JIPP's WORLD

…….The World Without Boundaries

Revisiting BANGKOK

Written By: jipp - Dec• 16•11

So… I visited Bangkok a couple of weeks ago despite all the warnings against traveling to the flood-stricken region. I actually bought my ticket to Bangkok as part of my ambitious mission to do both Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon and Angkor Wat Half-Marathon (blogged about it here) back-to-back with only one week gap in between.

Either I messed with the date or the date messed with me, the date for Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon seemed to have been brought forward by one week and the so-called mission of doing at least two international marathons before the year-end was shattered to pieces.  Damn.

But then, there’s a saying that God always has a plan of his own. A disaster suddenly came in a form of massive flood – and the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon was postponed to another date and the opportunity of joining it is now open for me again. Yippie! *deep thinking

So, it wasn’t the best beginning for my trip to Bangkok. My bad habit of procrastinating had almost cost me the whole trip when I almost missed my flight. For the first time since it was first introduced, I really saw the importance of mobile check-in especially when you’re really really late for the counter check-in.

I checked myself in as well as my travel buddy Mr. KJH while we were still on the bus and we arrived at the airport less than 20 minutes before departure time! It was the craziest mess ever when we had to run around doing all the necessary things including changing our local currencies to USDs and Thai Bhats at the money changer and doing a fast lane through the security and immigration check towards the departure hall.

For the first time I got (to get) the feel of being in an Amazing Race or something. I remember I shouted ‘Hot water! Hot water!’ while trying to get past a crowd of people and we even jumped on the line at the security check while the others just looked on. Amazingly, the security personnel were so easy on us they didn’t even land their hands on either us or our belongings AT ALL.

Even the immigration officer let out a gasp and said “Walaweii, you’re already so late mannnn” as she hastily stamped and returned the passport to me.

Then we tried to take a short cut by dashing right across the runway towards the plane before we got shooed away by at least half a dozen of airport personnel. Haha!

Needless to say we were the last passengers to get on board and I was sweating so profusely as if I had just finished doing a marathon or something.

Two hours later at the Bangkok International Airport, we still found ourselves talking and laughing about it. It was certainly a day to remember. Phew!It would be my second time in Bangkok so I had expected everything would be much easier for me this time. But heck no – it’d been three years and it was amazing how three years could make me forget so many things about Bangkok. I couldn’t even remember where to catch a coach to the airport bus terminal from where we could take another bus to central Bangkok. In the end, we still had to ask around.

Although it would be much easier to get into Bangkok on a train, I had wanted to use a bus just so that I could get to a place called Victory Monument before all.

Airport Bus Terminal at Bangkok International Airport

I could never forget the moment when I got off the bus and found myself so mesmerized by the hustle and bustle of Ratchawithi area where the dagger-shaped Victory Monument stood tall in the middle of a roundabout.

It was madness and it was the kind of madness that I wanted to see again on this second trip of mine. It was like reminiscing the past when I was still so new to traveling and easily intimidated by crowded places in such a foreign country.

Center One in Bangkok

Of course my years of traveling had since changed me quite a lot. I jumped out of the van without the slightest speck of anxiety that I had had when I first arrived there three years ago. Instead it was some sort of excitement that I felt growing in me as I took to the streets and joined the hordes of people that streamed continuously at what I had always considered the heart of Bangkok.

Arrived at Victory Monument

A lesson came quite too soon. I forgot how Thais had their own alphabet and writing system so problem came when none of the taxi drivers could read the address of the hostel that we were supposed to be heading to.

Some of them had tried with so much difficulty to register the address in their head and always ended up shaking their head in the end – telling us that the place was too far from there. I knew for sure that they were referring to the wrong place because the hostel as shown on the Google map was not really that far from the Victory Monument and you know how Google Map DOES NOT lie.

In the end one of the motorbike-taxi drivers (motorbikes that take passengers) came forward and with that very little English of hers offered us some help. I showed her the print-out of the address that I downloaded from HostelWorld.com and again – just like the others – her face wrinkled as she tried to read the address. Only after I mumbled something like the place is near to Khao San Street did she let out a long ‘ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh’ and hastily hailed a taxi down for us.

After a little bit of conversation in Thai with the driver, she beckoned us into the cab and flashed her “you’re welcome” smile even before we thanked her.

The taxi driver spoke not a single word of English. In less than 20 minutes, we arrived at a very busy street which I immediately recognized as Khao San Street based on all the readings that I did on Bangkok before. I told him that it was not the place that we wanted to go to but he kept pointing his finger at the street, obviously insisting that it was (the place). Thanks to motorbike taxi driver who told him that it was , we were dumped at the street of Khao San and had to find our own way to the hostel.

Khao San Road in Bangkok

I imagined how easy things would have been if we had a map with us. Writing the address might usually help a lot but NOT in Bangkok or Thailand where things are written in a totally different writing. Bear in mind that pronouncing the name of a place or street in Bangkok might be easy but pronouncing them CORRECTLY can be next to impossible. So – Spare your tongue for something else because a map is still the best tool to make your life much easier in Bangkok.

