Bangkok is the craziest city I’ve ever been to. It has well over 8 million people living there, and 14 million when counting the surrounding neighbourhoods.
After travelling for 17 hours, I arrived at 10am into Thailand’s capital and my excitement grew as I spotted Lyn waiting for me on the other side of the airport. I ran to hug her and we laughed at how weird it was that we had met in Barcelona and now again in Bangkok. We took the sky train to the hotel where Lyn works for 10 (or more) hours a day and she snuck me in to avoid her Thai coworkers knowing since visitors aren’t allowed.
The next day, I ate a traditional Thai desert, mango sticky rice and walked to Lumphini Park while Lyn was working. On the outer ring of the park, golden shrines stood glistening as workers polished them and visitors knelt while holding incense to their forehead praying. A 2km path circled the park where runners sprinted in one direction, and catfish and turtles swam on the surface of the small manmade lakes. I was surprised when I saw what I thought was a Komodo dragon (poisonous) snoozing on the grass next to the path but later discovered it’s a similar looking lizard called a Monitor.
At 6pm, the King’s anthem came on over the speakers. Everyone stopped moving and stood completely still and silent with their arms straight by their side. Once the song finished, a whistle sounded and everyone continued on with their lives.
I went to Chinatown and eventually found street food for 40 baht (£1). I also couldn’t resist trying the handmade coconut ice cream. A lot of the restaurants here serve shark fin. The process of how they catch the sharks, cut off their fins and then throw the animals back in the water is simply disgusting, but it’s strange to think how it’s considered normal in their culture.
Finally Lyn had two days free so we just spent the time taking things slow. We lazily got up in the afternoon and went to Na Aroon vegetarian restaurant. Since the parallel streets sometimes aren’t linked together by side streets, it was a mission to get there, but totally worth it. We had proper tofu with peanut and coconut sauce, rice and beans wrapped in a lotus leaf and spicy mushroom salad. It’s the best Thai meal I’ve had so far and one of the best meals I’ve ever had in general.
Our stomachs aching from overindulging in absolute gluttony, we caught a taxi to the stadium to watch the Muay Thai boxing Championship. They charge far more to tourists compared to Thai locals. We paid 1600 thb to sit beside the ring. Before the match, locals played traditional music on their instruments from the stands in a certain rhythm. The two Thai fighters carried out ceremonial dancing in the ring, and then the referee commenced the match. There were 9 fights lasting a total of 4 hours, and around the 7th game, one boxer got KO’d with one punch to the head. It was madness. The ref counted to three and he was out of the championship. The paramedics came marching past us, dragged him onto the stretcher while tourists were literally taking pictures up close to his unconscious face and brought him out of the arena. Immediately the next match begun, and the crowd started their raging chants all over again. Afterwards, the winner of each match (always smaller than me) came past us while tourists grabbed them for a photo. Some looked pleased and others looked like they were on steroids wanting for the attention to end. I’m not sure how decent the whole event is, whether they earn a living from it or they’re just pawns in some fat wealthy man’s game.
On the second day, we chose another vegetarian restaurant called Ethos which was amazing yet again with lots and lots of hummus. We headed to see the palace but we were too late as it closed at 3.30pm. I wasn’t even that fussed anyway on doing the touristy things like the palace, and I knew that I would see far more temples in Northern Thailand. We jumped in a taxi and got an oil massage instead in a Japanese spa, the best I’ve ever had. Afterwards we headed to a night market and ate street food.
During my last day in Bangkok, I was feeling dejected. I’m not a big city person anyway, I can just about manage Barcelona in summer time. I went to Chatuchak park and then Chatuchak night market. Again, at 6pm the King’s anthem came on and this time I was standing so I had to stop with the rest of the Thai’s, scared that an ambush of police would come and take me away if I didn’t comply.
Bangkok was a great experience, especially with Lyn, but I became too overwhelmed by the nationalism, the claustrophobia and the dirtiness. The place is a mess. Everything is piled on top and the chaos never stops, but I guess that’s what makes it so exciting too.