Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bangkok Has Him: New Year in Thailand 2017

A true Bangkok night market.

Darn you, Leonardo DiCaprio. Ever since I saw "The Beach" in theaters in 2000 (a poor decision as I didn't really care for that movie. Wasn't Leo's character super petulant?), beaches in Thailand have held a near-mythical status in my mind. As a beach aficionado, I knew one day I'd have to make it out there. 

That day would come New Year's Eve 2017. Before we explore the beaches, we must layover in Bangkok to learn if the city's Red Light District is really that wild; and discover how close this Mr. Chow can get to "The Hangover 2" status, just without Bradley Cooper, illicit drugs, and with a fiancee. Thanks for passing on the invite, Brad. Here's my photo exploration of BKK:

Wat Pho: one of the many Buddhist temples of Bangkok. My personal fave.
If y'all saw my Instagram GoPro video, you know I'm all about the tuk-tuk. Thailand's tiny scooter. Here's video: https://www.instagram.com/p/BOmR44vhnL-/?taken-by=tcarychow 
So there's a ton of buddhist temples in Bangkok. This was just one of a few at Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), which is situated on the Chaopraya River on the western part of town.
Why is this Buddha smiling...
Cuz dude is chilling! This is Wat Pho, known as the Temple with the Reclining Buddha. The Reclining Buddha is 150 feet long, and was undergoing a bit of a pedicure when we were there, as they were doing construction on his sandaled feet. This was my fave of the temples. 
The famous Thai massages. In case you're wondering, normal masseuses don't dress like that.

The entrance to the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It was packed more than usual because locals dressed in full black garb were paying their respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or Rama IX. The highly-revered king passed away in October 2016 after ruling since 1946. The country is mourning his passing for a full calendar year. There was a huge military presence and we had to go through security detectors at multiple staging areas. Meanwhile, inside the walls, there are many different, extravagant temples. The Emerald Buddha is actually quite small and not really worth hopping in line to go see.
So much good street food, including noodle soup bowls that cost around $1.50 US. I love this girl!
If you get a Thai massage - which you will if you go - you should go to Health Land. A legit 2-hour massage will cost you around $15US, includes massaging your entire body including your fingers, and the happy ending... is a delicious Thai iced tea.
Street food everywhere... of almost anything.
Tuk-tuk signal.
Thai Ronald McDonald doing the wai greeting, essentially clasping your hands together and bowing.
The Damnoensaduak floating market about an hour outside of Bangkok. It's the most touristy but most popular floating market and highly recommend a visit. A distinctly Thai experience where you float through small canals and vendors offer goods and food all around you. I imagine the smaller ones hawk less product (there were multiple paintings of Heath Ledger's Joker as Ronald McDonald). We ate so much fresh, delicious, cheap food - a noodle soup for $1.50, mangosteen (a fruit I'd never heard of before), chicken kebabs, seafood pad Thai, mango sticky rice. Everything is a negotiation and saving 10bht here and there, while absurdly cheap, will also get you an extra meal later if you don't bring enough cash.
Another shot of the floating market. To the left are vendors, markets, restaurants. On the right are the same but unopened. If you go, you need to go early because the canals will fill with boats very quickly.
Like such. If you want to see video of the floating market, check my instagram video: https://www.instagram.com/p/BOoyH-Kh5R0/?taken-by=tcarychow
Back in Sukhumvit, we ate multiple meals at Terminal 21, a huge mall with an incredible international, multi-level food court. This coconut ice cream was consumed often, cost around $.80US!

Muay (rhymes with "boy") Thai boxing. Another must. In the upper deck of Rajadamnern Stadium, there were a ton of locals betting on the fights. So tempting to join! I witnessed a KO. That should be posted on Instagram shortly.

He's no Sagat. #StreetFighter2ReferencesForTheWin
Night-time tuk-tuk to...
Patpong, aka the red light district. This night market features some shopping but it's overshadowed of course by all the strip club peddlers and promoters who mercilessly try to get you to go into their establishments. Guys follow you for a little while showing you a menu of baffling terms - doesn't matter if your fiancee is holding your hand - they peddle hard.
 Some of the establishment names in Patpong were too graphic for posting, so this innocuous picture is what you get. When you walk by some of the open doors of these clubs, you can see some of the young women being manipulated by the sex industry and its depressing. The thought of how some of these women ended up where they are is tremendously sad. Their typical clientele is probably men over 50 when they might be younger than 20. That said, a friend basically told us this place was going to be the scourge of humanity and it wasn't as bad as expected, but that's also very likely because we did go inside any place.
Spel chek is for loosers.
The colorful night market gave you a feel for how many locals and tourists spend weekend nights. Several bars next to all the tented vendors, incredible food at low rates. Not all was appetizing...
These larvae didn't inspire hunger...
Nor these crickets.
Mindy enjoyed getting her brows done for pennies on the dollar. The results, sadly, reflected the cost. This is actually a transgender man working on her. Never would've guessed!
Sunset on Bangkok.

NEXT: Island life

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