Photos from India

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Sreets of Bangkok

A couple of days before leaving for this leg of my journey I finally took a minute to review my flight itinerary. As I glanced through the cities, Dallas, Tokyo and finally arriving in Bangkok, I realized that I didn't arrive until sometime around midnight. Without a place to stay in such a chaotic city, I was definitely feeling a bit overwhelmed with the thought of riding around in a taxi during the middle of the night and trying to find a hostel that would be acceptable to stay at for a few days. The biggest fear was not so much the ride or dealing with a taxi driver that did not speak English, but of the encounter I might have if I found the hostel I chose to get dropped off at without space, leaving me to walk to streets of such a foreign place with everything I own within ten thousand miles strapped to my back.

I arrived at the front of a small alley and the taxi driver pointed down the way saying that my hostel was down that way. The first thing I noticed was that even though it was now almost two in the morning, the streets were alive with people walking around, eating, drinking and laughing. Not to say that this is by any means more comforting to me, I mean who knows what kind of people these are on the streets? Maybe they hate Americans? Maybe I am in an area which is known for violent crimes? I really wasn't sure what to expect.

As I made my way down the alley, I was followed into the hostel by another backpacker who had just flown in as well. I told the woman at the desk that I needed a room as did the other guy standing next to me. With fate on my side having walked in the door just moments before the other backpacker, I managed to get the last room the hostel had to offer! As I watched the other guy turn away and walk to another hostel across the street only to be denied a room there as well, I was thankful to have the opportunity to lie down after such a long day of traveling.

After a couple of days of exploring Bangkok I realized that all my fears and worries on the night of my arrival were all in my head. The Koh San road area that I am staying in is an oasis of white faces amongst an overpopulated city of Southeast Asians. At all hours of the day, people are walking the streets going from one place to the next. Vendors line the sidewalks selling everything from fake student cards (I am now a 21 year old student at Auburn University) to roasted insects in a variety of flavors. While motorcycle taxis follow you around offering to show you the city, women bombard you from their storefronts with offers of cheap massages and at night, men approach you holding cards with pictures of half dressed women saying “You want to see ping pong show?” You can use your imagination to figure that one out! Bangkok is an amazing spectacle to see. It is filled with the incredible excitement and chaos that I expected from a world renowned city that caters to travelers providing them with cheap hotels, cheap food and most importantly cheap beer!

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