Buses, Bugs and Buckets in Bangkok!…

Once we had visited the Allied War Cemetery in Kanchanaburi it was time to set off on our journey to Thailand’s Capital, Bangkok. We decided to walk to the Bus Terminal rather than pay the tuk tuks 80 Baht to take us there – the weather was absolutely boiling so the walk was a bit hard going with our backpacks strapped to our backs, but it only took us about 25 minutes so wasn’t too bad!

Once we got to the station we bought our tickets from the Government-run ticket desk. We opted to go to Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai), situated in the city’s Thonburi district west of the river, as this was the cheapest price. Our tickets cost 75 Baht each for an A/C bus – prices for Bangkok’s more central bus stations are a bit higher but we knew that the journey from the South Terminal could be done quite quickly and cheaply so the fact that it was quite far out of town wasn’t really an issue.

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It took just two hours to reach Bangkok on Thailand’s relatively smooth roads and after the bus had pulled into the station we got our bags and walked about 20 yards towards a row of other buses and coaches. We were after the 511 – one of the three or four buses that can take people right into the heart of the city.

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Tickets for this bus cost just 16 Baht each, bringing the grand total for our journey to Bangkok to 91 Baht – a bargain! Our destination was Khao San Road – the infamous ”backpacker area’ where we hoped to find a guesthouse. The really helpful conductor on board let us know when we had to get off – the nearest stop to Khao San Road is on Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, just before Democracy Monument. From there, it’s just a short walk up Thanon Tanao and Khao San Road is on the left! We couldn’t understand why so many people get confused about getting here from the Southern Bus Terminal – it was possibly the easiest trip we’ve done so far!

We opted for a guesthouse in the road parallel to KSR – Rambutti Road – the hotels here are of a better quality and much quieter, without being to far away from all the action.

Once we’d got our bearings we had some dinner in a street cafe across the road – this whole area is teeming with cafes and food trolleys, so it’s impossible to go hungry! The owner of the cafe we ate in treated us to some amazing magic tricks whilst we were there. He was brilliant and really clued us out! After getting a chocolate covered crepe from one of the trolleys for desert, we went off to bed looking forward to seeing more of the city the next day.

The next morning we loaded up with a McDonalds ‘brunch’ then set off on foot to see some of the ‘sights’. Our first stop was Democracy Monument, just a few minutes walk away, in the middle of a busy intersection. The monument was commissioned in 1939 to commemorate the 1932 Siamese coup d’état which led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. Its a grand looking structure surrounded by carvings that depict the coup and the gratitude of the Thai people, but apparently caused a lot of controversy when it was built due to over 60 business owners and residents being evicted in order to accommodate it!

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After that we walked to the Golden Mount inside the Wat Saket compound as we’d heard that you can get great views over the city from the top of it. The ‘mount’ isn’t a real hill, but one that was created after the original Chedi built on the site collapsed. The rubble was left for over half a century and became overgrown with weeds – the next king, King Rama IV, then decided to build another, smaller Chedi on top of it.

There are 318 steps that wind around the Chedi, leading up to the top, where worshippers go to pray and leave money for the Buddhist Relics that are housed there. The views are pretty good but its just a shame that Bangkok isn’t particularly ‘pretty’ and that you can’t see much more than grey-looking highrises  surrounded by messy looking corrugated roofs.

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Our last ‘sight’ of the day was Sao Ching Cha, otherwise known as The Giant Swing. This stands tall in front of Wat Suthet temple and was originally constructed in 1784 for residents to take part in the Brahma Swing Ceremony. This entailed swinging on the swing in order to try and grab a bag of gold from one of the pillars, but the ceremony was banned in 1935 after several fatalities!

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By the time we had finished our mini excursion we headed back to the guesthouse and had some dinner before going out to sample some of the notorious Khao San Road nightlife!

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The road is constantly teeming with people, both during the day when all the market stalls line the street and during the night when people venture out to party. We wandered around soaking up the atmosphere, dodging tuk tuks and tailored-suit salesmen before catching sight of the below sign!

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Having had such a good time in Vang Vieng off the back of a ‘bucket’ we did exactly as the sign said and ordered a bucket of Thai whiskey, red bull and coke! One evidently leads to another and we ended up having a wicked night out, meeting loads of other backpackers also out for a good time.

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One thing we did not expect to find ourselves doing on our first night out in Bangkok was eating fried insects, but that’s exactly what we did! A couple of insect trolleys roll up and down the road during the night, obviously hoping that tourists ‘under the influence’ will be tempted to try one of these regional ‘delicacies’. We saw a group of people urging each other to try some and decided that this may be the only chance we get to do the same!

We were both feeling a bit sick just looking at the things but opted for a fried grasshopper and gingerly picked one up and put it in our mouths. Surprisingly, it tasted really good! They must fry it in soy sauce or something similar and the flavour is delicious. The texture was fine too – quite crunchy, but easy to chew on! Both of us being somewhat fussy eaters, we were really proud of ourselves for trying one – but I don’t think we’ll be tempted to move on to the cockroaches!

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Once we’d had our fill of KSR we stumbled back to the hotel and went to bed – we had more sightseeing planned for the next day so hoped we’d be able to get up in good time!..

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2 Comments

  1. November 26, 11:46 #1 Aisleen Author

    Thanks. You’ll have a wicked time Dan – guaranteed!

  2. November 24, 05:05 #2 Dan Collins

    Hey!
    I’m going to Thailand in Feb… I can’t wait! Awesome post and awesome pictures!! Keep it up!
    Dan


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