelievable things!

Touring the temples and statues of Buddha I found myself being just another tourist. One Buddha was enormous, almost 50 meters long, that’s about the length of half a football field. Just like Buddha, the temples were covered in gold. Blinding in the sunshine, the monstrous architecture paid honor to their religion. Filing in line with other foreigners and then paying money to stroll through someone’s ‘church (basically)’ was something I didn’t really care for, but was glad to see once. Another touristy thing we did was get Thai Massages. It was a little rough for my sensitive body, but was an interesting way to spend an hour. Hey, when in Rome, do as the Romans! The massage was fun, but I was happy when we snuck away from the typical tourists…those guys are nuts!

My last personality was of my own. In my own way I got to experience Bangkok differently than most everybody. Michelle and I decided to jog the city from one side to the other, seeing all its diversity. We started at the U.S. Embassy, then 3 hours later after getting lost several times, we made it back to Khau San Road. Bangkok is infinitely cleaner than Manila. Smog still fills the lungs, but garbage and baggers are much less numerous. Because tourism is so prolific, the vendors and taxi drivers really jack up the prices to see if they can take advantage of you. It’s very easy to bargain a tuk-tuk driver (motorbike with a back sitting area) from 300 baht down to maybe 60 (That’s about 9$ down to 2$). I loved the jog, it gave me a unique perspective of the city. I’d compare it to paddling around the rock islands as oppose to cruising through it by speed boat. It’s much more humbling. Michelle had fun also, even though I thought she was going to get nailed by a car at one point!

Bangkok is so diverse, there is something for everybody to enjoy. Some people travel here for a certain reason, and I feel like I got to experience several of those reasons first hand. Certain events left me feeling Thai whereas some left me feeling touristy. While jogging I felt like myself, whereas seeing the ‘ping pong show’ I was left feeling like someone I disdain. As a backpacker, I had a blast walking the street by day and clubbing around by night, meeting lots of interesting characters. There were perfect romantic moments for fireworks to explode, while your taste buds would also erupt on every street corner. Bangkok was way more diverse and infinitely more exciting than I ever imagined. We would walk into the morning hours and never felt threatened once. The city is filled with so much culture and history; it’s unique to see a place Christianity has never touched. I was done with cities when in the Philippines and I figured Bangkok would be more of the same, but the four days here really were a treat in almost every way imaginable. Even though I fell in love with the city, it’s time to go out to where my heart truly belongs…..the wild!

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