Friday, May 11, 2012

Trip Report 4: First Night In Bangkok

The possibilities aren't limitless on a free night in Bangkok, but there are few limits in general, if you know what I mean.

[This is Part 4 of a trip report about my most recent visit to Thailand. Click HERE for the a link to the rest.] 

Soon after 6:00/18:00 we walked the three minutes or so from the Glow hotel to the Chong Nonsi BTS station and boarded for our short ride to Sala Daeng, where we planned to grab a bite to eat and wander about a bit before the clubs opened. Both of us were a tad off schedule, sleep-wise, but then it was just 04:00 back home, so that was understandable.  Nevertheless, adrenaline and the overall excitement of being on vacation seemed to be serving us well so far, and we were both hungry.

I had plans to meet a friend after he got off from work and catch a movie, but my travel companion was out on the prowl, tom cat style. Having only had one previous visit to the Land of Smiles  - one which allowed him precious little time to explore the nightlife on his own - he was quite the excited bunny, as a British friend of mine there sometimes says.

This was NOT taken on a BTS train during the evening commute hours, but much later in the evening

I asked him if he had a preference on where to sit and eat and he chose The Balcony, on Silom Soi 4, across from the Telephone Pub. I'd only been there for a drink years back and to stop and take a couple of photos one afternoon while wandering around, so I agreed. The story and pictures from that 2010 post are here.

By the time we reached the Sala Daeng BTS station the night market stalls were more or less in full swing. The stalls are often on both sides of the sidewalk; backed up to the front windows of established business and sticking their own backsides off the curb and into the gutter and street itself, making it difficult to walk along what's left allowed for pedestrian traffic.

From the elevated Sala Daeng BTS station

In the more congested areas there's just barely a width's space for two normal people to walk side by side - or one rotund person.  If someone stops to look into a stall or purchase something it's a challenge for one person to get through, period.  That only happens every ten feet or so, though. Murphy's law seems to apply here: the more you want to get from point A to point B, the more people will be stopped in your way. Backpacks are the worst, because the beasts of burden wearing  them usually seem oblivious to the inconvenience they cause by swinging them around when they turn in a crowd.  Luckily many of those bulky bags are more at home in the Khao San Road area, and that's a place I've not felt necessary to visit more than once.

Dinner at Balcony was pleasant enough. Restaurants can sometimes change cooks and wait staff like a tourist changes hotels, and that can sometimes make for an uneven experience. When you add individual preferences for spiciness and the likes it's not fair to be critical about faults that aren't glaring or things not exceptional about a meal. Let's just keep it at "it was pleasant" and I'd add that wouldn't avoid eating there again.

To be fair, both of us were more tuned in on what was going on around us along the soi.  Like I know I've said here before: sometimes you walk past the scenery, and sometimes the scenery walks past you. In addition to the nice looking Thai themselves there seemed to be a few mixed tourist couples who were also enjoying the surroundings, and that sort of participation by what I'm assuming are heterosexual people in a mainly homosexual environment is heartening, I think.  When visitors aren't there to make fun or be judgmental I feel it often furthers an the understanding that leads to acceptance.

All SORTS of things for sale around and about the Patpong Night Market area!

We sat and visited with some of the folks passing by and soon enough it was time to settle the check bin and make our way out of Soi 4 to the right and head down to cut through the Patpong Night Market to get to Suriwongse and then to Dungthawee Plaza, better known at Soi Twilight. There I bid my friend happy hunting and caught a taxi to go meet up with my friend.

We never made it to the movie, but I was getting pretty tired out by the time we'd met up and I'd sat and watched him eat his dinner, so we just walked around for a while before he rode back with me on the BTS to my hotel before heading to his condo. I knew a decent night's sleep would make tomorrow a more productive day, so I was ready to turn in, but not before stopping to take in the lights, sights and sounds from the elevated BTS platform. It doesn't matter how many times I'm here, I still appreciate those moments when I stop and it truly sinks in: I'm back in Thailand again!

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