BootsnAll Travel Network

Bangkok: A not so friendly greeting

Our last morning in Kathmandu was spent visiting the kids at our orphanage (didn’t take long did it – three months there and all of a sudden it’s our orphanage), and the kids at Dhaulagiri House who we continued to visit frequently while Conor was away in the United States.

The tradition in Nepal is to wish a departing visitor good luck by presenting them with a tikka; a big red dollop of gluggly rice that is stuck to your forehead. And so at each house we had our foreheads smeared red by the house managers. At Sagarmatha the kids also broke out into song for us. Quite humbling.

We arrived in Bangkok in the early evening, and headed to a backpakers hostel in the Sukhimvit area, The Suk 11, away from the traditional backpakcers haven of Khao San Road, after it received glowing recommendations on, the website that hosts this here blog.

We got in around 9pm, gave our passports to the guy behind the desk and waited. It had been a long and somewhat emotional day having said goobye to the kids.

There were a couple sitting at a nearby table at the hostel, a younger girl and a bald fat guy in his fifties. The girl mumbled something to the guy, then he announced in a loud voice, “Look at those packs! What, do they think they’re porters!?”

We ignored the comment, received our room key and headed upstairs to find our room. Upon reaching the second floor we initially couldn’t locate it; the hostel was quite dark and claustrophobic. There was a gentleman in his fifties sitting at a computer in the hall, and so I approached him from the side to ask directions, “Excuse me buddy?”

There was no reaction. Thinking he hadn’t heard me, I tried again, “Sorry mate, but…”
“HOLD IT!” His eyes never moved from the screen, and he thrust his index finger up into my face and barked the order like a drill sergeant.

I was stunned. I looked to my girlfriend, who was clearly as shocked as me. We stumbled quickly down the dark hall, tripping over the clumsy steps that littered the way. When we were ten or so metres away, an American voice called out from behind us,

“Well sor-ree if I didn’t drop everything to help you!”

Again, we ignored the comment, eventually found our room and collapsed onto the bed.

Nothing against the Suk 11 hostel, it seemed like a decent place, but there’s no way we could’ve stayed there after that. We felt horribly uncomfortable. The best hostels we’ve stayed in typically have a warm, welcoming atmosphere, where the other guests smile and welcome you into the place (The Backpack Guesthouse in Budapest springs to mind as one of the best), rather than belittle you. You’re meant to feel at home, but this felt a long way from home.

The next morning, after an uncomfortable and disappointing breakfast at the hostel, we checked out and got ourselves a taxi back to the Khao San Road area, where we dined out on delicious street food in the carnival atmosphere, waving away local women selling wooden frogs and watching the world go by with a smile on our faces.

Two days were spent in Bangkok before the stifling heat got the better of us. Kathmandu had been hot over the previous three months, but Bangkok was unbearable. Just thinking about lifting your beer up to your mouth produced beads of sweat across your forehead. But we braved the heat long enough to visit the enthralling Grand Palace and quieter, more understated but no less thrilling Wat Po; places we had neglected to visit on previous stays in the Thai capital.

The Grand Palace, former residence of Thailand’s King and still used for formal receptions, is a sprawling assortment of lavish buildings, the most striking of which is Wat Phra Kaew; a series of sparkling buildings with sharp ridges and elaborate decorations. Opulent is the word that springs to mind. We wandered amongst the buildings wiping sweat from our eyes and posing for photos for the huge numebrs of Thai schoolgirls who were visiting.

“Excuse me? Miss?” The timid vioce of a fifteen year old Thai girl giggled behind us. “May we take your photo?”

The same thing had happened back in Kathmandu, at Bodhnath, a huge Buddhist Stupa where, when we visited, a group of friendly Bangladeshi men had wanted to take our photo. Some of the most breathtaking and important architecture/temples of the Far East, and people there want to take our photo?!?

Wat Po held the fascinating site of the Reclining Buddha, a forty-six metre long gold plated statue of Buddha lazily reclining, leaning on its elbow with its hand supporting it head. An amazing statue.

But there’s only so much of the heat and dread-locked hippies that you can stand in Bangkok, and so it was more pleasure than you’d expect that on Friday 20th September we boarded a twelve-hour overnight bus ride to the northern city of Chiang Mai.

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One Response to “Bangkok: A not so friendly greeting”

  1. Jill Says:

    That hostel sounds like it blows homeless goats.

    Speaking of which, that phrase (“blows homeless goats,”) comes from a book you should read, which I will send to you guys if you anticipate being in a place where you can receive packages. Can you?

    Be safe. Miss you guys. JD

  2. Posted from United States United States

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