After 20 hours on a train, we promptly drained our brains of all things Malaysian, much like getting water out of your ears after a swim, and we staggered out into the world from our train and Bangkok greeted us with a smoggy, humid embrace.
After a stupid taxi ride (we had yet to learn numbers and universal life lesson: cabbies who hang around at train stations are all sort of jerks) we found our guesthouse– Silom Art Hostel. We stayed here 2 nights and then 7 nights more. It was great! Hot showers! Great location! Near public transit! Near good food! Free and fast wifi! Cute artsy decor! Adorable gay boy front desk staff!
The first day we arrived, walked around our neighborhood and slept. I should
also mention we ate about 16 servings of fruit. Fruit is everywhere here, cut up and put in a bag with salt, sugar, and chili powder if you like. We woke up the next day after binging on fruit and beer (BEER IS SO CHEAP! THERE IS NO JUDGEMENT! HALLELUJAH!) and went out in search of breakfast. Our hood had lots of street food but without being able to read Thai we had to stick our faces into other people’s breakfasts and the gesture that we would want the same. We sat down next to some guy eating a red soup and were like, “sweet! Curry things!” and gestured for two. The granny in an apron looked at us warily and then minutes later two bowls of pink soup arrived. Pink with a few drops of blood, tentacles sticking up and fishy fish balls. All before 11am. We powered through because it was good– it just wasn’t what we wanted at that time. After we googled what the hell we ate, we laughed and then we hit our fav BKk tourist attraction from our last visit here– Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. Buddha is cool. We made merit, took pictures and ate 3 pounds of papaya, which fortified us for the ferry to sky train journey home.
The next day we were just too excited to do much because we were meeting up with our long distance gay besties (LDGBFFS)– Brock and Josh. We met them at the airport waving pom poms we bought at a Japanese dollar store and then we were off in a cab to catch up with some friends to Koh Samet, otherwise known as Donkey Island for Russians Who Take So Many Glamour Shots In Various States Of Undress.
Koh Samet is a blur of Issan food, sleeping in, lazy beach days swimming out to a pontoon and then having beers, sundowners, cocktails served in buckets and
then a cheeseburger made by an amazingly beautiful “ladyboy” (gender in Thailand is both more fluid and more complicated than the US. I use quotes because that is the term used here not to indicate that she was any “less” of a lady) who I hope makes a killing and can retire early and lounge about in vintage caftans and cackle about how Western people act crazy. After the glorious cheeseburger we’d go to bed at 3am and rise and repeat. One bar had puppies living under the stairs. Welcome to Asia. We’d go and then beat back all the Dutch kindergarteners to hold and snuggle them. My liver is still not the same after you drink a piña colada from a enough buckets to make a fortress of a sand castle. Thankfully, there were 40,000 Russians there taking pictures that were all Courtney Stodden lookalikes as they frolicked for Facebook. Nothing like feeling judge-y to make a mild hangover disappear. I have never seen someone pretend to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel in the sand with that little irony. I have also never seen such…uh…flashy? swimsuits on so many pronounced heterosexuals but that is perhaps another entry for a slimmer audience. Also, as you might expect, unfortunate, saggy speedos on exactly who you don’t want to see them on.
When the beach and buckets made us weary of another day, we headed back to Bangkok where Dave and I succumbed to a vicious case of food poisoning or some weird 12-hour illness after dinner that left us looking pale even after 4 days at the beach, but (upside?!) impossibly thin. Suffice to say, a flat Sprite, lots of naps and a bag of chips later and we were out to dinner at an amazing restaurant God-knows-where in Thonburi eating some of the most magical food I have ever tried. Pad Thai without noodles was the real standout. I know it sounds like sacrilege but trust me — it was amazing. I slurped an oyster 10 hours after being violently ill. This is how persuasive this restaurant was.
Here is where we stopped being tourists and started acting like locals which meant we saw no sights but ate awesome food, drank more drinks, danced, shopped and shimmied through the rest of a week. Ok, Kat did those things. DK did not shimmy or dance but that is not his way really. It was fun to be with people who lived here. We also proudly avoided Khao San road entirely. Hooray for being old and for knowing people who know where cool things are!
When we bade our LDGBFFs goodbye after a very restorative BKK Bagel lunch and then sent them back to Tokyo we returned to tourist-ville for a while. Wat Arun was spectacular and it was nice to not drink beer and be active human beings.
We also, oddly, ate a TON of soup. We have been soup fiends. Why I don’t know, maybe to empathize with friends and family in the US and UK getting some snow. We visited Hat Man Soup shophouse TWICE it was that good. We ate Khao Soi with some of our Samet friends (ooh- and
DELICIOUS mango sticky rice) and found a delicious cart that makes soup by our new guesthouse and were able to order in Thai. Well, I pronounced things as best I could but I’m sure what I asked for was “shark purple Cousin this with across, please” but the vendor kindly inferred “Pork noodle soup with yellow noodles and wontons please” out of pity and nodded.
I now write this from Bangkok again while we enjoy the city for what feels like five minutes before yet another overnight train to Chiang Mai where I hope to befriend a humanely treated elephant, rent an apartment for a few weeks, and do some yoga. Traveling is great but there comes a time where you really want a few small comforts of home. Furniture to sit on that is not a bed. Not having to leave the house for breakfast. A bathroom that has a separate shower –dare I dream– instead of the Asian all-in-one wet bathroom? Of these things, something tells me the elephant is the only thing I may be able to count on.