Tomorrow, Steve and I are leaving Bangkok for Kuala Lumpur. I’m almost too tired to be excited about Malaysia, but I’ll get there after we have one last bowl of spicy and sour amazing soup. I got some good comments on that last video we shared (someone who shall stay unnamed requested “the director’s cut” of Steve on the swings), so we thought we’d put up some more. Click on the embedded videos, or open them from the title links. These are a few interesting moments from our past week in Bangkok, and hopefully, you’ll feel like you were there with us too.
One of the things we were not anticipating walking into were the protests in Bangkok, which we’ve been hearing about for weeks and weeks. The situation is really pretty sticky and complicated, so if you’re curious, I suggest you get a quick update from one of these summaries: BBC or Wikipedia. We were heading to the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, a free museum down the street, and didn’t realize we’d be walking straight into one of the protest camps. When we came out of the museum, we had a good gawk around — tons of tents that reminded me of Occupy scenes from a few years ago, families and friends sitting cross-legged on the ground, and watching someone make a speech, and long dinner lines. It didn’t seem dangerous at all, and instead, there were quite a few foreigners who were checking out the numerous t-shirt stalls, food vendors, and even impromptu massage chairs, which all made for a very festive atmosphere. In Bangkok, the National Anthem of Thailand plays every morning and every evening, and we happened to be there at 6 pm.
Bangkok sits mostly on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, and as a result, commerce and travel on the river is quite easy and cheap. The public river ferry costs 15 baht one-way and makes fifteen or more stops in the city of Bangkok itself, while other boats go even further upriver. We took the ferry around to Khao San Road, the backpacker district of Bangkok which is inevitably filled with touristy things and rowdy Western bars, and also to Wat Pho, the famous temple of the Reclining Buddha. On the way back, I captured this video, which is on the long side. The ferry boat goes at a fairly fast speed, and when it begins to dock, the boatman at the rear whose job it is to secure the boat to the ferry pier whistles in various ways to indicate how close they are to the captain and when he should reverse thrust to send the boat backwards.
We were introduced to the deliciousness of the rotee, a roadside snack, in Chiang Mai after watching a Muay Thai fight (and having a few beers) with our friends from the hostel. On our way to a nearby bar, one of them stopped dead and exclaimed “ROTEE!” when he spotted a street vendor’s cart. He splashed out 20 baht for something that’s essentially a fried crepe, but more delicate, oily and addictive. Steve and I began to crave rotees all the time, with sliced bananas and drizzled chocolate syrup. In turn, we introduced some people from our hostel to them two nights ago, when we found a rotee stand here. I captured the process of making a rotee here.
If that didn’t make you hungry and eager to get yourself to Thailand, you can find more pictures of us at the protests, taking the river ferry, and enjoying delicious Thai food on the Flickr. Let me know how you enjoy the videos and what you want to see. With so many interesting moments and experiences, it gets hard to pick only a few to write about, but we’d love to share more.
“We’ve only started to get comfortable here,” Steve complained this evening as we got off the BTS Sky Train. I kind of feel similarly, but we nearly maxed out the 30-day visa-free exemption period that U.S. citizens get in Thailand, and we had a pretty good ride. I look forward to Malaysia, then plunging into the crucible that is India, Israel, Turkey, and finally getting into Europe in the spring.
Kohb khum kha! (Thank you in Thai)