Thursday, 12 December 2013

Bangkok - The One Backstage

Leaving Chatrium for Howard's Boutique Hotel. It was quite the downgrade. There was nothing even boutiquey about it. As we were waiting for Saturday to come and meet up with my Uncle Alan and his band, we had a little time on our hands. 

We spent one day temple hopping. We did this when we were last in Bangkok in 2006 but we hadn't seen Wat Pho or The Grand Palace so we decided to hit these up. First we went to Wat Pho - the Temple of the reclining Buddha, it is named after a monastery in India where Buddha is thought to have lived. It was really cool, the lazy buddha is huge with feet even bigger than mine! Apart from that there are lots of other Buddhas dotted around and colourful buildings, for only 100 baht we thought this was a great deal (only £2). So now onto The Grand Palace, it is a short walk from Wat Pho but we were surprised to find they charge 500 baht (£10) each, Cat visited this when she was younger and was sure it is quite similar to Wat Pho but on a larger grander scale so we decided not to spend £20, instead we bought postcards & wrote them and posted them outside. Funnily enough this is the 2nd time we have done this - we did this in 2006 but we had run out of cash by the time we got there & didn't have a bank card with us. After just walking around Wat Pho and its lazy Buddha it kinda felt a little like over kill anyway. How many golden Buddhas is too many golden Buddhas?

We then walked through a huge market selling everything imaginable & I ate the foulest food known to man. Durian fruit. Tastes like a rotten pickled mango with foot scrapings. It is always featured on American TV shows where the host eats the most disgusting things they can find & since Cat tried a scorpion I thought I should at least try this. It is so bad most hotels don't allow it - you often see signs saying "No Durian".

After this delicacy we walked through a park and saw a really cool looking temple called Wat Arun - the Temple of Dawn over the river. It looked different to all the other temples, more gothic and dark than bright and sparkly so we got the 3 baht (6 pence) ferry over there. You walked up some very steep steps to go about halfway up it which was fine but at the top there were a lot of scared tourists trying to get the courage to walk back down.

On our way home we saw a turtle being stalked by a cat & walking into the road, I tried to save Donatello from the traffic but I reckon he died that day. RIP.

We went to Chinatown that night and had some pretty cool street food and a walk around looking at all the weird stuff.

Then it was time for some Jazz festival backstage action. Loved it. I have (with limited success) tried to go backstage at festivals a bunch of times. When your name is actually on the list it kinda takes the fun out of it. But, when Alan introduced me to his cooler box of beer and tequila the chase was far from my mind. It was awesome meeting up with family and his band Shakatak. What a cool night!

Catherine has dreamed to be side stage for as long as I care to remember. On a murky white plastic chair. Smoking a Malboro menthol and sipping a Chang beer. My wife swaying to some cool jazz beats. It was easily one of the highlights of our trip so far. 

Uncle Alan with Travel Maul attached to his guitar
When everyone else called it a night me & Cat went to another rock bar. Like most places they were happy to hear recommendations. We even did a little karaoke. Come As you are, was murdered that night. Sorry Kurt. Catherine head banged so hard she broke her thumb :/ Don't ask.

Our final day in Bangkok we headed back to Khaosan Road. Are you sure?? It is the easiest place to arrange onward travels. Within minutes we had sorted out some travel. I say some... It was a 12 hour journey up north. India take note! If people wanna give u money. Take it! Breakfast that morning consisted of mashed potato and a portion of chips in Mulligans Irish pub. How Irish is that!? Potatoes and potatoes for breakfast. 

It was soon time to get on sleeper bus. Behind me on the bus, was a French Yorkshire man - I wasn't the only one who found this odd. I heard other people asking about his accent. After a couple of attempts at hearing his answer I decided that I would just give him a little back story of my own. His name was Neil from Lille. He learnt to speak English by studying Arctic Monkeys albums. Another thing that made me laugh out loud. He spoke of nothing other than huge lesbians. He was at the back of the bus so I could only hear every other word which made it even more hilarious. Cat pointed out that he was talking about a huge lesbian scene. Not actual huge lesbians. He seemed a little strange. Probably because he was. 

We saw many sides of Bangkok. The crazed party of Khaosan the decadence of Chatrium. The cultural side from the temples. Catherine said of all the big cities in the world she could live here. If it wasn't for the blistering heat of course. I kind of agree with her. If living here meant living in a Chatrium suite.

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