Bangkok is often referred to as the unavoidable, dirty, over-crowded capital city of Thailand. And it sort of is. It’s loud and crazy and colourful and polluted; but it’s a sight worth seeing to get a well-rounded perception of what Thailand is all about.
Night Bus to Bangkok
The double decker night bus from Chaing Mai to Bangkok may seem like a great deal. The flyer says it has AC, free snacks included, comfortable reclining chairs, and free WiFi –and it’s cheaper than the night train! Sounds amazing right? Except it’s a total scam. The Wifi was non-existent, the seats were not comfortable, the tiny bit of cookies they gave us were terrible, and the driver makes you think you’re going to crash and die every 3 minutes with the way he drives down the poorly-pavemented Thai streets. There we were stuck for the next 10 hours…
Insects for Dinner
We arrived in Bangkok around 5:30am and checked into Born Free Hostel, an adorable, clean hostel we found near the infamous Kahosan Road, We met some other backpackers and hung out with them all day exploring and shopping in the loud streets of Bangkok. At night, we stumbled into a big local party on the street (Ban Phan Thom*). People had costumes and lights and instruments. Suddenly, a few guys went around telling people to move out of the way and before we knew it, we were front and centre to an incredible show. Two large poles were raised and fireworks were shot in the air to designate the beginning of the performance. Loud drums signal the start of the show and a huge Chinese dragon appears dancing up and down the street. A group of men climb up one of the poles and hook themselves onto it. Then they wrap the Chinese dragon around the pole with them all the way to the top, dangling it along with their own bodies. Another man climbs all the way up to the very top of the other pole and also swings back and forth with a shining light stick like he’s battling with the dragon. All of the sudden ACTUAL FIREWORKS start shooting from the dragon’s mouth for the grand finale. Little bits of ash and firework sparks fall on top of the heads of the cheering g audience leaving us tourists in complete awe. What an incredible welcoming to a crazy city.
We walked over to Max’s Magical Thai Food in Rambuttri Alley first to grab some dinner and a free magic show. Then for dessert, we thought it would be a great idea to try yummy fried insects. The place we walked up to was actually filled with locals buying entire bags of maggots and crickets. This surprised me because I expected it to be more of a tourist trap. So we got a bagful, and tried them. Specifically, we tried grasshoppers, crickets, and maggots. They weren’t my favorite, but I guess it was an interesting experience to give them a try.
After a few coughs and dry heaves, we decided we needed alcohol to wash down those little creepy crawlers, so we headed to Kahosan Road. On our walk over there, we stopped at a couple of nice jazz bars with live music, but the truth is, we didn’t come to Bangkok for chill jazz.. we wanted to experience the craziness that everyone talks about. The nightlife in Kahosan is pretty much purely for tourists but it is insane. Every bar is blasting a different kind of music and people can barely walk through the busy street. Neon signs at the bars read “cocktails very strong” and “we do not check ID card” and the giant buckets of mixed alcohol cost about $5. It was a fun sweaty night of bar hopping and dancing but I was happy to leave it all behind the next day and head south to the beaches!