One Fright in Bangkok

One Fright in Bangkok
Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

“Kaaaaaaaaaaaa”….I don’t know what it means, but my friend Jenn is right – everyone says it here, at the end of every sentence, all the time. So I say it too, kaaaaa. Well, ladies and gents, this backpacker is tired. Tired from the dusty circus of India, tired from being sick (still!!), tired just thinking about trying to navigate my way through the maze of Bangkok alone. I’m not quite ready to give up, but with the state of mind I’m in right now, I don’t know how much longer I can hang in. More on that in a bit. I basically have done nothing since arriving on my overnight flight from Delhi on Sunday morning. The Four Seasons had a driver pick me up (for a hefty fee) in a flashy Mercedes and whisk me off to the hotel, where waiting staff (many) took me right to my room (didn’t even have to check in!). (If anyone is feeling puzzled right now, I had a Four Seasons gift card that had been burning a hole in my wallet for about 4 years. Finally found the perfect occasion to use it). I spent the rainy, thunderstormy morning catching up on some sleep in the crazy comfortable bed with 72 pillows around me and a big down comforter. The weather cleared up in the afternoon (I’d guess about 35 degrees and 149% humidity) and after booking a second night at the hotel on my own dime (no matter the cost, I just couldn’t face having to search for a new place to stay so soon), I hopped the skytrain to the Chatuchak weekend market. It’s one of the “must-sees” in every guidebook, and now I understand why. It’s a massive market selling new and used clothing and sneakers, live animals, wedding invitations, on-the-spot tattoos (!no thanks!), wood furniture, art, and everything – EVERYTHING – else you can imagine. I took my time and wandered through the maze of narrow lanes (47 degrees and 394% humidity), mostly looking at everyone else shopping (but I did break down and pick up a few hot-weather items – tees, a dress….so cheap, so hard to resist. Now I realize, also so hard to fit, as you can’t try anything on at the market. Wasted a few bucks there.) I spent 3 1/2 hours there and probably saw 1/4 of the market, if that. After wolfing down a 170-baht ($2) plate of pad thai at a little stall (my only food for the day), I spent the evening in the air-conditioned comfort of my hotel room once again and crashed early. So, here’s the scoop. Like I said, I’m tired. In every sense. And I realize that maybe I’m not such a “backpacker” after all (some of you are probably thinking you knew that long before I wrote it here). I don’t mind travelling with my stuff in a backpack, as annoying and limiting as it is most of the time, but the backpack LIFESTYLE (sleeping in hostels, etc) maybe just isn’t for me. For the first time, I feel jealous of people on pre-planned package tours. I LIKE being at the Four Seasons. I LIKED staying at the swish Ramada (pronounced by the locals in India like “Ramadan” without the “n”) in Delhi, thanks to a donation to my travel fund from my best friend Brad (so sweet!). Granted those are two over-the-top hotels, but in general, I like nice, clean things. Clothing, sheets, hair, food. And good service. Why does that make me feel guilty? I am disappointed in myself. Other than the jaunt to the market, I’m sorry to report that I’ve more or less insulated myself from any real BKK experience beyond the ultra-cushy hotel and the very expensive (Prada, Gucci, etc) and very air-conditioned shopping centres in the surrounding area. Lots of expats and Australian tourists about, and teenytiny Asian teens in their designer wardrobes shuffling (requisite) their flip-flopped feet in and out of the stores. I even broke down and hired a private guide to take me around to all the temples etc tomorrow. I just couldn’t bear the thought of trying to figure it out and navigate all on my own, yet again. So maybe I’m not as brave as many of you think I am. Now I’m faced with trying to find new (much, much cheaper) accommodations for the rest of my stay in BKK. I don’t even know how long I’m staying here. There are a million neighbourhoods to choose from and a billion hotels / guesthouses in every neighbourhood. I don’t even know where to start. My one local contact who I was hoping could help me out, is out of town on vacation for the week. I am a big scaredy-cat right now. If I could afford it, I wouldn’t even leave the hotel (although getting them to do my laundry just took a $100-chunk out of my travel budget…what was I thinking?) This is the first time I really wish I had someone along on the journey with me, to share the load. I know I know, you’re thinking, what load? I’m so lucky to be travelling the world, and I do know it, of course. But it’s exhausting, always wondering where I’m going to be sleeping the next night, how long to stay in each place, how to get to the next place, navigating current location, etc. and never having anyone to talk to about it. I hope that this is just normal extended-solo-travel stuff and that it will pass. I’m going to try not to pressure myself and just ride it out. And if that means missing some of the big sights in Bangkok, so be it. I’d rather lay low and hopefully get over this bad spell than hop the next plane home (which does sound so tempting right now). No photos to speak of yet, but check previous entry for India pix.

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