Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thailand – Vacation Time is Here Again

After waiting around in the cold for a long while it was finally time for me to hit the road again. I only feel some trepidation before long trip, but I think that that is natural and even good. I had a really early flight so I had to go down to Shanghai the night before. I got to Shanghai in time to catch one of the last several buses to the Airport. The main Shanghai Airport is far enough outside the city that it cost more than 200 RMB to get their. The bus on the other hand only cost 22 RMB and besides waiting a few minutes for it to fill up doesn’t really take any longer. When I got to the Airport I had planned on finding a hotel since I just had a lot of time to fill. There were a surprising number of people milling about outside the Airport and a couple of the drivers said that some other hotels were full up.

In the Shanghai airport there are two hotels that are located actually between the terminals which you can walk to without leaving the airport. One is motel 168, so called as the cheapest rooms usually cost 168 RMB, that day though they were asking 388. Not really wanting to spend that much on the hotel I decide to have some dinner and think about it. I walked back over to the airport Burger King to have some dinner. It’s surprisingly exciting to see a Burger King when you haven’t seen one in a long time. I finally decided to just say screw it and pay for the hotel. I went back and discovered that the price was now 4884 RMB. After that I just decide to sleep in the Burger King. Some people are better than me at this sort of thing, one guy there seemed to get seven full hours of sleep, but I can’t really sleeping in places like that so I just sat there and read my Kindle.

The next morning I caught my plane to Hong Kong, the main stopover for people going to Thailand. The Asian airlines are much nicer than the U.S. ones, and offered a nice breakfast. Having spent all night in a Burger King I wasn’t particularly hungry. The Hong Kong airport was actually pretty annoying since I have to go through security again, and which way to go was really confusing in a few places. In Hong Kong I almost missed my flight connection because I was so tired I misread my 14:00 fight time as 4:00 instead of 2:00. Luckily I was sitting near my gate so I got on in time. This flight also had food, and I think even complementary alcohol. The Bangkok Airport is brand new, it actually open the last time I was in Thailand. After I got out past security I was supposed to call Ken to find out where to meet up. The only problem was that none of the phones seem to want to connect me to Ken’s number. Finally I tried a completely different type of phone, which also browse the Internet and did some other stuff, and was able to meet up with Ken and Peter who had arrived before me.

The place we were staying was pretty typical of the tourist section of Bangkok. The main street near the hotel was absolutely lined on both sides which street vendors selling everything from clothes to fake it DVDs. They came so close together that people had to walk single file to have traffic move in both directions down the street. It wasn’t that we were on a particularly busy street either, there were dozens of street like that in Bangkok were the stalls from all the vendors almost stopped traffic. Often times the overhead canopies they employ also made me feel like I was walking down a tunnel. The most common item they sold was clothing but DVDs are very common also. I’ve seen all sorts of stuff though from religious iconography to backpacks. The street our hotel was on actually had a mix of restaurants, bars, and “massage” parlors. Bangkok is, well, extremely what you’ve heard it is. For all the palaces and temples the city is still most famous for its nightlife. Any tourist area has people holding cards touting prostitutes and while there are some more legitimate massage places the ones I was walking past were not them. A lot of the bars, or as they are sometimes called, then Go-Go Clubs, are also essentially just places for people looking for prostitutes.

After we put our stuff down in the hotel we went out to eat at a sort of food court might place a few blocks away. There were a number of small restaurant all grouped around a big area with lots of tables. It wasn’t exactly clear to look at it which table belonged to which restaurant, but if you sat down and the waitresses seemed to know. I don’t know how exactly to describe the food besides to say that it is similar to Thai food in the U.S. maybe it’s for that reason that I actually liked the food a lot better than the food in China. The beer though is equally bad.

If this blog post looks funny it’s because it’s the first one I’ve done in a new form. I wrote it down while I was in Thailand but I’ve been dictating it to the computer, since I’m so slow at transcribing my writing. Please tell me what you think.