Bangkok Part 2: Bangcockier

After a surprisingly restorative stop in Chiang Mai, we headed onward to Bangkok, to fit in one more day of that highly modern, mildly impenetrable city, before going further south to Malaysia and Singapore. To shake things up a bit, though, we travelled by train, since we tend to love trains, and they are a good way to see parts of the countryside you might otherwise miss. Plus, people are weird as shit on trains.

Since the ride was going to be an overnight train, though, we first made a Cultural Excursion to the local supermarket, something I always enjoy. Maybe in another 10 years seeing the combination of undiscovered-to-me types of local green vegetables and the weird consumer food products each country invents will get old, but not yet. And until then, I’ll have me some Red Skin Peanuts Larb Flavor, thank you very much.

After Page handled some uncomfortably aptly named custard apples (100% like a fleshy foam-rubber children’s toy), we lugged our stash to the train station. The day before, in a soulful, cultural-sharing mission, the kind train-agent-policeman helped me understand my extremely meager booking options for our upcoming train ride. Whoops! After I made Page’s hair stand on end by breaking the language barrier hundreds of times, like a blowfish thrown repeatedly at a taut membrane composed of the station agent’s patience, the two of us managed to work out that there were two sleeper seats on the second-class, non-express 3:30 PM sleeper train the next day, and not much else. I’ll take it! (I mean, seriously, I spent 45 minutes hectoring this poor guy as he navigated a VT100-based terminal interface in Windows 2000 literally connected to a 9600 baud modem. Which failed 4 times during our negotiation, each time causing the poor guy to have to get up, cross the room, and flip a metal toggle switch hooked up to some jury-rigged plastic box. Man. I do not want this guy’s job.) Most of our conversation during this negotiation was some broken-record repeat of: “Oh, sorry, but, could you check train 23 again? On Tuesday? Yes, Tuesday? <wait 3 minutes> Oh, I meant first-class. Sorry. <wait 2 minutes> Oh, how do you tell if the seats are together again? <cranes neck to look inside metal bars of window>”.

Regardless, it did get sorted out, and the seats were totally fine. How this world holds together sometimes, I do not know.

The journey itself was mostly pleasant, but with a side of mild disappointment salad. I think I was hoping to see a bit more pretty stuff as we went, but the windows were dirty and dusty, so you couldn’t see a whole lot. The train was comfortable enough, but quarters were a little close, and there was some not-friendly jostling for places to put your luggage with the local folks, and accompanying mild glares. All in all, the trip was harmless, with occasionally nice (blurry) sights, and had no problems, but it wasn’t really a highlight.

And then: Bangkok. This time we stayed in a designer-y hostel that has some private rooms with private baths available, and it was actually perfect: clean, modern, fun, and directly adjoining the Skytrain. (Lub.d Siam Square, $66 per night.) Because we’d been traveling a lot, and we were still going to be traveling a lot more, we resolved to take it easy and just enjoy the day (Success Quotient: 4d / Mild).

The first thing we did, and probably my highlight of the day, was to go to the OTK Market. The market (real name is Aw Taw Kaw / Or Tor Kor, depending on phonic preferences) is a large, sort-of-high-end open air fresh market, and is reputed to be the nicest market in Bangkok, and where restaurant chefs shop for their daily haul. What I can tell you is that it was awesome: super clean, super fresh, amazing produce, and amazing food court. I think the best touchpoint I can provide is that it is like a much, much larger, more serious Ferry Building Farmer’s Market with Asian produce and foods. Rad.

So, that was fun. Then, in no particular order, we went back to Ruen Nuad for an amazing $5 massage, went to a not-so-great Museum of the Multimedia Here Is What It Means To Be Thai Except We Sorta Tapered Off Sorry, and then watched the Royal Wedding at the hostel bar. Then, Pager had the brilliant idea that we should go to a movie, since it would be relaxing, A, and B, because Bangkok has crazy-insane high end VIP movie theaters that have bars, private lounges, crazy recliner seats, and let you eat crazy food and noodles while watching the film.

Done! We had the crazy free green cocktail and mega-reclined to the smooth stylings of Source Code. And that’s how Bangkok leaves you feeling: weird.

( See all Bangkok redux photos. )