If I could describe my first impressions of Bangkok in one word, it would be ‘OH SWEET CHRIST WHAT THE SHIT ARE WE DOING HERE?!’ because sometimes one word just isn’t enough.
Bangkok’s Suvbitnfgigsrgbjossbrghluog (ah hell I can’t spell it) airport is a top of the range, modern facility placed conveniently in the heart of the city. Which is of no relevance, because of course, we flew to the other one. A shed with a runway located deep within the arse crack of Bangkok. (God bless cheap flights.)
Upon arrival at Don Mueaoiueaoing (nope, can’t spell that either) airport at 2am, we headed to our hostel for the night on foot. It’s only 2 streets away, we said. Should be easy to get to, we said.
Kids, when travelling, never assume, because it makes an ass out of U. Just U.
When I pictured Bangkok, I mostly imagined glorious golden temples. Yet here we were in the dead of night, wandering what can best be described as Satan’s sweaty armpit.
We were sort of prepared for the heat (25°C warmer than Tokyo, even at night) and the smell (coming mainly from the black/brown rivers and overflowing bins.) What we weren’t expecting at all were the dogs.
The areas of Bangkok they don’t want tourists to know about are crawling with 300,000 stray dogs. Poor things have no home or owners, and let’s face it, you don’t know which ones have been vaccinated against something unpleasant and which ones haven’t. The ones lying in the streets, or wandering aimlessly, looked rather feeble and certainly didn’t seem too bothered to see us, so we walked around them. But when we finally found the street we needed to go down, and were greeted by 10 or 15 barking dogs (yes there were that many. I am not just exaggerating the number to make us sound less cowardly. Why would you even think such a thing?) who didn’t exactly sound like they were offering us a hotel room with free breakfast for the night, we turned around at a casual, carefree pace, went back and managed to get a taxi to the front door of the hostel.
Yes, I’ve had prouder moments. But it’s difficult to write a blog when you’re up to your eyeballs in rabies.
Sleep would have been nice. But first we had to contend with the chap at reception, a local yokel armed with a notice that said ‘I am a housekeeper, I do not speak English.’ Then how did you write the notice in English, genius? How did you write the notice?! Do you think we were born yesterday?!
(well I guess someone else could’ve… anyway.)
After about 20 minutes of trying to talk our way into this man’s bedroom… (that sounded a bit weird actually didn’t it) we eventually paid a lot more than we thought we owed, and resolved to get it back in the morning. Before finally calling it a night, we asked Johnny No-English if we could get drinking water from anywhere, as we were just about passing out from dehydration.
Buy it from the 7-Eleven, he somehow communicated. Down at the end of the street, past the 30 or 40 rabid, bloodthirsty hellhounds.
Sometimes in life, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.
But, this story has a happy ending (though not the kind you’d normally associate with some places in Thailand.) I single handedly fought my way to the 7-Eleven and back with just my bare hands and courage (no dogs were seriously injured.) Though the ‘bathroom’ looked like the kind of place where you should never, ever drop the soap, I managed to wash before getting a solid 4 hours sleep in a bed made of what might have been brick. And the best part; in the morning, thanks to a phone call to an English-speaking member of the hostel staff, we managed to get back all the money we shouldn’t have given to the receptionist. Take that, Bangkok.
What other delights will Thailand have in store? Find out… probably the next time I have a 14 hour journey with nothing to do but write!
(And for all you dog lovers; if you’re horrified by the idea of 300,000 homeless, starving pooches rotting away on the sweltering streets of Bangkok, I’ll provide a link that might be of interest to you if you want to help;