That realization alone had prompted us to look for a map but despite being a tourist area in Bangkok, looking for one had proved to be not THAT easy in Khao San. With little recollection of the Google map that I had in my head, I led our way towards where I believe the hostel would be.

Walking past Democracy Monument towards the hostel

After juggling between arguing and trusting my own sense of direction, we managed to find the hostel like, finally… GRRRRRR!

Finally managed to find Nirac Bankoc Hostel

It was called Niras Bankok Hostel & Coffee and after doing all the necessary things at the counter, we were ushered to our room on the second floor of the hostel. It was then that we found our then partner-in-crime Ulai The Borneo Trekker slumped on the couch in front of the television – probably trying to hold on to her life before the boredom of waiting for us many many hours took it away from her. LOL. (She arrived in Thailand one week earlier and went on her first solo trip to Chiang Mai. Peewwitt!)NIRAS BANKOC HOSTEL was not a bad choice for a hostel in Bangkok at all. If the TV room is already a big point up, the café at the ground floor with all the classical looks and simple yet nicely decorated walls perfected the hostel as backpackers’ choice for a budget stay.Now the room. The room is actually quite big but the bed bunks occupy most of the space and it leaves you with so little space to wander around. In the end you’d be forced to spend most of your indoor time on bed which is not a problem at all for somebody who needs to read a book before he can drift himself to sleep. Thanks God each mattress is facilitated with a private reading light so spending most of the time on bed was perfectly alright to me.The mattresses are so thick you can jump on them and you wouldn’t feel the solid wood at its bottom. The safety boxes are so big you can actually just thrust the whole of your bag into them. The toilets were clean and nice and some of them were bigger than the rooms themselves.With all the characters that Niras Bankoc Hostel had under its belt, it did me little wonder as to why it was highly rated at the HostelBookers.com.

The Best Atmosphere Award by Hostelbookers for Nirac Bankoc Hostel

So – forget about the hostel for a moment, the urge of getting back into the streets to get something to eat suddenly washed over us. While restaurants and food stalls were plentiful within that area alone, I certainly wanted something nicer than the ordinary for my very first dinner in Bangkok. And I believed we’d get one at Khao San Street. If you don’t already know, Khao San is like the place where all the backpackers go to in Bangkok. Vibrant, lively and full of energy, Khao San is certainly the place where tourists like to come to meet other tourists.

Of course as a place that fares well in the tourism industry, things can get a little bit more expensive than they probably are at other less touristy areas in Bangkok. You’d see the usual sight of tourists sitting at the cafes; drinking beer and watching the world go by around them.I didn’t immediately like Khao San streets. There was nothing much to see there but hordes of people trying to squeeze against each other and all. With the existence of so many open markets in Bangkok, I don’t think Khao San is a place of choice for many people to do shopping either. The cafes were not even the kind of eateries that I had come to Bangkok for.

So we walked back towards Niras Bankoc Hostel and stopped to eat at a tepi jalan food stall from where we could see the beautiful Democracy Monument in full.

No thanks to the all-Thai menu, It was more like a pre-determined choice of food that I ordered actually. If there was something that I wanted to have a taste of BEFORE ALL in Bangkok, it had to be Tom Yam. After all, Thailand is its country of origin so it’s always good to have a taste of the original version.

How to order like this?

While I’ve always been a big fan of spicy foods and particularly so for Tom Yam soup, the one that they served me with here at the food stall was just TOO MUCH.If my very first spoonful of it had already set off the alarm in my head, my eyes almost popped out as I unearthed more and more chili from my Tom Yam soup. By the time I’d nipped out everything, there must be at least a couple of dozens of them so ready to set me on fire.

I gotta tell you that these chilies are not the kind that you can just throw into your mouth and laugh about it while you are still munching. They are the kind that explodes in your mouth and send you teary eyed even at a single bite!They were so hot I could have cried like a baby and called my mom right away. Whatever I did to them to deserve it I HAD NO IDEA.  Needless to say, I returned to Nirac Bankoc Hostel with a burning ass.DAMN THAT STUPID TOM YAM! Grrrrr.

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2 Comments

  1. LJ says:

    hola Jipp!

    i am thinking to revisit Cambodia again.. hehehehhe..

    btw, i did my amazing race to Hat Yai via ‘injin tut-tut’.. hehehhehe.. me n my galprens almost missed out our train! yup! the Thais do not speak ENGLISH at all!
    a pren of mine asked “is d train to Kuala Lumpur on time?”
    d person-in-charge at d counter replied n showed his four fingers n pointed to Platform 4.

    another situation..my pren asked ” whats d different ancient massage n oil massage?”
    d receptionist @ PinkLadyHotel answered “Yes..thank u”

    then we were totally dumbfounded.. hahahhahaha

    d tomyam n somtam.. OMG! sodap but mmg exploded! u shud try somtam!!! burning! burning!

    • gbeejipp says:

      Haha! Seems like you have had a great time in Hat Yai LJ. It can be daunting but then it is actually part of the fun. Wow, this somtam is kinda new to me. Will give a try when I fly into Thailand again soon. BTW, good to know you’re going to Cambodia again. Me also can’t never get enough of it. It’s an amazing country. 🙂

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