Thursday, April 7, 2011

From Bangkok to the Bay

We took a night train into Bangkok on Monday evening which turned out to be more complicated than it should have been.  

After being picked up by the company we booked our tickets through we were quickly shuttled to the train station in Laos.  We sat around for an hour before hopping on a small train bound for the Thai border.  After a quick ride we officially arrived in Thailand where we were to board our train to Bangkok.  Unfortunately we didn't get our exit stamp before getting on the train out of Laos.  This caused quite a commotion at the Thai border, where an official continued to shout, "no stamp Lao, no stamp Lao!" over and over without offering us any choice but to return to the border via a combination of tuk-tuk and minivan.  Luckily a bilingual young Thai woman was there to help us communicate, as she and her boyfriend were in our same situation. 

With the train's departure time looming, we sped back to the border with all of our bags, (the tuk-tuk was practically dragging on the road) hoping we could quickly solve the problem.  Luckily we could.  We made it back to the train station in Thailand with just twenty minutes to spare.

Once we arrived in Bangkok we boarded a city bus for Khao San and hoped for the best.  When we noticed foreigners were outnumbering  locals, we figured we were in the right place.  After dropping off our bags we took a tour of our new neighborhood.  Street vendors were selling everything from carmelized crickets to fake ID's.  Tourists sipping beer practically spilled out of the numerous patios lining the busy street.  Dancers performed among the crowds, and we noticed the banners for Songkran everywhere.  It runs from April 13-16 and is Thailand's New Year celebration.  Most people have time off and celebrate the hottest time of the year by soaking each other with water.  We already bought our dry bags and squirt guns in preparation after getting a preview of the festivities (being soaked with buckets of water) in Laos.

As we are rather templed out, we spent our first stint in Bangkok exploring the busy area of Siam Square which housed several malls rivaling the size (and expensive price range) of Busan's Shinsegae.  We also spent an intriuging afternoon winding up and down the tightly knit alleys of Chinatown.  We've been eating fresh Pad Thai as much as possible and have managed to get in a few relaxing Thai massages as well.

This morning we arrived in the southern island of Koh Tao, where Ryan plans to get some SCUBA certifications.  I'll cram in as much beach time as possible before we return to Bangkok for another couple of days.  Then it's home to rainy Oregon.  It won't be long now!

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