After Beijing I flew into Bangkok. I was very suprised at how clean and quite the airport was. I had flown into Ho Chi Mihn City in 2006 and I remember the hords of people yelling at you to take a taxi, book a tour, etc. The Thai airport was air conditioned, clean, and really nice. The workers were exceptionally friendly, directing you where to go etc. It was very easy to get through customs, not even asking to see a return ticket to get a visa.
I took the sky train to get into the city (an above ground subway for $3). I met two girls from France on the sky train, and they told me about a good guest house. I went with them to the end of the sky train line, then we took a Tuk Tuk (scooter with a trailer) to Khao San Road (the main tourist road in Bangkok). The road was amazing: great Thai food (including bugs which I ate), Banana Pancakes, any type of massage you can think of, hostels, restaurants, bars, clothes, etc. I stayed at a guest house, that consisted of a bed and washroom for 550 Baht per night ( aprox $16) which is pretty expensive for Thailand I would soon learn. I went with the french girls for food, drinks and a foot massage.
|Inside the Tuk Tuk (open air)|
|The French Girls who showed me where to go, they seemed happy :)|
|Eating some cricket|
|Making a banana pancake|
|Coconut ice cream (they had so much food for so cheap everywhere you went!|
The next morning I went walking out of my house. A man approached me and convinced me to take a tuk tuk with him around town to see parts of Bangkok for cheap in exchange for visiting his tour office, and going to a custom tailored shop. Looking back on it I shouldn't have done it, but oh well, when you have been to the third world in a while, you get scammed a bit. I went to the tour guide office and ended up booking a room in Ko Phan Ghan for 4 nights and a intro four day scuba diving course in Kho Tao. It cost a bit, but they convinced me I needed to leave Bangkok because of the current political protests going on there.
Afterwards he took me to the custom tailor shop where they make suits. It is ranked the second best custom tailor shop in the world by National Geographic. I had planned to buy a suit while in Thailand due to there world renowned great quality for cheap. I ended up spending about $350 American for a custom fit Black tuxedo, with two vests, 3 dress shirts, a tie, bow tie, and pants. I have to go back at the end of the trip to pick it up and get the finishing trims done, but I am excited to look like the next James Bond cliff jumping with it on!
After the tuk tuk driver drove me around a bit, I asked to get dropped off in the center of the protests, as I had never been in such a large political protest, ever! The Tuk Tuk driver refused to come with me, as he said he was afraid of getting shot. I asked another guy, and he said it would be fine. So the Tuk Tuk driver dropped me off a block away, and in I went into the protest. As I suspected they were not violent (at this point). People had parked there cars in the middle of the street and were sit there stopping traffic.
As I walked I bought many different food including fresh pineapple and BBQ chicken for less than a dollar (I am in heaven: politics and cheap good food!). Some of the protesters wanted pictures with me, many smiled and waved, and offered me water and to sit and talk with them. Basically they are protesting the current Prime Minister of the country. The previous Prime Minister fled the country, because he sold his business and did not pay taxes (stole Millions of Dollars). Now his sister is prime minister, and they believe she is acting as a puppet for her brother who is now in Dubai. They want both the brother and sister arrested and brought to court. I am not going to get involved with my opinion on this matter, as I learned political opinions often makes more enemies then friends.
|Cars parked in the road|
|Typical protest swag on these guys|
I walked around and watch the protests for a couple hours and also bought a couple of things I would need for my trip. I ran into an American guy who I started talking with. He was telling me about Thailand, and this Thai lady was standing beside us watching the big stage where speakers were giving political speeches. The lady asked the American guy if he would like to go on stage (in front of about 3000 people) to talk to the protesters. He said he would.... only if I went with him. I thought about it for 2 seconds, then agreed to go to stand beside him, but I wouldn't say anything. So this lady walked us through the crowd and to the side of the stage. She talked to the security guard, and he asked the American what he wanted to say, and then opened the gate to let us on. It felt pretty amazing walking on in front of so many people (at least 3000). The American guy spoke for about a minute about anti corruption, and other stuff. Then the host passed the mic to me and everyone in the crowd went silent. I hadn't planned on talking, but when in Bangkok.... I basically just said that it was my first day in Thailand, and I could already see how friendly the people are and that the Thai people have big hearts. They all deserve to be treated fairly and equal, and that if they feel that their current government is not doing this they need to stand up for themselves, their families and there country, and ensure everyone in there country plays by the same rules and are given opportunity to live happy lives. The crowd after me saying this went nuts screaming and cheering. Leaving the stage and the area many people shook our hands, gave us the thumbs up, wanted pictures and to tell us there stories. They said that many people have been shot by the police, but they would keep protesting. We noticed a bunch of torched cars and trucks on are way out. We did not see any violence.
|some of the audience I spoke in front of|
|The american giving his speech|
At 5pm I got on an overnight bus and went to Koh Phangan to get there in time for the world famous full moon party!
My first day in Thailand three things I learned:
1- Thai food is very cheap, good, and verrrrryyyy Spicy!
2- Thai people are very friendly, and genuine it seems
3-Go where people tell you not to if you want unique and memorable experiences!