Bangkok: WTF?

December 30, 2008 - 2:08 am No Comments

Today was a carefully planned whirlwind of Bangkok sights. First, the crispy duck and fake purses of cramped and stinky Chinatown. No place for a tourist with a tripod.

Signs of Chinatown

A Man With Cool Eyebrows Sips Cofffee and Sells Iced Coconut Water While a Taxi Stops in the Middle of the Road and Blocks Traffic

Then the relatively unimpressive Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace, the large, reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, then across the river to Wat Arun. Wat Benchamabophit, touted in our travel guide as “a photogepher’s paradise,” was being renovated and didn’t even seem like it would have been impressive without the construction. Some of the wats had incense burning and music playing, helping to make things a bit more mystical. There was no photography allowed inside some of the wats, which is OK since the outside almost always looked more impressive. It was very warm and humid today. I can’t imagine how things are in the summer.

Prasat Phra Debidorn

Reclining Buddha

Phra Maha Chedi

Purple Lotus Flower

Prang of Wat Arun

Doug Climbs Wat Arun

After our wat tour, we tried to make it over to Jim Thompson’s House, a restored residence belonging to the guy who brought the silk trade to Thailand and supposedly an interesting spot, but it was closed by the time we got there. We got a tip from one of our tuk-tuk drivers that there was going to be a big Muay Thai boxing match at Lumphini Boxing Stadium this evening, which fit our schedule perfectly.

After being transported there by tuk-tuk, we were greeted by a vested women at the curb. She suckered us into ringside seats and led us through security. The metal detectors were laughable. I went through with my camera and tripod and there was no beep. I could have been Neo from the Matrix and walked in without a problem.

Inside Lumpinee Boxing Stadium

Each bout began with a little ceremonial dancing by each of the boxers. When it was time to start fighting, the small band off to one side of the ring would start to play, giving each bout a “soundtrack.” It did help make it more dramatic, I think. The mostly Thai crowd flashed signals to each other, an indication they were betting on the fights. For some bouts, they were quiet. For others, they roared with every kick. I had my camera, and we were up pretty close, so I was able to get a few nice shots.

Ram Muay

Muay Thai

Muay Thai

Bloody Winner

Lumpinee Boxing Stadium

Tonight, we ventured out on our own for dinner, choosing a Thai restaurant just down the street from our guest house. The food tasted much like it does at home. Then we found a tuk-tuk driver to take us to the Bedsupper Club, one of the Bangkok clubs hyped up by our travel guides. Our tuk-tuk driver asked us twice if we needed ladies and suggested a ping-pong show, but we stuck to our guns.

We pulled up to the Bedsupper Club only to be denied entry. It looked like we had finally found a decent social scene, but they wouldn’t allow is in with shorts and flip-flops. We then tried another place around the corner recommended by our travel guides, Q Bar, but it was the same situation there. Our tuk-tuk driver said he’d take us to another discothèque.

“Which one?”

“New club called Oscar.”

“No Oscar. We were there last night, and it sucked. We want a new place. We don’t need ladies, we don’t need ping-pong balls. Just a place with other tourists. A place we can have a drink.”

“OK, I find discothèque for you.”

The one he eventually pulled up to was called Kebab Party. Or at least that’s what I thought it was called, since that’s what the biggest neon sign in front of it said. But that was just a food cart. The club was called Bossy. After being escorted inside and paying the cover, the windowless doors opened up, revealing a bar that was almost completely empty, a raised stage with stripper poles, and lasers. The place was filled with people who worked there and hardly anyone else. It was just like Oscar. Doug had the pleasure of finding four men in the bathroom waiting to massage him. They didn’t even wait for him to stop peeing.

We had a couple of drinks and then gave up. Riding the tuk-tuk back to our guest house, we spotted a row of bars with brilliant neon lights and the commotion that usually comes from a good social scene. We hopped out of the tuk-tuk and strolled past the bars, only to find that every single one of them had ladies in front in matching skank outfits and/or numbers on their shirts. Naturally, they all wanted us to come inside. Walking back to the guest house, small groups of girls sitting at makeshift bars on the sidewalk threw themselves at us.

Seriously? Is Bangkok really like this? Where do all the tourists go? There are thousands of them in Bangkok right now. Do they all stay in their own guest houses? Do they all really go out to buy some ladies? Do they all know to bring dress shoes and slacks and go to the Bedsupper Club? The sights were impressive, and the people were friendly, but we leave Bangkok a little disappointed and confused.

Tomorrow morning, we catch an early flight to Koh Samui and then a ferry over to Koh Phangan. We’ll drop our stuff off at our beach house and then head to Haad Rin for what is supposed to be a huge beach party for New Year’s Eve.

If there is no social scene on Koh Phangan on New Year’s Eve, we are turning around and coming home.

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