I really didn’t want to go to Bangkok at all. Big foreign cities annoy me unless I plan to immerse myself in them for a number of days to really figure things out, but Bangkok didn’t have enough to offer to make me want to do that. Nevertheless, it was my gateway to Thailand and the ghettobus there from Siem Reap was only $10, so to Bangkok I had to go.
As with other places I’ve traveled to in SE Asia I had no idea where I was when I arrived off the bus, so haggling with a taxi driver to get me to my hostel was partially useless. I had a slight idea of prices to know that the 1,000 baht ($30) he asked for was outrageous, but I was pushing for 300 baht and couldn’t get him below 350. After the journey from Cambodia I had little patience for the chaos and couldn’t find another driver to even give me a price so I got stuck with the first guy, and in addition to feeling a little ripped off to the tune of only a few dollars, the driver didn’t even drop me off in front of my hostel and I couldn’t find it. I showed some Thais the address and eventually one was polite enough to walk me in the right direction – that’s all she could do since I can’t understand the language and the correct building was actually several blocks away. Not the best intro to Bangkok, guys.
I received the hostel recommendation from a girl who had been in my room in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and upon arriving there it was positively the cleanest place I’d ever stayed in. Although it really didn’t change my mind about Bangkok, I decided to add a second night there so I wasn’t racing to my next destination without ever unpacking, and I desperately wanted to use the opportunity to organize the next few days and get laundry done. Other than that, it was hot and incredibly humid. I did not want to be in Bangkok.
The first night I met two English girls on their way home after a year doing working holiday in Australia. They asked if I’d like to go to Khoasan Road (the Westernized backpacker district) with them, and since my plans looked more like going to sleep at 9 (god, I’m boring) I accepted – but sadly it’s really nothing worth seeing. Top 40 music blares in the streets, flimsy print t-shirts are for sale, and creepy old men advertise a “ping pong show” (that whole concept had to be explained to me later. Ew.)
The following day felt more promising: I met two lovely ladies named Robia and Rebecca who were from North America but studying abroad in Hong Kong. I asked them what there was to do in Bangkok anyway, “Shopping!” they replied, and shopping with them I went.
Although we wandered through a few ritzy malls, they were looking for the bargains and we headed to a multilevel center called Platinum. The prices were clearance and clothes decent, but the stores don’t offer changing rooms so everything is a bit of guesswork and then praying it looks flattering when you arrive home. I already know I’m not the size of an Asian, but it was fun to look.
In the late afternoon during shopping I began to feel increasingly off. My muscles ached and my eyes felt like they were staring through things. I had absolutely no appetite and the curry I ate for a late lunch felt like dead weight in my stomach. I did get some mosquito bites a few days ago, Oh my lanta, do I have dengue? Convinced I was dying in the truest form, I ran home from the malls alone in all the rush hour congestion and holed up in my bed for the night, feeling horribly feverish and bracing myself for the onset of something bad that was about to come. I looked up hospital addresses in case anything really started to go wrong. I hate you, Bangkok. I don’t even want to be here.
I tossed and turned most of the night, but in the morning nothing had progressed into anything worse, so I dragged myself out of bed to get out and see some things with Robia and Rebecca. The ferry ride we took made me super queasy, but at least I made it out of bed, at least I don’t have dengue fever after all. Later that night I caught the bus to Chiang Mai, laundry clean and completely relieved… Finally out of Bangkok.